The Somali National University (SNU) has held its first graduation ceremony after more than 30 years of closure.
The national university which is located in the Hamarweyne district of Mogadishu – also known as ‘Old Mogadishu’, was shut down in the early 1990s after the breakout of civil war and chaos.
In 2014, the Somalia National University reopened its doors with the aim of producing a pack of charismatic leaders that will drive Somalia’s return to the global stage and position it where it belongs.
After its reopening, over 130 graduates were awarded degree certificates during Monday’s ceremony. Meanwhile, In 2014 only 550 students enrolled in the university, but in 2018 the tally had increased to 5,070.
Various students have expressed their fears about the security of the nation, as most hide their identity during their daily activities. The fear of a militant group called “al-Shabab” was initially a major obstacle for new graduate Yusra Osman Sharif.
Speaking on the state of the security Osman said, “When I first started the university, I used to hide my ID card when someone asked me which university I attend I used to try to mislead them.”
The university had been operating in 13 faculties before its closure, but since it reopened SNU has been operating in six faculties (medicine, education, veterinary, agriculture, law, economics). As well as pre-university courses in Mathematics, Physics, Biology, and English.
The university was built by Italian colonialists in 1956 primarily as an institute for Somalis to learn management, economics, and law. In 1969 – nine years after its independence – it was renamed the Somalia National University.
The institution has produced most of the country’s top civil servants such s Abdirahman Mohamud Farole – former President of Puntland; Asha Gelle Dirie – former Minister of Women Development and Family Affairs of Puntland; Asha Jama – Somali-Canadian activist; Hawa Abdi – humanitarian and physician, among many.
In 1990, after the government of President Mohamed Siad Barre fell, like all other government structures, the university became abandoned.
Somalia’s government has many obstacles to scale through as it works to rebuild institutions like these. Soon it will have the support of the graduating classes of SNU, to support in their country’s journey to recovery.