I have read Mr zakaria Farah’s article on hiiraanonline.com and I can’t help responding to it.
Before I proceed any further, I would like to say that Zakaria is entitled to express his opinion on how Somalia should be and whether it, according to his words, should be further geographically divided or not. One thing he needs to bear in mind, though, is that the people of Somaliland are also equally entitled to have their say as to how their future is shaped.
He puts a lot of emphasis on how the union between the British and Italian Somali territories was achieved and who was behind it. It may well be true that people in the British Somaliland Protectorate as well as those in the South wanted to unite and bring the rest of the Somali speaking people under one Somali state. That may have been a noble idea but the truth of the matter is that that dream never came true and the union achieved between the North and the South has failed miserably and resulted in the suffering of the entire Somali people. The people in Somaliland, in particular, have experienced atrocities and genocide committed by the government that was supposed to protect them. This is how the United Nations described the situation in Somaliland then.
In real life, whether it is personal level or state level, we do not normally repeat mistakes that we have made in the past. My question to Zakaria is why should someone in his own mind repeat an act that he knows will result in tragedy? Why should the people of Somaliland go back to a union that they know will fail and why should they allow history to repeat itself? If anything, we should learn from our mistakes and history and move on.
As for the point of whether the union is revocable or not, I would like to remind Zakaria that Somaliland was once an independent country, albeit for a few days, and that there is no legal impediment to its withdrawal from the union with Italian Somalia.
In his article he argues that the fact that we all speak Somali language and we are all Muslims should be ingredient to unite us. As far as I am concerned that argument is a non-starter. If language and religion were a uniting factor then the entire Arab world should be one country. I am currently based in the Gulf and here you will find that countries that form Gulf Co-operation Council are so close to each other that literally there is no cultural, religious and language difference between, say, Saudi Arabia and the State of Qatar. And yet they are two different countries.
Little does Mr. Farah know that the entire South America continent, apart from Brazil, the Guyanas and Belize, speaks Spanish language and that they are all Christians and yet there are so many countries in that continent each pursuing their own way of developing their country.
This tells you that countries are formed not by languages and religion but destiny and the desire of their people.
In the middle of his article Mr farah trespasses into an unchartered territory and shoots himself in the foot when he suggests that political mistrust and maladies in Somalia predates and postdates Siad Bare. Here the author is making a serious mistake. Throughout our history there have been clashes between clans and sub-clans but never had there been wars of the scale and magnitude of that Siad Bare waged against his own people.
Furthermore, the civilian governments who were in power for the nine years prior to the coup that brought Siad Barre to power never singled out a Somali clan and massacred them as Siad Barre did. So, to say that problems that are facing Somali people today predate Siad Barre, is either a blatant falsification of history or absolute lack of knowledge of Somali history and culture. One also needs to understand that what is happening today in Somalia is the legacy that he [Siad barre] and his regime left behind.
Lastly, Zakaria also talks down the democracy in Somaliland. It is true that the democracy in Somaliland is not yet fully fledged as in the western world but the truth is there peace and there have elections that have described as relatively free and fair by international observers. He mentions that there is no freedom of speech for individuals as well as groups of all different political aspirations. Strictly speaking that is not true either as we all know that there is free press and independent television stations in the country. We also know that there are groups as well as individuals who pose a serious threat on the security of Somaliland and the safety of it citizens.
A very important role of any state is to safeguard the security and safety of its citizens and If certain groups are regularly trying to destabilize the country, like the suicide bombings last year, then the government has every right to stop them doing so. For those of us who live in the west we know that the same principle applies in the western world too. So why should Somaliland be any different.
To conclude, unless he is one of the Somaliweyn supporters who like hiding their heads in the sand, here are some facts that he may consider next time before you embarks on another unsuccessful advocacy of that failed union:
The average age of between 65 – 75% of the population of Somaliland is under 30 years. This huge group of the population lived for the past 18 years in an independent Somaliland. Prior to the independence they were probably either in refugee camps in Ethiopia or they were internally displaced within their own country. It is also important to note that the only remembrance that they have of Somali Republic is the destruction and the harrowing experience of their towns being bombed and their relatives being mass murdered.
Now, assuming that the war in Somalia stops this year, which I doubt, it will take another 20 years for Somalia to get to where Somaliland is today. By that time Somaliland will have enjoyed 38 years of independence and a lot will be accomplished in terms of democracy and development of the country. Also after 38 years of independence almost the entire population of Somaliland will have no recollection of Somalia. All they will know will be the Mig fighter monument in central Hargeisa and the history that is associated with it.
Without being disrespectful, my advice to people like Zakaria is get your priorities right and put your efforts where it matters most – stopping the suffering of the people of Somalia – and stop being obsessed with Somaliland.
Guul iyo gobannimo!
Views expressed in the opinion articles are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the editorial