SOME ENCOURAGING SIGNALS FROM
TALKING POINT By M. M. Afrah©
Every once in a while you worry
about how to put together the only country in the world which aggressively
sought its own demise. And all those brave Somalis who died during the long
struggle for independence and the defence of the country from enemy invasion
would have died for naught.
The last time I checked with our
man in Eldoret, I came to the conclusion that there is a glimmer of light at the
end of the proverbial tunnel. However, our man reported several unpleasant
scenarios that the Kenyan media and the BBC decided not to report for some
unknown reasons. These included a number of faction leaders who walked out on
our national anthem at the beginning of the conference, which even surprised the
organizers. Then there is the explicit desire by former army Generals and
Colonels, made famous by the clan war, to rule what was left of the country.
“As in past aborted peace talks, they are anxious to have free rein in order
to maintain the status quo,” our man reported.
“Those who walked out on Soomaaliyey
Toosa do not deserve to be Somalis!’’ shouted the rest of the
delegates at the conference.
As far as military rule is
concerned, think back to the days when these generals and colonels, with the
guiding hand of General Siyad Barre, run the country with iron fist for more
than two decades. In a sense, there may be some truth in military discipline in
a country like Somalia. People were forced to accept orders (or Presidential
decrees) from the top brass. They had to, or else…. It was the nature of
things. To disobey was like shaking death by the hand. That’s one of the
reasons they remained in power for so long. Never underestimate
Soldiers-turned-politicians. Whoever said that power corrupts knew what he was
But in a democracy the civil
power takes precedence over the military. In many countries the military is
apolitical and in certain countries they are even barred to vote in elections or
join in election campaigns in their own countries. Any breath of military rule
is their idea of hell. Recently a number of police officers were fired for
talking politics in the US!
Meanwhile in Eldoret, many of us
at home and in the Diaspora are encouraged by the attitude of the European Union
representatives who clearly demonstrated at the peace talks that their
respective governments will take drastic steps, including freezing the bank
accounts, against those who try to derail the peace talks. (Many of the faction
leaders have bank accounts and luxury villas in Europe).
The time, I believe, is ripe for
the United States to assert itself and follow the foot steps taken by EU member
countries and take miscreants to task for inappropriate behaviours at the
Eldoret peace talks.
The truth is that there is a
vacuum to be filled which must be filled, what happens now and who should fill
it? There are, and will be, pretenders, like the TNG, which routinely blame the
warlords for obstructing peace and stability in the country. There is, of
course, an element of truth in this allegation. Technocrats, if there is a
leading contender, free from clan politics, fit the bill. Some faction leaders
may be trying to say something, but their track records say something else. No
wonder the international media perpetually calls them Warlords.
Somalia requires leadership,
courage and willingness to defect from the gun culture, if it is to survive. A
leader who says what he thinks to the people without fear from the tribal
elder—A leader who is not afraid of putting the tribal elders out of the loop
and out of business for good. As they say in the US, it is the economy, stupid.
LIFE IN NORTH AMERICA: SOME THOUGHTS
The big-selling Toronto Star
newspaper recently published a series of damning articles against the Provincial
Police Force. Going through the main points of the articles, they highlighted
that if you are African Canadian, you are more likely to be arrested than if you
The Star series found that when
charged with simple offences black people are taken to police stations more
often than whites facing the same charge. Once at the police station, accused
blacks are held overnight for a bail hearing at twice the rate of whites.
The series also found that
traffic offence data suggest police have been targeting black drivers in Toronto
for special scrutiny. A disproportionate number of blacks, including Somali
Canadians, were ticketed for minor violations that routinely surface after a
stop has been made.
If you are a non-citizen, a
minor offence is deadly. You could be denied immigration bail down the road. You
could also be declared to pose danger to the public and deported to your
war-torn country to face the Mooryaan once again.
And in the US, the Immigration
Department in Washington, DC recently issued a proposal that would require
Canadian landed immigrants born in 50 Commonwealth countries, Yemen, Pakistan,
Sudan and a number of Middle Eastern and African countries to get visas before
entering the US. Canadians of Arab descent and people with Muslim sounding names
were subjected to interrogations, fingerprinting and photographing upon arrival
in the United States “for security reason.”
The good news is that, for the
first time since 911, Somalis are not included in these “potential
Canadian Immigration Minister,
Denis Coderre, last week lambasted the US Immigration and Naturalization Service
(INS) on the new policy, “Is it somebody who looks different? A Muslim is
potential terrorist? That’s clearly not the Canadian way and I have to look
for answers here,” Mr. Coderre said angrily.
Now it is a lethal combination
of RACIAL PROFILING TO RELIGIOUS PROFILING in the land of
“In God We Trust” “The Land of Liberty, The Land of the Brave and
Equal Opportunity for All.”
Here is the famous poem by Emma
Lazarus emblazoned on the Statute of Liberty on Ellis Island in New York:
me your tired, your poor.
Your huddled masses yearning to breath free.
The wretched refuse of your teeming ashore.
Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tost to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”