On Dec. 3, 2009, an al-Shabab suicide bomber attacked the graduation ceremony of Mogadishu’s Banadir University, killing 25 people, including government ministers, doctors and students.
Among those killed was Mohamed Adam Shahid, one of the country’s leading embryologists. Dr. Shahid was a founding member of the university and a lecturer at the school. His son Duale was one of the students graduating that day in the ballroom of the Shamo hotel.
Rageh Shahid, another of his sons, recalls what happened.
“My father just finished his speech, he came down from the podium and walked toward my brother, congratulated him and then sat down,” he said.
“Then the explosion. We recovered his body. Duale survived, but he was traumatized.”
Still, Duale Shahid built a thriving career after his father’s death, getting a job with an international NGO. He also followed in his father’s footsteps, joining Banadir University as a lecturer, taking up his late father’s job teaching anatomy and embryology.
But this past Saturday, on a sunny beautiful afternoon in Mogadishu, Duale visited the car wash opposite the Naso-Hbalod hotel. He had just received his car keys back when a powerful explosion struck nearby, killing him and many others instantly.
Like father, like son.
“He is not someone who sits around, visits hotels,” his brother Rageh tells VOA’s Somali service. “He came back from Nairobi on Tuesday last week, and he only went in that area to wash his car.”
Duale was 33 years old.
The chairman of Banadir University, Dr. Abdirazak Ahmed Dalmar, is Duale’s former teacher.
“I have known Duale for a long time. … He was a quiet man, a religious person … friendly with youth, able, intelligent and good-mannered,” he said.
“Anyone older than him, he would call them ‘uncle’ out of respect,” Dalmar noted.
Rageh Shahid says he is proud that both his father and brother served the people, but says the two tragedies have hit his family hard.
“We feel very sad, we feel a big gap, Allah will not abandon us but we will need to work hard,” he said. “This double tragedy will bring more trauma, we are afraid we may not be able to do our work. Duale is dead, but the next danger is facing us and people like us.”
Dalmar says the best way to honor the memory of the two doctors is to continue their work.
“We will remember them for their effort in education and health of Somalia, both were doctors, both were working on producing tomorrow’s doctors,” he said.
Dalmar says the work of the two Shahids, along with other doctors who jeopardized or sacrificed their lives to make a difference in Somalia, is evident in his university’s success.
Since graduating its first batch of students in 2008, he says Banadir University has graduated 510 doctors, many of whom are working in various hospitals in the country.