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Toronto (Canada)

24, Aug. 2003

M. M. Afrah

The world is changing rapidly. Many things have happened since the days the faction leaders/warlords started talking in Eldoret nine months ago. The Liberian President/warlord Charles Taylor left the scene ala Siyad Barre. The Palestinian tide of the future flows beneath the sands of the desert with the so-called Road Map to peace, promising peaceful co-existence between the Israelis and the Palestinians after so much bloodshed and destruction. Our brothers in Somaliland are managing their own affairs in a separate entity.

And Somalia is still crying for peace and stability that appears to elude it. The world is at a loss to understand why a homogeneous society, who claim to profess the same religion, tradition and way of life is unable to reach a consensus for the good of their country. It is the economy, stupid, as the Americans prefer to tell their Presidential candidates.

It is true that we are not endowed with oil, the lifeblood of the modern industrialized Western countries. But oil exploration companies reported in the past (just before the anarchy) that our little country sits upon some of the greatest oil deposit ever known to men.

If my reading is correct, one of these oil companies agreed to pay the government of the day millions of dollars for the exploration rights. And if oil is discovered, they will pay the Somali government additional money for each operating well, and royalty on the oil exported. They said most of the oil deposits in Somalia is offshore.

In their report dated 1989, the company also committed themselves to build refineries that will generate thousands of jobs, which will help develop the country's economy. All this had great promise, but the regime of the day was not at ease for obvious reason. They wrongly or rightly believed that petro-dollars would put the prevailing autocratic rule in jeopardy-by making the people economically independent.

It is of course unrealistic to expect the private enterprise systems of the West to understand the needs of the native population. There was one thing all people had in common-greed.

What is the truth of this?

The West have not yet unaccustomed themselves to the idea that the third world countries are politically mature enough to manage their own affairs and their leaders are corrupt, and their decisions will not be theirs, which in many cases is true. For example, during the Cold War our political leaders had always received guidelines from the Soviet Union to attack the Western countries in the controlled newspapers and never Eastern bloc for their excessive human rights abuses behind what Winston Churchill called the Iron Curtain. They (our political leaders) believed that by attacking the West they could receive financial aid and weapons from the Eastern bloc countries-weapons with which to suppress the population and attack their neighbors.

The oligarchy in the Kremlin always insisted that you had to do things their way, or else…

What is called for is a leader who is willing to listen to the average men and women, a leader who is free from the virus of tribalism and clan-worshipping, a leader who can read the minds of the people, deliver the goods, and answer their concerns.

The kind of leadership that is required is not necessarily the noisiest. If a leader can encourage the people and help them understand problems and policies by his constructive oratory, that's good thing. But it is not entertainment that our people want and expect from their leaders, nor do they want a lot of false promises about affluence and wealth. The people have gone through all this in the past. They expect words with action, such as respecting law and order and build their own country for themselves.

The leaders have to know the reality of the miserable situation in the country, and how to remedy it. They should know how to present our case to the international community. They should free themselves from insulting each other, publicly and privately. Diplomacy should be the catchword.

If we learn correctly, the recent Kenyan elections can teach us many things about the wishes of the people and the attitudes they desire to see among their leaders; they have demanded that the servants of the people must be good servants, efficient and capable.

Somalia cannot have two presidents and it is important for the warlords and faction leaders to appreciate that there is no shame in being defeated in a fair and free election; when two people stand for one seat, it is inevitable one should be rejected. Shame enters into the matter only if those who are defeated in lawfully conducted elections run to the gun or to their clan, beating the drums of war.

On the other hand, in a federal system the country could have a number of governors or provincial premiers (according to the number of provinces) to run the state in affairs of their own provinces. The over riding call is that we must first redeem ourselves by putting the gun culture and clan allegiance away for good, embark upon nation building, and rejoin the community of nations.

Most important, farmers should be allowed to return to their farms and all other properties, which were expropriated by bogeymen under the barrel of the gun, should be returned to their legal owners. The country is bedeviled by its present poverty mainly because farmers lost their farms to people who knew nothing about the art of good farming. Hence, the unending man-made famine in the country.


It is evident that the heavily-bearded gentlemen and most of the warlords/faction leaders currently meeting in Mbagathi have experience and knowledge problems and spend more time preoccupied with clan calculus of presidential election and ministerial appointments, and then talk pompously about peace and brotherhood. By the same token the sponsors of the talks continuously assail us with rosy pictures about "the smooth running" of the talks, while in private they curse the Somalis for "agreeing to disagree," according to our "spy" at the venue.

At a press conference, one of the powerful warlords said: "We're 95-per-cent done." Whatever that means, but the remaining 5-per-cent is believed to be one of the most notorious bottlenecks in our history-clan representations at a new transitional national assembly and cabinet ministers.

A reporter from the big-selling Daily Nation newspaper asked him to elaborate, he said: "Everyone's trying to do his/her part. It's a collective effort trying to co-ordinate that effort in the final stage of the talks. We have taken steps to reduce shouting matches, acrimonies and hostilities."

Asked about the delegates, including the TNG President, Abdiqassim Salad Hassan and Mogadishu-based faction leader Musa Sudi Yalahow and others who walked out of the talks, he said: "Everyone in Mbagathi is doing his best to bring back all the delegates who walked out of the talks and we are very optimistic that they would do so within the coming few days."

Nine months into the talks the delegates do not appear to have came to grips with top priorities and how to curb the lawlessness, which the country plunged into more than 12 years ago and still continues unabated.

Some of the civic delegates at the talks complain that enemies of Somalia are working hard behind the scenes to create more hostilities between the participants with the aim of re-dividing an already fragmented country.

The Somali people are not made up of fools. What stupidity it would be for our enemies to assume that, because the people have been in the Intensive Care Unit for a very long time, they would easily surrender their sovereignty and existence as a nation. But they will never be intimidated, no matter what.

History is their witness.

By M. M. Afrah©2003,


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