By Abdul-Aziz Mohammed
Originality in cultural wisdom is a living fossil of any society’s greatness. To the extent a society continues a successful trajectory depends (1) on it firmly standing on its traditional foundations and (2) adaptability to new circumstances. This was indeed the case with the Somalis before their present devaluation. Today, with endless dark political and social clouds ceiling the Somalis, it may not be so noticeable they have had rich history.
The trouble with the Somalis of lately is they forgot who they are by tradition. Nowhere is this clearer than in all Somali leaders of the last 18 years. Precisely, the led is as leader does! These days, to my shame and yours, leaders throughout Somalia are agents of foreign interests. Worse yet, Somalis’ ancestral enemy, Ethiopia, and the tormentor of their people (inside Ethiopia and now in Somalia), as I write this, has become the boss of them. Whatever happened to the Somali people?
Consider the following: The soldiers of this unrepentant, all-time enemy of the Somalis brought to Mogadishu, of all places, to gun down fellow Somalis. In Puntland, Ethiopian security personnel regularly invited to witness torture of Somalis (by Somalis) on their behalf. The master key to the Somali port of Berbera is in the hands of, you guessed it, Ethiopia. Via Berbera, Ethiopia imports weapons, among other, which then it uses to kill Somalis within Ethiopia and Somalia! This is what became of Somalis by their own hands.
In another new and troubling development in Somali history, Somalis have produced the devil’s disciples, who cloak themselves as religious. This bunch is impudent with an air about them, as if, they have revealed the religion of God to the Somalis for the first time! Give me a break. What they brought, which they shove it in the throats of Somalis by force, is to the crooked-way away from Allah.
On their part, all vestiges of long-held, Somali cultural and Islamic traditions systematically erased. The leaders of this, like Dahir Aways, Godane, Turki and Yacquub, are agents, besides for Eritrea, of the worst possible foreign interest: Global terrorism.
Then there is the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). For Sheikh Sharif, a mild-mannered decent fellow, I had high hopes for country and people. Regrettably, it shows the Sharif has not much of the stuff of a leader in him. He does not even have the time to engage in a serious, religious debate against his opposition; too busy hobnobbing with leaders in foreign lands. Notice the weekly or monthly touring of TFG leaders around the world with briefcases. So much money given to them; yet their handful brave soldiers at frontlines with the extremists go without pay! This outfit, the TFG, earns for Somalis the “most corrupt country” in the world title (at zero ground of a country)! Even if the good Sharif is not personally corrupt, which I am inclined to believe, responsibility of this problem is squarely on his shoulders.
The Somali institutional past clearly condemns the character of all Somali leaders of today (both secular and religious). The nation, whose societal organization produced valiant leaders, at moments of great need, is perhaps gone barren on delivering one more.
No matter. As pessimistic as I should be, with good reason, I choose to hold out on a glimmer of hope (until I hear I am the last Somali) that Somali established ways will, sooner or later, reassert themselves. Out of which, amid chaos, one halyeey or more providence will commission!
Speaking of Somali halyeey and geesi, no accident these days the premature and persnickety subjective misjudgments and incriminations, of all went wrong in Somalia, on Mohammed Siyad Barre had died down. The ferocious haters of this man and his administration, given what has been transpiring in Somalia for these almost last two decades, had fittingly gone silent.
Correctly so, Mohammed Siyad Barre’s standing in Somali history has to wait for an honest and objective judgment by Somali future generations with a restored sense of due process. True justice demands judgment on any leader, anywhere, has to come from jurors of his peers (his people) and its ruling based on their traditions. Mohammed Siyad Barre, therefore, will NOT be tried in the court of Somali public opinion by Western or, for that matter, any others values.
Whatever the verdict will be on Mohammed Siyad, one thing is very clear; that his rule was in the convention of Somali traditions—practiced by times of yore Somali great leaders, like Ahmed Gurey, Sayyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan and Wiil Waal. In fact, in some areas, a combination of leadership styles and wisdom of those past leaders was marked in Mohammed Siyad’s; whereas in other places, Siyad shared a variant style with one or another.
For instance, when the bloodless coup, on 21st October, 1969, brought Siyad to the height of power, he would show a particular leadership astuteness only known by Wiil Waal. To my knowledge, no Somali leader before Wiil Waal has ever lifted the much-discounted and defamed (by a long-standing, unfair Somali tradition) particular Somali minorities to the highest leadership positions. Wiil Waal was not a national figure; he was not even a regional figure. The man was a Somali subclan chief (Grad). Yet, he and his people would face an existential threat from the Gala (Oromo) and their king over the well of Jigjiga. Wiil Waal killed the Gala king and defeated— against all odds—the plague of Locust-like army of the Oromo. This makes him a Somali hero.
Appointing Mohammed Ali Samater (among many others of similar backgrounds), as a vice president and defense minster, was in the traditions of Wiil Waal. Add women to that list too.
The eloquence of Sayyid Muhammad Abdille’s poetry is an all-time unmatched by any other Somali. Indeed, the Sayid was and still is the Somali Shakespeare—no doubt about it! Without this unique providential gift, of allure, it is doubtful the Sayyid would have had success in leading the masses. Leadership wants the charm of charisma to seduce the populace. Mohammed Siyad, on the other hand, was gifted with speech articulacy and unique booming voice.
