Icons of Somali Unity: Invisible to foreigners like Professor Jhazbhay
By Omar Ali Haji

Professor Iqbal Jhazbhay's namesake Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal, was a great Muslim poet and philosopher. Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal was a pioneer of Muslim unity and played an important role in the creation of the great state of Pakistan . Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal called for unity all over the world, while Professor Iqbal Jhazbhay of South Africa calls for the balkanization of a homogeneous African country.

Professor Iqbal Jhazbhay's country of South Africa stands for unity, reconciliation and brotherhood. When Nelson Mandela gained his freedom and walked out of Robin Island , after spending half of his productive life in the prisons of a repressive regime, he opted for uniting his country despite its painful past. South Africa owes its greatness to its diverse ethnic groups. People of different race, colour and ethnicity live, and work side by side, to build a great nation. Yet, Professor Iqbal Jhazbhay , is calling for the balkanization of a homogeneous African country.

Professor Iqbal Jhazbhay serves on the ANC's Commission of Religious Affairs. It is an awesome responsibility that calls for dialogue among people of different ethnicity and religions. On the contrary, the Professor is calling for the balkanization of a homogeneous African country.

Somali Unity may be invisible to some

It is the responsibility of knowledgeable historians to educate the Professor about this homogeneous African country and its right to remain united. This unity may not be visible to foreigners like Professor Iqbal Jhazbhay .

Professor Iqbal Jhazbhay

Somalis have more in common than the people in South Africa . Somalis, regardless of their regional affiliations share the same ethnicity, speak the same language, follow the same religion, and have the same colour. Following the European scramble for Africa, Somalia fell prey to colonial rule and ended up being carved into several spheres of influence. After the Second World War, Somali speaking people became united again under the victorious power, Britain . For unknown reasons, Britain handed back the south to Italy, a fascist country that lost the war, the Northern Frontier District to Kenya, and the Haud and Reserved areas to Ethiopia. Britain 's brutal behaviour was nothing short of, the divide and rule tactics it used to divide African and Arabian Peninsula countries into small powerless states.

Despite the lack of a central government, a protracted civil war and the creation of many seemingly autonomous enclaves like Somaliland and Puntland, Somalis have many icons that unite them. Some of these icons that are unique and undeniable are:

Daallo unites Somali Cities

There is an airline called Daallo. It is based in Dubai . It is owned by a number of businessmen from the North and the South. It flies to all parts of Somalia to connect Somalis. It has branches in all major cities of Somalia . It brings mangoes, papaya and bananas from the south to Hargesia and transports kat from Hargeisa to the south. It is the most unifying symbol Somalis have today.

DahabShiil Unites Somalia 's Finances

There is a money transfer agency called Dahabshiil. It is based in Hargeisa, and owned by a businessman from the north. It has branches in all the villages and cities of Somalia where people transfer money to their families. Its employees travel freely all over Somalia without hindrance.

Telecom Groups connect Somali families

Several telecom groups, such as Somali Telecom Group STG, unite Somalia 's telecom companies in the North and the South. They have microwave towers that extend from Lughaya in the northwest to Raskambone in the south. They connect Somalis all over Somalia .

Qarshe and Tima-Ade unite Somalia 's hopes for a united Somalia

The legacy of the great composer and singer from the north, A bdillaahi Qarshe taught Somalis to love their country, and their flag with its 5-edged star. Here is a passage from his famous song for the beloved flag:

Every nation has its own flag

Ours is as blue as the sky

On a cloudless day

Let us fall in love with its beauty

O white Star

You have given us hope

You are our first-born

Rise and shine like the bright sun

Somalis also share the legacy of a great northern poet of Allama Iqbal's caliber who alerted them to the destructive nature of tribalism decades before they destroyed their beautiful country as a result of tribal divisions. His name is A bdillaahi Suldaan Tima-Ade, and he had a great vision for a united Somalia .

Traditional Leaders solve Somali disputes

Somalis have a dynamic system to resolve conflicts in the north and in the south. Recently, some of Somali traditional leaders in the north helped bring peace to Puntland by successfully mediating between two warring sides. Somalis from every walk of life hope that they will do the same in the south as well.

Nomads unite Somalia 's seemingly-autonomous enclaves

Somali Nomads move freely even across international borders. Their constant search for water and grazing areas take them across different areas of influence that foreign observers may think of as rigid boundaries. Camels grazing in the north may move to the Ethiopian side of the border or to grazing areas in the south in the time of drought. Professor Iqbal Jhazbhay must know that, more than 70% of the Somali people are nomads, and it is not wise of him to suggest locking them in Bantustans like the apartheid regime tried unsuccessfully to do to South Africa .

These important icons of unity should help foreigners ignore and not be fooled by the rhetoric, political manoeuvring and shameful petty differences among the politicians. Somalis are one people and should remain one.

Achievements in the North and the hopes for the South

Professor Iqbal Jhazbhay's articles focus on the achievements of the North. The Northerners and their achievements are not a hidden secret as he calls them. Somalis know about them. The world knows about them. All Somalis acknowledge their achievements and they are proud of them. There is widespread agreement that the world should also acknowledge the achievements of the north and reward them handsomely for that. But there are many ways to achieve that short of secession.

Countries that have suffered from protracted civil wars usually emerge stronger and wiser. The United States is a good example. It has become the most powerful country in the world after going through a long and disastrous civil war. Somalis hope and believe that they also will stand up on their feet again and become the Hong-Kong of Africa as UN Ambassador Sahnoun predicted recently in an interview with Reuters, thus admitting his earlier wrong assumptions like Professor Iqbal Jhazbhay that Somalis could not unite again. Somalis are dynamic and entrepreneurial businessmen. All they need is a democratic system of government, caring and visionary leaders, and responsible and sympathetic friends like the South African Government represented by its patriotic ANC leadership who know what it means to be oppressed and divided.

Evidently, Somalis are deeply troubled by their present situation, which is very similar to the Indian situation described by Allama Iqbal in the following lines:

The sight of thee makes me weep, O India
For thine is the most tragic all stories,
Leave not the trace of a single petal in this garden. O flower-gatherer,
Thanks to the feuds of the gardeners, their path is smooth"
O people of India ! You will be destroyed if you do not understand,
Your very story will be erased from the book of the stories of nations,"

Now that the north has solidified democratic rule in their part of the country, all Somalis hope that the northerners will have the time to help bring peace and prosperity to their brethrens in the south. There is no doubt that they will do a better job than foreign mediators who have so far failed to bring stability to Somalia .

Professor Iqbal Jhazbhay , should not add to the misery and the suffering of the Somali people by calling for the balkanization of a homogeneous African country. Somalia has suffered 15 years of civil war and world neglect. His calls for the recognition of ( Somaliland ) as a state may lead to more bloodshed and misery and contribute to further regional instability. The recent incident at the small village of Adhi-Addeye , where Somaliland and Puntland clashed over non-existent borders, highlights the dangers that lurk ahead. The Professor probably means well, but the road to hell is sometimes paved with good intentions like his.

Omar Ali Haji
Qarshe Tima-Ade International Center
[email protected]


Qarshe Tima-Ade International Center for Unity is an independent, non-profit, non-government organization based in the United States and Canada . It lobbies for the unification of all Somali speaking people through peaceful and non-violent means and the prevention of conflict in the Horn of Africa

The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "Hiiraan Online"
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