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14916677396201372438140I have just read the new book: “A challenging transition in Somalia, a story of personal courage and conviction” by Dr Abdiweli Mohamed Ali (Gas). The 166-page book could be informative and enlightening to those who are interested in knowing what had transpired within the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia in the course of the RoadMap to get Somalia out of the Transition in the run-up to 2012 Election  – the challenges in the Constitution – making; the in-fighting within; the obstructionist role of some members of the international community to keep the status quo and the leading national and patriotic role the author played in the process as the Prime Minister of Somalia.

Of particular importance in the text is the quarrelsome relationships between the Transitional Federal Government (The Center) and Regional Administrations (The Peripheries) at the time, and important role the PM played to bring them together to agree upon completing the National Constitution and holding of election of the Parliament.

The author touches on his difficult relations with then President of Puntland, Abdirahman Farole, however he ignores the challenges and opportunities of his own election as President of Puntland in January 2014,  and the prevailing now Puntland public option on his real and perceived poor leadership,  run-away corruption and his Ivory – Tower attitude towards governance and consensus – building.

I thought Abdiweli’s take and characterization of the Somali Civil War is courageous and an accurate account.

Of particular interest in the book is the erudite use of the English language. The book is a good read for those who want to catch-up with the latest political developments in Somalia and attempts to revive, re-instate and re-institute the failed state.

Ismail Warsame

E-mail: ismailwarsame@gmail.com 

Twitter: @ismailwarsame


Many Somali writers,  political pundits, debaters, etc ignore the fundamental comparative analysis of the nature of our society. How many countries globally are similar to Somalia in terms of societal development? Let us count some of them: Yemen, Mongolia, Mauritania, Chad, perhaps, Niger, just to point out a few. What is the common livelihood? Nomadic. Are these countries relatively much better off than Somalia today with regards to socio-economic development, besides the failed state status in some? How do you explain the common backwardness they all suffer from?

We all know that there are stages in societal development from community of gatherers, hunters to settled farmers, to industrialist/ capitalists and more complicated financial services providers, bankers and multi-national corporations.

Where are we among these stages? Can we say that our society is still in the primative stage of societal development, despite cosmetic globalization impact, starting with the most recent colonial administrations of the 19th century?

As most debaters complain, can we make  a quatum leap into industrialist/capitalist society by-passing the stage of widespread settlement of the nomadic population and overnight become a sophisticated modern society of the 21st century? Are we realistic in our expectations? What are our priorities in moving forward?

Could clannism and clan politics disappear amid backwardness of thought, ideas and nomadic life suffering from continual droughts , man-made environmental degradation and natural calamities?

The Soviet ideologues used to teach that because there was a powerful Soviet Union then to help, certain developing countries could by-pass the capitalist mode of production and move on to the socialist one. We all know how it ended up.

Let us not fight each other to give excuses for our failures in understanding the nature of our society. Let us set our priorities right.




“Dad, but where is the government?”

That was a troubling question by a Somali kid to his dad in the year 2004 at Mogadishu Airport. A splinter group of then Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP) members led by former Speaker, Shariif Hassan Adan, left Nairobi, Kenya, for Mogadishu. Their mission? To undermine the newly formed Somali Government (TFG) by preventing it from establishing itself in the country, and Mogadishu, in particular.

The boy, who asked his dad the strange question went with his father to the Airport for the “welcoming ceremony” for the rebel faction of TFP. The sad thing about this true story is the kid had no idea, or image about what a government look like. He saw only persons coming down from the airplane. Finally, the little boy, very disappointed, asked: “Dad, but where is the government?”

Think of Mogadishu situation in 2004 after decades of power vacuum and absence of institutions of governance as the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was then just formed.


Truth in Somali political debate has been replaced by personal and clannish perceptions irrespective of realities and facts on the ground. Everybody seems to be spinning his/her emotional version at expense of truth. There is no accountability for lies and deception.

One would wonder how this phenomenon came to be. A Muslim society strictly supposed never to lie while following its Islamic teachings and traditional culture whose cherished values include “a man’s word is as important as himself”, and to be called “a liar” was the ultimate insult to a person. A person caught in lies used to have lost credibility and good standing in the society, and presumed to have strayed from God’s right path as well.

In nomadic society, keen to listen to the latest information on resources (rain, water, grazing etc) and security, they would come to listen to the news from a visitor from distant places, but would double check first any information concerning whether the new visitor was reliable and worthy of his word. If they would find out he was not reliable, they wouldn’t mind debriefing him. That was how we were for thousands of years.

What has happened in Somali society lately is a case study for sociologists, anthropologists and other experts of human studies. As a lay man, I can share my personal observations.

There are three venues where you can gauge how truth has died in Somali politics, possibly in other areas human of endeavor as well:

  1. Political debates online (social media), TV and other media outlets of Somali origin.
  2. Live group discussions among Somalis on events happening in their country
  3. The so-called Clan Spokespersons lately appearing on the political scene (Afhayenka Beellaha Hawiye, Hag, Somali Concern, armed factional organizations, some of the civil society organizations, etc. as an example).

After observing, reading, listening to and watching the contents of the efforts of these groupings, I have tried to figure out what was the root cause of this strange culture of lies and misrepresentations of facts in Somalia. Are there historical roots for now all-encompassing phenomenon?

I am finding out that national and clan politics are hugely contradictory. National politics is a new phenomenon in Somali tribal society. Central authority was born in Somalia with the colonial powers of Italy, Britain and France. The word “Somalia” rarely existed before these powers came in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Yes, there was the word Somali, but not Somalia as we know it.

National politics in an early stage started from Sayid Mohamed Abdallah Hassan Darwiish Movement. This was the first attempt by a political figure to transcend beyond the clan lines in both Italian and British occupied Somalia. Before that moment, Somalis were clans and sub-clans. Clans or tribes had no national politics. There were no interests beyond those of the clan, whether they involve in resources or clan security.

As political parties started to appear in the urban centres of the colonies, attempts were made to bring clans together for a common cause: Political Independence. Surely, the members of the most popular political party, the Somali Youth league (SYL) knew and quickly took steps to fight clannism, which was public enemy Number One, worst than the occupying colonial powers. Clannism was the single most important obstacle to building a nation-state. They succeeded in uniting Somalis to some extent, but fell short of a long term solution to the problem. Clannism re-emerged immediately as Somalis started to self-govern. Political parties established themselves along clan lines. The old modus operandi of safeguarding clan interests took precedence in governance. Suspicion and clan-hatred took deep roots. Deception,  lies and morale degradation took hold among the new rulers of Somalia. Other enemies of Somalia such as ignorance, hunger, diseases, and backwardness had been forgotten altogether. There was no vision for Somalia to be and to prosper.  In the end, it collapsed and became a failed state.

Now that that had happened, are there any lessons learned for the current leaders of Somalia, if it is going to be Somalia? Some people doubt very much. Others are quite skeptical. Still others believe that we could keep trying to benefit from the past mistakes despite strong centrifugal and centripetal forces acting on the possibility of realizing a Somali “nation-state” one day.

What you see today is the growth of clan politics at macro-level in the form of regional administrations and micro-level in the shape of clan representation in central government. The mentality here is no different from of that of 18th century when there was no Central Somali Authority, except in lies and mischaracterization. It is an attempt to mislead, misrule and misappropriate. It is self-denial leading to another failure for repeating past mistakes over and over again. It is like making your past your present and future. It is actually like missing “Both Worlds”. It is denying the truth.

Ismail H. Warsame

E-mail: ismailwarsame@gmail.com

Twitter: @ismailwarsame



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