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The Drama of Political Fallacy in Somalia

Abdi-Noor Haji Mohamed Writer and film-Maker Mogadishu, Somalia

by Abdi-Noor Haji Mohamed

You may remember or heard over of that wonderful play of DHAGAX IYO DAB composed by the famous Somalia poet, Ali Sugulle and staged by most of Somali artists in the mid sixties. It has called the leaders of the time not to mix tribe with politics as otherwise the fire of clan revenge would one day reduce the nation to mere ashes of history. No one paid heed to these calls. As we well know of the politics of the sixties failed because of parliament seats divided along tribal lines though in some way parties were representing these tribes.


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When it was about to fall apart into pieces of tribal fragments, the army came to the rescue of the nation. The soldiers had intervened before wrangles sparked off embers of vengeance in a bloodless coup nine years after independence, taking advantage of the death the late Somali President Dr. Abdirashi Ali Sharmarke, may his soul rest in peace. 


And the military, though reached great strides of achievement in the first few years, failed when they tampered with the Somali clan structure as a way of favoring some and disfavoring others.


When the military regime was toppled in a popular uprising after 21 years of dictatorial rule, tribal based factions jumped on the wagon to fill the vacuum vacated by the collapsed system. But every political ship they had built hit the rocks of reality due the strange intermarriage between politics and tribalism.


I just wonder why can’t Somali politicians do away with tribalism when they claim to be government or religious leaders? How can this dirty itch of tribal mentality be scratched off from the minds of our people? Why are our intellectuals, some of them qualified professionals such as doctors, engineers, teachers etc are accepting to be appointed by clan chiefs to join in the Somali political stream?


It has happened in many power-sharing forums that an intellectual has vied for a parliamentary post with his clan ticket. Is that not madness, dear reader? Who do we rely on when our professionals are idolizing their tribal chiefs to step up in the stepless ladder of Somalia’s tribal politics? Can the Islamic courts stop this madness that has been rife in the Somali political system since the colonial era?


Back in the college days in the early eighties, I remember proving one is equal to two without detecting where the process had gone wrong. It is called Mathematical Fallacy. Now I find the same fallacy in our Somali political system where the whole political life is dominated by tribalism and  I want to prove it to you dear reader, through a discussion I fictiously articulated to have taken place between me and a friend of mine. He begins with:


“Can you prove one is equal to two?” My friend asked me hoping that I would say no. But I didn’t


“Yes if the mathematical operation is a pure fallacy” My answer came as a shooting star from space


“What is a fallacy?” He demanded an explanation


“Fallacy is something you cannot prove logically” I replied with great ease


“But mathematics is based on logic” Said he wondering how I would disagree with this

“Sometimes it can be made a fallacy” Unexpectedly again my answer sent strange signals to his nerves


“When?”  he asked, feeling somewhat uncomfortable


“When there is a zero denominator” I replied calmly


“Can this be interpreted into politics?

“Why not?” I answered with tremendous confidence


“What is it called?”


“Political Fallacy”


“Please explain to me,” He demanded to know more


“Mixing tribe with politics is a political fallacy” I said meekly


“Can you elaborate further please?” He tried to dig for more information


“Tribal-based Parliament is a zero denominator” I said coolly 




“Then the Somali political equation is wrong

What we have in the TFG is just a political fallacy


“AH Now I understand the problem

I must warn the Islamic courts before they fall on this tribal trap” Said my friend, raising his eyebrows to their maximum stretch and measure


“But they are already union of Islamic tribes”, I told him


“Still there is a chance to save them”, he said


Then we agreed to work together, along with other intellectuals on this matter but we don't know how far we can go to introduce corrective measures to get Somalia out of the tribal web.


Abdi-Noor Mohamed
, Somalia

[email protected]

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