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Cosi’ Fan’ Tutti: The Malpractices of the Nairobi Based Non-for-Profit Corporations Operating in Somalia

By Ahmed Shiikh (Yaabbane)



Somalia's tragedy (statelessness and prolonged civil war) is tantamount to a colossal illegal enrichment of third parties including UN Organisations, International Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Ecomafia, Corrupt, Pseudo-Somali organisations and individuals.


Somalia has been without Government for 16 yeas not for nothing. The invisible hand of those who gain from the Somalia’s statelessness chaotic status quo is undeniable.  Even though we cannot escape our responsibilities as Somali people responsible of this tragedy in the first place, let me underline that the NGOs and UN-run businesses are one of the most dangerous and destabilizing factors in Somalia even in the near or medium term.


The country is de facto owned by so called Somali Aid Coordination Body (SACB) and their local and international partners. These pseudo-non-for-profit multinationals are indeed one of the biggest sources of the Somalia's endless tragedy. They perpetuate and encourage corruption while dealing with Somalis and warlords. By the way, most often, they deal only with corrupt Somalis. They fuel also the devastating culture on “aid dependency”.


Today’s “Aid Multinationals” are not much different from their privately owned and officially profit-seeking counterparts. To begin with, in order to exploit savagely from the conflict-ridden developing nations, they outsource their operations in the third world itself. The declared objective of this strategy to minimize the operational costs but the reality seem that they are trying to escape from the law. They don’t like to be held accountable fro their deeds while exploiting from those poor nations whereas there is hardly even a solid framework of proper laws and rules regulating the activity and the businesses of these multinationals. Likewise, the officially non-for-profit corporations are increasingly outsourcing their operations and staff. The HQ back in the west is seemingly responsible only to raise funds for the hungry, malnourished and otherwise dying Africans. The HQ is neither responsible nor accountable of what the regional offices may or may not do with the money raised from the genuine public. This because the NGOs are - at the eyes of the western public opinion - the good guys helping poor people around the world to survive. Thus, the NGOs are above any suspicion. Furthermore, in the western hemisphere where the bulk of the money is raised, it is neither simple nor desirable to hold accountable NOGs operating in a far, war-ravaged countries with strange cultures. If that’s not the case, in certain cases like Somalia, where there is no “institutional counterpart” then it is almost impossible even to doubt of what these NGOs are claiming they are doing in that part of the world. They are accountable only to themselves.


No wonder, then, if the highly qualified Somalis, brilliant academicians, development practitioners and professionals are kept away from being involved in Somalia's affaires. Those who are well aware of the modus operandi of the SACB and their partners will know that even in the very rare case when a Somali professional is invited to take an interview for a vacant position in the UN organisations or international NGOs operating in Somalia, what these organizations do normally is not a normal assessment of one's professional capacities and/or performance records.


Usually, the first phase of such an assessment involves a consultation with their corrupt pseudo-Somali and mafia-minded partners based in Nairobi or Somalia. These parasite agents gather a sort of "intelligence infos" relating to the candidate's tribe, clan, sub-clan, family, relatives, etc. If you seem somebody who's not corrupt or if they fear that you would be a Somalia-loving Somali professional, somebody whose motivation is to take care of his/her people and country, they then invent ad hoc, false and fabricated "background information" about the candidate. They (the UN/NGOs in collusion with their mooryan-minded partners) come up with a lengthy and complicated story of intimidation and the "perceived potential dangers" that might take place if you take the concerned post. This is true especially when the candidate is applying the post from the abroad (Diaspora). No matter how resource-full and willing professional you are.


They will tell for example that you cannot go to a certain areas/regions of Somalia on the grounds of your clan. It doesn't matter if your clan is to be found on the other side of the country and it (candidate's clan) has never ever had nothing to do with the clans /tribes of these "dangerous areas".  And what if these “hostile” and dangerous areas are the most peaceful regions of the country?  They simply fabricate and propagate a false sense of insecurity among Somali people. This is only one of many tactics they use to keep qualified Somalis away from Somalia. This is not a "conspiracy theory" I am inventing against aid organisations. This happened to me and I am only sharing both my experience and my concerns.


