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Toronto (Canada)
10 May. 2002

M. M. Afrah

So many things have been said about the kind of government we don't want in recent years by different people in different places, particularly Fadhi ku dirir venues at home and abroad, but the consensus was that leaders who use their clan as a shield can no longer be tolerated in a reborn Somalia. Only a small number of hardcore clan worshippers objected the idea for their own selfish interests. This is a clear testament that the overwhelming majority of the people are tired of clan worshipping and the gun culture.

Leaders past and present charmed the people as soon as they came to power whether through the ballot box or the bullet. Initially, their approach was fresh and gave tremendous pleasure to the masses when they sworn on the Holy Quran that they would do everything in their power to put the interest of the ordinary men and women top on their agendas. Our songwriters and poets hastily produced songs and gabays (poems) praising them to the sky. These highly emotionally charged songs included: LEEXO, DAYAX LA MOOD (in the 1960s) HAY, WELIGAA HAY, ABBIHII UMMADDA, MACALINKII UMMADDA, MACALINKII KACAANKA, MAR KALE IYO TODDOBA SANO, KA NAXOW NAFTA WAA (in the 1970s/1990s). Anyone who objected to join the chorus at staff meetings or at "Orientation Centres" was automatically branded as "Kacaan-diid" and agent of imperialist governments.

But as soon as these leaders came to power and consolidated their positions with the help of a host of security agencies, such as the dreaded National Security Service (NSS) that spent a massive amount of money to "weed out" those considered to be anti-revolution, they started oppressing the same people who welcomed them with green branches. Thus, people were routinely and noiselessly picked up at the crack of dawn to avoid any potential fracas from neighbours and relatives. But as soon as they are thrown into the notorious Godka, the NSS interrogators used all kinds of Nazi Gestapo tactics until the victims "confess" a catalogue of anti-revolutionary crimes they did not commit or could not possibly commit. Local journalists called it "The 3 O' Clock Knock." THAT WAS THE BAD OLD DAYS.


There is a Somali proverb that says: "Kut ka Guur ee Qanje u Guur" which is roughly the equivalent of the English proverb that says: "Jumping from the frying pan into the fire."

The oppressed and impoverished population breathed a sigh of relief when rag-tag militia youths in Mogadishu and other cities dislodged the military despot unceremoniously. They welcomed the new cadres of leaders with singing and dancing in the streets of a partially destroyed cities by soldiers loyal to General Barre, who used all kinds of weaponry, including the deadly Katyusha multiple rocket launchers, popularly known as BM, mortars and Mig bombers.

Soon many of us were ashamed and regretted of welcoming a bunch of looters, killers, rapists, arsonists and sadists.

The country has been in ruins since 1990, and the people are disillusioned and divided along clan lines than ever before.

Then the Arta group presented itself at the political landscape with a pledge to deliver the goods. As always there was another sigh of relief when Abdiqassim Salaad Hassan swore on the Holy Quran. That pledge is still under the microscope. For one thing, the TNG failed to honour their pledge at Arta, including restoring peace and stability in a country that the international media prefers to call "A Bandit Country" and unjustly accuses it of being a "Haven for Osama bin Laden." Far from restoring a semblance of peace and reconstruction, they allowed shady characters to flood the country with billions of counterfeit currency, adding more sufferings to the already suffering and war-weary population. These nouvea-riche businessmen (merchants of death would have been a better description) are smiling all the way to their foreign banks. The road barricades are still intact in many parts of the capital and the main airport and seaport are still closed. A colleague of mine who visited Somalia recently, said he counted a total of 17 makeshift roadblocks between Mogadishu and Afgoi alone. The TNG quickly blamed the warlords with the help of the men in Addis Ababa for obstructing all peace initiatives and goodwill gestures.

In this murky situation the Somalis are now faced with the question of: "What kind of government do we really want after going through hell and high water for more than four decades?" In the same breath we highlight the kind of government we don't want any more. Many of us say we want a representative government, a broad-based government, accountable government that does not hide behind the shield of clanism, a government of the people for the people and an independent judiciary system that's empowered to take the government of the day to a court for deliberately infringing the constitution. To sum it up, we want a government of technocrats free from the virus of nepotism, corruption and clannism. In other words the right man for the right job. I know it is a tall order, but I believe that it is the only way out of the mess. No more power struggle and no more settling of scores at the barrel of the gun, period.

I said before and I am saying again that those who manufacture the gun do not sell or use against their own people. Paradoxically, 99 per cent of their gun-shy population had not even seen the spent shell of a bullet during their life times, let alone the real stuff. This is due to the strict gun laws in their countries. Where as in Somalia even market women and boys as young as 14 carry guns. The later to prove their manhood and the former to protect the day's proceeds from marauding gang of robbers! I do not blame them for protecting their own properties in the face of anarchy and lawlessness? Nobody does.

By M.M. Afrah 2002

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