A BOOK REVIEW

 

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

HOW TRUTH DIED IN SOMALI POLITICAL DISCOURSE

Truth in Somali political debate has been replaced by personal and clannish perceptions irrespective of realities and facts on the ground.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

 

A NEW YEAR MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE OF SOMALIA

I am not your leader to warrant this message. Obviously, I am not an important person in your lives either. I am just an ordinary Somali, who is worried as you are about the state of affairs of our country. I, however, strongly believe that every Somali person is important to make a difference in putting Somalia back on its feet again. As a student of Somali history and politics, I simply want to share my heart-breaking feeling and pain you too are experiencing with the uncertainties and worries about the destiny of our country.

Many of us are not aware of the urgency of the matter. There are reasons for this civic passivity:

  1. The bulk of our population is young and politically unconscious
  2. The old guard involved in the Civil War is still alive and active in Somali politics. They are trying to maintain the status quo to avoid accountability for their role and actions.
  3. Corruption, illegalities and tax evasion play a major part in maintaining the status of doing business as usual.
  4. Religious distortion as a tool for mayhem and meaningless maiming of the innocent and indiscriminate destruction of all is the new evil and everyday act of the biggest Satan in Somalia nowadays.
  5. Failure to locate and elect competent, corruption-free and visionary leaders is the core problem and single most important obstacle to restore and re-construct Somalia as a viable state again.
  6. The vicious cycle of donor aid dependency exacerbates the national despair that put the survival of Somalia as an independent country into a never ceasing question.
  7. Many of us have forgotten already what does it mean to be a foreign-occupied Capital City. Shame!

This year, 2017, starts with a prayer to Allah, hope for Somalia’s recovery and a beginning of a process of national reconnaissance. The New House of People and the Chamber of Federation have historic challenges and daunting responsibilities to break away from the recent past in Somali chaotic mismanagement of national affairs, mal-administration and misrule.

Hopeful of Allah’s mercy for Somalia and confident that people’s prayers will be answered positively, I send a message of goodwill to all.

Ismail Warsame

Email: ismailwarsame@gmail.com

Twitter: @ismailwarsame

How Did We start Puntland Founding Administration?

The only office premise that existed in the entire North-Eastern Regions in August of 1998 was that of the Governor of Nugaal Region in Garowe.The Ruling Administration of SSDF in the Regions did not even have an office. We outlawed it immediately, among other Civil War organizations, in that part of Somalia.

To kick-start a novel regional state administration, we had to borrow an occupied vocational school away from the City of Garowe across the “Togga Manjo-Qarshe” to the North. I had personally established eight office rooms in the school building for sharing between the entire cabinet consisting of the President, Vice President and nine Cabinet Ministers. The only computers we used were my two personal HP laptops and a portable printer, running out of cartridges all the time. On the top of that, we were two billion and half Shillings in public debt, incurred in the holding of two major conferences: Consultative and Constitutional, extending to months of Congress deliberations. In addition, the International Community left us to our own device because of the inclusion of Sool and Sanaag in Congresses and state formation. SSDF leadership feverishly and strongly opposed to Sool and Sanaag joining Northeastern Regions. All Southern warlords were conspiring against us. Somaliland was threatening us because Sool and Sanaag issue. In other words, it was like starting from ground zero with a lot of insurmountable difficulties, sailing through storms in unfamiliar waters. We did not have the opportunity the formation of Somaliland enjoyed by taping into rich and committed overseas business communities in Arab Gulf, ready to liberate themselves from the “Southern Domination”. This may give some one an idea of how incredible our situation was at the time. One may think of Ethiopia giving us a helping hand to create Puntland State; Not at all, and not in any capacity.

Addendum: SSDF Chairman then, Mohamed Ashir Muse (Haabaan), did not believe that Daarood Bari (Eastern Darood) could stand alone on their own without the Hawiye in Mogadishu. Some Traditional Leaders led by Garaaad Abqani Garaad Jama were pushing for an Emirate type of administration for the New Regional State. We overcame a lot of other obstacles along the way.

