By M. M. Afrah©2003
The question that lingers in my mind is:
Am I happy about the shenanigans and tomfooleries that are
taking place in a small Kenyan town called Eldoret?
Is it essential to be happy with things the way they
You may brush
these questions aside, but many of us are no strangers to
this sort of situation. We gave ourselves to a military dictator
in October 1969 with the song: “Ceynaanka hay, weligaa
hay.” Of course nobody’s to blame. It was not our fault
or the General’s either. We were simply hungry for a change
from successive corrupt civilian regimes whose catch phrase
was: “Ama lay dooray ama daadka i qaad.”
me. I have no intention to open old wounds. On the contrary,
we all have to learn from our mistakes. Looking back to General
Barre’s heydays, although a brutal dictator, one of the things
we must stress is that there was peace and stability in the
country and it was safe to walk or drive in the streets without
being kidnapped or shot at by the Mooryaan.
would not tolerate weakness or contradiction. He gave orders
and his minions carried out, period. Suggestions were offered
only when he asked for them and any sort of discussion was
unthinkable. He could twist anyone around his huge fingers
and when he said “shit” you could smell it!
Now in the Diaspora
and at home our ears are tuned to the wrangling in Eldoret
and ask ourselves what the hell is going on there?
An old acquaintance of mine in Ottawa told
me the other day that had Siyad Barre was in Eldoret among
those riff-raffs he would have brought the conference hall
down like a pack of cards and no question is asked. The friend,
who was General Barre “observer” during the more than two
decades he ruled the country, said the old man had a sort
of sixth sense for everything that was going on around him
and in the country. He was the only African dictator who flatly
refused to put his picture on the national currency, despite
suggestions by members of his Supreme Revolutionary Council
Disagreement had an explosive effect on
This short analysis is particularly intended
for the younger generation who knew very little or nothing
about General Barre’s one-man show.
You cannot underestimate a man who ruled
a country like Somalia for more than two decade.
Back to Eldoret, the powerful warlords
have had plenty of opportunities in the past and just let
them slip for obvious reasons. They believed that anyone who
proposes to rebuild the failed state must be capable of threatening
their vested interests, well aware that they forced the clan
wars on the people and are responsible for the senseless killings
and the destruction of the once beautiful country. My colleagues
in the media aptly called them scrape merchants. They’re absolutely
hell-bent on self-destruction and they knew all along that
there’s no getting away from the fact that they are war criminals.
As a result they’ll do everything under the sun to obstruct
any semblance of peace to return to Somalia.
A warlord speaks like a man who is shouldering
a burden that no one else cared to take on. The fact that
he did so willingly was beside the point. “I’ve done what
any faction leader would have done under the circumstances.
I can’t just lie down and let the other clans ride rough-shod
over my clan,” he would boast. “My opponents are the sort
who’d send their own mothers to the grave, full of bullet
holes, if it helped them subjugate my clan,” he adds.
is no wonder that the Eldoret conference, just as the previous
14 peace talks, is in danger of collapsing miserably. It is
a depressing monotony, indeed.
One ugly development from Eldoret is that
some of the wannabe warlords/faction leaders and their batmen,
considered as superfluous, have been tossed out of their hotel
rooms or else…
Mr. Elijah Mwangale and his co-hosts have
been beaming as if they have just won a jackpot. A spontaneous
outbursts by the “unessential” delegates evoked stern warning
that the ruthless GSU, a paramilitary riot squad will be ordered
to take “the necessary action” if they refuse to vacate their
hotel rooms immediately.
“Preaching his kindergarten antics in public,
Mr. Mwangale is going too far,” said one of the few intellectuals,
who were declared as persona non grata. He said the
conference was hijacked by the powerful warlords and the TNG
(now strange bedfellows) from day one and prophesied more
predicaments during phase three of the talks, adding that
the warlords and the TNG must bite the bullet and give up
their intransigencies and intrigues. He departed, grumbling.
Numbed by the ruthless logic of Mr. Mwangale’s
arguments that they were redundant, some of the “unwanted”
delegates maintained sullen silence, packed up their things
and headed home. Others decided to stay put and cover their
own massive hotel bills and wrote letters of protest to Mwai
Kibaki, the newly elected Kenyan President. But Mr. Kibaki
who is busy forming his new cabinet has put the Somalia talks
on the back seat for the time being, according to unconfirmed
reports from State House in Nairobi.
By M. M. Afrah©