“Dab iyo Dhagax mayskuma duftee Kaladhowraaye:
Kaladhere Labaduyee Kaladhowraaye.”
Education and Politics:
A classmate of mine asked me a difficult question in my intermediate school. “Am I not the best in our class? The most intelligent (farid in Somali) and if anybody is asked who is the best in our class, wouldn’t everybody say it is me. If that is the case, then why am I not good in mathematics and education in general? Look at that guy there; we all know he is stupid. But in maths he gets 100 percent. Do I have to be stupid to be good in education”? He concluded. My classmate was an orator who spoke for us when we visited other schools. Later I came to know that Churchill, the best known British Prime Minister was always the last in his class and an orator too like my friend.
There is an English saying; ‘those who shine in school do not shine in life’. My classmate shined in politics. A popular song cropped up soon after that by Ali Sugule which said; “is education all about learning a foreign language”? The song answered the question and said, “No, we think; it is how much God endowed with one”. Ali Sugule was wanted to clarify the relationship between inborn skills or talents and acquired skills in life. How much of Mr. Mo Farah’s running is innate or acquired? Whatever doctoral or professorial qualifications you have, you would not compete with Mo in running. In that case there must be a talent which is God given and a skill which is acquired. If you don’t have the innate talent you can train till the cows come home, but you can’t run as fast as Mo. So is every subject including politics. If you don’t have the basic talent, educational certificates alone can’t take you there. What is happening in Somalia these days has a ring to what my friend told me when I was young. Look at the people who are flocking in Mogadishu looking for political responsibilities and the certificates they claim to carry. Even if the plethora of doctoral (PhDs) or Professorial titles are genuine, which are more often than not, it is not a blank check to excel in every field. The right qualifications are not only educational, but also the content of the character; such as; honesty, diligence, tolerance, fairness, perseverance, accessibility, accountability, hard work, oratory, kindness, experience, modesty, God given innate intelligence, and non-tribal mindedness. But I admit it is difficult to measure those traits. Both President Adan Abdulla Osman and Prime Minister Abdirazak Haji Hussein had much of those traits. That is why governance became difficult because they raised the bar too high. They set a standard hard to meet. Today the two most important qualifications for a public office are…a false educational certificate and a tribe; those two will not make the Presidency and will not take us out of the mess we have been in more than two decades. Anybody who is running for a high Public Office must be an individual not a tribe with integrity and capable of making decisions that can have greatest impact on the well-being of all the people. He/she must be willingness to stand up for what is right, take responsibility and avoid finger pointing on other tribes to hide his/her mistakes.
Tribal culture and Politics:
In my early reformatory years, a classmate of mine gave me an advice. “I know you are not stupid. But everybody knows you as ‘miskeen’ (harmless). It is not good to be seen as Miskeen. What I mean is; being seen as a good boy is not good enough in our culture particularly the overpowering Eastern culture. You must understand that you are too sweet to be seen as a clever boy. Take it from me; for I lived in both East and West and I know better”, said my friend. What should I do to be in good standing with our culture?
“Be rude, unpredictable, and shout sometimes in public for no obvious reason; but don’t overdo it. If you don’t do that, everybody will take you for a ride. Remember my friend the real clever boy they say is; a father fucker; bastard, shaidan (Satan) sneezed from the sky. You can’t be as good as that, but you can avoid being seen as stupid by taking my advice”, my classmate concluded. “So I have to be bad to be good in our culture”? I asked. ‘Precisely’, he replied, with a thunderous laughter while as usual holding his hand on his stomach as though it will fall down by the force of his laughter.
Even more striking than that advice is… “ninka aan warankaagu galin weedhadu ma gasho” (if your spear does not enter a man he does not listen to you). Now the spear has given way to bullets, Kalashnikovs, land mines, and many more mass killer weapons and the individual became a tribe. So the above saying will now be adjusted to; “Reeka aan Rasaastadu gallin weedhadu ma gasho” (the tribe your bullet does not go through will not listen to you). Tribes claim to be bigger and better not on account of their mental power or humanity, but on account of their killer machines. All that says is; the Somali culture is tough, rough, tribal and nomadic.To take care of your herd, be prepared for a war … to keep the peace be prepared for a war. But today we should say; to keep the peace; be prepared for a peace. In Somalia rural urban migration took an unprecedented proportion due to war and famine. In rural culture, it was possible to separate feuding tribes, but that is not possible in an urban setting. So rural mentality should adapt urban mentality…live and let live. Those who insist to live in the past are the living dead. The good things of yester years are our heritage, but the bad ones must be put in the dust pin of history. Tribalism was always the deadly ghost in our society, but it was not as bad as it is today… self seeking politicians let the genie out of the box for political gains. I hope we have learned from our tragedy that the biggest malady in our midst is ‘tribalism’ and it cannot be the cure for our present day illness. The selected parliament is, therefore duty bound, to put the genie back in the box, where it belongs and never let it out again, if not we will sadly remain the failed State we are.
“Dab iyo Dhagax mayskuma duftee Kaladhowraaye:
Kaladhere Labaduyee Kaladhowraaye.”
Politics and Migration:
We worked together after graduating from high school. Later I went to India to study and he went to London for work. He sent me a letter from there. In that letter my classmate said, “at last I found my country where I should have been born; I was not given the choice where to be born. Now I have the choice and England will be my country of choice. From that date my classmate is in London and he never set a foot in Somalia since then. That was in 1970 and I did not comprehend then the real message in the letter. I saw my friend’s migration to UK as a typical case of brain drain and an unfortunate loss at the time. In 1996; I too made my choice and made Canada the country of my choice. My classmate had a lot of foresight and his letter was a harbinger to what the future holds for us. For more than two decades, given the choice, nobody wanted to be born or breed in Somalia. Think of how many of our youth have lost their lives in the high seas or perished in the desert in a desperate move to Europe. Samia the Somali Beijing Olympic runner, did not make it to the London Games for she died crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Italy. “I love Somalia, but there is no peace”, were her last words. Somalia has been drained out of both its brainpower and manpower. As the cream of the crop disappeared into the distant unknown lands, Somalia was left to its fate, wounded, bleeding and feuding. Now some of that brain power is going back to where they always called home. More often than not, the Diaspora brings back home essential commodities; money, education, ambition and above all hope. Those who remained home in thin and thick of times fear of being marginalized in politics by the reverse migrant who gets going when the going gets tough. They are accused of having double allegiance and expatriate in their own homeland whose minds and interests lie elsewhere. An MP in Hargeisa told me once that out of 82 MPs only 19 are not from the Diaspora. The Diaspora Speaker of the House, he said, chaired the Parliament less than ten times in ten years. We can’t get the quorum done because more than half of the MPs are outside the country at any one time. So the House is in a complete limbo and we can’t do a thing. Now they say a Diaspora cabinet has taken over which makes the future of Somaliland bleaker. Demonizing the Diaspora however, is like biting the hand that feeds. While some see the Diaspora as saviors, others call them the ‘Dayuusbara’.
To conclude, today’s peace building in Mogadishu is a chance not to be missed in any form or reason. We should all realize that opportunity does not knock your door twice; it is now or never. The massive external support must be seen as temporary, and at the end of the day, our fate is solely our own responsibility. We have to understand too, that any form of external help; is neither free nor open-ended. We have to make the maximum use of the support while it lasts; hit the iron while it is hot and hit it directly on the head. Otherwise our renewed hope will dash away once again as fast as Mo Farah; only this time, never to return.
By Omar Ibrahim Hussein (PhD).
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