By Salma A. Sheik
Somaliland is, surely, in a better place post Riyale Admiration. Riyale’s Administration was a burden to the nation and to UDUB per say, hence, the disintegration of UDUB Party, which is the oldest Somaliland political party. UDUB is in desolation, now, and its existence is in a twilight zone after it has withdrawn from the, resent, local Municipal Election. In fact, it will be a history after the three permanent parties are announced, soon. The Party members would tell you so. There are many of them, whom have lost hope in the Party, prior to its demise, and many others who disputed and/or doubted the direction the Party was taken, which they believed was an end road that has no U -turns. But, as they say ‘it is not over till the fat lady sings’. Every Somalilander wishes a good luck to UDUB, although, we are all, now, convinced that it will be a long time, 10 years to be exact as the constitution directs, till the Party gets a second chance to elevate itself from the ground and comes back to glory, again. We are, also, quite certain that Riyale is a goner and will never be the premier he once was! It is shame that UDUB could not be saved the same way Somaliland was.
The UDUB Chairman, has done all he could while in office and we acknowledge that with utmost respect, but his end results dictate he is no exemplary commander in chief. In fact, the end of the two major administrative posts held by him indicate he is neither a builder nor a maintainer. He failed the Rep of Somaliland, where he ruled nearly 9 years and was deposited with national electoral. He left offices without any viable legacy; no recognition or influential international friends who could help achieve a diplomatic recognition, and definitely no UDUB.
Former president Riyale’s failures are too severe and unforgivable or forgettable. He failed us in so many areas that it is very offensive of any Riyale supporter to justify or defend his failures. He run the President office for 9 crucial years. His predecessor and founder of UDUB, Mohamed Ibrahim Egal, may Allah (SW) grant him Janah, entrusted Riyale with an administration, Party, and a country that has been salvaged from many adversities and, which were, just then, succeeded to stand on strong, but not yet solid foundation. He was served in a Silver Platter as a successor, and was only left to solidify these foundations. His supporters will, often, claim that he has ensured national security, as if we were, first, a terrorist infested land, which its security was endanger by extremism. Are these people confusing the Rep of Somaliland with Somalia? In fact, organised terror attacks were carried out by terrorist groups whilst he was in office, and the Presidential Compound was the first target and hit. He failed to defend us from such attacks and he failed to protect young Somalilanders from being brainwashed by terror groups. He failed Somaliland youth, who started to emigrate the country and risk their lives by taking dangerous voyages to get to Europe, in his time in office. Such migration did not start in Riyale’s time in office, but it was rife and could be linked to the widespread unemployment and low quality of education in the country, then. There are claims that, during Riyale’s time in office, the government would encourage people to chew Khat by, as reported by those who were civil servants at the time, delivering free Khat to civil servants at workplaces. The aim, as anyone can understand, was to debilitate the people. A failure for us, but mission accomplished for Riyale and his advisers or partners in this crime. Today, as others tease us, our nation is nothing less than a ‘Marqan Land’! If a survey was to conduct, today, we could learn that half the nation, if not more, chew the narcotic green leaves imported from Ethiopia and Kenya.
Some of our former president’s, Riyale, failures are inherited by the current ruling administration, or so it will be unless a drastic change is presented whilst still in office. Kulmiye Party, the current ruling party, often boasts about the wonders it has achieved in the short time they were in office; the increase of the civil servants’ wages, the construction and repairs of inner cities [Hargeisa] roads, the facelifts of Hargeisa Airport, and the Berbera Port and Airport, success in clearing all debts by Riyale administration, replacing former Somali Rep Shilling in Burao city with Rep of Somaliland Shilling, constructing more water wells than Riyale did, and so on and so forth. Yet, the current administration skips the real issue that needs their full attention; the social issues and, thus, the morality and hope of the people of Somaliland. The damage that Riyale and his administration intensified in their time in office.
