Satuday July 25, 2015
By Gulled Ali
As I was lurking through
the personal archive of a close friend of mine the other day, I couldn’t help
but notice an incredible score of files with SYL members portraits. The 20 plus
year old I am and being a first generation Somali born into the civil war, I’d
heard of the SYL before but little did I know about the struggles and history
behind the group’s founding, much less the fact that this year marked the 72nd
anniversary of their establishment as a political front. Dumbfounded as I was
by my ignorance of such an important event in our history, I was equally
motivated to learn more about the legacy of the group which I was never taught
about in my history class and whose selflessness and sacrifices led to the
birth of the Somalia I dearly call home.
the several paragraphs that follow, I will share the principles that’d been the
linchpin in terms of the SYL struggle for an independent and united Somalia, discuss
how this current generation of leaders have managed to stain the spirit of
nationhood the group embodied by more or less balkanizing the country and while
I offer no alternative to the Ethio-Kenyan led ambition or rather quest to federalize Somalia along substandard clan
enclaves, I will touch on, briefly, how Somalia is being coerced into playing a
game i.e. the federalization Project that is not hers.
to say, when one plays another’s game, one is bound to lose.
I get to the heart of it though I’d like to throw in a little caveat – a
disclaimer more like it - that under no circumstance should this article be
taken as a political argument intended to advocate or rather undermine a
certain political enterprise. On the contrary, I write this as a young adult and
on behalf of many others like me who, in the eyes of the world, have been
deemed refugees and a laughing stock and are seen to be dangerous persons with
no value to community and whose own leaders, by means of their bickering and
political myopia, have decided to deny them the opportunity to a normal
citizenship resolving instead to treat our youth like convicts under sentence
of penal servitude. It’s rather bizarre - and you will perhaps agree with me that
I resemble neither very much a convict nor a victim and yet I am both.
so long ago, I was fortunate enough to have been contacted by a Somali medical
physicist and an author who’d been kind enough to share with me a presentation
he’d delivered at a youth gathering. Motivating as it was listening to the
lecture, equally inspiring was an event the presenter mentioned that took place
in the 1940s after Abdullahi Issa, the then chairman of the SYL, during one of
his trips to the UN, was informed by the Italian officials that if he was to
board his plane, a vaccination was necessary.
of any sinister motives at play on the part of the colonial regime, one of the
other members of the SYL who bore resemblance to Abdullahi Issa but was of a
different clan volunteered to impersonate him and take the injection instead –
chose to echo this incident because it reveals the essence of what the SYL
struggle was all about; one of trust between fellow Somalis, of sacrifice for a
greater purpose and for something larger than one’s self but above all else it
was based on the understanding, elusive as it may be to this generation of sectarian
leaders, that as far as Somalia is concerned we’re all bound by the same fate
and that no Somali can do without the other.
forward to our present state of affairs and you’ll see a shattered Somalia and
a governance mirage designed, under the pretense of federalism, to manipulate
the average Somali along tribal allegiances.
the need for autonomy at the local level is paramount to the effective and
efficient delivery of services to the grassroots, the truth of the matter
remains that federalizing Somalia in the context of our current sociopolitical realities
has never been about the creation of multi-layer governance or empowerment at
the regional level as is often argued. On the contrary, it merely serves as a smokes
screen and a rather expedient tool promoted by hostile states to engage rather conveniently
with a handful of weaker entities than an established national authority in
has resulted, I am afraid, in the impending disintegration of the Somalia
nation state into a handful of clan based fiefdoms in which citizenry in each
region is defined in exclusivist clan terms whereby other tribes not belonging
to that particular territory or considered minorities are either seen as second
class subjects and/or refugees as has been the case time and again.
more alarming – and this is something which I suppose most of the so called
federalists are either unaware of or simply averse to talk about - is the
inevitable emergence of sectarian minds which are trapped in the realm of
narrow clan interests and are sadly incapable of thinking beyond selfish
populist gains. One only has to look at the Mudug debacle to understand how
even men claiming to be of education aren’t exempt from such misfortune. This,
sadly, is a national catastrophe and only goes to show how imminent of a threat
the current “federalism project” is to Somalia’s national security.
will this political class and indeed the federalists understand that synergy is
key to a stable and prosperous Somalia? When are the people of Somalia going to
realize that the whole is much greater than the simple sum of its parts?
is the last thing Somalia needs right now and to try to impose such a system
without the necessary mechanics and a genuine reconciliation among the
different segments of the Somali populace for them to just purge out the
grievances and suspicions that had been the product of well over 30 years of
civil mistrust will only add fuel to a fire that many actors in the region would
like to see turn into an inferno.
Ali can be reached at: [email protected]