Adjunct: That was how we modestly started Puntland with a lot of difficulties bravely met with persistence and lot of perseverance.

Postscript: On the top of that, we had to champion for and  lead the way for the re-institution and re-construction of the Failed State of Somalia. It was an historic mission, I believe, we had finally succeeded, despite it is yet a long way to march to the final victory.

Ismail H. Warsame

ismailwarsamegmail.com/@ismailwarsame

ADEEGSIGA AFKA HOOYO MEESHII MID DOOLAALLEED

Ma yaraya in intaan helay canaan iyo codsi wada socda ee ka timi akhriye maqaal aan afka Ingiriiska ku qoray. Mar hadduu daalacday maqaalka akhriyuhu, waxan u qaatay in uu yaqaan afka ay ku qorantahay. Haddaba, waxan hindisayaa in dareenka akhriyahaa ku saleysantaha su’aasha: Ninka maxaa doolaallada afka shisheeye u geeyey?

Waa su’aal isweydiin mudan, markaan la tixgelin dhoor arrimood oo kala ah:

1. Dhalinyaro Soomaaliyeed ee farabadan oo qurbaha ku dhashay, kuna koray ee afkooda Hooyo uusan ahayn Soomaali, Soomaaliyana aad u daneynaya.

2. Soomaali farabadan oo adeegsata afafka shisheeye dhanka ganacsiga, siyaasadda, waxbarashada, Interneetka, isgaarsiinta kale, iwm.

3. Ummadaha aduunka oo in badan daneynaya Somalia, Soomaaliduna haatan “Beesha Lixaad” ku magaccowdo.

Ragga aan ka mid ah, oo aan isu haysan in ay afkooda Hooyo hodan ku yihiin, ka shisheeyana dirqi iyo naf-lacaari wax ku cabirikara, baqdin badan baa kujirta. Waxay ka baqayaan in ay ku sifoobaan gabaygii Sayid Maxamed Cabdulle Xasan: “Alle Qabey Afkana Waa Yaqaan, Waana Ka Agnaan’e”. Qaarkood, malaha aniga ila mid ahi, waxay ka wahsadaan xulashada, ama ugaarsiga erayada toolmoon ee afka Soomaaliga. Sidaa darted, waxanu door bidnaa, af doolaal, anagoo isku maaweelineynaa in ajnabiga u dhashay afkaa, noo cafiyidoono khaladka badan ee afkiisa Hooyo aan ka galeyno. Qoraalladu, af kastaba ha ahaadee, waxay ku saleysanyihiin qaybaha kala duwan ee wax soosaar aqoonta bulshada, sida suugaanta, waxbarasha, aqoonta dabiiciga aha, hidda iyo dhaqanka, xirfadaha gaarka ah, iwm. Qoraagu ama waa mid guud, ama mid aqoon gaar ah uleh qayb farsamo khaas ah oo bulsho kooban ee ay isku xirfadyihiin ugu talagalay. Waxaa kuli ka dhexeeya in qoraa kastaa leeyahay awood u si fudud u gaarsiinkaro akhiriyaasha ujeedada qoraalkiisa. Waxaa jira qaar, iyagoo si guud wax u qoraya, akhiriyaashooda ku dhiba in qaamuus agyaalo, marar badanna qoraalkooda laga caajiso in akhriga la damaystiro.

Waayahaan dambe, akhriyaasho isha umbay mariyaan qoraallada, cabsidaa awgeed. Haddaan magacca qoraalku, ama erayadiisa ugu horeeya ayen soo jiidan akhriyaha, qoraagaa dadaalkiisu waa hal bacaad lagu lisay, ama gaawe (toobke) hoos ka daloolla.

Waxaa taa raaca, dadweynihii Soomaaliyeed oo si qardo jeexxa ah u adeegsada qoraalka afka Soomaaliga, iyaga oo u aabayeelin shaqalka afka, joogsi iyo hakadna la hayn. Taa waxay keentay in fikirka qoraalkooda la garanwaayo, ama la dhibsadaba qaabka ay wax u qorayaan..

