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Sycophancy: A New Profession in My People’s Political Sphere

by Khadar Hanan
Friday, March 25, 2016

On Sunday, 27th December 2015, sipping my morning coffee in my office; breaking news on the graduation of 75 male and female candidates of University of Hargeisa (Faculty of Political Science) struck me. The attractively tailored graduation gone and colorful floral boutiques over shadowed the platform that was decorated for this special occasion to earmark the culmination of a historic journey; a journey that has taken many days and months; a journey through which, perhaps this team of challengers came together with a common mission__ just to fill the gaps in their people’s leadership.  The triumph and joyous feeling on such graduation has gone beyond a level far from my limits. For, it was a positive icebreaker for a potentially progressive young force that could possibly have brought about the change that Somaliland was in a quest for about two and half decades, but an adverse feeling snatched all my happiness within blinks of an eye.  This is because; the insurmountably difficult and unethical threat that the corruption ridden system and its establishments could have the will and anticipation of these fresh graduates was always there in my mind.

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Ironically, one of the strangest episodes one can experience in graduation ceremonies is that stirring valedictory speeches are sometimes delivered in the presence of many high profile government officials who had no high school level education let alone varsity, but what got them to such prestigious public responsibilities are merely the blessings of their tribal influences; not their level of competency and professionalism. This is a simple gauge with which one can figure out how immensely notorious, opportunist and incompetent servile cells are filled with many core positions in the system. Such cells act as a sophisticated defensive modus operandi for the government and attack any principle-centered fellow, as he/she according to them is an obvious threat.  Instead of being for the people, with the people and by the people, they are submissive advocates for the government while the case is fairly with the people at large. Among the issues that the people cope with are; drinking water shortages, unprofessional tax hikes on essential commodities and first moving consumer goods/durables (FMCG/D), absence of city council(s) undertakings, lack of proper infrastructure, lack of accountability and transparency, lack of censorship towards what comes in/out of the country; and in a net shell, poor government services in many aspects. Many competent personalities are there in the system though; but it’s undeniable fact that they’re literally submerged by the aforementioned overwhelming majority.

The Infiltration of sycophants

Cautiously taking a wider panorama over the political landscape through which the lame-duck government won an absolutely convincing landslide victory to lead the nation for about five years ago, almost everyone with a political ambition jumped on the bandwagon__ I could even remember in the very dying minutes of the presidential election several ministers were resigned from the KULMIYE predecessor party (UDUB), which was seen as the only formidable challenger in comparison with the other party in the loop (UCID). Nevertheless, the KULMIYE party technically failed to act differently in the real time by just testing the quality and experience of many in their political vehicle. Missing that crucial point, the public responsibility was handed out as a prize to many unqualified figures intern of what was called as their efforts they’ve invested (tribal hard cheques) in the run up for the power, which should not have been the case.

On the other hand, a group of elite yet prominent political figures were part of the major ingredients in what the government executive body was contained. In my view, this was in fact a positive milestone that could presumably have guided the mindset of the very masses of the population towards the very essence of change. Among the group were the second/third peer generations of the incumbent president, similarly served high ranking civilian posts in the former government of Somalia, several younger professionals were also there, running with crucial portfolios viz. Health, interior and exterior affairs.

What so ever the pressure was; who so ever has had his/her hands in glove with this conspiracy; how so ever they took the advantages out of the loopholes in the octogenarian’s leadership, the elite group has systematically been dismissed from the system in which they were a part of its success story.  Adverse groups however, with parallel powers have germinated from the vacuum generated by the former group. Sorry to say but, “as the quality speaks for itself” a bunch of flatterers have emerged to servile the system much beyond the tolerance of the human morality. Through the black and white lenses of Somaliland politics, an acrimonious wrangling between inner circle grown opponents headed by Mr. Musa Bihi Abdi (The KULMIYE presidential hopeful) and Mr. Hirsi Ali (the former Minister of the Presidency and the right-hand of the incumbent president) have come out into the public theatre.