There are numerous other changes presented by the current administration, but, I argue that both Riyale Administration and the, current, Silanyo Administration have abandoned crucial areas, altogether. For example, the social reconstruction. The dilemma with our nation and nation building efforts have been dwarfed by our blatant ignorance of our societal problems. Our societal homogeneousness has been, greatly, wounded during the era when Somalilanders were fighting against the injustice of the former totalitarian regime of Mohamed Siyad Barre, and the post SNM armed struggle for freedom. Some psychologists and/or other experts in human behaviours would argue that Somalilanders, today, are suffering, greatly, from war trauma and post conflict syndromes. It is expected that human psychic gets affected in extreme violence and oppressive situations. Sufferers of any war trauma and post conflict syndromes suffer from flashbacks and nightmares of the same extreme negative experiences they have witnessed, experts would argue. Worst, although these conditions are not heritable, they are contagious in the custom that the sufferer influencing [it] on his/her offspring. What some experts would argue is that the parent who is suffering from any posttraumatic disorder will, in hope to relief him/herself, create a fear of same negative experience/s they have witnessed for their own children. Hence, it is expected an untreated adult will influence his/her emotional and psychological commotion onto their offspring. The perpetuity of such condition, where the sufferer is not treated, will affect many other areas of the sufferer’s life including his/her social ability, creativity, and productivity. When the condition is left untreated, it will recoup itself onto next generations.
It is argued that small percentage of sufferers of posttraumatic disorder will recover without treatment. However, the problem will prolong in situations where the sufferer is still reminded by the negative experiences witnessed, and, arguably, where the sufferer is enabled in other ways that will intensify his/her illness. Drugging people with narcotics will intensify such disorders. This results the sufferer to continue fearing that he/she him/herself will go through same adversity or a beloved one will. Therefore, the condition stigmatises in the minds of the posttraumatic disorder sufferers. Other countries, which, like Somaliland, have gone through wars or civil wars suffer from such conditions, but due to their acknowledgement of the problem, they implement therapeutic assessments and treatments for their patients of posttraumatic disorders. But before we discuss how others treat their patients, let’s remind ourselves how our society can be diagnosed to be suffering from extreme forms of posttraumatic disorders.
No doubt that, quarter a century ago, the injustices of dictator Siyad Barre’s regime and the violence that erupted in response to such injustices have had their own effects on the health and wellbeing of our people. Today, we have society that some locals, often, tease that they are insentient ‘way xawilan yihiin’. There are many other impediments that our people are suffering from due to the extreme violence witnessed in 1970s, 80s, and even 90s when there were [sporadic] civil wars. Such impediments include mental disorder, where one can easily observe in our cities and towns, which mentally ill people are in substantial numbers , failed marriages that our people, regardless of where they reside in the world, are suffering from, anti-social behaviours of not just the young but also amongst the adults, addictions of brain stimulants such as Khat (narcotic green leaves that are imported from Ethiopia and Kenya), alcohol, and other addictive drugs.
These disorders and many more others I haven’t mentioned here are the visible health and social problems that are faced with our people, post conflicts. However, there are other significant disadvantages that the extreme hardships this society has witnessed over the years and the lack of stability in terms of statehood, which, somehow almost everyone is convinced, is the answer to our social, political, economic, and, for some people, personal problems, resulted. The fear of people’s inner instability caused by the hope or no hope of Somaliland’s attainment of diplomatic recognition, and that our hard-earned peace and stability may not last if there is any hiccups is what on most people’s minds, hence, many, so called Somaliland origins, decided to betray their nation and run to Somalia for personal gains. Others act fools and when there is a dispute in politics and policies, they, disgracefully and absurdly, get some former Somali Republic flags out and riot in streets, as if that is hurtful or offensive for everyone else other than them! Healthy minds do not behave this way.
I cannot help but notice the glumness on the faces of many Somalilanders. It is quite peculiar to, also, learn how hard it is for most people to recognise or even notice familiar faces. It seems, at first, if everyone is suffering from severe attacks of amnesia, then, some will, later, remember that they ‘may have seen you earlier, somewhere’! Another problem I have observed is how people amuse themselves with lies and gossip, which, as Muslims such self-indulges, are forbidden, and our culture excludes these, too. The vagueness and the delusional of most people is a sign that their mental wellbeing is not in good balance. In certain societies, fabrications, gossip, drugs and substance abuses, fornications, murder, and many other antisocial [sins] behaviours, are said to be ‘escapism’, where the offender is behaving such way to relief his/her inner demons. Psychologists term most of these people as sociopaths and psychotics, where most of them are believed to have been emotionally damaged due to abuses of physical, emotional, and sexual, experienced in childhood. In our society, you will witness, on daily basis, grownups swearing in Allah’s name that they will ‘kill X and their families will collect X’s blood money in Shillings’. Main roads of our cities are labelled, scandalously, in connection with the aims and objectives of certain people, ‘Casho iyo Calaf’, which translates ‘dinner or destiny’. I.e. those who are known to hang around in these roads are said to be in search of either someone to buy them dinner for that night or someone to marry. The latter might sound acceptable, but, in modern times, one could only identify such behaviour as modern day ‘prostitution’. The dilemma in either of these behaviours; swearing to murder someone and hanging around in known venues in hope to get something or someone, is that it has become acceptable in our society. People accepted ‘attempt murder’ and ‘modern day prostitution’.