Waxba yaanan deel qaafine, afkeenna Hooyo hawl badan ayuu innooga baahanyahay, si uu noqdo af aqoon-soosaareed (knowledge production), siiba dhanka qoraallada. Jihaadkaa ma sahlana inta laga gaarayo xarumo, hay’ado, goosimo afka (language clubs) iyo cilmi-baaris Dawlad Qaran oo Dawlad-Gobolleedyadeedii ku tiirsan, sida ay Somalia haatan la rabo in ay u socoto.

Ugu dambayn, iyadoo ayen iga ahayn dowdarnimo, jacayl iyo xiiso badanna ii hayn af doolaalleed, ayaan ku mada-daashaaa qoraalka maqaallada Afka Ingiriiska ku soo baxa. Ku qabow, in aanan moogsanayn dareenka baahida loo qabo maqaallo xiisaleh ee Afka Soomaaliga ku soo baxa.

Qore: Ismail H. Warsame

e-mail: ismailwarsame@gmail.com

Twitter/Facebook: @ismailwarsame

TWO FATEFUL NIGHTS FOR PUNTLAND FOUNDATION

It was in December 1997 when the Somali National Reconciliation talks in Cairo had just collapsed. National Salvation Council (NSC, the Sodare Group) Co-Chairmen, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and General Aden Abdullahi Nur Gabyow, had managed to get out of Cairo and safely arrived Addis Ababa, the temporary HQ of the NSC.

A group of men from North-eastern Somalia were staying at Ghion Hotel in Addis Ababa. These included Abdullahi Yusuf, Hassan Abshir Waraabe, Said Caduur, General Abdullahi Omar “Ina Libaax Sankataabte”, Ambassador Azhari, myself and a few others. We were all seated in my hotel room as we were drafting some papers concerning our responses to the failed Cairo Conference. Suddenly, Hassan Abshir informed us that Islaan Mohamed Islaan Muuse phoned him up the other night to re-lay to our group that they should travel to Garowe to participate in a “Harti Conference” to be held soon. We discussed on the issue for more than one hour. Hassan Abshir recommended to the group that he could ask the Islaan to put off this conference while we were tied by other pressing issues in Ethiopia. Most of the group responded positively to Hassan’s proposal. Abdullahi Yusuf was non-committal. I, the youngest of all, took an exception to the proposal. I asked the group a question, which I believe, turned things around: “Why General Caydiid and Cali Mahdi were considered as the most powerful warlords in Somalia at the time?”. The group looked at each other and stared at me. I answered my question. “Because they don’t run Mogadishu by a remote control like the way you are suggesting now. We have to drop down everything we are doing here in Ethiopia and all go to Garowe and hold this meeting”. It took the next two days to decide to travel to Bosaso and onwards to Garowe.

In the meantime, a group of Dhulbahante men led by Abdullahi Shariif organized a meeting to sort out any personal and political differences or frictions between Abdullahi Yusuf and Mohamed Abdi Hashi. In that meeting, Abdullahi Yusuf asked Mohamed Abdi Hashi what was the problem or grudges he held “against me”. Mohamed responded that Abdullahi went alone with General Caydiid, the bad man of Somalia, while he (Mohamed) preferred Cali Mahdi, the better man. Abdullahi looked around and asked Mohamed, “is that all, Mohamed?”.  Mohamed responded, “yes”. Abdullahi told that group. “I will tell you why my cousin, Mohamed, was upset about me. During the time we each belonged to different warlord camps, Mohamed Abdi Hashi came up to me and advised me “if Majertaines were unable to lead this time, they should hand over that role to us”. At that time, I responded to Mohamed, perhaps unwisely, you should belong to either Farah Garaad or Mohamoud Garaad to suggest that to me. As a Qayaad man, you shouldn’t”. There  was a hilarious laughter and commotion in the meeting room. With that soft note, reconciliation between the two men was complete.

