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By M. M. Afrah©
Toronto - Jan 16, 03


A Somali warlord commands thousands of men, hundreds of whom maybe related to him in the way of clan affiliation, thousands of whom may never have seen, or learnt his real name or his past record.

To the warlord, most of these thousands are no more than a components of a militia cut-throats and trigger-happy, faceless creatures who obey his orders, move off, attack innocent civilians, withdraw, or match to their deaths, all in the name of the clan, regardless of whether they know who is their warlord, where he came from, where he is going, whether he is an unemotional pendant or a genial father-figure, strict martinet, an e equable personality, a daredevil, a temporizer, or even what he stands for, apart from his clan worshipping.

All he has to do is anesthetize the clan by telling them they’re an elite, above other clans, that they’ve got a mission, that they’re making a history, that they’re fulfilling their destiny and fighting for a better Somalia.

He shouts SOMALIA at the end of every speech, but many of his audience are secretly aware that even a guttersnipe can say all what he had just said and shout Somalia, even louder.

His network of contacts (for money and weapons) included Somalia’s archenemy, but he keeps his Somalia façade, higher than his opponents.

The warlord, through his minions, defines the boundaries within which the drugged militia can operate. His minions would also specify the objective to be obtained—looting and massacring what they perceived as the enemy clan.

No records of the militia are ever kept—only numbers, never names. The warlords, on the other hand, do have names, but they never issue written orders. No decoration or promotions are being conferred to the poor devils. But the name of the warlord is mentioned in newspaper articles or on the radio. His photograph stares from publications or is captured in photographs destined to adorn the walls of the clan, and occasionally finds its way into prime time TV, and thus, into history books. One or two of his minions too have names, but are secretly called Kobe Qaade.

When General Barre arrived the scene in October 1969 the warlords crawled to him on their bellies and licked his hand. Their sole remaining wish was to survive.

Of course generalizations are always absurd. Not all the delegates at the Eldoret peace talks are epic figures of political time-servers. I have no doubt there are some worthy men and women among them. For example, the intellectual I have mentioned in my last TALKING POINT. He represented a civic society who tried to make marionettes out of the warlords. They fought harder for the rights of women in a country where men think they have the exclusive right to decide who eats or who starves. They insisted that a war crimes tribunal should be set up to try those who committed genocide against the Somali people during the last 12 nightmarish years.

Now, back to the subject of this Talking Point. The warlord has his private life surrounded by heavily armed trusted militia guards, mainly from his own sub, subclan. He has expropriated a luxury villa, whose owner fled the inferno in the wake of the civil war, where he entertains his peers or a girl friend for a nightcap. He hoards nutritious food and expensive drinks while the majority of the people are starving to death.

This warlord (and his opponents) has foreign bank accounts and flies a moment’s notice in order to replenish his secret bank accounts and do little shopping spree in Rome or Geneva. That is not all. Members of his immediate family live lavishly in luxurious villas in Western Europe and North America, worlds away from the anarchy and mayhem.

The peace-loving world looks on them as lunatics: or worse risky factor. Witness the daily wrangling in Eldoret, which sounds like lunatic asylum. The talks has now become like squeezing blood out of a stone. Nothing seems to work, even after the European Union (EU) financiers threatened to take drastic steps against them if they don’t cease their meaningless daily wrangling forthwith. They were forced to sign a ceasefire, that everybody knows they will never honour it.

The people around the peace table are familiar with every form of brutality, intrigue, violence, arson, vileness, homicide and rape. So it was extremely rare for surprising or unusual matters of national importance to be raised at such meetings, and no one expected to hear words like peace, national reconstruction, transparency, accountability and a broad-based national government.

Meanwhile, as the horse-trading continues in Eldoret, fighting is raging in many parts of the country, ceasefire or no ceasefire. In Puntland, in Bay & Bakool, in Bermuda area of south Mogadishu and few other pockets the bloodshed continues unabated.

 In his absence, the warlord’s chief aide de camp either stupefies the militia and pander to their basest instincts or rouses them to what he calls “a genuine sense of freedom and justice,” mimicking his boss.

Is there a possibility for the warlords to soften their hardline positions and listen to the wishes and desires of the people? Not a chance. They are albatrosses round our necks. However, the only valid answer is: we must decently save Somalia from farther integration—or rather save what little was left of it, come what may.

History judges people by the way they behave in their darkest hours.

By M. M. Afrah©2003


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