21th Feb. 2002
A SECOND OPEN LETTER TO HASSAN ABSHIR
can see I have used some recycled material I used in my first
Open Letter to you, in order illustrate that we Somalis are
suspicious of whatever the new crop of politicians or warlords
say or do since the ouster of General Barre from power 11
years ago. But make no mistake: we are distinct majority who
feel betrayed, not by colonialists or imperialists, but people
who masquerade as Somali nationalists, while at the same time
are wheeling and dealing with arms traffickers in order to
arm their clan against the "enemy" clan, real or imagined.
you have gathered all the doctors, know or unknown (I had
never imagined that all those doctors are within your grasp
in war-torn Somalia), our dream for reborn Somalia, with good
governance, peace, stability and accountability could become
a reality. We are homeless wanderers of the five continents,
but there is still a purpose in our being - the purpose of
seeing Somalia stand with its own feet again. That's all we
in the Diaspora daydream so that we could come (literally)
in from the cold.
"solace" you had included in your cabinet a minister responsible
for the Somalis in the Diaspora. This is unprecedented step
in the history of our country - a recognition that the Somalis
abroad could be a force to reckon with if a new Somalia is
to take off from the ashes of the civil war. With a fine comb
this minister could lure young qualified Somalis free from
the virus of tribalism and clan loyalty to serve a new administration.
They could play a pivotal role in nation-building with the
acquired know-how and tenacity they had learned from the world.
them are in the business of leaving in Somalia's history books
signs saying, "TOUR MY WORLD, SEE IT THROUGH MY EYES; I AM
YOUR GUIDE. I WAS PROUD TO REBUILD MY COUNTRY." Many people
at home may or may not accept the returnees' "foreign" ideas
and actions. Their tactics may startle some but would have
the virtue of getting the drill over with quickly. The seeds
of progress would be disseminated and harvested in no time.
After all, people with rigid "unconventional" ideas built
the New World otherwise known as North America.
are practical reasons why the returnees wish to share their
experiences with their fellow countrymen. One of the reasons
is that they came face-to-face with racism, depression, injustice
and favoritism in their adopted countries. In the process
they also observed governments being voted out of office,
noisy demonstrations against unfair government measures as
well as cabinet ministers and top government officials tender
their resignations after they were accused of abusing the
trust of the people who paid their salaries. That's called
democracy with capital D.
ask each other why this should not happen in Africa. Pardon
me while I laugh. No African head of state I know of had been
voted out of office since independence in the 1960s, except
of course, Adan Abdulle Osman and Julius Nyerere. Another
example worth repeating here is the peaceful transition from
Nelson Mandela (a man who spent 27 years in prison, breaking
stones) to Thabu Mbeki. One might have assumed Africa had
learned a hard lesson. Using a host of security agencies,
the police and the national army, African presidents cling
to power for life until disgruntled young army officers ousted
them in bloody coup de etats.
first Open Letter to you I said that the country needs a Prime
Minister who knows what he is doing, a man who speaks for
the underdogs, the oppressed masses, the silent sufferers
and those who have the best interest of Somalia at heart.
This country cannot remain a pariah state forever. It cannot
remain a failed state any more, because for one thing we have
the human resource and the necessary know-how to make any
administration work and bring Somalia back to the world arena.
first Open Letter I also made it clear to you that, although
you was a mere blip in the hiring and firing radar of General
Barre, many of us regard former officials of the General's
regime with suspicion. Because there are more questions than
answers to their modus operandi and their sincerity during
the General's heydays. Another question I asked was: has the
new Prime Minister got the guts to subdue the armed militia
and tell them in black and white that their days in the killing
fields are over?
that letter another crucial question emerged from the market
place, flooding the country with billions or trillions of
counterfeit currency that put the living standard of an already
suffering population well below the poverty line. Do you have
the courage to put these crooks behind the bars once and for
all? If you do, you will be remembered in our history books
and school textbooks as the man who defied the merchants of
death in order to protect the lives of the men and women in
the street. Somalia requires charismatic leadership, courage
and willingness to depart from the gun culture, if it is to
survive at all.
Afrah © 2001
Mr. Afrah is an outspoken Author/Journalist and a member of
the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the
New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). He
contributes hard-hitting articles to Canadian and international
newspapers and magazines on the Somalia situation "through
the eyes of a man who covered the country for more than two
of us remember his critical articles in his weekly English
language HEEGAN newspaper, despite a mandatory self-censorship
introduced by Guddiga Baarista Hisbiga Xisbiga Hantiwadaagga
Somaaliyeed in 1984 and the dreaded NSS. I am very proud to
know that Mr. Afrah openly defied the draconian censorship
laws and went ahead to write what he thought was wrong in
the country. He received several death threats from the warlords
and was briefly held hostage by gunmen in 1993. But he remained
defiant and continued to send his stories of carnage and destruction
to Reuters news agency. He still is!