That was how the Consultative Congress of Puntland Foundation was held.

The 2nd fateful night of Puntland came when Abdullahi Boqor Muuse “King Kong” and Ugaas Yaassiin of Ahmed Harti (Dashiishe) phoned up Abdullahi Yusuf from Bosaso, who was then in Galkayo, after the end of the Consultative Congress. They urgently asked him to come down to Bosaso as the SSDF Executive Committee members were obstructing fund-raising efforts for the Constitutional Congress with the inclusion of Sool and Sanaag regions.

We left for Bosaso upon the Elders’ request.  By the time we reached Bosaso, the SSDF Executive had almost succeeded in foiling fund-raising efforts for the forthcoming Congress, and had persuaded Bosaso business community to refuse any levies ear-marked for the Conference. For Abdullahi Yusuf and his Committee members, it was an uphill battle to counter the SSDF sabotage. Finally, Said Caduur, a Fund-raising Committee member, suggested to Abdullahi Yusuf to resign effective immediately amid unbeatable resistance from SSDF Executive Council. That meant all our efforts to hold the Final Phase of Puntland creation (The Constitutional Congress) were in jeopardy. One day, we were having a lunch in our residence in Bosaso when Abdullahi Yusuf told me, his wife Hawo Abdi Samater and a guest, Muuse Diibeeye, a trader, that he was about to resign from the Fund-raising Committee Chairmanship. It was a shock to me. I asked him: “How could you resign when you are on the brink of a great victory?”  He responded: “What victory? There is only defeat and humiliation here!”.  I argued, and basically, quarrelled with Mr. Yusuf on the issue during the entire course of that lunch and long after.  At the end, he didn’t resign. We eventually won that battle with SSDF Leadership by raising the first Sh. So. Three hundred million for the Congress and handed it over to Islaan Mohamed Islaan Muuse in Garowe successfully. Victory!

That was how we held the Founding Congress of Puntland.

By Ismail H. Warsame

Twitter: @ismailwarsame

Puntland President, The Micromanager

While it is absolutely necessary for Puntland President, Abdiweli Gas, to support the state institutions and regional self-governing bodies, what he is doing now in Galkayo definitely falls under the mandate of the Local Government.

His current visit to the City of Galkayo is long overdue and his effort now is too little too late. Instead of using the opportunity to announce a major strategic Puntland State policy on GalMudugh, respect for the Federal Constitution, the New Deal and Somalia Vision 2016, he has opted for diverting people’s concerns on these issues to dismantling City dwellings and displacing IDPs in the town,  while at the same time the most illegal occupation of the Old Galkayo City by the residents of Baraxley still remains intact and unattended. The President seems to have no stomach to follow up his orders in reversing the illegal expansion, or to use the Somali term “Udub Riixxa” Baraxley.

The Presidential visit to Mudugh becomes a public relations exercise and detraction from the pressing fundamental issues of Puntland State, in general and Mudugh, in particular. What he is micro-managing in Galkayo now he could have easily done as well from his office in Garowe.

Instead of coming down there to visit with a major policy shift announcement in the light of latest difficulties with the Mogadishu Government and its flagrant violations of the Constitution and multiple accords with Puntland State, he becomes a busy body in municipality issues.

Puntland people should be asking President Abdiweli Gas serious questions as to why Puntland’s series of “Agreements” with the Federal Government were not respected and what he was doing about it; What the future holds for Puntland State in Somalia amid its marginalization of its historical leading role by the fledgling Government of President Hassan Sh. Mohamud. And these are are just a few of the deep concerns people of Puntland have about Abdiweli’s leadership and his abilities to do his job as the President of the First Pillar State of Somalia’s Federalism.

One of these grave concerns is the disturbing absence of transparency in the operations of his Office and Government. There are persisting speculations that things are always done behind closed doors. Equally suspicious is the fact that the President has yet to articulate Puntland State clear position on the latest political developments in and about Somalia.