Another tactic they use is to conduct an interview centered on one's political views and even to test your faith! Yes your faith!! As recently as several months ago, I have applied for one of many positions these pseudo non-for-profit international corporations advertise even via Somali website only to give a false sense of transparency and equal opportunity. To be honest, I would have met all requirements for the said position. Rather, professionally speaking, I could offer a lot more than they really needed for the job. To my surprise, the interview centered exclusively on political issues in Somalia rather than my professional capacities, credentials and experiences. Now, you might argue that this is part of the “standard package” as you are expected as candidate to be familiar with the situation on the ground. Let's assume it is “normal” to test whether the candidate is well aware of what is going in Somalia even from political point of view. But I would also assume that the part of the interview dedicated to this kind of "political test" wouldn't last more than 5 minutes. Would it? What if the whole interview is exclusively to test your "political sensibilities”. My sensation is that they test first of all whether you are morally corrupt or not; whether you favor one (perhaps friendly) warlord or not; whether your political views coincide with theirs political agenda or not. But that doesn't per se mean that they wouldn't prefer morally corrupt candidate than the one who's not corrupt.


Apart from Warlords and various warring mooryaans, Somalia is co-owned by international mafia with "human face", i.e. the SACB, UNDP, INGOs and their corrupt local partners. A good indication of this ill-conceived business is the abnormal proliferation of the number of the so called NGOs operating in the country, be they Somali NGOs or International ones.  It seems clear that this has entailed a massive “cultural corruption” whereas, in today’s Somalia, every body wants his/her own NGO in order to survive in a harsh country. This means, among other bad things, lack of common interest (in Somalia), endless competition for the meager and humiliating handouts of the SACB and the likes from Nairobi and the promotion of renewed and visceral resources-based conflicts throughout the country. But the big business is run by the Nairobi-based “good guys". These small and ill-conceived Somali NGOs are seemingly not aware of being the cow being milked by the Nairobi based “aid industry”. The big money is there to be found. Perhaps the big money never leaves from international banks of the donor countries. At the best, it might have only changed the hands.


At that point, you might ask yourself, as I asked to myself, what happened to the Somalis working on behalf of these organizations? Why they don’t speak up? As I see it, the only plausible explanation for this terrible silence is that the majority of honest Somali professionals are in effect powerless. Some of the Somali professionals involved in these issues are certainly corrupt, part and parcel of this international scam, which is detrimental to the rights and the interest of the Somali people. Same is valid for some international NGOs which originally went to Somalia (read Nairobi) not because they were motivated by the big money they would in turn have received in the name of the suffering Somali people but because they were genuine in their humanitarian mission. How ever, these two categories, which might seem the “exception of the rule” at the first sight, are equally guilty because they know how bad the donor money is managed but, for one reason or another, they prefer to keep silent. They seem to adopt and adapt themselves to the Italian/Roman say "cosi' fan’ tutti", which means every body does/behave like that....why should I take the trouble to change things! After all, it doesn't affect me directly!!!


Last but not least, Somalis will never be able to take their fate in their own hands unless they unite both against home-grown mafia-minded individuals, corrupt pseudo-leaders and organisations on one hand, and, on the other hand, the ad hoc created mafia-like but officially non-for-profit multinationals operating in Nairobi like SACB and the likes. This tragedy in the tragedy is not only about billions of dollars diverted illegally from the projects international community donated to the suffering Somali people. It is a destabilizing factor in Somalia's affaires for it perpetuates conflict, grave social and political mischief and widespread societal corruption. This malpractice has produced, inter alia, a new corrupt social class and pseudo-leaders, which means that we Somalis are condemned to live with it even in the long term if we don’t act swiftly and accordingly. Finally, I am grateful to Hiiraan Online and other Somali media investigating these malpractices or at least giving space to the Somali people in general and the honest Somali professionals or intellectuals in particular to express themselves regard with this rampant problem and to report their experiences in this regard. HOL’s initiative is very appropriate and timely. I would suggest to open a special dossier where all relevant infos are collected.


Likewise I would recommend honest Somali professionals in these issues but who might feel powerless to open their eyes and to denounce what they know. Perhaps there are tens of them out there but they are afraid not knowing that many of their fellow Somali colleagues are equally concerned of what is going on. Individuals alone can feel powerless and ultimately be concerned of the consequences for their families if they speak up because they would probably lose their positions. But if there’s adequate awareness-raising campaign, debate and analysis, then these professional insiders would speak. This also valid for all Somali citizens, both in Somalia itself and in the Diaspora.


Ahmed Shiikh (Yaabbane)
E-mail: [email protected]


The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "Hiiraan Online"

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