Prognosis: Leadership Deficit Disease (L2D)
has been ill since its inception as a country. The illness
has been progressing slowly, consuming the country and
its people; pushing them to the edge of human existence.
Among others, the Somali illness has been attributed to
tribalism, ignorance, dictatorship, warlordism, arrogance,
greediness, and selfishness. While all of the above may
be true, I contend that the malady that I refer to as
L2D is the single leading ailment responsible for the
misery existing in Somalia today. In Somali language,
L2D roughly translates to "Bukaan Hoggaan Xumo".
me define leadership before explaining why I maintain
unequivocally that L2D is the leading cause of the dire
state of Somalia today. Leadership is the ability to lead,
unite, inspire, and guide others towards the achievement
of shared goals and objectives. Did the majority of Somalis
after more than forty years under various leaders with
different leadership styles achieve the simple goal of
obtaining basic human needs?
years ago Psychologist Abraham Maslow introduced his now
famous Hierarchy of Needs. These basic human needs include
physiological such as food, shelter, and water; safety
such as moral and physiological security; social and belonging;
self-esteem; and self-actualization. Even though we are
in the 21st century, the majority Somali people have not
yet obtained the most basic human needs - physiological,
safety, and security. Indeed, while most of the world's
population is sitting on top of the human needs pyramid,
our people are stuck at the bottom fighting for mere survival.
Our children, elderly, and women are dying daily due to
war, hunger, malnutrition and disease. At this very moment,
Somalis are living in dire circumstance and abject poverty
with many being killed in a vicious cycle of violence.
Suffice it to say, our leaders have failed us miserably
in every way imaginable.
who have vowed to lead us have failed to put forward a
vision for our country and our people. They have failed
to become the moral authority necessary for the development
of the character of our youth and that of our future leaders.
Further, they have failed to lead our country to peace,
prosperity, and stability as is expected from good leadership.
To the contrary, the leadership in Somalia has brought
only misery and despair to the Somali people. They fostered
a culture of tribalism, corruption, and nepotism. They
bred an environment replete with injustice, oppression,
wickedness and immorality. They relegated the Somali people
to a bare existence where hunger, disease, terror and
destruction are the norm. Sadly, Somalia has become an
embarrassment to the world under its leadership.
Somali leaders have lost many critical opportunities for
effective, strategic leadership since independence. To
fully grasp this idea, it is necessary to examine the
leadership of Somalia from an historical context. For
simplicity, I divided the political life of Somalia since
independence into three major stages: The Civilian Rule
Era; The Military Rule Era; and the Anarchy Era.
Rule Era - 1960-1969
had its best chance in this era. Somalia was a new nation.
The Somali people were optimistic about the future. There
was great hope, energy, and a desire to build a new nation.
This was the high time for Somalia to emerge as a strong
and independent nation. This was the time to set a firm
foundation for the country. It was the time to build onto
the spirit and the goodwill of the people. It was the
time to demonstrate leadership qualities and to set the
tone for the future of the country. It was the time to
set the standards for moral leadership built on honesty,
integrity, ability, accountability, and fairness. This
was the time for the leaders of Somalia to put forward
a vision for the people and the country.
the Somali leaders at the time fell far behind the aspirations
and the expectations of the people. Mismanagement, greed
and selfishness ruled the day. Tribalism, nepotism, and
regionalism created an unfair and unbalanced distribution
of wealth and power among Somalis. Leaderships wielded
government power to advance personal and tribal interests
at the expense of the individual and the country. Somalis
became cynical of their leaders and their intentions.
The rare few good honest leaders turned out to be indecisive
or undermanned and overwhelmed by the unscrupulous majority.
The leadership deficit during the Civilian Leadership
Era has set the stage for the next era of Somali politics
- The Military Rule Era.
Rule Era - 1969-1990
leadership deficit during the Civilian Rule Era was partially
responsible for the Military Rule Era that followed. Most
Somalis were not surprised and somewhat relieved when
the military took control of Somalia in October 1969.
There was an outpouring support from some of the public
for the military junta in the early years of its rule.