Escalating Puntland insecurity and threat to its stability from extremists all the way to the United Nations Security Council (see recent UN Resolution) to authorise deployment of AMISOM troops without informing his Cabinet and debate in Puntland Parliament is a serious and an impeachal act bordering on treason. These AMISOM troops will be definitely Ethiopians occupying parts of Puntland territory and some cities. Because of this, people of Puntland have legitimate right to be gravely concerned.

By Ismail H. Warsame

E-mail: ismailwarsame@gmail.com

Twitter: @ismailwarsame

Addendum: One of the main reasons why President Abdiweli Ali Gas could not come out forcefully against the Federal Government violations of the Constitution and its partial involvement in Galmudugh formation is believed to be that he had been deeply compromised during his tenure as the Prime Minister of the Transitional Federal Government. Much of the scribblings in the Constitution were done under his watch, according to reliable sources. He cannot talk and defend himself on those issues now as the President of Puntland.

HARDENING OF ATTITUDE

I read about “the hardening of attitude” somewhere (don’t ask me about the book, the author, when and in what context, for I can’t recall or recollect either of that). I simply acknowledge that the expression has been sticking in my mind for many years. I think the issue is worth discussing and debating. Similarly, I do recall a story that once upon a time a guru in sales trained a number of salesmen, and after a while, one of them came back to the sales expert to report that he could not do his job as he hates constant rejections by customers. The guru asked the newly recruited salesman how he knew that the customers hated his sales pitch. The salesman answered that he could feel this hatred in both customers’ responses and attitude. The guru told the junior salesman that he would be one of the best salesmen of his time. Surprised, the salesman asked his trainer how he could be that when all he received were terrifying rejections. The trainer told him that understanding what people like to hear (their needs addressed) is one of the critical skills in sales.  That is an excellent sign that he was experiencing this feeling of his customers’ rejections. Not understanding that one’s sales pitch does not sell is a tremendous liability in human interactions. “Hardening of Attitude” is the assumption that there is only one way of doing things. It means “my way or the highway”. It means no room for debate and improvement. It means never re-inventing the wheel. It means the other person’s opinion does not count. It means take it or leave it approach. It means no room for compromise. It means breakdown of communication between family members leading to failure of marriages and family bond between parents and their offspring. Anyone who lived through the unlucky experience of having eccentric partner in marriage or business knows what I am talking about. It means communication barriers between bosses, their staff or employees. As an example, at one time in my working life I have had a boss, who had no idea of how a computer worked, never typed a letter and only knew that there were computers in existence and saw me using one. Suddenly, my boss decided to become computer literate and asked me if I could train him on the machine. When I began the first lesson, he started lecturing me about computers. That was an extreme display of personal echo and hardened attitude towards reluctance to change. It means no learning, renovation, modernization or invention. It means no growth or development in any particular field of human endeavor. Life becomes mundane, routine and boring. We call bosses or persons with hardened attitude as “egocentric” We see people, who describe the world through their favorite word “I” everyday. We often meet with person or group of persons, who continually use the words “we” and “they” to “otherise” other people outside their circles, culture, or even their social or professional class with no room for change of attitudes or any possibilities to re-think about their deeply held and entrenched positions on personal relationships, political and social issues of the day. We say these people are extremely “sociocentric”. Still, there are many of them; there are even entire nations, who think that their ways of acting, their cultures are better, considering others’ as either “eccentric” or below “standard”. Some of these nations consider themselves as highly advanced and “civilized”. Such hardened attitudes had been even major sources of world conflicts, wars and break-down of diplomatic relations. My reading is that such attitudes rank 2nd to pursuit of national interests. Call it a “prejudiced national echo”. How do the Somalis stack up in this “hardening of attitudes”? People described as uniquely “poetic” by well-known historians, anthropologists, explorers and writers ( Richard Burton, I. M. Lewis, , Lidwien Kapteijns, Bogumil W. Andrzejewski,  Enrico Cerulli, Said Sheikh Samatar, Abdi-Sheikh Abdi, Ahmed Ismail Samatar, Nuruddin Farah, just to name a few), must have, certainly, a fair share of prejudices and attitudes among themselves and towards others. Some of these writers depict these people as extremely “proud people” for the Somali nomad recognizes no authority other than his own Creator. Such hardened attitude or belief in his human superiority is, perhaps, the main cause of his eventual downfall and collapse of his social and political organizations – and first and foremost, the Somali State. There was no measured and balanced view of his reality. With the appearance of a dictatorial regime in the realm of a “born free” nomad, the world went upside down for the proud men and women of Somalia. Citizens were reduced to robots conforming to the prevailing regimentation that could be only designed, devised and operated by an unheard of police state. I know some would argue that I ignore the role of the leaders who instigated and spearheaded the community violence in the most vicious civil war following the fall of the repressive Military Junta. The critics, however, dismiss the fact that this was the result and historical legacy of the Barre Regime. As thousands were victimized and hundreds of thousands fled the country, they instantly became refugees in foreign lands unprepared for such sub-human treatment they could never have dreamt of. As the most vulnerable members of the society like women, seniors and children were exposed to all the dangers and suffering caused by lack of protection in an abysmal environment of statelessness, the famous Somali “pride” and dignity were  irreversibly damaged. Time-tested traditional values and human self-worth are becoming the stories of the past, and those, who are old enough to remember, a nostalgia and déjà vu.  As a result, people today suffer in mass from post-civil war trauma with little awareness of the epidemic due to the lack of interest or adequate studies on the immigrant population, and limited access to qualified medical services in refugee camps. One could only sit with Somali Diaspora communities across the world to listen to the non-ceasing debates along political/clannish lines in coffee-shops to gauge into the sad state of these endangered human species in display, where no one speaks of the needs of the local communities and the future of children and next generations. In these shouting sessions, one would immediately notice that there are no meaningful discourses as no one would attentively listen to any one in a normal debate. By listening to them to try to make sense of what they are saying or what the issues are, one would feel that these sessions are the best examples of the fallacy of “red herring”. Another would say that participants are kids suffering from the condition of ADS (attention deficient syndrome). I leave this issue alone to the much qualified experts to explore. In general terms though, it is high time for Somali communities to learn from this bitter experience, and rise up again from this self-inflicted comma to restore their dignified existence by revising and reviewing their attitudes for change. And please listen to the concerns of each other and stop pitching on the wrong messages in order to have productive, constructive and interesting debates on issue of vital importance. By Ismail H. Warsame e-mail: ismailwarsame@gmail.com Twitter: @ismailwarsame

