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Too busy with pirates
My initial contact with Abdinasir Mohamed Guled was when he submitted a photo to our user-generated content service, called You Witness at the time, now Your View. The caption read “hi reuters” and the location was listed as Mogadishu suqa holaha district. This was enough to peak my attention.
I spoke with Abdinasir, who at the time was busy covering the story of pirates off the Somali coast. Below is his account of his journey from contributor to You Witness to regular stringer for Reuters.
A Somali family arrive at the Elasha Biyaha camp for the internally displaced after they fled from renewed clashes in Mogadishu, May 13, 2009. REUTERS/Abdi Guled
“Before working for Reuters I was working for a local radio station in Mogadishu and for various websites. I was working as a producer and would contribute to CNN.
I do like taking photographs, however it is not always easy in Somalia. One day I took a picture of Ethiopian soldiers walking on the street. They were really annoyed. One of the soldiers asked me what I was doing and I told him I was fixing my camera. He asked me to show him the picture and told me to leave the area. Be careful, always.
Ugandan peacekeepers from the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) return to their base from routine patrols in Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu, May 7, 2009. REUTERS/Abdi Guled
I had seen the submit your photos icon on www.reuters.com. I clicked on it, filled out the form and sent my photos. The first editor I sent to was Corinne Perkins. We kept in touch, step by step. She gave me pointers and sent along some notes. She sent my submitted photos to the Africa chief photographer, Radu Sigheti. Radu called me and asked what I would be able to do. I said I can provide pictures from Mogadishu and some regions in Somalia. After three days, there was a U.S. airstrike on Somalia. I called one of my colleagues who was in the town that was hit and asked him to send pictures to me to send to Reuters. He sent them secretly. I sent the photos. Reuters was very appreciative as they were exclusive pictures. I had the ambition to work with Reuters.
People walk through rubble after U.S. war planes killed an Islamist rebel said to be al Qaeda’s leader in Somalia and as many as 30 other people in Dusamareb, May 1, 2008. REUTERS/Abdi Guled
The first job I did for Reuters was to pick-up photos of al Qaeda militants and send them to Reuters. I was working very closely with the Reuters staff, especially the photographers. After some months of working with photos I became involved with text, where I am working now. I wrote a text story on Islamist forces and was able to secure photos of them too. No one had seen photos of them before. I was the first to receive those photos.
Masked Islamist fighters stand behind a group of eight soldiers of the Somali government and one Ethiopian soldier after they defected in Mogadishu September 6, 2008. REUTERS/Abdi Guled
From the first moment I sent my pictures to Reuters, it changed my life. My salary has increased more than 400%. I have become an ambitious person. I don’t want to leave Reuters and plan to be with the company until death. I love Reuters and want to stay in Somalia.
It is very dangerous working in Somalia. There are areas where no international media can go. I always try to keep myself out of those areas. Sometimes being from Somalia can help. For example, if you try taking pictures inside an insurgency stronghold, you can be killed if you are seen taking pictures. To go to such places as a non-Somali is not safe.
Even though I like my country, I don’t see a good future for Somalia. I have many friends who have fled to other countries but I told them I will remain here until death. I am still here. I will always be here. I will try to satisfy myself and tell myself this is the best country to work in.”
A man walks down a deserted street after fighting between Somali government and Islamist insurgents in the capital Mogadishu February 25, 2009. REUTERS/Abdi Guled