Somalia: Critical Juncture



Hassan Haji-Abdirahman


I am still in denial of how long we, Somalis, endured the ever-lasting state of on-going lawlessness in the land and nationwide intercontinental immigration into seemingly unprecedented foreign habitat. Some might argue this is potentially a continuation and extrapolation of an inherent pastoral, nomadic tradition hailing from our great grandfathers. This generation informally collected quantitative data relying heavily on observed patterns of natural events -signs of rain in their horizon, movement of the wind, and so on-, to project how life will evolve. Many post-civil war Somalis are driven by delusional thinking and unrealistic expectations of safety, wealth and success. Some failed, others succeeded, and the rest are still in pursuit. Collectively, our current bitter reality has led to an unfortunate paradox of emotional instability, making us fall many years behind our peers and biological clock.

Somalia, by and large, has long been called “the land of punt”, remaining a Sub-Saharan symbol for peace and prosperity for centuries. In our recent past, plantation crops from once-rich agricultural fertile land, large livestock export industry, and the geographical advantage of owning the longest coastline in the region created the spinal cord of the Somalian economy. We have been a nation of poets with a rich literary tradition whose heritage remained orally preserved, flourishing so well in spite of the constraints of time and space. Inhabitants of greater Somalia were well known for their patriotism, pride and bravery, making our contemporary enemies resort to the use of the deadliest tactics of warfare.

Ever since the independence, a vast number of nation building projects were established mainly under the umbrella of the so-called “iskaashato” union in addition to relatively insignificant foreign investment subsidies. In the face of constant physical and moral threats from both regional and international foes, Somalia’s military, for instance, embodied one of the best trained and most disciplined military personnel in the continent. History observed this Africa’s easternmost country as being a star icon in the politics of the region, proudly enjoying aspirations far exceeding its limitations. The two-plus decades of chaos and total dissolution of this great nation’s sovereignty is very mind-boggling. For future record and reference, the underlying cause of this ever-lasting commotion deserves continuous individual and collective reflection.

Many elders entertain the notion that tribal politics in Somalia coincided with the independence or thereabouts hence the two sharing the same birthday. It possibly started with the redistribution and inheritance of wealth abandoned by the colonial masters of the 20th century. These were endorsed not as a national property but rather as booties in the possession of the elites. Intellectual leaders, with some few exceptions, empowered by clan affiliations, spearheaded this unblessed caravan. Shareholders in ‘Saamigii Hashii Maandeeq’ followed the same formula. The following heydays, still during our golden years, genetic fingerprinting of the above-mentioned mentality manifested itself during the broad daylight. The rest is sadly a history and history repeating itself over the years. The recent dirty political realities on the ground leading to the birth of the current internationally recognized weak government, a product of the most cursed 4.5 formula, is also sadly of this trend.

Somalia is a failed nation ironically endowed with strong unifying bonds stemming from homogeneity. Oddly enough, today one might question if post-civil war Somalis will still retain their undiluted uniformity. Our ossified social structure and its menace of tribalism regrettably pose a danger relatively analogous to that of the nuclear weapon in the industrialized world. Ending almost a quarter-century of lawlessness, this great nation-state is at a critical juncture. The presumed rising sun of peace in South Somalia is confronted with uncertainty from both within and outside. Federalism is a dismantling tool utilized to assist self-suicide of – ie euthanasia of- the remaining Somali sovereignty. There is a survival-of-the-fittest tug-of-war between tribal rivalries for socio-economic and political gains. Sadly, many mature Somali intellectuals at home and abroad still identify themselves by their forefather’s place of origins neglecting their very own birth place and/or home of their prime years. This primitive selfcontained inbox thinking is a backward drift. Somalia needs urgent resuscitation before it goes on a life support system, or possibly, Allah forbid, rests in peace!