WHO ARE THE PEOPLE OF SOUTHWEST REGIONS?

By A.S.Abubaker
Melbourne - Australia (rerhamar@hotmail.com)

A fairly large number of individuals all members of the people of southwest re- gions occupaying the vast area within the territory which lies between the two rivers (Jubba and Shabelli) proclaimed, under the impact of the federalism, a Political Manifesto advocating the creating of a state for their regions similar to those already existing in the middle region and in the northeast region as well.

Had those individuals succeeded in achieving that goal, they would have,prac- ticlly, demontrated to stand firmly by political principle for which the martyr Us- tad Osman campeigned during all his lifetime in the face of a strong oppos-tion which, ultimately, resulted in his murder before the country achieved its independence. Nevertheless, after 30 years of independence and other 15 years of civil wars, the concept of federation remains an accepted objective of the people of southwest regions, who badly need to create and develop their own state under theTransitional Federal Government program, so that not only to restablish themselves from the effects of the wars, but also for the purpose of creating opportunities for social and economic development.


It's well known that the wars affected this population more than any other popu- lation in other regions of the country; it seemed as if the purpose of the vicious wars were solely to invade the regions that belonged to an unarmed and unpro tected people for occupation and plunder. As a result, the sufferings of the masses in southwest regions were due to tremendous loss of lives of men and of property. Add to these the fact that they happened to live under the domina- tion of those tribal militias who won control of their regions.Obviously, the choi- ce of federal system as a solution of the problem of our country, devastated by endless tribal conflicts and by anarchy for so long time, has created among these oppressed people certain expectations about the actions of their govern ment and their leadership.They expect a strong, and functioning government able to extend its authority throughout the country, so that not only to restore law and order in any corner of the country, but also to deal with the problem of invaders, who self-proclaimed governors in all the regions under their sphere of influence and, virtually, they continue to rule and maintain their prestige by force undermining all the rights of the people they dominate. It's unfair that those invaders being satiated or hoarding wealth through exploting the natural resources of those regions while the masses starve, or being forced to flee their original homeland.

LOWER SHABELLI REGION

Undeniably, the Lower Shabelli region is one of the richest and self contained regions in the southwest part of the country where a vast area which extends from district of Wanle-Weyn to a zone called Haway nearby Brava town, pass- ing through the districts of Afgoi, Awdhele, Mubarak, Janale, Qoryoley, Bulo Mareerta, is devoted to cultivation of a variety of crops and fruits mostly for ex- port purpose. In the coastal belt where emerge the cities of Marka (the capital) Brava, and Gendarshe is very famous for fishing of valuable marine products such as lobster, crayfish, prawn....and others. Not to mention the other quality of fish which is very abundant.

Historically, before the Italian occupation in 1889, the Lower shabelii region li- kewise the Lower Jubba existed only as part of the Benadir region under the administration of Sultan of Zanzibar. Since then the people of the Lower Sha- belli region (Digil, Bimal, Banadiri, and Jareer Weyn) have faced an uncontrol- led migration from the people of other regions, and the governments which ca- me in power in succession after the independence of the country in 1960 have only encouraged such a migration and, in the meantime, favoured a continous restructuring of the regions in order to create new ones, so that to enable the newcomers to acquire a monopoly of political power and to use such a power not only to prevent the natives of the region from having any political power, but also to keep them in a state of social and economic inferiority. It worth mention ing that in Lower Shabelli region at that time a few individuals could nullify the efforts of thousands,or even millions. Small wonder, it happened for several times, those individuals who also dealt with vital affairs of the region, represent the masses in the Assembly under a very limited franchise which was in effect in very different circumtances of post-independence period in our country, to be elected the representatives of the Parliament.


With the advent of the disastrous civil war in 1991, the region has been captu- red by tribal militias all members of another dominating clan; and it seems as if the larger clans are in relentless competition to win control of the fertile zones at the expense of the minority clans. I refer here not only to the wars they were fought over the land of the Lawer Shabelli region, but also those were fought elsewhere in the southwest regions to achieve their objective. In Lower Jubba and precisely in the city of Kisimaio as natives of southwest regions we are greatly concerned about the fate of the Baajuun community whose members were the founders of the city and the surrounding islands namely "Chuula" and "Chaway". Similarly, we are also deeply concerned about the fate of the Bimal community in Jamama and the so-called Bantu community in Jilib. It's most li-kely that the wars forced them to flee their original homeland and to seek ad- venture in surrounding countries or, maybe that such wars caused them to pe- rish. Nururally, all the cruel deeds commited in Baidoa, the death city, and in all the Lower Shabelli region, especially Marka, Brava, and Mogadisho are deep- ly ingrained in our minds. Our whole quarrel boils down in the simple question: Who are the people of southwest regions?

In conclusion, we have read with emotion and considerable pride the Political Manifesto couragously signed by our fellow-citizens, and regard ourselves as part of their political organization which heartened us and gave us renewed strength. We see now that our dreams are based on reality; our region could get free by virtu of the federation which was widely accepted and by the res- ponsible of self-governing which it implies. However, our problem in Southwest regions is a problem of pastoral community which sincerely believe that they are specially designed to be masters because they would use more violent methods to impose their will, and the others are specially designed to be ser- vants because the are pacifist or, fond of non-violence.Yet, our severeignty was a tribute to they people of southwest regions, but in particular to the mem-bers of Benadiri community whose membership and participation in indepen- dence struggle were not comparable.

Despite all the difficulties, we must move forward on this rocky mountain path because the people of southwest regions have a duty to their ancestors and to their descendants which they must not fail to carry out.

By A.S.Abubaker
Melbourne - Australia (rerhamar@hotmail.com)