IS PRESIDENT GAS’ POLITICAL SHOWBIZ AND IVORY TOWER ATTITUDE HURTING PUNTLAND?

Despite the President’s continuous travels and repeated tours in some parts of the country, while intentionally avoiding some, including those regions considered as his political power-base, and he is highly visible at receptions at Villa Garowe with Somalia’s International Partners, President Gas is politically isolated within a short time into his mandate as he has lost touch with reality in both Puntland and larger Somalia.

This self-imposed political isolation and complacency take place due to the following mistakes of his making:

1. The President chose to surround himself at State House with young novices as his key advisers, who neither have the political skills, education, nor the experience of working in any parts of Somalia, not to mention about having slightest field works in Puntland State of Somalia.

2. The President is incapable of gauging the mood and feeling of ordinary man and women towards his leadership performance in terms of the economy, public order and personal safety.

3. State employees, including security forces are not paid months after months, often triggering off threatening periodical mutiny of forces, ensuing dangerous security situation, and creating an atmosphere of growing popular deep discontents. The President does not treat this precarious situation as a national emergency and priority number one for the very survival and unity of Puntland.

4. The President feels that he knows what is he doing better than anybody else-a superficial Ivory Tower Attitude devoid of any real and on-the-ground political context and smart understanding of current dismal economic and geo-political situation of Puntland.

