(There are a thousand & one reasons of why you (a Somali intellectual ) should read this message.
Please don’t read this message if you are stressed our or busy. Read it when you are at peace with your mind)
There is blame out there in the horn of African region. A six year old child who could have been hoping to become an engineer in the future, sees himself going to the direction of hopeless vagabond or a refugee begging for a better living in other countries; a twenty two year old young girl who could have dreamed to be in her second year as a medical student is forced to take a totally another path in her ambitions of the life. Who are they all blaming?
I am on top of the list of the people that takes the damn curse because these ‘victims of human misunderstanding & wrong thinking strategy’ and these innocent Somali nationals lost much in their life. You and other Somali intellectuals share with me more or less the role as the responsible people who did not let knowledge take the steering power in this unfortunate nation in the horn of Africa.
You might be smiling from inside at these beautiful words and thinking that they are more of stylish way of writing than genuine way of sending a moral message for the sake of saving a nation. If you just have a little patience & watch with me the analysis of the way things happened, you will then be overcome, just like me, the patriotism and hope that with intellectual thinking and cooperation much can be saved.
We have always been thinking for the last twenty five years that the best solution to the crisis in Somalia comes from a good Somali president, a well tribal balanced group of MPs in the Somali parliament or a West supported military strong man. If we are fortunate enough to get a chance to have any of the three virtual solutions, it will only be an anti pain tablet for few years or decades and will not hold us together for generations of time.
If we genuinely need an everlasting solution that paves the way to a stable and peaceful system of ruling with all the civilised features of better living, we have to look around, see similar conflicts around the world and how these are resolved. We have to learn from others and imitate those who are better than us and share knowledge & civilisation with other that need our ways of thinking.
(Take a deep breath and don’t be discouraged to continue reading this message. The real target point is still to come. We start the analysis now. Let us go!)
The greed for power in the world has always been a human feature since the Stone Age. People have killed and destroyed each other for nobility (social hierarchy), economy, land & religion. People sought ways and tactics to be stronger than the other in order to have a better life on earth. This leads to a continuous struggle for the being the stronger to the present day arms race.
As time passed the nobility and religion causes have weakened and remained mainly with the poorer society but the economy and land factors remain as war fuels as always before.
As for the underdeveloped social inclusion and social hierarchy played a big role in every ways of the life. Countries like Somalia and other African countries, the division of the society into different groups and each group originating from a historical ancestor became part of the day to day political life. This tribal life style has always been in the rural areas in Somalia a lifestyle with merits and demerits in the long run. The urban life around the capital in Somalia received lesser effects of the tribal system since the lifestyle was different from the nomadic way of dealing and the city was subjected to trade and commercial inter relations with outside world. However the political life of the country was based on the tribal system and it meant that the political leaders sought support and protection from their tribal people in the rural area and hence transporting them to the capital. More nomads came to live in the city and the tribal system was equally felt in the capital city as much as the rural regions. The main reasons of why a Somali individual needs the tribal inclusion and support are:
Security: In any conflict the security of the person is maintained more by the tribal confederation than the national security system. In the nomadic life of the rural regions, where the conflicts normally lead to the loss of lives, the person is protected by his tribal relatives and if he caused death, his tribesmen would pay the blood compensation for the person. The person has therefore a big need for the tribal insurance.
Politics – there is no road open for an ambitious & highly talented Somali statesman/political scientist to serve his nation except the tribal road. This road can be easily taken rather by a non merited clan member than a merited non clan member.
Economic support: The tribal group acts as a financial guarantee at times of difficulties. One needed only to proof that be belonged to the same tribe to another in order to get financial support or any other support from the stranger.
Benefits for the citizen– all the national benefits that a citizen gains from the nation comes today in the form of tribal distribution. A talented person who is broad minded and independent is compelled to seek government benefits like jobs, education, easy trade etcetera, through the tribal channels than normal right ways.
Social inclusion – a person has a high social respect and references if he has a better inclusion among his community. There is also the undeclared but widely agreed acceptance that the person from a (powerful) tribe or higher social class gains better position or reference in the political arena. This is visible from the recent political developments in the country. a well known professor who made an attempt to let his knowledge & experience be his credentials in the political power struggle was forced to go back to his roots and deny all claims of patriotism and rationality.
With all these obstacles ahead of the Somali citizen, it is quite impossible for any educated person to implement any progressive ideology without the support of the tribe and the cooperation one can get in this way is not at all constructive. To find a solution to this social problem, we have to look around and make another analysis on how others managed to get through such difficulties, if any.
(Again I have to beg for your patience and assure you that what you are going to read will satisfy your curiosity).
If we rewind the history of many nations in the world and study the different social problems that many communities faced during the time, we will find out that some countries have encountered one or all problems we have mentioned above. We just have to illustrate the tactics these communities have applied and the ways they have taken to overcome all the social problems.
During the industrial revolution in Europe, when the insurance policy & government welfare systems never existed, there were similar social problems in Europe like the current problems in Africa.
Here in the Scandinavia, class society dominated the life and there was no social care. Child labour was frequent and the workers had to work like slaves as per the wish of the employers’ wishes. Women had no voting rights and every individual depended heavily on his family and relatives.
With government insurance policy system, the workers and the pensioners have less fear for the future. With a strong security and justice systems, the citizen in Europe has little to fear and more to concentrate on social developments.
The dependency of the old people on their own children is removed by the government social insurance policy. The dependency of even the children on their parents is minimized by the government child benefits. The dependency of the citizen on its relatives for jobs and education is removed by equal opportunity for all citizens system. The dependency of the citizen on his relatives for his own security is removed by reliable, patriotic and honest police and security forces that serve the citizens security requirements. More money being funded on removing the social hurdles and difficulties of the citizen reduced social injustices and the dissatisfaction of the citizen hence paving the way for the democratically elected governments to receive better cooperation from the citizens. The new system needed the participation of every part of the society and this required that the citizens mentality and understanding towards nationhood changed. Through education and proper information, the citizens became part of the social campaign. Education acted as the most important tool to change the attitude and thinking capability of the citizens hence creating a big nation with strong social structure. There are of course some defects but the main columns of nationhood became erected in a good form. Media & organisations participated in the campaign to prevent any misuse of the change that was taking place among the society.
If all the benefits that the Somali citizen gains from his tribesmen or tribal belonging is reduced & simultaneously compensated by government services, there will be no need for the Somali citizen to get attached to the tribal relatives. If there are some people still attached to the tribal system or mentality due to ignorance, this can be removed through education and information. The tribe system will finally remain in the society just for recognition.
The current government in Somalia may bring some change & stability but the permanent stability & long term development for the country needs proper planning that might take time. It needs a change in our way of seeing things and accepting this change.
If the future government gives better future prospects equally to all citizens and satisfies the citizens’ needs in all of security, jobs, education without the citizens needing any other support from other parties. That will need the tribe serving just a family address.
Let us unite all our experiences and wisdoms to help Somalia create this situation.
(Now you can stretch your hands and tell me what you think of it. Wait, wait, wait, and don’t go. The main objective was not just that you read the message & leave. The aim was not to receive your appreciation. Let us hold hands and together work for the better future of our nation)…
Awes A. Osman