by Sarmaan Ramses
Friday, July 13, 2007
Lately it became a Somali tradition not to trust our so called Somali politicians and disregard their messages, even at times when they are at their best. And the reason being, disappointment after disappointment had ingrained in us to distrust them as they are always clannish and unpatriotic. However, Listening to Ali Mahdi Mohamed’s speech at a rally following the conclusion of a Hawiye clan wide meeting on July 10, 2007 was truly an exception. In fact, it’s very reasonable one to wonder what attracted my attention and dispelled my “usual” distrust in his speech.
Ali Mahdi Mohamed - Chairman of the Government Reconciliation Committee
Plainly put, it was the genuineness of the message and the sincere tone in which Mr. Mahdi emphasized self criticism and the importance of nationhood and the urgent need to rise above the usual fray of clannish ideals since there are more vital things at stake for the Somalis as a nation. Truthfully, I thought I was daydreaming listening to all of this and almost lost the true meaning of what Mr. Mahdi was proposing due to my formed misconceptions from so called Somali politicians. Yet, this man really surprised me in every sense for starting a new paradigm in the Somali conflict for self criticism, ownership of mistakes and the willingness to forgive and be forgiven.
Listen Mr. Ali Mahdi's Speech
Mr. Mahdi’s speech should resonate well with many millions of Somalis who are downcast and not knowing what the real cause of the whole Somali predicament is—for your information; no one clearly figured that one out yet. Nevertheless, Mr. Mahdi boldly shows the way towards a better reconciliation which in its true foundation lies self criticism and ownership of mistakes which eventually lead to true reconciliation and not reprisal or continued hatred. Matter of fact, this is not a new concept in Somalia alone but it was successfully employed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa to patch up that country’s many unspeakable wounds during the apartheid era.
It’s a concept of reconciliation based on the realization that revenge and hatred can never heal real wounds but admission of guilt and atonement for past mistakes are better healing tools rather than inflicting the same pain on one’s past persecutors. Also, as the saying goes “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”, and that’s why the Somali psyche was so blinded for a long time because we were all seething with rage to settle scores . Furthermore, the same notion of reconciliation and truth was applied as a conflict resolution mechanism in the tragic Rwandan genocide aftermath under the guidance of the Gacaca courts, where the guilty and persecuted parties sat down together under the trees, and guilty parties admitted their horrendous acts of brutality and the persecuted parties choose to forgive rather than continue on the endless path of taking revenge. The theme is always let’s forgive and move on with the biggest task of all—keeping these concocted nation states together.
Mr. Mahdi’s patriotic and highly spirited speech was along the lines of emphasizing the need to candidly address real issues and find a conciliatory middle ground rather than continue an endless bloodshed that doesn’t realize the true yearning of the Somali nation, which is to be again a respected member in the family of world nations. On the contrary though, the basis for that patriotic speech should not be maliciously interpreted that only one Somali clan namely the “Hawiye” is guilty of what happened in Somalia but the truth must be told and daringly at that, that all clans are complicit in the collapse of the Somalia state. In reality, those who plundered, committed atrocities in the name of the state and corruptingly mismanaged a prospering country to the ground and brewed the hatred and animosity among the clans which later resulted in this unparalleled chaos and mayhem, are as guilty or more as those who inconsiderately also tried to simulate where others left off. Thus, I would strongly urge other so-called Somali leaders to find the same valor and patriotism like Mr. Mahdi and come out of their clannish restraints as today represents a new beginning started by Mr. Mahdi’s speech for a true self appraisal and ownership of mistakes.
On the other hand, one may argue that the whole mess in Somalia started with the emergence of Mr. Mahdi on the unexpected Somali political scene right after the demise of the Siad Barre regime -- but that’s not the point! Because whatever many factors that contributed to the demise of the Somali state, history will have its many writs on it afterwards. But at this very moment Mr. Mahdi emerges as an audacious nationalist and sees the trees to the forest as great leaders normally do. In addition, what really matters now is that, Mr. Mahdi sets a tall order for others to follow and by all means this shouldn’t go unnoticed and we should keep others up to that task.
Furthermore, in close scrutiny of Mr. Mahdi’s speech—that’s if you’re not lost in past history, he acknowledges in dramatic terms that the Somali problem has no victor and loser but all (including the Somali Bantustan lands) are losing big time in this quandary of statelessness and chaos currently reigning in the country once known as Somalia. And it’s always the extreme courage of a very few to stand up and call a spade a spade and lead others towards a new vision and a just cause without sparing dignity and preserving narcissistic clannish taboos—this is what distinguishes a leader from the pack. In fact, that’s what made me jump to the pen and write these few words of appreciation for his audacity, clarity of vision and taking a leading role to a different kind of reconciliation, as I just felt to say many Kudos to Mr. Mahdi for he has my attention now.
Moreover, I would emphasize as well as Mr. Mahdi did, that the few dark forces in every Somali tribe are indeed the blameworthy for the whole mess in Somalia but the rest of Somalis are just one family that may disagree on many things but should most of all agree to live peacefully in one geographic location. As a result, all Somalis suffered greatly because of the few dark forces that hijacked the Somali consciousness and lead us all to an unwitnessed low for any state nation to be in this twentieth first century. Thus, the calling is now as echoed by Mr. Mahdi to get our heads out of the sand and stand up for decency and transparency since they are the only untried paths in the Somali reconciliation efforts. Frankly, all past reconciliation efforts were solely based on power grabbing and a continuation of clan supremacy and the unfettered greed to further subvert the ideals of a bleeding nation while in essence the dark forces kept forgetting that there was nothing left to overpower and subjugate.
Therefore, if the South African blacks and whites, and the Tutsis and Hutus of Rwanda could reconcile despite the gross violations of human rights committed in these two conflicts by applying the concept of truth and reconciliation, then I think it should be easily concluded that the Somalis need to undergo the same “Truth and Reconciliation and Gacaca” therapies to heal their wounds and discuss candidly what’s truly ailing this nation of united Somali tribes so as to regain their lost nationhood.
Rest assured that I will forward this letter to the Nobel Peace commission for the encouragement of Mr. Mahdi’s current efforts in peace and reconciliation in Somalia as he deserves nothing less than a Nobel Peace Prize. What Mr. Mahdi is trying is in every sense very difficult and let alone in the Somali sense which usually dictates “always side with your brother even if he’s the guilty one”.
Finally, I only hope that Mr. Mahdi will continue to find his mojo and set an exemplary tone for true reconciliation and hopefully others may follow in his footsteps. I believe Mr. Mahdi’s timely speech augurs well for good times to come in Somalia and also liberates the cynical Somali minds and consequently it should be exemplified as such.