However, the honeymoon with the military rulers was short-lived
for most Somalis. The military leadership failed to capitalize
on the demise of the Civilian Rule Era and on the dissatisfaction
of the people under the civilian rule. The same leadership
deficit that beleaguered the civilian rule has surfaced
again. In addition, the Somalis have had to deal with
dictatorship, communism, and state terror, which were
all alien to the Somali culture. Very soon Somalis realized
that mismanagement, greed, selfishness, tribalism, and
nepotism have blossomed once again but they also lost
some of the basic freedoms and security they had taken
for granted under the civilian rule.
leadership of the Military Rule Era had many opportunities
to establish an effective government and to steer the
country toward a democratic future. They could have limited
their involvement in the day to day running of the country
and established a competent civilian workforce to assist
them as a caretaker government. They could have set the
stage for the return to a true democratic civilian rule
free from tribalism, corruption, and nepotism. They could
have formulated an exit strategy rather than allowing
the country to collapse into complete lawlessness. The
leadership deficit of the Military Rule Era set the stage
for the next era of Somali politics - The Anarchy Era.
Era - 1990 to present
Anarchy Era is the most challenging atmosphere for competent
leadership to emerge. Immediately following the collapse
of the military dictatorship, Somalia descended into anarchy
resulting in a country that is fractured, tormented, and
more dysfunctional than ever before. Chaos and lawlessness
replaced what little order was left after the Military
Rule Era. The militia leaders who fought the military
regime turned to warlords and competed for power and domination.
Former politicians, religious and tribal extremists, and
devious businessmen started jockeying to fill the power
vacuum, thus turning Somalia into a series of mafia like
even in this turmoil, the warlords still had ample opportunity
to reorder their agenda, relinquish power and contribute
to the re-emergence of Somalia as a stable viable nation.
Former politicians and businessmen also had many opportunities
to positively influence the ever-deteriorating situation
in Somalia as well. But, the old leadership deficit disease
has resurfaced again. The current Somali Transitional
Government, dominated by the warlords, is not showing
leadership either, and is equally ineffective.
particular concern is the President of the Somali Transitional
Government, Abdullahi Yusuf. He has not shown the ability
to lead, unite, inspire, and guide Somalis towards the
achievement of shared goals and objectives. He has not
formulated a vision for solving Somalia's problems peacefully
or for moving the country forward. He is blinded by the
same old problems of tribalism, arrogance, nepotism, and
incompetence. Moreover, his administration has the leanings
of a dictatorship and authoritarianism. His tenure in
office has only resulted in more fighting and in increased
tension in many parts of Somalia. The most memorable achievement
of his administration during its tenure is the frequent
desultory trips he and his prime minister take to Addis
and other parts of the world. Will Somalia survive as
a nation if we don't change the course? What will be left
of us and what will they become?
leadership models outlined in this article have been tried
and have failed. Furthermore, we cannot let the extremists
and the tyrants become our voice or position themselves
as the alternative to the disgraced warlords. We need
to think outside the box and be creative in finding alternative
leadership. We need to plant the seeds for new leadership
that does not include the tyrants, warlords, fanatics,
and self-appointed strongmen. We need not accept the status
quo leadership of the very groups who have instigated
and profited from the destruction and the demise of our
many of the same players are still in control of Somalia
and her resources and enjoy the support of the international
community to the dismay of the Somali people. History
has taught us that support afforded to tyrants and despots
for short-term gain increases the likelihood of political
and religious extremism with dire consequences for all
the parts involved in particular the civilian population
of the subject country.
the Somali people need to team together and demand new
leadership. And this would not just be a new government
in name alone. This new leadership must emerge from a
grass roots effort and have the needs of Somalia and Somalis
as its agenda. I am convinced that the leadership deficit
disease (L2D) is so severe in the latest Somali Transitional
Government that even if the warlords and their President
unite they will not move Somalia an inch toward meeting
the most basic human needs mentioned above and will only
prolong the suffering and the agony of the Somali people.