5. The President clearly enjoys hosting high-level delegations, who continually jet in and out of Puntland with no benefits to deliver to the State, even a small budgetary support for the security sector engaged daily with extremists and militants-the very forces that enabled the so-called “international Partners” to have trouble-free discussions with Puntland authorities inside the country to show-case their engagements with Somalia, and thus diffuse the concerns of their generous Donor countries. Rather than demanding reciprocity and playing ball, the President is enticed with diplomatic niceties, empty, and meaningless receptions in his Office. It is disturbing to see even junior NGOs officers being to driven to the State House rather letting them mind their own business with government departments concerned. One critical fact Abdiweli has to learn about these international organizations is that they are not accountable to anyone. As they are faceless, their promises and statements to their interlocutors mean nothing as they would never honour or deliver on their promises- a black hole Puntland fell into recently. The President often gets busy himself with departmental tasks and mandates- an award tendency to a one-man show exercises.

6. Under the fledgling leadership of President Abdiweli Hassan Ali (Gas), Puntland State has abandoned the on-going Somali National Debate on the re-institution and re-construction of the Somali Republic along the Vision the State of Puntland has been fighting for nearly two decades.

7. Worse of all, it seems that President Gas has no a vague idea of the Mission and Founding Objectives of Puntland State of Somalia. Probably, in his Ivory Tower vanity, he did not bother to browse that Historic Document even briefly. Let us Paraphrase some highlights of these Guiding Principles for his benefit:

1. After many trials and failures of the National Reconciliation Conferences, it became obvious that Somalia could not be re-instated and re-constructed from the “Top-down”. It must be re-instated from “Bottom-up” by the formation of “Building Blocks” (Federal States) producing legitimate and representative leadership to discuss the future governance of Somalia.

2. Puntland State of Somalia is founded with a vision to create an orderly, peaceful and democratic society with the marriage of traditional societal leadership with a modern and efficient administration of statecraft capable of delivering public services, working towards economic self-sufficiency and safe-guarding the security and unity of the State. Puntland State of Somalia is an integral part of Somalia, and would not entertain unilateral secession or independence as an option. Governance system and public institutions would continue to evolve and grow leading to further democratization process, population census, population disarmament, and building strong, credible and lasting public institutions.

3. Puntland State was committed to taking the leadership role required to help credible and representative community leaders from various parts of Somalia engage in constructive dialogue in building constituent regions to form regional states on free will and voluntary basis. The people of Western Galgaduud Region of Central Somalia were invited and had free option to join Puntland State whenever they were ready. In this regard, Puntland would spear-head a National Reconciliation Process leading to the resolution of the legacy of the Civil War, deepening peace and restoring public trust again in a shared government and institutions.

4. Puntland State of Somalia would promote peace and good neighbourliness among the peoples of East Africa, and with Somali neighbour states, in particular.

Based on the narrative above and serious issues raised therein, how does the “scoreboard” of Dr Gas look like? If you live in Puntland State, or closely follow its “state of the union” today, you have every reason to worry about where the country is heading to. Besides the economic calamities besetting the people of Puntland, there is strong lack of political leadership and direction. President Abdiweli Hassan Ali (Gas) is now in a political trap designed by the President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud’s faction in Mogadishu, to politically isolate Puntland, on the one hand, and destabilize it in the Central Somalia front, while welcoming and approaching Somaliland encouragingly, on the other hand. That is on the top of the political Puntland headache on threats to its unity and Sool and Sanaag issue.

It takes leadership to acknowledge one’s mistakes, ask for advice, and listen to the concerns of one’s own constituency attentively. Would he?

