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BY M.M. Afrah,
Toronto (Canada)

Having been raised as a "good boy" and changing over to become a sluggish copy boy in a newspaper office and later climbing up the ladder to become an editor and then editor-in-chief. But as I got older, I thought I liked to think that I have a strong sense of right and wrong. I joined anti-colonial demonstrations and with the help of hand operated press we printed inflammatory anti-colonial leaflets that naturally upset our colonial masters.

The Somali Youth League (SYL) formerly the Somali Youth Club (SYC) was formed by 13 devoted Somali youngsters who fought relentlessly for independence in their own way. Their slogan was 'XORNNIMO AMA GERI" (independence or death). Thousands of like minded boys, girls and elders joined them in their wholehearted and noble struggle. They all had grand dreams for the future of Somalia. Hence, the nationalist song "Soomaaliyey toosa." This Wake Up call paved the way for full independence in July 1960 despite various obstacles put up by you know who.

I also know that young students, like George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah, Du Bois and Jomo Kenyatta among others created the great Pan Africanist movement in Britain in the 1930s and 1940s. From that humble beginning Africa sprung up to a full independence in 1960 when dozens of African countries became independent which subsequently led to the creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). Unfortunately, old Haile Selassie hijacked the organization and used it to undermine Somalia's fledging independence, convincing African heads of state that infant Somali government was an expansionist. Our delegates have been outnumbered and outmaneuvered by the emperor and his like minded cohorts within the OAU. As a result of these behind the scene machinations, a calamity was in the making in the form of border skirmishes intermingled with war of words. And eventually a full-scale war that claimed the lives of our youth in the spring of their lives. Historians now link those very machinations with the present conflict in Somalia as well as the volatile situation in the Horn of Africa. But that's another story.

What bugs me most is why our contemporary youth became docile and indifferent to the grim events in our country? I understand that not all people can get along due to the cancer of clan loyalties back home. But would it not make more sense for the youth in the Diaspora to join together and step out into the world as a unified force to bring about peace in their native country?

Now I may be an old fashioned man who has gone through the mills, but I am sure I am not the first person who has entertained this notion. Take for example the postings on the Banadir Public Forum by Libangedon who has been preaching a united Somali youth to fight the villains at home who ruined our country and reduced our people to paupers and corpses. The country became rapidly without government and people, a country where foreigners who wanted could come in and could go out at will without so much as by your leave. As a matter of fact a foreign diplomat described Somalia, unlike Afghanistan, as a fruit hanging from a tree (READY TO BE PICKED UP!).

This was not the way the founders of the SYL visualized that Somalia should be run, and that it needed to be put straight. That's where you come in. You should not expect manna to fall from the sky. Only you could make a difference. It is not for me to say who is called to lead the United Somali Youth and who is not. It is not for me to say whether or not someone is qualified to start the new movement or not, it just seems to me to be unnecessary to have the Somali youth divided along clan lines forever. I had always believed that the youth in the Diaspora are free from that cancer called tribalism or clanism.

This leads me to wonder what is wrong with our youth today? I believe many would say I am a dinosaur and that boys wearing ear rings and spending hours glued to the BET channel, listening to rap music or wearing over sized pants are "the in thing". But I ask myself: do those Pan Africanists and the founders of the Somali Youth League long time ago did not know what they were doing and as such it is necessary to be ashamed to be a Somali, and that boys wearing ear rings and watching the BET channel day in and day out is "Cool". I am sure BET will never teach you how to rebuild the country from the ashes of vicious clan wars or resuscitate the economy. Today the old Wake up Call is as important as it was 50 or 60 years ago.

No doubt that after you have been uprooted from your native country by nasty people with guns, it has been challenging living in the Diaspora face-to-face with stone-faced immigration honchos, beefy security men and bullying landlords. But thanks to our Somali ingenuity and tenacity we are still standing and it is time to begin to look ahead to all the good things the old country has in store for us in the near future.

You may have faltered, you may have stumbled or you may even have considered yourself an outright failure, but dear future leaders of Somalia I want you to rise and prepare yourself for tomorrow. There is nothing you can do about what had happened to our country during the last ten years. Yes, the past may be a story written in blood but the future can be written in gold. Do not be discouraged about the sad stories emanating daily from Somalia. For almost every great country on earth had gone through similar turmoil, or even worse. Here are few examples, the American and Spanish civil wars, not to mention the devastation of the Two World Wars and the Bolshevik Revolution that claimed the lives of millions of people. Again, it was the youth and the womenfolk who rebuilt their countries from scratch under extreme difficult circumstances.

The ball is NOW in your court.


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