by Omar Mohamed
Saturday, June 20, 2020
Edna Adan Ismail with US Ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto during Somalia-Somaliland conference in Djibouti
After the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, the world witnessed the worst riots ever. The protesters cry "Black Lives Matter" and call for unity against injustices - past and present by pulling down statues of men considered to be slave-owners, racist or colonialists.
The riots spread like wild fire and people took to the streets of European cities and towns. They are determined to cancel the history of colonialism - once and for all. In Brussels, Belgium they pulled down the arch-imperialist of King Leopold II known for his brutality and enrichment of his personal colony of Congo. In London, England the protesters painted the statue of Winston Churchill with the word "racist". They demand Churchill's statue down.
Rightly so, because Churchill believed in the supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon race and its right to rule what the racist poet Rudyard Kipling called "the lesser breeds without law". Britain followed the blue print of Kipling and ruled people of color from the Caribbean to Africa, the Middle, to South Asia and the Far East - and boasted an "Empire that the sun never sets".
Surely, this is a campaign to Cancel History!
But not so in Djibouti! Last week the President of that country Ismail Omar Ghelle arranged a meeting between the Somali Government and a breakaway region in the north of the country. Among the "leaders" of the northern breakaway region is Edna Adan, an ardent and staunch secessionist lady who believes that history should not be cancelled; and that the matter on the table must be seen in light of colonial history when the two peoples - North and South - were ruled by Britain and Italy.
She was overheard lobbying the few Western Diplomats in the conference room. We differ from each other - Italian Somalia and British Somaliland - as much as English does Italian. The two peoples differ not only linguistically and customarily but their values and ways of life differ so much that any integration could hardly seem possible. She pleaded the western diplomats not to ignore colonialism and try to put the English and the Italian colonial peoples into the same compartment. She said do not impose upon us a people whom we share very little because of our colonial heritage; and cried "Never, Never".
The perplexed Japanese-American diplomat was seen in an anonymous video trying to avoid her eyes and pretending to be taking notes. Maybe Edna Adan doesn't know that Ambassador Yamamoto hails originally from Japan and America - two notorious imperial powers - and must probably be suffering inside with shame and guilt. He must be thinking that the lady must be nuts or something.
When monuments and statues of colonial rulers have become the focus of protests around the world driven by re-examination of historical suffering in the hands of colonialists, here is this woman who says that: "we should not erase colonialism because it reminds us of our differences in Somalia - "a good history to be preserved and cherished". Luckily there were no English or Italian diplomats present.
I think our aunt Edna is dead wrong. There is no pride in colonialism. It is time for her to put forward positive ideas and take advantage of this God given gift - The Djibouti dialogue. The truth is the people who live in the north hardly differ at all, in any respect from their brothers in the south. They speak the same language, and even the dialect variations do not correspond to the artificial boundary imposed on them by Italy and England. The quarrel is due to megalomania and nothing else. The politicians must find ways to set aside their arrogance and unite the country. The solution is finding a good government that will instil pride in the Somali people.
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