Ismail H. Warsame

E-mail: ismailwarsame@gmail.com

Twitter: @ismailwarsame

Khalif Sheikh Mohamud, the Undisputed Poet of His Time

I met with Poet Khalif Sheikh Mohamud on numerous occasions. He was a modest and humble young man, not keen to talking at all, when he was among his friends, but always attentive and listening, a rather reserved and even shy guy. Unlike many of the Somali poets, singers, and artists at the time, he did not have any personal vices, or addictions like chat-chewing or smoking. Politically, he was not a conformist, and often his vision and convictions came into clashes with the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF) leadership of the day. He always supported the underdog in political and ideological confrontations within the exiled opposition organization. He discretely, but quietly criticized SSDF leaders for poor management of resources and opportunities available to them at the time, and often sided with its opponents within the leadership on the overall conduct of the armed struggle. He was strategic thinker and seized the events of moment with poems, which had affected and shocked the core of the Somali society like an earth-quake. He was a creative genius, who had sparked off a decade of literary renaissance throughout Somalia. He dreamt of a free society, free from dictatorial suppression. He envisioned a nation free to exploit its immense potential, a proud people whose riches are immeasurable. The obstacle to his vision of future Somalia at the time was Siyad Barre Regime as amply described by his major anti-regime poems.

Yet, when Siyad Barre resorted to and intensified his traditional divisive tactics against Somali society in order to cling to his collapsing power and to counter growing influence and popularity of Khalif Sh. Mohamud, by encouraging what they then termed then “Ergo Daarood” with a series of poems with the intention of inciting clan hatred and tribal conflicts, Khalif Sh. Mohamud refused to be drawn in, or to respond to the critics of his poems and cause. He has political vision above the mundane and petty political bickering intended for the survival of the Regime. Instead, Khalif let Dhoodaan and others to respond to his critics at pay of Siyad Barre.

I met Khalif Sheikh Mohamud in Jijiga for the first time in 1982 in a Somali restaurant with a group of young SSDF activists and fighters. He had just come from Addis Ababa at the time to visit fighters at frontline stations. I was posted there as a Political Officer for our mobilisation and propaganda campaigns directed towards Northern Somalia. As we were eating our meals of meat and rice, he suddenly asked me whether I knew the Somali phrase: “Macaan Dharakla”. I answered him with the literal meaning of the phrase as a kind of delicious and favourite piece of meat located at lateral sides of the camel below the hum. Some one from his entourage asked me whether I heard about the poetic verses: “Macaan Dharaklayahay Ceebtu Waa Meheradiinii eh” from the celebrated Khalif’s Poem “Hurgumo”.

The Late President of Somalia, Siyad Barre, was reportedly in shock when he heard Poet Khalif Sheikh Mohamud was killed in action in a battle between SSDF fighters and Somalia’s Army in Galdogob in the former’s offensive to capture the District. Although SSDF had succeeded in winning that battle, Siyad Barre was reported saying that with the death of Khalif Sheikh Mohamud, SSDF had conclusively lost the war against his Regime. No doubt, Siyad Barre was fond of Khalif’s Poems, and he was reported many times instructing his aides to hunt and collect all poems of the poet.

Siyad Barre was often seen replaying Khalif’s scathing verses against his repressive regime, especially one citing “Mareexaan Majeerteen waxay isuyihiin waa iska moogtahay eh …… Mabda’a, siyaasadda xun iyo maamulkaan nacay eh”. A relative of Siyad Barre and one of the last care-givers of the ailing and sick Leader in exile in Nigeria, had reported from Siyad Barre’s death bed that Barre was repeatedly saying the name, “Khalif Sheikh Mohamud”, until his last breath before he passed away. The dying Leader didn’t explain or too weak to elaborate what he meant by repeating Khalif’s name. The attendant neither understood at all nor knew Khalif Sh. Mohamud. One possible explanation or interpretation is that Siyad Barre believed that his Dictatorial Military Regime fell partly due to the powerful influence, popularity, venous and contagious nature of poems by Khalif Sheikh Mohamud.
 
Khalif was a master of both straight and oblique art of poetic communications.

Ismail H. Warsame

E-mail: ismailwarsame@gmail.com

Twitter: @ismailwarsame

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Ismail H. Warsame is the Former Director of SSDF General Secretariat (1983-1989) and Founding Member and First Chief of Staff of Puntland Presidency (1998-2004).