TALKING POINT BY
22th November 2001
THE SOMALIS - A WRONGED PEOPLE
article is intended for non-Somalis in answer to the frequent
misrepresentations of the Somali people by the West and their
collaborators, like Ethiopia and some Arab and African countries
yearning to be praised by the Americans as "Good guys". This
make--believe or sham, if you will, started in the 19th century
when Britain's Royal Air Force used the first Arial bombardment
in Africa against Somali insurgents opposing colonial rule.
when the anti-Somali shrill began. Then the colonialists invented
words like Mad Mullah, Sufist Fanatics, Muslim Fundamentalists,
and Muslim Terrorists. Paradoxically, you will never hear
words like Christian terrorists, Hindu Fundamentalists, American
Militia (trying to overthrow the US government), the Christian
South, the Ku Klux Klan burning the cross in front of African-American
dwellings in the United States or Jewish Fundamentalists.
Timothy MacVie, the bomber of Oklahoma City building in which
more than 300 people died was never disclosed which organization
he belonged to. Of course the FBI knew all along that he belonged
to a white Christian extremists in the south of the US. The
Christian Coalition refused to condemn this heinous act. Oops!
It is just another cover up. Edgar Hoover would have turned
in his grave!
the Somalis were intensely conscious of their independent
nationhood, until the country fell into the hands of a military
despot and warlords, they also traditionally prize their Arabian
ancestry; and this is in keeping with their strong adherence
to the Muslim faith. Of course they were aware that not all
Arabs are Muslims, yet they maintained their commercial and
religious ties with the Arab world for centuries. They believed
in peaceful co-existence with other races and religions. Thousands
of foreign nationals, including Arabs, Asians, Italians and
a sprinkling of Anglo-Saxons were engaged in thriving commercial
activities in big cities, like Mogadishu, Seila'a, Berbera,
Hargeisa, Kismayu, Merca and Brava. The Somalis also tolerated
other faiths, including Christianity. Africa's biggest and
oldest Roman Catholic cathedral is in close proximity with
Arbaca Rukun Mosque in the heart of Mogadishu, the capital.
contrasts a statement made by a British colonial officer at
the end of the 19th Century who said: "Don't go to Somalia,
but if you go in don't stay there too long."
hears the bells of the cathedral striking the hours while
the Muezzin climbs the stairs of Arbaca Rukun Mosque to call
the faithful for prayers! Where else in the world can you
find a place like that? But that was then. The cathedral is
now in ruins and many mosques have been vandalized or were
hit by artillery shells during the brutal civil war that drags
on and on for more than a decade.
blame the military despot for sowing the seeds of discontent
among the Somali clans. Settling of old scores is the order
of the day. As a result people flee from one battle zone to
another only to be shot by snipers on rooftops.
our own home grown terrorists to worry about. We have no time
for international terrorists, Osama bin Laden or Al-Qaeda,"
the American news agency Associated Press (AP) recently quoted
a Somali businessman in Mogadishu's sprawling Bakaaraha Market.
historians blame the colonial competition between Britain,
Italy, France and Abyssinian expansion in the 18th Century
that paved the way for the current turmoil in Somalia. Ethiopia,
a landlocked country, still continues to dream an ancient
dream dreamed by Menelik and by Emperor Haile Selasie, Colonel
Mengistu Haile Mariam and now by the current Tigrean regime
in Addis Abeba. The regime in Addis regard the current terrorist
scare in the World as a golden opportunity to rise their centuries
old anti-Somalia shrill even louder, hoping to gain financial
assistance from the Americans and win the old label of "good
guys" against the "bad guys."
France, Italy and Britain all signed treaties with Ethiopia
curtailing the extent of their Somali possessions to dimensions
acceptable to Emperor Menelik. For France and Britain other
wider issues were at stake, the principal concern being the
rivalry for control of the Nile, the Red Sea and the Indian
Ocean, and the defeat of the Mahdists Sudan.
the 21st Century the same tune is being played with Ethiopia
as the lead singer once again. It is about time that Somalia
and Ethiopia move few steps away from this shibboleth and
talk peace. After all you cannot choose your neighbour.
Afrah © 2001
Mr. Afrah is an outspoken Author/Journalist and a member of
the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the
New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). He
contributes hard-hitting articles to Canadian and international
newspapers and magazines on the Somalia situation "through
the eyes of a man who covered the country for more than two
of us remember his critical articles in his weekly English
language HEEGAN newspaper, despite a mandatory self-censorship
introduced by Guddiga Baarista Hisbiga Xisbiga Hantiwadaagga
Somaaliyeed in 1984 and the dreaded NSS. I am very proud to
know that Mr. Afrah openly defied the draconian censorship
laws and went ahead to write what he thought was wrong in
the country. He received several death threats from the warlords
and was briefly held hostage by gunmen in 1993. But he remained
defiant and continued to send his stories of carnage and destruction
to Reuters news agency. He still is!