As told by Farhia, in her own words:
When I was young, while I was still in school, there was a boy I loved. He was studying at the university, I was at school. We loved each other; we were dating each other. When he finished university, he went to work at the government office. At that point I was in grade 9. When he started to work, he said: ‘I don’t want you any more!’ I was really upset. I asked him why. What happened? ‘I’ve had enough of our relationship’, he said. And that was it. I was so sad. I cried and cried.
After the semester was over, I went to Djibouti. I was angry. I didn’t want to see his face any more. So I went to Djibouti. After two months I came back to start grade 10. I had forgotten his love. I was fine, I was good at school, everything was ok. I didn’t want any men any more, I didn’t want to date anybody.
That’s when Abdifatah came. I was from Aysha, he from Dire Dawa, but he was working in Aysha. He was working in the government office. He saw my picture on a poster and wondered: ‘Is that girl Afar? Or is she Somali?’ Then his friends in Aysha told him: ‘She’s Somali! She lives here!’ When he saw my picture, he fell in love with me. That was before he had even met me.
So they found out where I lived, and they came to visit. When we first met, it was just like: ‘Nice to meet you, my name is Farhia. Your name is Adbifatah. Nice to meet you.’ After that, he left. After they had left again, a friend of mine who worked in his office said: ‘The boy who came to meet you, he loves you!’ But I refused. My friend said: ‘Why don’t you think about your future and give him a chance?’
Three weeks later, he came back. He called me and said: ‘Come over.’ So I went to his house. We were like: ‘What’s up? How are you? Everything ok?’ - ‘Yes, I’m fine.’ - ‘Do you want us hang out together?’ - ‘No, I don’t want to.’ - ‘Don’t you love me?’ - ‘No, I don’t love you.’ - ‘Why? What’s wrong?’ - ‘Nothing.’
He wanted to get to know me, wanted to date me. I said: ‘Abdifatah, I’m done with men!’ Because of the man who had made me angry. Abdifatax said: ‘But I love you! I want to marry you!’ I said: ‘I don’t want to! I don’t want you!’
Time passed by. I finished school after grade 10, then I went to college for two years. After that, I started to teach at a government school. All that time, Adbifatah was still in love with me. For two years of college he had loved me! But I did not respond, because there was no love in my heart. I was just sad, very sad. But there was no love.
I refused him again and again. But time passed by, and he kept on loving me. So finally, I fell in love with him. His love was very strong, he loved me so much. In the end, we were in love with each other, we really loved each other. We were dating each other for one year.
Then he went to my father; they got to know each other; he talked with the family. When he met with my father, I welcomed them in. We slaughtered an animal and had a buffet, with rice, pasta, all sorts of food. After eating, they sat and talked with my father and mother. Finally, they left again. After he had met with my family, I talked with my parents. I said: ‘I will marry him.’ We talked about it, I told both my father and my mother about him, finally, they said ok. Then Abdifatah called them on the phone to ask them, and they told him we can go ahead and get married. A month later, we got married.
When the wedding came, he came from Dire Dawa to Aysha with five cars - three minibuses and two land cruisers. They came to Aysha and we had the wedding. After the ceremony, we slaughtered three animals and cooked 15 kg of rice, and everybody feasted. We had a big party.
After the wedding, he took me with him to Dire Dawa for 10 days, just me and Abdifatah. We stayed at Samrat Hotel - just sleeping, relaxing, spending time together, enjoying life. For 10 days we stayed there. After that, I wend to college in Jigjiga - summer college. 10 months out of the year I was working in the government school as a teacher, 2 months I went to college. He stayed in Dire Dawa. After the two months of college, I went to Aysha for three months to teach the children at school. After three months, I hated teaching. I said: ‘I don’t want to teach any more. I want to be with my husband!’ So I went back to Dire Dawa.
Abdifatah had a house ready. He had bought an entire household, all the stuff was there. When I arrived, I just sat down, and he cooked for me. He made lunch, and gave it to me.
After that, I got pregnant, and I gave birth to my only child. Up till now our love is strong. He calls me: Honey. He loves me very much.
Edited by Daniel and Cara Rossbach. Photography by Manal Fashi and Courtney Huron.