By Mohamoud A Gaildon
Today, many Somalis are celebrating. After sixteen long years, they are celebrating. Mogadishu is about to be pacified, the Somali state restored, the country unified. I wish I could share in the euphoria. I wish I could visit Atlanta’s Somali teashops and laugh and joke and poke fun at others, as many of my country folk are doing. But I cannot. And it is not from lack of trying that I cannot. No matter how hard I rack my brain; no matter how many times I toss and turn in bed; no matter how far I part my lips and show my teeth to affect a smile; no matter how well I try to blend and please the crowd, I fail to rejoice and dance. It feels miserable to be alone. It makes me feel queer, out of place, alone and lonely, an outcast. I can only say to the spirit that has suddenly taken hold of my people: Why have thou passed me?
Fellow Somalis, if our history of celebrations is an indication, we are in for a sharp letdown. In October of 1969, we celebrated the end of a Democracy. In January of 1991, we celebrated the destruction of the Somali State. And now we celebrate Ethiopia’s occupation of our country. Let’s see what comes next. Do not fool yourselves; there is no way to make this what it is not. You cannot sugarcoat it; you cannot put a positive spin on it; you cannot sweet talk your way out of it. It is occupation, and an Ethiopian one at that. Put it in your pipe and smoke it.
A few years after our independence, Emperor Heile Selase of Ethiopia visited the Ogaden and claimed that Somalia could not survive without Ethiopia. At the time, Somalis scoffed at the tyrant as they should have. We scoffed at him because we had a strong national will and a just cause. Can anyone now imagine that in 1964 our very small army stood up to the bully that Heile Selase was and fought valiantly to defend our infant nation? And now, more than four decades later, we fall without even a whimper! We Somalis are a strange lot: We have a way of making prophets out of our tormentors, the way we are turning our conqueror Meles into a Savior.
I am not a fan of the UIC. I think, as many of you do, they provided Meles with a pretext to invade Somalia (not a legitimate pretext, but a pretext nevertheless). I also acknowledge our utter failure to take matters into our own hands and put our house in order. After all, we had sixteen years to do it. This realization, however, falls far short of soothing my pain. Today, I hurt deeply for the lives of so many of our young who came from all corners and all clans of Somalia, and I feel humiliated, subjugated, violated. I suffer a nagging sense of dread that I cannot shake off, and I see the beginnings of a long and dark night.
Mohamoud A Gaildon