One may enquire the reason our, often claimed, conservative people would accept such behaviours. I, personally, believe it is not a matter of acceptance, but, as many Somalilanders would argue, people are, indeed, insentient ‘way xawilan yihiin’. They are suffering from whatever disorder experts may conclude, if there is, ever, an opportunity to be examined. Our people are neglected, greatly. Leaders; politicians, clan chiefs, and even religious leaders exploit them for their own, often twisted, end games. The current Municipal Election, where all types of leaders were involved in its campaigns, was the most evident example of people exploitation. Thousands of young school kids were offered a $50 pay to travel to other cities or towns to cast their votes for the certain candidates. School children as young as 14 and illegal to vote due to their young age were collected from one city/town to vote in another one. Parents of these children were either unaware of their children’s whereabouts or accepted such ‘child labour’ for their own children. It is like, ‘if it is acceptable to our leader/educator/chief, it is acceptable to us’ kind of logic for them.
In the, recent, Municipal Election that took place nationwide, the International Electoral Observers concluded it as ‘free and fair’! There were certain changes to be noted in this election. The Rep of Somaliland’s security forces were using much advanced technologies and other ‘public-friendly’ methods; CCTVs, computers, and walkie talkies to monitor security and keep good surveillance of the situations. There were, however and as reported, heavy presence of police and other security units, which were meant to intimidate people, and occasionally whipped those youth, who could not contain their excitements. These new liberties; the no brainer of voting without ‘electoral registration’, the relief of heavy security, and the encouragement or money enticement of Party campaign organisers and candidates let to voters cast their votes as many as their small fingers could tolerate bleaching with domestic bleach, which they claimed to have used to wash off the ink at the polling stations. I have met with many voters, who were not only admitting to such fraud, but who were happy and proud about it. Some would admit that they have sworn in Allah’s name to convince the Ballot boxes controllers. Damaged minds? You decide.
Now, let us look into the possibility of our nation obtaining statehood with the current mind-sets of our people. I, always, argued to my colleagues and friends that our determination and success to gain International Community’s attention is, in fact and somehow at the moment, serving us negatively. Being member of Somaliland Societies in Europe and UK-Somaliland Working Group, I have worked with colleagues, who are determined to get Somaliland noticed and thus accepted as a sovereign state. Sometimes, I feel these colleagues are blinded by the love for their nation and the desire to see their country succeed, but as a community worker and professional in Sociology, I, often, get apprehensive about what we are revealing to the IC. If they were to deliberate on the issue of our recognition, who or what would they be considering? Our sufficient sized land? Our breathtakingly landscapes? Our natural resources? Our ‘free and fair’ elections? Our perseverance to maintain peace and stability?
Possibly and supposedly, these are what our leaders were focusing on for the last 22 years to convince the IC. But how about our nation building successes? Are we the right society to join and contribute to the IC? If we cannot be honest in electing the right candidate to manage our cities and towns, could we be trusted to help find solution to global issues? If we are debilitated as a nation with drugs and brainwashed to deceit by the same people we trusted to lead us to progress and prosperity, how are we going to be useful to the rest of the world?
I hope my essay, here, encourages a national debate on the issue of ‘Somaliland’s nation building processes’ in the hope some positive conclusions might be reached to help Somalilanders from such cruelty. I, strongly, believe that our success and/or failure will be due to the state of health and wellbeing of our people. If we are fit mentally and physically and can get on with our lives , be more creative and productive, we will achieve our goals. It is a matter of peace=prosperity, but inner-person peace is what is in this context for the people of Somaliland.
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