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The illusion of hope

by Asha-Kin Farah Duale
Saturday, February 25, 2017

I got the inspiration of writing this article from a piece of visual art named ' the illusion of transparency' exhibited at the National Visual Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur. Interestingly, it is made of squared cage behind which there is a sturdy brick wall (see photo). Trying to  interpret the artist's message is somehow beyond my ability, but I tried to reconfigure it in what it might mean in my own Somali reality. I just visualized the illusion of hope of Somali people.

For me this piece of art would represent 3 dimensional realities: the brick wall represents the years of anarchy and upheaval that Somalis had to live for so many years. The cage is the actual status quo or where we are standing now... wearing the label 'fragile state' and the 3rd dimension of the outer free space represents the hope that Somalia will be free from the shackles of the past.

It is amazing how little things can make you think and give you the ability to link them with the reality of your own life.

The aftermath of the election of the new President of Somalia generated a huge, unsolicited and unpredicted 'Farmajo-mania' inside the country and abroad. No one was spared from this new wave of hope as we all wanted changes for the better. The clip 'Ar-Farmajo ii geeya' went viral in few hours and the utter spontaneity of the author translated the ordinary Somali people's urge to confer with their President and recount their grievances and hopes.

Expectations from ordinary Somalis are overwhelming as a lot of changes need to be introduced and hope is risen  high. For the time being, no one probes whether the President and his Government are able to  turn such hopes into reality. It is just enough that the intention to bring changes is there! The President's past 8 months of outstanding record as PM resound well in the mind of everyone.

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In such a healthy and happy mood coupled with this piece of visual art, I myself wondered whether the new President will be bold enough to distance himself from the 4.5  gentlemen' formula of selecting the PM on the basis of clan affiliation. Would he consider the neglected criterion of selection based on the individual merit rather than looking for the impossible to achieve ‘clan balance’?

Some readers may think that this is too early for such a giant step as at this time and day clan consensus and cooperation is needed for a performing government.


Would it be possible to pave the way and endorse the political party system for 2020 election?

My second thought was about how the President and his administration will be able to restore the eroded sovereignty of our country, how he will keep at bay the regional and international geo-political interests without being burned once again.

At his first brief speech, the President mentioned stamping out corruption and upholding the law of the land as well as improving the national security. Those were exactly the top priorities that everyone is longing for. The majority of public institutions invested with above competences are being established but the crux of the question remains whether they are efficiently resourced to execute their mandates.

Thirdly, would the President and his administration be able to convey proper reconciliatory messages to hostile elements to governance and to the unity of Somalia?

What about, the Provisional Constitution which as primary legislation has yet a long way to go before being ratified through a national referendum? Would further reviews  be necessary, particularly in the light with the confusing federal system that is sliding towards a confederate one? The devolution of power or more accurately the self-invested powers of the federal states requires further clarity and the establishment of enforcing bodies whenever federal states cross political and legal lines.

I pondered on the thought that all above predicaments need resources and fast, thus allowing a swift independence from UN, AU, IGAD, interested countries and INGOs aid with attached strings.

Would it be then the right time to establish a separate body that generates revenue and customs duties as well as an accountable system of disbursement of public expenditure?

This will definitely support the President's hope of rehabilitating the Somali National Army and Police and finally wrap up the years of AMISOM mission. It would also pave the way to finance the judiciary system which is at its emerging stage and in desperate need of heavy resources.

It is said that 'who lives on hope dies desperate', but what is life without hope?

However, there is a long way between hope and reality. A vision, followed by well-planned strategy that allows the implementation of hope into reality is all what is needed to prevent the vision from turning into an 'illusion of hope'.

I hope and I hope again....for the better!

Asha-Kin Farah Duale is a Somali human rights lawyer and legal expert based in the United Kingdom. She can be reached by email at [email protected].

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