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TALKING POINT : Somalia--a small plaything?
Toronto (Canada)

20, June  2003

Somalia--a small plaything?
M. M. Afrah

During the heydays of the Cold War an African editorial writer for Kenya’s Daily Nation said that Somalia is a small plaything of the big and powerful nations of the World, giving an example of the political immaturity of the then Somali leaders.

Now, witness how fistfights in Eldoret and more recently Abdullahi Deerow using a chair as a weapon during a disagreement in a Nairobi hotel between him and his deputy, Mohamed Abdi Yusuf in the Interim Parliament, hit the headlines. The Kenyan newspapers said these acts are comparable to those of bullies at school playgrounds.

Soon after that Deerow declared himself as a presidential candidate, joining a handful of wannabe presidents of Somalia.

The weakness of those petty politicians attending the talks is a constant invitation and a constant encouragement to the big powers to subdivide the country once again with impunity.

The differences in policies, which now exist between the faction leaders, are the result of the long bloody internecine. These bloody clan wars have had an influence on the present situation, which cannot be ignored. But the only viable solution is that we have to accept our differences and accommodate them instead of prolonging the stalemate.

Evidently, not a single clan or tribe will accept hegemony by conquest. In the past battles were fought by different clans over livestock, grassing rights, water-wells and forfeited dowries. Usually these hostilities were not serious compared to the present day massacre of innocent civilians; a few young men on both sides were killed and the stolen livestock recovered.

But today’s clan wars are not like that. They mean widespread misery, and complete destruction of livelihood for all the clans involved, except of course the warlords, who usually thrive on conflicts.

How are we fighting today? Not with spears and arrows but with deadly weaponry given to us by foreigners in one form of foreign aid and which is easy to get from big the powers’ armament industries. Why? Because they welcome the prospect of a brother fighting against brother in one of those countries they dubbed as banana republics and Badlands.

Ironically, these same arms traffickers spend thousands of dollars on talking together on how they can stop arms trafficking. Example, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council passed an arms embargo resolution in 1992 against Somalia. To this day, the members of the UN Security Council failed to honour their own resolution, despite compelling and unmitigated evidence that weapons regularly pour into Somalia across the border nonstop.

Apparently, that resolution is gathering dusty at the UN Headquarters in New York.

On to you, Mr. Kofi Annan.


The media represents one of the most powerful institutions in a democratic society. The Somali media is no exemption. It is the key instrument by which its deals are produced and disseminated. It is time both the reflection and action on the part of the fletching Somali print and electronic media. It is time for media organizations to begin to take a hard look at their own professional and personal ideologies, clan interests, or organizational norms and values, and the ways in which these elements influence the way in which news and programming is constructed and communicated.

The Somali media should vigorously investigate and expose those who think they have the exclusive right to rule the country, or what was left of it. By the same token they should expose those shady merchants who frequently flood the country with counterfeit currency, causing enormous hardship to the average person.

Needless to say their priority is to inform and educate the masses about the evils of clan worshipping, corruption, nepotism and hatred, among other evils that besieged our society for decades.


Another disagreement cropped up last week at the talks. It’s the question of who would be included in the future interim parliament and the number of MPs. Many people suggested that traditional elders should be included in the new parliament. As an elder myself who has gone through the mills since independence in 1960, I believe that the elders are great asset to the Somali people. An example to be emulated is the Guurtida of Somaliland who have been doing a spectacular task of cooling down over-heated tempers in the Somali tradition.

This should not be difficult to comprehend. Elders advise us to do this or that even though they have no formal education. It might be true that I am educated; but how can this mean that I am more intelligent than the person who is older than me, even in matters of Government? In most cases it transpires that this older man knows more about state affairs than I do. Because he too has gone through the mills of frustration and injustice and wishes that Somalia must not repeat its past mistakes.

But a question arises in Mbagathi; would these elders (many of them illiterates or semi-illiterates) be able to grasp the sensitive foreign policy, national security, the defense and the economic committees of the future National Assembly? I leave this question to my readers.

The number of MPs could be from 250 to 300 individuals with higher educational standards, transparency and clean track records, answerable only to the mainstream Somali people and not their clans.

That’s only for the interim federal parliament. But when a nation-wide election is kicked off at a future date the effort would be colossal and the financial and organizational input very high in terms of appointing election supervisors, their movements to the constituencies they are going to cover, the arrangement of transport, accommodation and subsistence allowances for hundreds of people in all parts of the country.

But that’s only the beginning. Millions of ballot papers would have to be printed and distributed to the appropriate polling stations with transparent (see through) boxes; millions of Election Manifestos should be printed, edited and distributed to the constituencies, thousands of polling stations would have to be manned by security forces. But the most crucial aspect of the whole exercises is disarming the population, without which no peaceful and fair election would ever take place in an armed Somalia.

It would be a drop in a sea of turbulence and shorthand for more bloodshed.

By M. M. Afrah©2003

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