Fled from SomaliaLike most entrepreneurs, Hajia Kangame rarely dwells on the past. She stays plenty busy running her San Diego handicraft business, Somali Bantu Women's Cooperative, and raising four daughters. But Kangame, 37, will never forget the day the rebel militia came to her village in Somalia. They ordered the residents to turn over all their clothing, jewelry, food and furniture. Then they shot Kangame's elderly parents in the head.
Kangame belongs to Somalia's persecuted Bantu minority. When civil war broke out in 1991, thousands of Bantu were enslaved, raped, tortured and killed. But Kangame was luckier than most. After the rebels killed her parents, she managed to escape, along with her husband and 6-year-old daughter. The family trekked through arid bush for two days without food or water. They reached the provincial town of Kismaayo, then shifted to the capital, Mogadishu.
Kangame and her family kept moving for the next five years, trying to stay alive. In 1996, Kangame's husband was abducted and tortured by another rebel band. He barely survived. But that year the family caught a second break. Now with four daughters in tow, they made it across the Kenyan border to the relative safety of a refugee camp.