Somali people have paid a heavy price and have suffered
greatly for decades as a result of ruthless, corrupt and
ineffective leadership. The critical question now is where
do we go from here, and how do we effectively eradicate
the leadership deficit disease that had plagued our nation?
The good news is that there is a cure. I believe that
the spirit of the Somali people is strong and, although
it will not be easy, through our collective effort we
can replace the malaise and the dysfunction rampant in
Somalia today. I believe that we can reverse what I call
the "D" plagues that have eaten deep into our
flesh, soul, humanity, dignity, and future (D plagues:
death, danger, destruction, disease, dysfunction, despair,
discord, distrust, division, disintegration, and last
but not least the source of all the plagues leadership
deficit disease). I believe that we can rebuild a Somalia
that can take its rightful place among the nations of
the world and can shed away the disparaging gloom perception
of us by the world.
need to think beyond the current despots and plan to set
the foundation for effective, efficient and ethical leadership.
We should never have outsourced the direction and the
future of our country and people to IGAD or any other
organization or country. We need to find a Somali solution
to Somalia's problems and then seek help from the international
community to implement and sustain our solution. We need
to commit to a fresh start as a nation, fresh start as
people, fresh start as individuals, fresh leadership,
fresh energy and spirit, and most of all fresh vigor and
devotion to claim back what is rightly ours - our beloved
country. To that we will leave the dark past behind us
and wake up to a bright new dawn for Somalia and sing
to the Somali song lyrics "waabaa baryay bilicsan
arooryo baxsan maalin boqran... a bright new dawn have
risen, a fantastic sunrise/morning, a celebrated/treasured
encourage all our readers to think about and work hard
toward finding a lasting solution to Somali's chronic
leadership deficit. Leadership is about finding intelligent
solutions to complex problems. For all those inspiring
genuine Somali leaders, finding solutions to Somalia's
problems is your ultimate challenge. This is not to suggest
that we take up arms and start another round of fighting
with the warlords and the tyrants. Our first priority
should be to stop immediately the bleeding of our nation
and people and thus stop the perpetrators. We should abandon
the appeasement and the engagement of the warlords and
their President but try to find an exit strategy for them,
convince the international community to support alternative
leadership, and then plan for how we can collectively
move the country forward. Somalia is ripe for a new generation
of leaders with new ideas, approach, style, and vision.
This is the time to come forward and step up to the stage
to help Somalia's hour of need.
see a glimmer of hope in an alliance with the Speaker
of the Somali Parliament and other non-warlord parliament
members. After all, if they stay united for the long treacherous
journey ahead and manage to avoid L2D infection on the
way, they would create a majority; especially if to take
into account the elders, young members, women, and minority
members in the parliament. I also see a crucial role for
Somali Diaspora communities and civil society in defining
the direction of our country. Warlords and extremists
have short life span due to the entrenched violence and
self-destructive behaviors that engulfs them daily. Our
nation, people, identity, and values must find a way to
outlast them while we collectively search, discover, and
apply cure to the unrepentant leadership deficit disease
that has bedeviled our country.
closing, I appeal to my Somali brothers and sisters across
clans, regions, gender, and age to unite and work toward
the emergence of Somali leadership capable of leading,
uniting, inspiring, and guiding us towards the achievement
of our shared goals and objectives. This new paradigm
must be the driving force if we are not to fail our children
and future generations as our past and present leaders
have failed us. Poor leadership can be a reflection of
its origin - the people. Perhaps this is the time for
each of us to examine our morals, our beliefs, our priorities,
and ourselves and gets them in order. Somalia will have
a better chance of producing strong, effective leaders,
and emerge as a strong, vibrant, and dynamic country,
if each individual will embrace these ideals, have them
manifest in our lives, and then demand nothing less from
Long Live Somalia !!!
Somali Diaspora Network
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The writer lives and works in
Virginia, USA. He holds B.S in Computer Science, M.S in
Business Technologies, and Graduate Level Certificates
in Management. He has over 20 years of experience in information
technology, business, and management. He enjoys technology,
internet, politics, reading current news, outdoors, and
community and cultural activities. Most of all, he has
a special interest, passion, and affection for Somalia
and Somali people.