On October 16 2011 when Kenya’s armed forces invaded southern Somalia in the middle of a severe famine hoping to eventually capture the port city of Kismayo and cut off what at that time was thought of as the most vital lifeline for the group, Fatma was a 15year old whose main concern was whether the henna she had applied the previous night would hold on to her fingernails for long. She had no idea that within three years, she would be in Somalia training new recruits, going toe-to-toe with people who had committed to protecting the family she had left behind.Fatma
Fatma’s hands are not soft. Her body is not wrapped in layers of baby fat. Her face is kind and her smile bewitching. Her voice sounds like it is suspended in age, stuck somewhere between a tenor and a soprano. Too deep to be a woman’s, but not deep enough to be a man’s.
Her oval eyes are clear. Sometimes she sees you, sometimes she doesn’t. Most of the time, she sees the faces of the five men she shot dead. Her ears are hidden deep behind her head scarf. Sometimes she hears you, sometimes she doesn’t. Most of the time she hears screams from the dozens of men and women she saw beheaded for something as trivial as a refusal to sleep with yet another man.