89 pages 2 hours read

Omar Mohamed, Victoria Jamieson

When Stars Are Scattered

Nonfiction | Graphic Novel/Book | Middle Grade | Published in 2020

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Socio-Historical Context

After decades of mixed colonial rule by Italy and Britain, The United Republic of Somalia became independent in 1960. From 1960 to 1977, no armed conflict existed though the challenge of trying to reconcile two different language systems for official business and legal rule (as a result of having been governed by two colonial powers) proved extensive. Armed conflicts between 1977 and 1991 included war with Ethiopia and war between the government and clan-based liberation movements. A dictator, Siad Barre, who attempted to quash the power and identity of clan-based movements in the country, was overthrown in 1991. Clan warfare grew, and without an established government to lead basic infrastructure needs (like agriculture and food production), the country was poised for a humanitarian disaster. Though the UN, US, and other aid-giving agencies attempted to help the growing starvation problem in the country, violence and disorganization thwarted success. Military presence from the US ended in the mid-90s after a violent battle in Mogadishu between local gunmen and American soldiers. Attempts to establish governmental control of the country in the time since have been complex and unsuccessful.

From 1991, local warlords and clans in Somalia participated in civil war. In When Stars Are Scattered, a newscaster describes how Dadaab “opened in 1992 as a temporary refuge for Somalis fleeing the Civil War in their country” (153).