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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 are?

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.”

Don’t misunderstand 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.

General Barre 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 (SRC).

Disagreement had an explosive effect on him.

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.

 It 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©



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