by: Laura Armitage
Somalilandsun -I COULDN’T feel more welcome at the Shuja family home who have generously invited me to break the Thursday fast with them.
Gathering at their parent’s home in Heidelberg West, I meet siblings Sara Omar and Zach Omar who are waiting for the rest of their family to arrive for the evening meal.
The women have been cooking the evening feast since 1pm, starting with the homemade beverages and moving on to the main dishes including the Shurbad — a slow cooked oat and meat soup.
Talking with the family, Charles Latrobe College Year 12 student Ms Omar tells me while on school holidays she has been able to help her mother with the cooking each day during Ramadan.
Mr Omar, who is visiting with his wife Hiba Abanur and baby boy Ayman for dinner, said his mother Hamido Abdi and four other siblings — two sisters and two brothers — moved to Australia when he was 15 and were followed a couple of years later by their father Iman Shuja.
He tells me his third sister was born in Australia.
The Shuja family have lived in Banyule since they first came to Australia in 1998 on humanitarian visas.
“We mainly came for safety but also education for the children,” he said
“It’s a lot safer and we can support ourselves.”
The family left Somalia’s capital Mogadishu and spent time in Egypt, before being granted asylum.
“Because of the war in Somalia we moved to Egypt for seven years and we didn’t know what country we would be granted asylum,” Mr Omar said.
Like many other former Somalian refugees, the Shuja’s left the African country in fear for their lives.
Before moving to Australia, Zach said his father played soccer with the Somali National Football Team in the African championships.
He tells me his mother is from Marka, an ancient port town about 78km southwest of Mogadishu, by the beach.
“Ramadan means a lot to the whole Muslim community,” Zach said.
“As is the tradition we start by having a sweet date and some hot spicy Somali coffee — which has become my favourite — before enjoying the many different home cooked pastries and dishes that fill the table.”
Tasting one of the sweet appetisers similar to a pancake and a doughnut, Ms Omar tells me it’s a famous family recipe.
Today’s feast is finished with a crème caramel and sweet tea.
■ The Somalian civil war started in the 1980s out of resistance to President Siad Barre who implemented a socialist state
■ After the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991 there was no formal government for more than two decades
■ After Barre’s regime was toppled anarchy followed with decades of fighting between rival warlords
■ Natural disasters and drought led to Somali famines in 1992 and 2010-12 which killed about 500,000 people.
All pictures by Brendan Francis. News Limited