Ahmed Abdisalam Adan, Mohamed Elmi and Ali Sharmarke fled the Somali conflict to come to Canada as refugees, winning citizenship and building lives for themselves here. When relative calm returned to Somalia, they returned to their homeland. In December, 1999, they opened HornAfrik, the first independent radio network in the country. Its journalists have faced constant intimidation and threats in a society where there is no one to protest to, and no protection of freedom of the press.
Extreme religious fundamentalists are critical of HornAfrik's international links, particularly its decision to air Somali-language programming from the BBC and Voice of America. Undaunted, HornAfrik continues to air a selection of outside programs.
But its biggest contribution has been to create a series of call-in programs that have become immensely popular across the country; every one of the country's warlords has logged at least one appearance on HornAfrik.
HornAfrik is a remarkable media-rebuilding success story. Radio Netherlands has reported that "almost everyone listens to HornAfrik ... the station enjoys huge popularity."