Mogadishu, the capital has functioning schools and factories,
but in the streets it's another story: too many young
men with guns, too many militias, and too much potential
conflict and tensions," Max Gaylard, the UN Resident
Representative for Somalia told reporters in his swanky
office in Nairobi, pointing at a picture on the wall of
young boys with guns on a customized 4-wheel drive in
the streets of Mogadishu for dramatic effect.
it's true the boys considered shooting and killing someone
a mere rite of passage. They thought carrying a gun like
the grown ups and shooting anything that moved was too
good to be true. Moreover, they have witnessed their parents
killed in cold blood by militia gunmen when they were
still mere toddlers.
don't have to be a rocket scientist or crystal ball reader
to know that most of these kids are war orphans who have
been thrown out of their Al-Haramein Orphanage after Washington
accused the Saudi-based charity institute of having ties
of what it calls with Islamic radical organizations, (their
much preferred words, are however, Muslim terrorist network),
and a breeding ground for future Muslim radicals, to quote
a US State Department official in Washington.
about the same time former Italian ambassador in Somalia
told reporters from the mass circulation "Corriera
della Sera" newspaper in Rome that Somalia is a patchwork
of feuding warlords, clan-based traditional elders, den
of thieves and kidnapping pandemic worse than the Bubonic
verdicts reached by these two gentlemen are, to some extent,
accurate and undeniable. It's a place where visiting journalists
and expatriate aid workers are murdered for their cameras,
their vehicles, or kidnapped for a ransom.
specially the capital, has the highest murder rate of
any place in the world. It is a land that had been more
cruelly raped than any other in the history, according
to a "Decade in Review" by Amnesty International.
But the nerve-racking question is: who was responsible
for this chaos? I recall an American Marine Colonel's
proposal during the ill-fated US/UN involvement in the
Somalia debacle, that the United States should buy back
the guns from the militia and destroy them once and for
all. But retired Admiral Jonathan Howe, the then UN Envoy
in Somalia (a born again Christian in a Muslim country)
rejected the proposal as not viable and impractical, saying
there were an estimated 3 million guns and heavy weapons
in the country, roughly the size of Texas.
a few days later at another meeting Colonel Montgomery
had insisted that the United States as the richest and
the only superpower in the world could afford to buy the
weapons at rock bottom prices and transfer them to a newly
restructured of the disintegrated Somalia Police Force,
and the warlords, as the obstacle to peace in the country,
should be airlifted to Devil's Island penal colony (Papillon)
10,000 miles away, but Admiral Howe continued to reject
the Colonel's modified version. Nothing could make his
ideas touted by the Colonel and supported by other military
brass were estimated to cost $30 million, whereas billions
of Dollars mysteriously disappeared from the UN Compound-money
desperately needed to rebuild the ruined country and feed
the hungry masses. This was followed by UN official cover-up.
when journalists covering the "Big profile"
asked him about his proposals, the Colonel said: "I
stand by everything I said then."
Montgomery's proposal was clearly one of several missed
for the former Italian ambassador, history tells me that
Italy itself, like Somalia today, was like a jigsaw puzzle
with the pieces owned by various warlords masquerading
as princes, and by various foreign powers. Because of
this patchwork of foreign domination and internal weakness,
Italy was the last country in Europe to be unified under
a native (Italian) ruler.
Victor Emmanuel II and his brilliant prime minister, Cavour,
spearheaded the unification movement. It could not have
been accomplished, however, without the leadership and
inspiration of the great Italian patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi.
Garibaldi catalyzed the unification movement by enlisting
a volunteer army to liberate and unite Italy. I presume
it was 1517 when the tricolor flag saw the light of day
for the first time in the history of that fragmented country.
Ambassador, I am not a historian trying to edify you the
history of your own country, but I fervently believe that
Italy, the former colonial power, should have played a
crucial role in stabilizing its former colony with all
the means at its disposal, borrowing a lesson or two from
its own turbulent history, instead of sermonizing young
and immature journalists.
Excellency, I hope you are reading this humble reminder
as I am aware that this website receives thousands of
hits from Italy every day of the week, despite its English
language modus operandi
about unification, I have a feeling that our Northern
brothers are reluctant to reunify with their Southern
brothers. I do not blame them for going solo. Why? Because
they have legitimate grievances that the Southern politicians
woefully failed to address: After their genuine jubilation
of the famous words KANNA SIIB, KANNA SAAR in Hargeisa
by the great poet Abullahi Tima Cadde on June 26 and the
union with the South on July 1st 1960, some of us recall
how they were sidelined by the Southern politicians.
a) The capital went to the South;
b) The posts of the President of the Republic and Speaker
of the Parliament went to the South;
c) Key cabinet posts, such as the Foreign Affairs, the
Interior, Finance and Defense portfolios went to the South;
d) Both the Command of the Somali National Army and the
Somali Police Force went to the South;
e) Almost all ambassadorial positions, Director Generals
and General Managers went to Southerners. The same can
be said of promotions in the armed forces.
Strangely enough, the Southern politicians continued to
fail to redress these wrongs until it was too late and
too little. Because by then the infant government of Mohamed
Ibrahim Egal was overthrow by the armed forces and was
replaced by the Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC).
Mention Southerners, or Wanla-weyn as they call them,
and the first thing that comes to their mind is the destruction
of Hargeisa by Siyad Barre's hired white Rhodesian mercenary
pilots, ignoring the fact that key Southern pilots mutinied
against their commanding officer and refused to unload
their deadly bombs on their brothers. But the Somalilanders
continue to blame all Southerners for carpet-bombing their
capital. In one of my previous Talking Points, I had identified
to our brothers those who were responsible for the carnage
in the Northwest and that it was unfair to blame all Southerners
for these heinous crimes, reminding them at the same time
of the heroic act of the Hargeisa Hero who ditched his
bombs on the Red Sea instead.
let's take a short breather about past injustices and
turn to what is going on in warthog-infested Mbagathi
during the last few days? The facilitators and the chief
negotiator for the Somalia Peace talks, Ambassador Bethuel
Kiplagat, insist that Somalia will have its own government
at the end of July and that a President will be elected
by an all-inclusive transitional parliament after all.
This sounds good news for those who have been waiting
impatiently for the return of normalcy in the country.
But, according to our contact in Mogadishu, the majority
of the populace is suspicious of the outcome. They say
to elect a president is one thing, electing the right
person is everything. There are speculations in Mogadishu's
Fadhi ku Dirir rumor mills that one of the powerful warlords
would be imposed on the Somali people. It is like asking
the fox to guard the hen house. No pun intended.
Obviously the issues of trusts are always there.
Brother Kiplagat, where art thou?
M. M. Afrah©2004
Note from Webmaster: Mr. Afrah is off to the United States
for a book promotion.