Jump to Navigation

Mohamed Barkhale

Mohamed Barkhale

Somalia Native and Recent Immigrant

Born: Mogadishu, Somalia
Heritage: Somalian

I’m an old guy and have experienced a lot. When I see young people from all different backgrounds doing things together it makes me happy and cheerful like I’m young again. Right now I want to start my own education and am registering myself for school. I still have a lot of youth left in me.

Mohamed Barkhale

Somalia Native and Recent Immigrant

My name is Mohamed Barkhale. I am seventy-seven years old. I am from a place where people get killed. I lived in Mogadishu, Somalia before the war started. Afterward, I lived in Nairobi, Kenya, in a refugee camp for fourteen years. I have been in the United States just over a year.

When I was young, we were not educated. We would play in the streets without toys. We didn’t fight with other kids in the neighborhood. We were very tight together and would look out for each other. Our culture is that we help each other out.

We were very obedient to our parents. We would take whatever they did for us. If a child was disobedient, they would be disciplined by not getting food for a day. After a child went hungry for one day, they wouldn’t disobey again.

The only education available to us was Koran school. We would go to Koran school in the morning and afternoons to study and pray. The Koran is the only knowledge I have; I was married with the Koran, and I have raised my family according to the Koran.

My father had two wives. He was an auto mechanic, and he managed the families. The two wives raised the children together. When I grew up I was handyman. I use to go to the market and try to seek any job I could do with my hands. I married at age 30. I have 17 children, and ten of them are here with me. My wife is still in Kenya, and so I am both mother and father to the children. My wife was pregnant at the time I left Kenya. We have appealed for here to come here, but we do not know if the appeal will be granted. When the wife and mother of our family comes here, it will be like we are in paradise.

The reason I have come here is so that my kids can get an education, be connected to the modern world and be successful in life. Your teachers are your fathers and mothers; they want you to move ahead and be successful. Your teachers and your parents, whatever they give to you, take it. I ask all of you children to learn whatever language you can. You never know where in the world you may be someday.


Long Before The War Began

Honoring Mohamed Barkhale

Long Before The War Began
Honoring Mohamed Barkhale

When I see young people from different backgrounds
Doin’ things together it makes me proud
Happy and cheerful like I’m young again
Long before the war began

My name is Mohamed
and I come from Somalia
I was born in Mogadishu
many years ago
The only education I was provided
Was from the Koran and
what I learned from home

Played in the streets
just for fun
Ready, set, go! Everybody run
To see who could jump
the highest of all
Too poor to have toys
or a basketball
We were colonized, treated bad
Yet I grew up as a handyman
My father fixed cars,
mother worked at home
With all the kids, until we were grown

There was peace five times a day
Facing Mecca when we would pray
When the government fell,
war broke loose
Ran for my life, had to choose
People getting killed, hear what I say
Only had water from day to day
Nothing but chaos, so we fled
Into Kenya, or else be dead

Into Kenya, into a camp
For fourteen years, imagine that
With no guards, people steal
People get killed by the enemies will
Then to Nairobi, where my wives live
With, my nine other kids
When coming to the U.S.A.
I could come but she had to stay

Now I manage the house and feed the kids
Take them to school, get them home again
Amin misses mom, I miss my wife
When she comes here like paradise
Amin will have a mom and dad
Remember to do the best you can
Live for peace, never fight
For the love of Allah, I give my life

Music by Larry Long. Words by Larry Long with Ms. Harper’s Fifth Grade Class of Richfield Middle School, Richfield Minnesota

© Larry Long Publishig 2008 / BMI