Books by Abdi-Noor Haji Mohamed (Eagle Of Hope)
How societal dictatorship destroyed peace in somalia. this is an extract of my speech at the human rights conference in stockholm conducted from 21 to 22 November 2007
How to Attain Peace in Somalia
Somalia is located in the horn of Africa bordering Kenya in the South, Ethiopia in the West and the Indian Ocean in the East along the northern tip of Djibouti off the Red sea. It is blessed with two rivers and a huge livestock potentiality.
Prior to the arrival of the European colonial powers Somalis have been able to feed and clothe themselves without needing any support from outside. But they were communities who have had no central authority to govern themselves under the banner of one nation with viable state institutions. Over the meagre resources of water and pasture they fought as tribal anarchy reached peak during dry seasons. Those days they were free to move around though the risks and clashes among the tribes were quite high.
Apart from the liberalized way of settling disputes under a tree, the pastoralist system of life heralded tremendous obstacles, which were a breeding ground for dictatorship. A man was the head of the family who had absolute powers over the entire members of the family including his wife. And in a village or a nomadic settlement, a chief was crowned as the leader of the community who was regarded as a sacred personality whose word has power over the rest of the people he was leading.
When the Europeans, especially the Italian colonizers, seized the Somali territory by overpowering the local communities (sometimes on arrangement with tribal chiefs) the Somalis were put together in certain confined areas in order to have some control over their movements and have thus created tribal boundaries among tribes who once had crossed to each other as freely as they wished. The imposition of the movement restrictions has greatly affected their pastoral freedom on one hand and improved, to some extent, the security situation of their environs on the other. The arrival of the Europeans was the beginning of a gradual process of politicizing and consolidating this traditional dictatorship into a more acceptable norm of social and political setting.
When Somalia became independent in 1960 all the seats of the parliament have been shared on tribal basis (essence of dictatorship) and the seeds of conflict have been sown in the fabric of Somalia's political systems. Somalia's freedom went on fire when tribalism was used as an essential tool to achieve political goals. The civilian governments of the sixties failed due to divisions as interest-oriented rifts dominated the political life of the country.
Nine years after declaring independence from the Italians, Somalia fell in the jaws of a military dictatorship. All the private enterprises have been nationalized and brought under the control of the government such a banks, fuel companies, cinemas and trade institutions. Freedom of expression has been banned and anyone caught not speaking or writing in praise of the state was liable to loose his or her neck or was put in jail where security services tortured, abused and molested him/her.
In the first years of the revolution, the military regime has tried to eradicate all forms of tribalism including nepotism and corruption, which had devastated the Somali political system of the sixties but to no avail. It was an initiative that had further aggravated the situation by plunging Somalis tribes and communities into abysmal depths of revenge after they have lost some of their men in the president's cleansing exercises to eradicate tribalism.
Many tribes who have lost their men in some of these cleansing jobs have developed deep sorrow and animosity against the regime. To counter balance or otherwise overwhelm these animosities that were brewing behind the scene, the president tightened his dictatorship grip on the nation to cling onto power forever.
Coming under pressure from the world, the military regime were forced to soften their centralized approach of governance so as to provide a space to the general public who were yearning for freedom and democracy. But the regime, in response to these calls, has changed the military dress to a civilian one in order to appease the international community. By pretending to have decentralized its rule and governance, the regime attracted massive inputs from the international agencies, which were mostly provided to them through military support worth of millions of US dollars.
Somalia in Civil War
The worst thing happened when the military dictatorship was dislodged in a popular uprising in January 1991 when armed factions chased away the president and his supporters from power. These factions failed to come up with an authority that can fill the vacuum which later on degenerated to a total breakdown of law and order, which saw Somalia fall apart into fragments of tribal fiefdoms.
Warlords have emerged in all corners of the nation killing tens of thousands while forcing millions of people to internal displacement or seek safe haven in neighbouring countries where they were granted resettlement in the free world.
They have attacked the nation and its people with mortar bombs with the intention to climb on the power ladder at the expense of the lives of millions. But not only people did they kill in their contest for power but they also murdered a whole nation and its history.
With the spears of ignorance they have destroyed the culture and language of the nation which are the bedrock of a nation's existence. They were the warlords of the century who employed tactics of terror by imposing fear, disease, hunger and destitution to the people of Somalia.
These warlords who were the product of a prolonged dictatorship both in the political and cultural systems of Somalia have reduced Somalia into a nation without a face in the international community. Despite a UN arms embargo imposed on Somalia in January 1992, the warlords were being armed to the teeth by some neighbouring countries especially Ethiopia which had allegedly supplied enormous amounts of weapons to the Somali factions.
The unending war in Somalia has created an atmosphere of despondency whereby the country’s borders remained porous making it vulnerable to enemy incursions as Somalia’s military might has been paralyzed by selfish clan wars and clan lords. In addition to that there were business operations run by international mafia linked to Somali warlords who have dumped the Somali seas with nuclear and industrials wastes. With the money generated from these evil sea-poisoning jobs the warlords have bought weapons to further perpetuate their murder project against the Somali people.
It is with great shock to note here that some of the sealed containers have been washed in the seashores of Somalia. UN and international experts who visited the site confirmed that these containers were nuclear wastes that have been discarded into the sea and can cause enormous hazards both to mankind and the marine life. Please refer to the attached poem.
These warlords have led Somalia to disintegrate like empires of the ancient times which were once very strong and powerful but later on collapsed as a result of the chaotic environment their leadership had created.
While Somalia remained a land of criminals neglected by the international community (with the exception of a two year intervention by the UN) there emerged a religious group with extremist Islamic ideology. Being themselves a product of dictatorship in Somalia, they have sprang up in increasing numbers across the country like mushrooms.
