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Issue 527/ 3rd - 9th Mar 2012
Calling A Spade A Spade
By Ahmed I. Hassan
A Few years ago, I authored an article titled “The Clannish Wailers”. In it, I pointed out to a group of diehard Somaliland bashers and commented on the perverted rationales they employed for their bashing.
The wailing never stopped. That is not surprising. Always at loss of ways of doing any tangible harm to Somaliland, the wailing is pretty much the only thing they can do.
However, as time went by and Somaliland went from strength to strength, the Wailers were driven to being nothing less than hilariously hysterical. Hardly a day goes by without one or another of the Wailers taking to the pages of the websites with a piece of nearly blind anti-Somaliland and tribal hatred masquerading as intellectual dispensations on, or chronicles of, events taking place in Somaliland.
The Clannish Wailers are too numerous to list them here all. But expect on almost daily basis a one Osman Hassan, a one Ali A. Fatah, a one M. F. Yabarag, a one Ali H. Abdulla, a one Aman H. D. Obsiye, a one Sadia A. Aden, a one Mohamed Awale, a one Mahado Sh. Dahir, a one Ahmed H. Abdi, a one Safi Abdi, a one Faisal Roble or someone posing as the spokesperson for some dubious organizations with names like NSPU and SSC appearing in the byline of some venom—though promoted as a serious op-ed—in major Somali Websites. An obvious fact is that, though all these gentlemen and ladies might swear and plead denial, they are all members of the Wailers’ Club. Another fact, however, is less susceptible to straight-faced denials. Reading an article written by one of them is as good as having read an article by any other. The subject matter, line of argument, premise, style, substance, theme, tone etc. of one scribe are strikingly similar to those of any other. It would be hard to escape the perceptive reader that the Wailers are on a concerted and well-coordinated mission of spurting defamation, disinformation, envy and deep-rooted enmity all targeted at Somaliland in general and at one of its tribes in particular.
The Wailers’ arguments against Somaliland have all the while been presented along clannish lines. They have acquired and perfected a self-defeating habit of labeling Somaliland with all sorts of tribal tribulations. They are fond of asserting, with unabated zest, that one-tribal chauvinism is the very foundation of Somaliland’s existence. Somaliland, they would have us believe, is “a one-tribe secessionist entity”. That tribe is the source and perpetrators of all the troubles that are bedeviling Somalis everywhere. That tribe hates all other Somali tribes wherever they live in. That tribe is a Somalisdiid, i.e. rejectionists of Somali nationhood. All other tribes in Somaliland are under the yoke of armed subjugation and oppression at the hands of that damnable tribe. The Wailers’ litany of tirades is endless.
With the same persistent doggedness, strangely enough, the Wailers are not beneath employing clannish antidotes in frustrating Somaliland’s alleged tribal underpinnings. Some incite various clans of Somaliland’s Sool, Eastern Sanag and what-they-so-call Ayn regions to reject and rebel against the country’s resurrected independence solely on clannish grounds. They claim that these clans and any territory in which they may reside should be part of Puntland on the strength of their tribal affiliation with the denizens of Majertenia.
Never mind that if there ever were a truly, purely and chauvinistically clannish Somali enclave, it is Puntland.[i]
Others of the Wailers egg certain tribes of Somaliland—or themselves have been active in efforts—to establish their own purely clannish nay, sub-clannish mini-states within Somaliland proper.
When the Wailers, in an occasionally feeble and unconvincing effort, make attempts to present themselves as pan-nationalist Somali patriots, it is the numerically growing and utterly comical TNGs (Transitional National Governments) later renamed the TFGs (Transitional Federal Governments) that they promote as the legitimate governments that should lord over all Somalis.[ii] Never mind that the TNGs/TFGs were and still are being instituted on basis of the notoriously shameful 4.5 tribal power-sharing mechanism.[iii] No need to mention that the TNGs/TFGs were and still are always being constituted on foreign soils and by foreigners. No big deal that the TNGs/TFGs have from their advent and up to now been on foreigners’ lifeline. No matter that the TNGs/TFGs are always imposed on the Somalis. And of no consequence is Somalis’ opinion on the TNGs/TFGs’ legitimacy or on whether the TNGs/TFGs enjoyed the consent of the supposedly governed i.e. the Somalis.
If there are glaringly unmistakable contradictions in subscribing to these blatantly inconsistent views, the Wailers are strangely oblivious to them. Or perhaps, after all, they are not. I suspect that they consciously and intentionally choose to ignore these illogicalities. They are on a single-minded vendetta mission and in accomplishing this all important task, the Wailers would not, with all due respect, allow contradictions, incompatibilities, inconsistencies, incongruities, distortions, discrepancies and weirdness to be on the way. One way or another, the end result is only a source of ridicule that is amusing as much as it is amazing.
Crossing Fine Lines
Moreover, the Wailers have abandoned any resemblance of decency and objectivity in presenting their harangues against Somaliland and the “secessionist tribe”—though decency and objectivity were in short supply with them to start with. There was never any doubt on which “tribe” they had in mind. But, throwing all decorum and civility to the wind, they not only openly name Isaac as the culprit tribe, but also the crimes the Isaac is guilty of are growing by leaps and bounds. No sin, no offense, no atrocity, is far-fetched or ridiculous enough for the Wailers to accuse the Isaac to have committed and still perpetuating.