 Astonishingly, as no two kingdoms with similar powers can rule the same land, the groups with the parallel powers could no longer being flying by the same range and the latter group (Hirsi group) which many believed was a part of the small cream left with the system has ventured to expose their political will and supremacy over the other, but their faith has ended up with paying the price for the adventurous political maneuver they have made. The broad daylight mass resignations on 26th October last year were something resulted the explosion between the KULMIYE party and the hastily decided fill the gap-spree further poured many incompetents into the key public portfolios, playing much worse cards to take more advantages out of the administrative gaps. 

Every action has equal and opposite reaction (Newton's Third Law of Motion), using the same metaphor, the tribal horrific actions are in almost all the local news main pages and the microphones echoed the tribalism tones from East to West. Sultans and the so-called cultural leaders have mobbed the TV cameras and raised issues of what would have been a public responsibility. Planned assassinations against the police, military officers and civilians perpetrated by clan mongers have emerged as a result of weak governance. In the tiny country on the horn of Africa; the correlation between the loose governance and the tribalism is what changes the trends of the stability graph i.e. the stronger the government is the weaker the tribal voices are, and vice versa.

I shouldn’t be biased, by just addressing problems only, but one of the major reasons, in which the flattery becomes like a plague pandemic across not only the system but the nation as well, is that the good, yet knowledgeable people with the clean sheets distances themselves from the political spectrum. Many well developed countries we see today in the world have had a history far worse than what we are currently dealing with, but their success didn’t come alone by chance unless their good people audaciously debuted themselves into the political stage, Turkey is a good example.

 Many national level commissions were established regardless their level of efficiency, but no commission was made for competency, career and profession authenticity; notwithstanding, the municipal elections held at the end of 2012 was another Pandora’s Box; as a new group mostly with no strong academic back grounds which I deem as “the tribal babies” (as everyone was born with his tribe’s consensus) have overtaken the local councils. Hargeisa (the capital) has really paid the heaviest price compared with the municipalities of the other major cities.  Eavesdropping on the peoples’ talks about them; their job is to chill and chat together with high moods in closed Qat-pubs (majlis in Somali), benefit for themselves from the public undertakings as a one-stop-shop service and practice hallucinated passive war games against anyone who raises a word for the common interest.  There has been a continuous public outcry on city garbage and waste management since these guys came in to the municipal offices.

Somaliland is at cross roads

More than a decade ago or so, Somaliland has adopted the multiparty political system in its best interest to transform both the social and political structures of her nation, and of course to deviate if not alleviate the tribal political stagnations, but due to the grim challenges exposed mainly by the lack of a full-fledged recognition, the political climate of the country has been changing. The national political parties aimed at progressively promoting an egalitarian society have unfortunately descended into properties owned by mainly the middle sub clans and their affiliations.

 Somaliland belongs to neither a dynasty nor an emperor but the tribal affiliations shapes it like a money pool subscription (hagbad in Somali language) where one tribe has a turn to rule the nation for one term and the other for the next, which has no place in the democratic principles and probably could dissolve the nation and demote their will to have a well-balanced and inclusive government, the ownership of which is equally claimed and safeguarded.

Today, the political parties are all out traversing across the widths of the draught bitten regions, shamelessly reselling their old rhetoric through untimely campaigns and causing the hungry people in frayed clothes to scamper towards their microphone mounted vehicles.  This is inhuman and a deliberate transgression of the moral principles. Today, people do not really need campaigns but a survival strategy for both their lives and possessions.  The geopolitics in both regional block and the international are the other factors that directly affect the nation and need to be wisely addressed.   

All in all, irrespective of the political party we would like to see in power with its dummy promises. Somaliland needs a true leadership armed with a limitless ambition and a vision to push boundaries beyond the unthinkable. It needs a new change which would not add to the number of changes already seen, but a change that could project a new paradigm shift to rectify whatever went wrong; a change that would not further disintegrate the country into small tribal fiefdoms, but a change that can work on mending them back as a common country; and finally, a change that can replace the interconnected cynical sycophants (Guulwadayaasha) by both elite and young graduates.

Khadar Hanan
[email protected]
Doha, Qatar

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