Saturday, February 12, 2011
In 1992, I was born not knowing anything about Somalia. I grew up as a Somali citizen and throughout my nineteen years of life, I have not seen or enjoyed a peaceful Somalia. I have lived all throughout my life, waiting with hope, that one day I will see my homeland united and peaceful. Year after year, my dreams of seeing a peaceful Somalia are diminished. Peace deals after peace deal, the hope of seeing Somalia becoming a country where its citizens will have the basic necessities of life are taken away from me. Prime Minister after Prime Minister, the same routine and the same clan-based government always repeats itself in different forms. Now I am tired of waiting. I am tired of hearing former warlords calling themselves Ministers and Members of the Parliament. I am tired of hearing incompetent and uneducated clan-based politicians controlling the fate of the Somali people. I am tired of seeing former warlords and politicians killing innocent Somalis to further their agenda. I am tired of hearing how my beloved religion is used to murder innocent girls and women. I am tired of people who will do anything and everything to gain power, even when that means murdering innocent people and taking away their fundamental right of life and liberty.
Some of you, and I know some Somalis will definitely ask, how can an eighteen year old who does not know anything about Somalia comment on Somalia’s politics? Well, I have some news for you. I maybe eighteen years old, I maybe a citizen of another country, but the love that I have for my people and my homeland surpass age, experience or anything related to that. This mentality of age being the factor in the Somali culture is something we need to leave behind. Do not get me wrong, I love and respect my elders, but they need to step down and let the upcoming generation take over. It is time for the new generation to bring new ideas on how to rebuild our country. It is time to allow the young generation to bring new perspectives on how to resolve conflicts in peaceful ways. And most importantly, it is time for educated and competent individuals to lead Somali ministries and government.
To all Somali youths who live in the diaspora, it is time for you guys to work towards achieving peace in your homeland. It is time for you to build a grass root movement to challenge and take over Somali politics. This dream would never come true by joining the ranks of Al-Shabab. It would never come true by being involved with gang activities and doing drugs on the street corners. It would never come true if you drop out of school and take a minimum paying job, and certainly it would never come true if you do poorly in school. The only way we can bring peace to Somalia is getting education and competing with our fellow peers to attend the highest ranked institution one could enter. If the young men who left North America and Europe to join the ranks of Al-Shabab used the enthusiasm and the courage they had to tackle their education, today we could have a future lawyer, a doctor and maybe an educated politician who could have contributed positively to the situation in Somalia.
We are the future of our country, we are the generation that could bring peace in Somalia but we are also the “lost” Somali generation as our elders always refer to us. Somali youths are murdered every day, not in Somalia, but in North America and in Europe. They associate themselves with gangs, do drugs, traffic innocent Somali girls to prostitution and shed their own brothers’ blood in the name of gang loyalty. Let’s be honest, our elders have a point when they call us the “lost” generation. Our parents did all they could to bring us to these different countries we live in, not for their own sake but for us to have a better future and access the numerous opportunities available in these countries that took us in and protected us from the murderous, power hungry politician of ours. We have a responsibility to pay them back. We have a responsibility to our parents, our families and all of those who did everything they could to see that we are having a chance to succeed in this world. We need to pay them back by educating ourselves and taking advantage of the opportunities available to us. We need to pay them by becoming peace loving individuals, good citizens of the world and finally, we need to pay them back by helping those who were not fortunate enough to achieve or access these opportunities.
I am not preaching to you nor am I writing to you as a snobby, rich kid who is protected from the reality. I am your typical Somali immigrant kid. I also get it; going to college is hard and tiring when you have bills to pay and nobody to support you. Believe me, there are days when I wake up and I just want to quit. There are days when the best effort I put in a class is not enough and I get a D on a test. There are times I have to work on an evolution theory paper all night and all I want is to go to bed. I mean, I don’t believe in it, why should I bother writing about it? Well, there is something that keeps me writing, there is something that stops me from quitting and there is something that keeps me working harder to achieve a better grade in the next test. That is success, I haven’t seen it yet but I smell it.
Success does not come easily to everybody, but dreaming and hoping to succeed is something we can all do. Let’s dream about it because this is our time. This is the time for the Somali youth generation to step up, educate themselves and work towards achieving a peaceful and united Somalia. Let’s get to work, let’s hit the books and let’s use the knowledge we learn to bring peace to our homeland and help the humanity in general.
Yasin Ali is a student at Wake Forest University majoring in Political Science.