Somaliland is home to my many tribes. All tribes in the country must have equal rights as well as equal duties and responsibilities. I want my Somaliland to be a country of laws and institutions instead of a country of personalities or of one tribe or another. It is the only way Somaliland can be a truly viable country.
Like every patriot, I consider it an integral responsibility on my part to promote popular justice, equality and inclusiveness in my country. If my country goes wrong in any way, I would rather be the first person to point it out and strenuously strive to rectify such wrong. By the same token and with equally zealous determination, I would be in the forefront in resisting and making every effort to defeat any attempt of maligning—or of physically visiting harm on—my country.
We Somalis are a tribal people whether we like it or not. It would be a blissful day when a Somali would not, under any circumstance, identify him/herself—and is dealt with by fellow Somalis not—on basis of the tribe he/she belongs to, but on the content of his/her character and ability. Until such a time comes, it would suffice if, for one, tribal affiliation would be only a means of knowing who others are i.e. a means of knowing others more intimately, but not a means of harboring ill-will or malice towards them.
This is, in the least, what our Religion, Islam, preaches to its faithful. In other words, tribal membership is acceptable, but tribalism, that is inter-tribal hatred or conflict, is ruinous and therefore should be avoided as much as possible.
In the Somali nomadic traditions, it is normal, natural and understandable for tribes to have rivalries of some sort or another. In extreme cases, such rivalries can lead to intertribal skirmishes over water sources and pastures or to raids to dispossess camels from a rival tribe. However, there used to be civilized, through unwritten, rules of engagement that governed tribal contentions. Blind hatred or prolonged attrition or suchlike between tribes was never part of these rules because such behavior was deemed distinctly un-Somali.
I am afraid the Wailers in their dogmatic Isaac-bashing diatribes have crossed the fine and solemn lines of the said rules of engagement.
Neither I nor, to the best of my knowledge, any other Somalilander have until now made any attempt to rebut the Wailers along the lines of the same blunt tribal context that they are so fond of presenting their arguments. By instinct, using tribal names publicly in debate has always been repulsive to me. Perhaps other Somalilanders, who are equally offended by the Wailers’ rants, harbor the same abhorrence towards tribe name-calling. Perhaps, this self-imposed restraint has robbed the Isaac of legitimate defense. And perhaps, this docility has encouraged the Wailers to persist in—and intensify—their invectives against the Isaac.
Thus, characteristically, I will attempt hereunder to set the record straight. Untypically this time, however, I intend to mention the names of tribes where I find it pertinent to do so. No offense or malice is meant. If offense is taken, all I can say is sorry. It is only the necessity of calling a spade a spade, which the Wailers made incumbent on me that have forced my hand.
[i] Would Puntand ever have a president who is not from the Majerten clan as Somaliland have had a President who did not hail from the Isaac? I would say never. But if you are a brave and risk-taking bettor and believe that it would, I’m willing to be the other party. And you can dictate the betting amount and other terms.
However, as good-hearted consideration, I have a word of caution for you. My confidence in taking such a potential bet is rooted in precedents on both sides of the coin.
When Abdillahi Yusuf, a Majerten and a kind of warlord capo del capo tutti, was recruited by foreigners as Somalia’s president-puppet, he had to vacate the Puntland presidency that he had grabbed and held at the time. His vice-president was a fellow Harti clansman but not a Majerten. He was a Dulbahante. Alas, the Dulbahante-man was robbed soon enough of the opportunity to feel either the comforts or the burdens of the presidential seat. Of course, he had to unceremoniously make way for another Marjerten-president. So much for tribal chauvinism.
Compare that with when Somaliland’s late President M. I. Egal, an Isaac—the chauvinistic and domineering tribe of Somaliland, if the Wailers are to be believed—died. The Vice President was not a fellow Isaac. He was from the Samaron tribe. Without fear, opposition or hesitation—in fact much to Isaac’s gratitude and blessings—he assumed the Presidency as the country’s constitution obligated. This honorable man, Dahir Riyale, went on to win the Presidency in his right in a multiparty election later. His honor is now reinforced and cast in granite when he conceded defeat and handed over power in a willing, peaceful and constitutional manner after a subsequent Presidential election.
The Wailers, as a matter of course, either do not mention this glorious juncture of Somaliland’s recent history or, if and when they do, they belittle it.
[ii] The ‘s’ that is denoting the plural is an indication of the number of times these governments that have been installed in Villa Somalia in Mogadishu by foreigners. They never served Somalis well. It is debatable that they served their creators well either. Or if they did, it is only for the short term. Time will tell. And time is ticking faster than most think it is.
[iii] The 4.5 tribal power sharing system was forwarded as a mechanism to ensure broad inclusiveness in governmental affairs by all Somali tribes. I have no issue with that laudable objective. However the 4.5 tribal classification is a figment of imagination as much as it is an exercise in disingenuousness. It dreamed up by Ismail Omar Gelle, of Djibouti, Abdillahi Yusuf, of Puntland and other Somaliland haters. Its whole purpose was to politically disenfranchise the Isaac in a potential resurrection of the erstwhile Union of the Somali Republic.
If there is a Dir tribe, the Isaacs are not part of it. The Dir scheme was hatched so that in a potential Somalia that would include Somaliland, the Isaac, the Samaron and the Isa of the North as well other tribes in the South will be deficiently represented in government in disproportion of their actual numbers. As a matter of fact, Abdillahi Yusuf is habitually fond to brag, that one of the major achievements of his political career is the eradication of the name ‘Issac’ from the Somali political and social lexicons.