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The makings of a pirate

Yasmine Cathell's picture

The press has done a great job portraying Somali pirates as evil and greedy individuals who hold innocent seafarers hostage for exorbitant sums of money. While that might be true to an extent, let’s look at it from another point of view.
Somalia Imagine for a moment that you live in a country that is mostly desert, has minimal sources of food, limited access to freshwater and consists of only 2% arable land. Now add to that no government, no police to keep the streets safe, no schools and no jobs. On the upside you have some of the most beautiful beaches, and the longest coast of any African nation with waters full of fish.

…Well you had fish, before the government collapsed and illegal unregulated and unreported (IUU) big fishing boats from other richer nations came and depleted the supply. But that’s ok, because fish populations can spring back, right? Generally speaking yes, except for when other unknown big boats come in and dump their nuclear and toxic waste into your waters because they could get away with it. Not only does the nuclear waste affect the life under the water, but above the water as well. Locals called it the “shrinking disease”.

So at this point it’s safe to say that you’re probably a little upset and want to take action. You also happen to be unemployed and would like to find a way to feed your family. Well you still have your fishing boats and fishermen who know the waters and are also out of a job. So you decide to work in teams and police your own waters to keep the nuclear waste out and other fishing boats away. Only then you realize there are bigger fish to catch and these come with a much bigger price tag.

Consider your predicament and options. … Now tell me what would you do?

K’Naan, the Somali hip hop artist and poet explains: “There is a reason why this started.”


Submitted by Justin on
Very interesting perspective. I had no idea Somali was this impoverished, let alone had no governing body or police to structure the country. While I do not condone armed robbery of ships, harming others, or taking people hostage, I do understand the need for resources and supplies that these ships taken hostage, potentially present. It is going to be tough for them to reach out to other countries for support though because of their reputation for Somali pirates and no government representative to speak on behave of the country.