They have established Islamic centres, Islamic Courts and schools to spread their version of Islamic Wahabbism. There were other Islamic organizations who made themselves visible as moderates but harboured sinister ambitions to jump to power in ways that can only promote the dictatorial systems that had destroyed Somalia.
The existence of the Islamic courts became visible to the world especially when they have threatened a transitional government instituted in Kenya in 2004. They denied the Ethiopian-backed secular government to be relocated to Mogadishu and even acrimoniously lashed out their displeasure of seeing an international or African force being deployed in Somali soil.
In the beginning of the year 2006, fighting broke out between the warlords and the Islamic Courts militia in Mogadishu. The warlords were supported by the Americans who claimed that there were Al-Qaeda linked elements in Somalia who took part in the 1998 bombing of the US Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Darusalam in Tanzania. The war continued until the Washington-supported warlords were defeated and expelled from the capital city of Mogadishu.
The Islamic courts have brought back some semblance of law and order but soon lost confidence of the people by banning a most cherished narcotic leaf QAT which Somalis chew on daily basis. They also tampered with the youth sports activities and cinema houses which Somalis frequented to keep themselves update with the sports tournaments of the world. This uncalculated move of harassing the general public in particular the young boys and girls, has earned them nothing more than hatred and strong distaste against their actions.
The rise of Islamic courts hastened the intervention and subsequent occupation of Somalia by Ethiopian troops under the pretext of propping up a weak Transitional Federal Government (TFG) which was then based in Baidoa, South west of Somalia. The Ethiopian military intervention resulted in a clash between them and Islamic courts militia who organized themselves in Iraq-type insurgency jihadists.
As they exchanged fire in the city, they killed thousands of innocent people, mainly women and children and wounded a much higher figure in their indiscriminate murder of Somalis in Mogadishu. They have committed gross human rights abuses compatible to what happened in Bosnia, Darfur, Rwanda etc.
Much to the disappointment of the Somali freedom of expression, the Somali government, the Ethiopians and the Islamic insurgents targeted Somali journalists, writers, poets and almost all artists, with the intention to silence the media and deny these artists their right to speak and report war crimes that had been sweeping all across the nation. Somalia, being the hottest spot in the Horn of Africa, is now considered as the second most deadliest place on earth far too dangerous for journalists to operate. Being next to Iraq, Somalia has become the slaughterhouse of journalists where media reporters are killed and assassinated while undertaking their routing duties. In Mogadishu an Islamic insurgent is only 50 times at risk for being hunted down by TFG or Ethiopian troops but a writer or a journalist is exposed to a 100 % risk as he or she is targeted by both factions.
The emergence of warlords and religious extremism has its origins in the existence of long-standing cultural and political dictatorship in Somalia which can not be eradicated without a nation-wide campaign against any forms of war and extremism in Somalia to promote peace and stability in this war-torn nation in the Horn of Africa. I believe that until we wipe out TRIBE from our political system, we can never ever be free from mental slavery and backwardness no matter how hard we try to balance our political equation with parties or representatives belonging to tribal factions.
The current groups contesting for supremacy and control of the nation have no agenda for peace because the only chance they have is to rule at gunpoint which is basically believed to be the essence of dictatorship.
WE can attain peace by committing ourselves to a wider national cause of liberating our nation and putting democratic principles in place. Anytime Somalia's existence and integrity came under threat, it was the youth that had taken up the initiative to save the country as it happened in the 1940's when a Somali Youth League (SYL) fought with the Italian colonial powers from Italy and Britain and led Somalia to a full political independence in 1960. Now we expect no less sacrifice from our youth and we are confident that they will accomplish the job and liberate Somalia for the second time from the present occupation and religious extremists.
Somalia has been pushed to the margins of misery and isolation as it is now caught up between the cruelty of carpet bombing by the Ethiopians and the inhumanity of suicide bombers. With a sound leadership of our youth I have no doubt that Somalia will push itself up like a creeper buried under the bricks of an abandoned building. On the rocks of success it has to climb up with confidence to reach heights of life, peace and love.
In closing the speech allow me to show you a 10 minute documentary film on the challenges of Somali women in the backdrop war and famine in Somalia.
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|Reviewed by Gwendolyn Thomas Gath
Very informative and overall well written. I appreciate the fact to be able to read first handedly. Surely pray that someday, just someday there can be peace there.
Thank you kindly and continued blessings and enlightenments,
|Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner
First of all, welcome back here. You have been missed--I was very worried about you and your family! You--and they--continue to be in my prayers.
How does one live in a land torn by division, by war? It's their homeland. Love it or leave it, they can't change the fact that they were born there. They have family there--roots. A people devastated by what's happening in their Nation, and powerless to do anything about it. I'll take that back: they are powerful, if they stand up and tell the world about their plight. As you do, effectively, with your pen. Hopefully soon, someone will hear and listen...excellent article, my (((Brother))).
(((HUGS))) and love, your American sister, Karla.
|Reviewed by Georg Mateos
|Those than have never been to Somalia, can't comprehend that anyone can love a country where a few peace keeping soldiers were mauled by an ignorant mob, or that one can look kindly to a people bend on senseless killing each others over a samall turf of desert, or handful of huts, or even for the possession of a goat.
They forget that Somalia was there before the pharaoh thought about building a pyramid, they forget that once this was a gentle people, and still they are, but with a freedom usurpated with a few power corrupted men with guns and few fanatic imams taking the Quoran as their private possession to do evil things in the name of Allah.
A philosopher once said that to have a good country, first you most totally destroy it to be able to rebuild it with the good people left.
I pray to God that Somalia gets its apocalyptic rider before there are no one good left to rebuild after his passing by.