ago one of the faction leaders made some appallingly
offensive remarks against the Jareer, (kinky haired
people). Mohamed Dheere was reacting about a press
conference by Kenyan Foreign Minister about some of
the warlords/faction leaders who threatened to walk
away from the talks in Nairobi, because it was alleged
that somebody, somewhere had altered the Constitution
Charter signed by all the Somali participants on January
an interview with the horn of afrik tv Mohamed
Dheere was quoted as saying that: "Amar
nama siin karo jareerka Musyoka la yiraahdo
" (The kinky haired Musyoka cannot
give us orders), referring to Mr.Kalonzo Musyoka,
the Kenyan Foreign Minister, a Kamba tribesman
who is more handsome and smartly dressed than
some of the noisy and scruffy Somali warlords
LEADERS NEED TO TAKE HARD LOOK AT USE OF LANGUAGES
practices against the God-fearing, unwarlike Bantus,
the Midgaans, the Tumaals, the Boons and other minorities
in Somalia is not really about the conscious or unconscious
biases of one particular faction leader, rather, it
is to be found in the centuries old structure and
culture of the Somali society. Also, there is a heavy
reliance on stereotypes that serve to reinforce negative
images of minorities.
Somali Bantus had to settle for the lowest and most
undignified occupations, and are prevented from intermarrying
with the predominantly Jileec or Waryaa ethnic groups.
in Somalia know there are two groups in the country-Waryaa
and Maay peoples. They also know that there are different
rules for each society. An outspoken Waryaa is "aggressive"
and "has edge." A member of minority groups
with similar traits "has a chip" on his
or her shoulder. He or she acquiesces. They go along
to get along. To differ is tantamount to death, as
had been witnessed the wholesale massacre of the Gosha,
Maay, the Bajunis, Hamaris and the Bravanese people
during the decade long anarchy in the country following
the collapse of Major-General Barre's regime.
rural agriculturalists, mainly the Somali Bantus and
the Maay are congregated at Baidoa-Gosha-Bardera "triangle
of death." Most of them were forced to work as
slave labourers in their own farms, while others were
blocked by the militia gunmen from returning to their
places of residence, which were stolen by villainous
warlords. The lucky ones sought refuge in neighbouring
Kenya, after long and perilous trek, where they could
easily blend with the Kenyans, such as the Wakamba
and the Kikuyu, if they wanted to.
minority groups that have been subjected to second
class status, just because they have been part of
the Industrial Revolution living among nomadic and
camel herding societies, are the Midgaans, the Tumaals
and the Boons. These groups are dispersed among all
Somali clans who loathe and subject them to all kinds
of discrimination similar to the Jareer. Their only
"misdemeanor" is that they are technicians
and produce equipments used for land cultivation,
for domestic use and warfare, such as knives, spoons,
spears, arrows, steel bowls and leather shoes.
put, they discovered iron ore and melted them into
metals during the Stone Age and quickly produced all
kinds of tools necessary for the day-to-day life among
the agricultural, the hunting and the nomadic communities
all over the country. Yet, just like the Somali Bantus,
they were discriminated against by their fellow countrymen,
and were denied to intermarry, share meals or even
water with other clans.
is a heavy reliance on stereotypes that reinforce
negative images of minorities in our country. The
Somali Bantus on the whole faired worse than the Harijans,
the "Untouchables" of India before Mahatma
Gandhi called them the "Children of
God." Their conditions deteriorated particularly
during the civil war when militia from other Provinces
caused unspeakable horrendous devastations between
the two rivers (Juba and Shabelle), where the unwarlike
Bantu and the Maay peoples had fashioned Somalia's
as soon as tribal warfare erupts everyone runs
to the Tumaals ordering them to produce spears,
knives and arrows with which to defend the tribe's
water wells, grassing rights and their homestead
(the portable shelters), their women, and their
must find ways to end stigmatizing our brothers and
sisters who have been helping us with their expertise
in the field of technology and food production, when
we were running, half-naked, after unprofitable camels
and environmental unfriendly goats for centuries.
and anti-racist groups who have been monitoring, analyzing
and working with other Somali scholars on the plight
of the Somali Bantus and other minorities for decades
concur that there have been negative images of all
minorities in Somalia for centuries.
am sure those of you in the Diaspora are by now ashamed
of yourselves and condemn this type of apartheid against
hard working, peace loving section of our population.
Because while in the Diaspora we have learned the
brutal truth that all peoples with dark skin, whether
Bantus or non-Bantus are classified as Blacks in many
parts of lily white Europe and North America without
distinction. Besides Islam or any another religion
does not sanction these ridiculous norms among human
beings. Every faith on earth proclaim, that: "All
Humans are Created Equal" and should
be treated as such.
some of these bible peddlers do not always practice
what they preach. However, some free thinkers believe
that the church, which professes to serve all humanity,
is in fact part of the problem.
(the churches) depict Satan and the Devil as black
men, while they portray the Angel as lily white,"
writes an outspoken Nigerian editorial writer. There
was an immediate uproar against him and was eventually
excommunicated or expelled from the Roman Catholic
Church, which he belonged.
honestly believe that this issue is not about skin
colour, hair and the size or shape of one's nose,
as some people have said in an effort to stimulate
the matter. Nor is it just political humour. It is
a deep-seated attitude in our culture towards diversity
in a society that claimed to be homogenous.
clear some people in the political junk don't get
it. Certainly Mohamed Dheere doesn't get it. His supporters
have been quoted as saying: "It's only
the horn of afrik tv boys." . But that's
was a widespread appreciation when the Americans agreed
to airlift thousands of Somali Bantus to be resettled
in the United States after years of atrocious life
in Kenyan refugee camps. And in a prompt wave of reaction,
the U.S. media pounced on the airlift, describing
it as America's second humanitarian intervention in
Somalia, and the American public response has been
overwhelmingly favourable, despite their uneasiness
with the current situation in Iraq, and the economy.
As always they shall overcome.
truly democratic liberal society requires a more
inclusive, impartial, transparent and responsible
leaders. But given the sorry state of affairs
in Somalia that seems a distance dream, and we
wish the Somali Bantus and their families a better
life in the United States.
M. M. Afrah©2004