Somalia: love (and cell phones) in a dangerous time

There is a fascinating article here, Cheap mobile calls help more young couples elope from Yahoo! News/Reuters, on how mobile phone technology is rapidly changing life for people in Somalia. This is not to underestimate the overall situation there. That in itself is a large factor in the rapid change in society in this Horn of Africa country. But certainly mobile phones are accelerating the change.

Like many cultures, marriage and courtship is changing rapidly. But what is happening in Somalia is dramatic to me. Where once,

you gave the girl’s parents 11 camels and an AK-47 assault rifle as bride price and then waited respectfully…
Today, even reasonable boys pay just $50 bride price and a copy of the holy Koran after making the girl pregnant or seeing her secretly for months.


And as a parent in Canada, I would agree with this:

Many older residents say the prevalence of handsets and such cheap tariffs — among the lowest in the world — is making the lives of youngsters unrecognizable.


If anything, I would argue this is a universal refrain among parents and other adults, regardless of the part of the world they live in.

Like I said, it’s a fascinating story (and fantastic material for a novel). Check it out.

(Found on Matthew Ygelsias’s blog. Photo of women from Somalia from ctsnow’s photostream on



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