by Avv. Abdiwahid Abdullahi Warsame
Friday, July 19, 2019
The Prime minister of Somali Hassan Ali Kheyre went to Dhusamareeb, the city I was born in, for a work-related visit. I have a sentimental attachment with the city. My father Hagi Abdullahi Warsame Hersi and his first cousin Adan Jama Hersi (aka Adan Guud) were mayors of Dhusamareeb from 1979-1991 and 1960-1969 respectively. Besides the fanfare welcoming of PM Kheyre, one thing caught my attention, his black tightly fit jacket. I assume the prime-minister is in his late forties’. At his age one should be mature enough to know the culture and habit of the people especially if someone ascends the premiership position; a position in which you belong and represent the people; a title that often draws in constant scrutiny. He must be mindful because he do not have the privilege of private life. Sorry to say that the lightly fit Jacket in the middle of a depressed city, with a population that has been in dire financial situation is a slap in their faces and an utter insult to their culture. He was completely out of touch with the impression of association and engagement with the residents of Dhusamareeb.
Since the fall of Jaalle Mohamed Siyad Barre’s regime in 1991 the dress code of office holders has become a personal choice that has nothing to do with the local culture and suitability of climate. What the leaders in Somalia are implicitly bringing to the nation in their likes of European clothing which is at war with the very terrain of our country. It’s possible that MP Kheyre and his cohort in government are embracing the western sartorial expression as a way to fast track our nation into the modern world. What a misconception of modernity and progress! Farmaajo and Kheyre grew up under the influence of Siyad Barre's nationalistic speeches. On one hand they wear western outfit in heat-battered dusty Somali towns without embracing western values rooted in the rule of law and respect for human rights; on the other hand, in their speeches, they emulate former nationalistic figures without the spirit and the sense of sacrifice of men and women who transcended the life of personal luxury. Both are perfect example of personality that Franz Fanon, the West Indian psychiatrist and philosopher, described in his book Black Skin and White Masks.
Ties and suits with a fancy watch, and sunglasses are fine for a man on Wall Street in New York, but are not suitable to the hot, humid climate and the dirt slums of Mogadishu or other parts of Somalia. These types of clothing often resemble wealth and status that carries with it western ideals. Neither wealth nor ideals are associated with the jacket wearing in Somalia. Somalia is a battle ground of different ideological wars between various groups including the Islamists. Those who fight against the western influence in Somalia or in the Islamic world have presented their own style of clothing with beards and turbans that show their true selves and ideals. They are more authentic than those who claim civility and tolerance with their neatly worn jackets. Those who embrace the western way of dress in Somalia act in manners more towards those who want to kill, embezzle, and live beyond their means. Basically their style is like the Mafia stylishness in Chicago in mid-thirties ran by AL Capone that defied all aspects of law although they dress like any other citizen. They spread fear, deception and lies whilst they continue to enjoy and prosper their law defying lifestyle.
Don’t get me wrong that I dislike wearing jackets and ties; in fact, I enjoy it and feel good about it. I am also aware of when and where to wear such attire. Moreover, I am conscious of where I came from which is a pastoral society, which is not affluent but egalitarian with many similarities to America’s 19th century Wild West. Pastoral society has nothing to do with wearing fancy jackets that need dry cleaning. It values family, ownership of livestock (xilo iyo xoolo), bravery and poetry; it would like to preserve its true identity. I am not among those who completely reject the Western influence. Those who are completely against western ideals are against the human interaction in which the technology and the closeness of different people are against the natural development of the world. Humans have been contacting each other since the beginning of time. Ideas and beliefs have been exchanged between cultures and societies to better one another.
The arrival of the Europeans is not entirely bad. There were some elements of oppression associated with colonization, but it was a necessary trend which encouraged the development of new technology. We simply need to remove the oppression and habits that are not associated with local beliefs while maintaining a structured society through the rule of law and civic discourse. Somalia has been affected by the human movement long before the Europeans arrived, such as the interaction of the Islamic faith in which has been socially incorporated completely. We took it because we believed that it contained good ideals that helped our people and harmonize our relations through God. Islam helped build our faith and bind us together as one entity, but it never built the structure of our nation.
The West constructed the nation of Somalia in the late 19th century as they did most of Africa. The people of Somalia were comprised of tribes before the Europeans arrived. They shared one common language, religion, and culture with no central authority. They were proud nomadic tribes roaming the East African plateau only subjected to their surrounding environment and tending to their camels. The arrival of Europeans in Africa brought the notion of nations based on defined territory. According the dictionary the word “nation” has been defined as, “a large body of people associated with a particular territory, that is sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or possess a government peculiarly its own”. In order to be a nation, people of that particular society must understand the importance of their unity, peculiarity and seek a binding common allegiance that safeguards a shared heritage. The invention of the combustion engine made the European quest to conquer the world shores a reality. The fission of carbonated elements through the building of mechanical pistons made from iron replaced horseback that were limited in distance. This trend is the same but the means and time stood between the human movements that transgressed different terrains, cultures, and climates which carried new ideas and commodities. Although human preference is territorial, in contrary this type of movement has not ceased and will not.
By looking at the jacket I mentioned earlier and what it symbolizes, we the Somali people simply ask that you carry that jacket with its ideals from the west. Those ideals are the rule of law, separations of power, and civic discourse. These elements are not associated with the current government led by President Mohamed Abdullah Farmajo and his futile Prime-minister Hassan Ali Kheyre. Strangely enough both of them spent most of their youth in the USA and Norway, respectively. They allegedly claim that they graduated from higher educational institutions that made their intellectual curiosity liberal with a progressive mentality, lean over the rule of law and inclusive governance. However, what we see is too much noise with no substance coming from the mouths of unrefined and abusive minds. They may dress like the guys in Washington DC or Oslo but their governance mentality is force and a beat drum. I wonder what the dress code of their spiritual Guru Fahad Yassin looks like, who is rumored to hate the western philosophy of governance and their dress style, but likes to enjoy distributing sacks of dates from the Charity of his Highness of Doha.
Tixdii Cali Cilmi Afyare ee “Hah miyaad hureysaa!” waxaa ka mid ahaa tuducdan
Hogo kulul abaar lagu huf yiri holac isdhaafaaya
Dhirtoo hadow ka duuliyo darkoo hora ka yeerayso
Hilaac bilig leh hogal muuqatiyo haro jidhaamooday
Reerkoo horsed loo diro oo geedi lagu heeso
Layskuma haleeyo dameer waa hungo kale e’
Halina’ maalis bay leedihiyo mure ku haaneede
Awarkii hayina yaad hogaan kula hagaagtaaye
Jilaba haara-waynow dhufaan karinku haar yeeshay
Oo kurusku haaneed yahay oo haybad iyo xoog leh
Hareerah wax laga joosadoo lagu hidiidaaba
Goortii la hoosimo hadduu hirig awood waayo
Hah mawaad huraysaa allow heeryo aadan qaadin
Tixdani waxay tilmaan u tahay hungowga inagu dhacay iyo faham yaridi ka haysata hogaankeena hanaanka dawladnimada.
Avv. Abdiwahid Abdullahi Warsame.