Fixing Somalia for Future Generations

12.24.13

Fixing Somalia for Future Generations

12.24.13
Tobin JonesTobin Jones

Somalia has fallen into a hole of uncertainty after the collapse of the military government in 1991. In 1991 nobody could have predicted that Somalia’s political stalemate, bloodshed and strife would be endless. The prolonged civil war and violence will never be understood by a vast majority of non-Somalis. It has destroyed the national characteristics that hold my country together. The longer that Somalis are unable to resolve long held animosities, the basic structures of my society will be eroded. The bloodshed has claimed countless numbers of lives and inflicted a material loss of huge proportions. However, nobody can bring back the past but the future is worth thinking about in order to understand what went wrong in Somalia. Having said that, it is not constructive to be preoccupied with the past. Only Somalis will find solutions for the future.

There is a Somali saying, “Somalis don’t say a false proverb,” which roughly means that Somali culture is rich with wisdom and there is another, “Wisdom does not come overnight.” It is very clear that Somalia needs solutions which will not be easy to find and those solutions will not be found overnight. Potential solutions should be sought from the millions of Somalis who live abroad. Additionally, going forward, Somali politicians must not have a monopoly of ideas. Every Somali should be given an equal voice. Maybe quelling the fire of anarchy in Somalia is not that complicated but it needs a spark at the right time and in the right place to be initiated by Somalis which will lead to a country free from tribalism and bias. In the 21st century the world is undergoing swift changes in terms of human capital and independent thought and Somalis are part of these global changes.

Somalia has been drifting for nearly 30 years. People are tired, displaced and hungry. They need peace, hope, prosperity and a new Somalia. Somalis, especially those in the country, have not seen a break from the mayhem for a very long time. They feel forgotten by the world. But optimism is possible if their fellow Somalis come up with strategies to save the country from its failed state status.

The Somali Diaspora is not free from entanglement in the affairs in Somalia both positively and negatively. I want to focus on the positive side, which I think outweighs the negative components. The Somali Diaspora has grown into a very powerful demographic. It is a force to be reckoned with. They are scattered in vast territories around the world: the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. It is impossible to determine the exact number of Somalis living abroad but the unofficial statistics indicate that around 3 million Somalis have fled Somalia since 1991. In this context, the Somali Diaspora can be estimated to number nearly one million. These one million Somali Diaspora can make a huge positive contribution to their motherland. They can take part in the process.

There are too many politicians immersed in the politics of Somalia who represent too many interest groups with too many different backgrounds and strategies. However, Somali politicians are not blameless. They represent the chronic habit of self-interest. They are like heavy smokers who find it hard to quit smoking. Somali politicians need to change course. They need to revisit their failed plans, set aside their personal biases and rediscover empathy. They have to see the pain of the ordinary Somalis with caring eyes. They need to solve problems rather than dance around them. In other words, make tough choices for the betterment of Somalia and Somalis.

Additionally, Somali women are the backbone of the nation. In order to solve the problem of Somalia, Somali men should involve Somali women in decision-making. If they participate in the political landscape, Somali women can make a difference, politically and economically. Somali women should engage in the political future of their country: they should not be guests but stakeholders.

The president, prime minister and the parliament are the three branches of the Somali government. A useful analogy is that these branches of government are like sadex dhardhaar (three cooking stones) that hold up the Somali traditional cooking pot. It is essential for the three branches of the government to work together with checks and balances, without one branch overshadowing the others. The rule of law must be respected. It is welcomed news that the Somali parliament approved the new Prime Minister, Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed. I’m very hopeful that Somalia will rebound again with integrity and respect for itself in the eyes of the world.

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