Samatar (not his real name) was a promising student. He was in his early twenties and a second-year university student at the Somali National University. Whilst earning his degree, he made money on the side for his poor family in Mandera (Kenya) by acting as a duty officer at a special facility.
He used to work long hours and regularly did his university assignments during his work shifts. His co-workers repeatedly accused him of being a slacker, and some while later, complained to my father (their boss). When called into the office, Samatar didn’t deny the claim. Instead, he apologised and added that he rarely had spare time to work on his university work. You see, Samatar was the first in his family to attend university. My father relieved him from his duties and replaced him with someone else. He promised Samatar that he will still receive his full pay (docked from my father’s salary) until the day he graduates. Samatar was elated. That was the last time they saw each other in peacetime Somalia.
Fast forward to 1991. A brutal civil was raging in Somalia. We (parents and siblings) arrived in Nairobi. It was a cold evening. My parents were looking for an affordable hotel with the little bit of money they had left. Most places were packed. Suddenly, my father heard someone calling his name behind him. The voice came from a nearby building – some luxurious hotel. My father turned around and suddenly, a tall and thin dude approached him wearing a pair of steel-rimmed spectacles.
My father didn’t remember him, but he recognised my father. The tall and thin dude was Samatar. No longer a struggling student but a deputy hotel manager at one of Nairobi’s luxurious hotels. After finishing his first degree in Somalia, he moved to Kenya and did his MBA there. Samatar happily carried our bags to his hotel, booked us in for free, personally cooked for us, and refused to let my parents lift a single finger. When we left the hotel, Samatar confided in my father that Allaah answered his prayers with the opportunity to pay back my father’s kindness. That was the last time my father saw Samatar.
Remember that some stranger somewhere still remembers you because you were kind to them when no one else was.