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Institutional Justification of Rape Will Not Mend Rifts Over Violence Against Somali Mothers, Daughters and Sisters

Rape is a serious hideous crime in most judicial systems as it presents specific difficulties with regard to its prosecution and how individual cases are dealt with. It is perpetrated as a means of psychological warfare to be carried out on the populations of occupied territories and regions where civil war strives. Rape and sexual violence are huge problems felt by women and girls who have fled from Somalia, and continue to be internally displaced in their own country. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/video/2012/oct/30/somalia-refugee-camps-women-audio-slideshow )

Not all denounce the violence for fear of suffering new and worse traumatic experiences. Internally displaced women in all regions of Somalia and those who came from small clans are the victims who bear  the brunt of this ordeal.  Rape has become a daily practice in Somalia and refugee camps hosting Somalis in Kenya and Ethiopia for the last two decades. In fact, some refer to it as the “privatization of violence” denouncing the conspiracy of silence that reigns in refugee camps and among the suburbs of Mogadisho and all major Somali towns. No one talks and no one complains. There is a culture of silence that promotes and encourages impunity.

Armed militia based on religion, political factions as well as members of the military are suspected as the main culprits of rapes, beatings, murders against women. But not only that, women are harassed even by underpaid government troops, because they are the weakest of Somali society and all abuse this weakness.

Image  Today’s verdict who found guilty a woman who alleged rape by security forces, and a journalist who interviewed her, is a serious setback for ending sexual violence and protecting press freedom in Somalia. The government should drop its baseless accusation against the journalist and the woman. It is a smack in the face to all Somali women who are the backbone of society whose role assures the survival of a nation.

Now or Never

The Prime Minister of Somalia believes that Turkey’s involvement in Somalia “presented a concrete model” that would allow the country ” to be included in a global economic zone in the East Africa region”  (http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-somali-policy-presents-model-pm-says.aspx?pageID=238&nID=22125&NewsCatID=456).

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In order for that to occur, Somalis must allow more  political power transparency and facilitate the Road Map Process to effectively set in based on Kampala Agreement, Road Map, Garowe I and II Principles, Galkacyo and Addis Ababa Consultative Meetings.

We must also engage the pool of Somali experts in the Diaspora laying the foundation for a republic founded on “democratic technocracy”. We need an enlightened  governing body to implement  scientific solutions as  means of launching Somalia to a new and more prosperous future. This kind of model is the only solution to resolve our social and economic regression.

We need to create a fair and just meritocratic system where  the  better qualified and those who decide the validity of qualifications are the same people, as opposed to being held hostage by oligarchs and spoilers who strive to maintain a certain status quo keeping the majority of the population uneducated and in famine mode. The challenge is now or never.

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This is the only way out to allow Somalia to rise from its ashes. Why? Because a technocratic government is the only option we have to ensure a more effective administrative bureocracy which can effectively manage and distribute resources. Moreover, technocrats are guided by their cognitive problem solving skills, not their personal political capital or clan affiliation.

To conclude and contextualize the technocrat involment is Somali politics, we need to look at development  of partnerships between Africa and the  emergent economies in general, the Chinese in particular and how we need to be on the lookout and safeguard our national interest to avoid exploitation and profit losses. (http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article1909)

 

 

Don’t Search for a Calf Under a Bull

World politics these days relies on the new idea of global compassionate capitalism otherwise referred to “ethical colonialism”. This new ideological brand recognizes the need for interdependence of all the world’s peoples and nations in terms of politics, economy, culture, and environment.

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(picture from The Guardian)

The idea is to encourage the formation of new attitudes and structures which safeguard human sombreness and the common good. The idea of globalized solidarity with African countries like Somalia and the role of Turkey bring about a new shift in global politics.

The recent political and economic engagement of the latter should be contextualized in this order of things where we see a world dominated by transnational enterprises on the lookout for new resources to exploit and enlarge the pockets of transnational elites. Institutional assets of many African countries are put to the test as they become destabilized in order to conform to economic predators.

There are many who are calling for the failure of Davotoglu’s ideology as a failing brand as evolution of global and regional politics in the last three years have jeopardized the credibility, and future of Turkish foreign policy doctrine. This is pure hype.

I strongly believe that the Istanbul Conference on Somalia has a great potential if real stakeholders are allowed to perform freely and lay the foundation to establish a decentralized form of institutional governance and usher in indigenous modes of restructuring the social order for the betterment of rural inhabitants of Somalia, which clearly represent the majority of the overall population.