In 1977, the Somali National Army would smash Ethiopian army’s invisibility. Siyad as the Commander in Chief, Somali forces would come about 60 kilometers to Addis Ababa. Where have we seen that before? Was not that in the tradition of perhaps the greatest Somali leader Imam Ahmed Gurey, who initially had to answer, with few soldiers, an Ethiopian (then Abyssinia) aggression into Muslim and Somali territories? The Imam went even further in entering the palaces of Abyssinian emperors. Coincidentally, in both cases, it would take foreign powers to come to the aide of Ethiopia, which denied Somali victory over its enemy!
Centuries later, Sayyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan, an equal to Ahmed Gurey, would stand up and rally his people against a tripartite aggression on his people by British, Ethiopian and Italian colonialists.
History repeats itself in so many ways. Mohammed Siyad and Sayyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan would fall to the same fate in the end. Both chased out of their country by Somalis armed and funded by Somali enemies. They both would die penniless in exile in foreign lands. Siyad could not even pay his telephone bills—so much for the legendary lies he siphoned the Somali treasury.
No Somali leader, ironically enough, whose demise and death was as jubilantly celebrated by so many Somalis at the time as that of Sayyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan. He was the most vilified Somali warrior for decades afterwards, this owing to his merciless killings of so many Somali enemy-collaborators or on the fence spectators in the face of the enemy. It would take half a century, when cooler heads prevailed and Somali pride restored, for Somalis to praise the Sayyid for whom he was: A first class Somali hero!
By any measure, Mohammed Siyad, like the Sayyid, was not above blame. He was not a saint or an angel. He was a mere man; above all, he was , again like the Sayyid, a Somali through and through, who had done so much good for country and people in the waxing years of his rule. His rule was not on foreign systems, but on Somali traditions.
As the leader of people of clans and clan politics, much of Siyad Barre’s earlier successes were due to his earnest inclusionary polices for all clans, big and small, in his government. In those early years of his rule, Somalis everywhere were filled with pride. Usual interclan-conflicts stopped. So many gains were made, and the enemy of the Somalis made to tremble!
In the sunset years of his rule, Siyad Barre’s administration weakened, because of many violent challenges mounted against his rule by Somalis at the urging and support of Ethiopia. On many occasions, his responses to these challenges were brutal. Unsavory characters, however, whose handy works Somalia is now in the void, provoked this. The day he was forced to flee from the presidential palace (Villa Somalia), every governmental and private assets of Somalia were almost intact.
Had those who replaced Mohammed Siyad built on his successes and righted his wrongs, Siyad Barre’s legacy would naturally be one marked by the dark days of his rule at the end. The successful challenge to dethrone him would have been vindicated. Somalia and Somalis would have been by now into two decades of progress.
Here, there is no need to mention in detail what has been done to Somalia and Somalis post Mohammed Siyad rule. Suffice it to say, by so many bad leaders of ana’' waa ikan (me too) caliper, the Murphy’s Law (everything that could go wrong will go wrong) has been realized for country and people of Somalia! In such a disarray of the worst degree, no wonder our enemy took us Somalis over to do with us as it will! Meles, whose audience and blessings all our quisling leaders pray for, is our king now with no end in sight! Whatsoever is SOMALI about that, huh?
I say: In the pantheon of Somali heroes, there, Mohammed Siyad Barre stands tall, if not the tallest. I have no doubt in another time and Somali generation; he will be confirmed as a Somali lion of a leader. History will show, under his rule, the white and blue Somali flag hang high, fluttering in the wind proudly. That, for every mistake he made, as a Somali president, he made it up for with ten good things he had done.
To mention just few of his achievements, Mohammed Siyad’s rule will be forever known by the following:
1. Scripting of the Somali Language.
2. Campaign against illiteracy.
3. Airlifting and resettling of drought-stricken Somalis.
4. Strongest army in all Subsaharan Africa.
5. Liberation of a sister-country, Djibouti, from the clutches of colonial rule.
6. And sparing no effort (in blood or treasure) in removing the barbaric Ethiopian yoke from the necks of Somalis in the Ogaden.
Under his rule, the Godless, indoctrinating Soviet Communism will not be allowed to change Somali Islamic and cultural traditions. No one Somali Mosque was turned into a warehouse. Nor Somalis made servants of foreign interests. The waddaad (cleric) was also checked in his right place: at the mosque or madrasa. In the entire Somali Islamic history, no cleric ever concerned himself, until recently, with matters of politics. We never had clerics as clan chiefs. Again, a Somali tradition Mohammed Siyad effectively enforced. So shelf this new phenomenon of waddaado out and about in search of power as a byproduct of a society completely unraveled.
This bleak hour of Somalia and Somalis loudly beacons for another Somali hero, who, on Somali roots, moves the masses into action. Oh Somali hero, stand and assume your destiny, for your people are ripe to listen and follow for what you must help come to pass in winning one, once more, for tradition! Come, and come now, you Somali hero. It is long overdue a time to take the trash out from south to north of Somalia. It is time to break the ten fingers of the Amxaar all over Somali affairs! Somalis must reclaim their nature.
written by Diini Baardheere , December 17, 2009
written by Zaylici Diini , February 25, 2010