Bil Farah is a 25-year-old unemployed high-school grad who has already married (and divorced) nine women. Halima Osman is a 20-year-old divorcee and mother of three who says that her last elopement was the best thing that ever happened to her. Both are on the prowl again, and both have their cell phones charged.
It's all too easy to overlook the newsworthiness of daily life in Somalia, where there hasn't been a government in two decades, an average of 20 civilians are killed each day from factional wars, and pirates steal all the international headlines.
With all that strife, Somalis must not be having much fun, eh?
Hardly. Over the last few years a new social trend has swept the capital Mogadishu: consensual temporary marriage.
As one man says, you don't need 11 camels and an AK-47 to marry a Somali gal anymore. Just a cell phone.
Apparently, young Somalis are increasingly hooking up over cell phones, arranging consensual marriages by text message for as little as a night or as long as a few months.* The marriage part allows them to keep right by the Qur'an as they engage in adventurous sexual escapades to distract each other from the daily realities of living in Somalia. (And adultery is, in areas ruled by certain factions, punishable by public stoning.)
It seems the daily barrages of gunfire that ring out over the city of Mogadishu offer the perfect excuse to elope: no one is expected at work or school, so off they go to lover's lane.
* The sources I've found so far do not provide detail as to how marriages are solemnized and where Somalis get phone numbers of prospective partners, two pieces of information that would round out this news item. If anyone has heard more, please let me know.