7th November 2001
OPEN LETTER TO THE WARLORDS/FACTION LEADERS
of you we have been on the run for more than ten years. Many
of us ended up where we were not wanted because of the colour
of our skins or our peculiar way of life distinct from the
Western way of life. We tend to speak loudly in countries
where people whisper when talking to each other in the subway,
in the streetcar, in the elevator and even in their own homes.
We refuse to stoop low to accept unfair treatment from our
landlords and supervisors at work or teachers at schools.
Unlike other ethnic groups in the Diaspora we'd rather starve
than accept demeaning jobs, like toilet cleaning, snow shoveling,
window cleaning or garbage picking. We do not mean harm, but
it is not in our nature to be pushed around under any circumstance.
However, the crime rate among the Somali community in Toronto
is almost zero compared to crimes committed by other ethnic
communities, according to Statistics Canada published here.
But if you ask a Somali if he was happy living thousands of
miles away from home he/she will tell you "absolutely no."
He/she will tell you that he/she would go back home as soon
as conditions returned to normal there.
worth repeating here a poem by a 15-year-old Somali girl who
took part in her school poetry competition in Toronto (Canada):
came from another country
I wear scarf
I look different
I don't belong here
People look at me
And I know what they say
From another country
Doesn't belong here
Who am I?
And why I am here?
Take me away
From this place
I don't want to be
Where I don't belong
I want to go home
the title of her poem "FROM ANOTHER COUNTRY" for my forthcoming
been on the run because you destroyed our beloved country,
killed our relatives, destroyed or appropriated our homes
and farms, looted the Central Bank, put historical edifices
and museums to the torch, stole underground water pipes, electrical
and telephone wires and incinerated the National Archives.
Your militia destroyed our factories and pulled down the national
monuments and sold them as scrape metals to Asian entrepreneurs
in the Emirates who mixed them with gold. They in turn exported
this deluded gold to the sub-continent where they sold them
those who were unable to escape the inferno as hostages to
the gun. These are the same people (YOUR OWN) who enthusiastically
welcomed you after you succeeded in dislodging the military
dictator in 1991 (I was there to cover the event for an international
news organization). People were very jubilant, singing and
dancing in the streets, hoping against hope that you would
put the guns down and form a broad-based government of national
unity. We have long prided ourselves as a nation of "welcomers".
welcomed our hard-earned independence with the song "Kanna
siib kanna saar" 40 years ago.
welcomed the military coup de etat and Scientific Socialism
with new revolutionary songs.
welcomed you in 1991, again, hoping that the transition will
be smooth, after suffering in the hands of military dictator
and the civilian regimes that preceded them. But things went
from bad to worse. It has become Dante's Purgatory. You turned
your guns on each other and destroyed everything as if they
were the properties of General Barre. Each one of you was
obsessed with the office of the Presidency - to fill the vacuum.
You believed the old adage that the end justifies the means.
We haven't got a clear idea of when this will come to an end.
Nobody does. But the ball is in your court.
some of us welcomed the Arta Group over a year ago. But it
seems they're no better than you guys are because they failed
to deliver the goods as promised. However, they blame you
for obstructing their effort to restore peace and stability
in the country. Why did you turn down President Moi's recent
invitation for a peace conference in Nairobi? Instead you
all run to Addis Ababa. WHY? I understand your stated position
that the ARTA Group should attend the Nairobi conference as
another faction. But would that make any difference? Since
we all know that past peace talks never bore fruits why don't
you try and have a go at this one too? If it fails like the
previous 12 peace talks, I am sure no one will blame you.
But by refusing to attend on flimsy excuses, the table would
be turned on you and you would certainly be branded as anti-peace
efforts in Somalia. Are you scared of your past records? Or
to return the properties you had expropriated? Or a war crimes
tribunal (see Africa Watch June 1999)? Rest assured for you
are not alone because almost everyone in Somalia has at one
time or another had committed human rights human rights violations
in his own way. However, it is hard to ignore this fact in
our turbulent history. But people I talked to say what is
past is past and there is a great deal more that will be required
of the current crop of leaders, whether they are the faction
leaders or the TNG in Mogadishu.
our readers would like to take over at this point.
your comments/suggestions to:
M.M. Afrah, Toronto (CANADA)
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