Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud visited Ohio State on Monday morning to talk about a variety of issues relevant to Somalia and Somali people living in the United States, including education reform, security and a restructured Somali government.
Mohamud was met by both supporters and protesters, but the protesters did not deter him from telling an audience at the Ohio Union about the issues of his country.
“Nothing gives me more pleasure than being among students and educators,” Mohamud said in his speech.
As a former educator, Mohamud stressed the importance of rebuilding the education system of Somalia, not only for those living in the country, but also for Somalis living around the world, especially in the U.S.
“Somalia is lacking by learning in a very, very difficult environment,” he said in an interview with The Lantern after the speech. “Libraries are limited, Internet facilities are limited and when (a connection) is there, it is very slow. We want faster Internet facilities to download resources from other universities.”
Mohamud was elected President of Somalia on Sept. 10, 2012, and assumed office six days later. He is the first president of the nation under the new United Nations-backed Constitution formed in 2012, Somalia’s first constitutional government since civil war broke out in 1991.
Since he took office, Mohamud has received some support from Western nations and was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2013.
Mohamud’s presidency has been plagued with various challenges as the country tries to rebuild. On Sept. 3, he survived an assassination attempt from a roadside bomb claimed by the militant organization al-Shabaab.
Mohamud talked about the top three priorities of his administration Monday, placing the security of the Somali people at the top. He mentioned the other things he is focusing on, including judicial reform and public finance management, will help form a more stable and centralized Somali economy.
Mohamud said it’s important for all Somali people returning to the country to see its progress firsthand.
“The news offers a depressing window on the country,” he said in his speech. “Come see for yourself the birth of the nation.”
He ended by encouraging Somali people to help out their country in any way they can and quoted former U.S. President John F. Kennedy by saying, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
After his speech, the president talked about what he hoped OSU students learned about the current state of Somalia.
“The mindset of this generation is what is crucial; we want you to come back to Somalia to see it. Be there for a few days, a few weeks, and it is important for the international (community) to see this,” he said in the interview with The Lantern.