Skip to content

Helping Somalis Cope with the Stress of the Coronavirus

Some of the country’s best-known athletic stars are urging citizens to take up an activity that, until now, has not gained much traction — running. Videos featuring revered former Somali soccer players and sports icons running and exercising have circulated through social media, inspiring hundreds of young people to join the effort named “Bro, Run with Me.” Running groups have formed in Somalia and among Somalis in Europe and North America, with the runners posting videos on social media. Isma’il Eidid Jamaika, a well-known former soccer player, is the mastermind behind the campaign. “I was always a fan and supporter of running and exercise. But when I saw my people hiding in their homes fearing coronavirus, I thought it would have been better if they come out and run and fight with the anxiety and the fear itself,” Jamaika told VOA’s Somali service. Women are part of this campaign, and a number of them were seen running with the men. In Somali society, women appearing in public dressed in shorts, trousers, T-shirts or suit trunks is a traditional taboo. Hamdi Jama, who helped organize the campaign in Stockholm, Sweden, says women there are just as interested in running as the men. Jamaika says the campaign has a goal of getting Somali society more healthy and fit — something he believes might help ease protracted violence in the country.