More voice should be given to educated and professional young Somalis and women who really possess the moral integrity and the intellectual capacity to turn things around. Unfortunately, Somalia has to deal with an oligarchic political and economic corrupted class who is working nonstop to maintain the status quo.

Their mission is to halt and impede any positive outcome Diaspora wise or in the motherland to effectively allow rebuilding Somalia and assist the needy become independent in their quest to increase their civic responsibility. This is the biggest challenge for the so called enlightened ones, those who are fervent nationalists like myself who find themselves over and over again helpless as we are being constantly hit by negative and barbaric self destructive wave.

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One of our greatest sons Nurudin Farah once said “ [We Somalis] we become replicas of the tyrant whom we hate. We hate these warlords, these dictators, and fight against them to the point that we become dictatorial. This is what has destroyed many of the great nationalists in Africa: they became authoritarian, just like the colonialists against whom they fought. A question: What happens when you rid yourself of the monster? You become a monster.”

In essence, this problem is what we need to address and solve immediately, as we look upon Turkey and other countries to become our partners and help us rebuild our glorious motherland.

 

 

Note:

The title is a Turkish proverb, Okuz altinda buzagi aranmaz which literally means do not search for a calf under a bull. In Somali is dibi hoostii weyl a ka deyin.

Love (Jacayl) in the Words of Some Legendary Somali Women Singers

Xaliima Qaliif Magool was one of the most recognizable voices in the musical history of Somalia. Her songs have been the life soundtrack of many generations of Somalis since the 1960’s.

Haddii aad ubax tahay mid aad u uroo udgoon badan baad ahaan lahaydee

If you were a flower/ with a strong scent you would be very fragant.

Genre: Qaraami. Singer: Xaliimo Khaliif ‘‘Magool.’’ No date.

Kapteijns, Lidwien. Women’s Voices in a Man’s World : Women & the Pastoral Tradition in Northern Somali Orature, c.1899-1980.
Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Press, 1999. p 179.

Here she is in another amazing song :

Wax badan bustaha saaray boogtaydoo markii ay bogsan wayday la i baray

For a long time I covered my wounds with blankets When I failed to get better, I was found out

Halkii aad qoontey way i qiiqdahayoo qofkii aan arko waan ka qariyaa

Where you hurt me, I am on fire But I hide this from whomever I meet

Genre: Qaraami. Singer: Xaliimo Khaliif ‘‘Magool.’’ Date unknown, but probably early 1960s.

Kapteijns, Lidwien. Women’s Voices in a Man’s World : Women & the Pastoral Tradition in Northern Somali Orature, c.1899-1980.
Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Press, 1999. p 174.

 

 

Khadra Dahir Cige has long been considered the barbra Streisand of Somalia with her soothing voice and vibrant personality.

Mahiigaan jacayl baan dhex muquurayaa

miraalihiisii midigta igu qaadyoo mawjad baa i sidatee

 Naftu kay u muhatana iga mawanoo waayee.

I am diving into a torrent of love

Its nocturnal thunder storms have taken hold of me  and have swept me away

The one I yearn for is absent and not on my side.

Singer: Khadra Daahir. Song: Mahiigaan, ‘‘Torrential Rain.’’ No date.

Kapteijns, Lidwien. Women’s Voices in a Man’s World : Women & the Pastoral Tradition in Northern Somali Orature, c.1899-1980.
Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Press, 1999. p 176.

Hibo Mohamed

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hcee33mIHF8)

The above link was recorded in 1984 in a tour by the Waaberi Band which took them to Sudan. She currently resides in the Usa.

Sabab kale ha moodinee

 suntaadii habeennadan waan ka seexan waayoo

 seeddahaad i goysay

Xalay baan saqdii dhexe

sariirtaan ku jiifsaday

 sagaal jir ka toosoo

Don’t think it is for any other reason

These nights your poison prevents me from sleeping

You have cut my strength

Last night, in the middle of the night

in the bed where I lay

I woke up nine times.

Singer: Hibo Maxammed. Song: Sabab kale ha moodinee, ‘‘Don’t Think It Is for Any Other Reason.’’ No date. 8.

Kapteijns, Lidwien. Women’s Voices in a Man’s World : Women & the Pastoral Tradition in Northern Somali Orature, c.1899-1980.
Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Press, 1999. p 175.

Maryan Mursal is another legendary singer who lives abroad. She has toures the world  withWaaberi Band and appeared with Nina Simone. Some of her work has been produced by Peter Gabriel’s Real World record label.

Inkastuu asluubiyo adab dumar lahaan jiray

uruguda jacaylkaan la adkeysan waayey

kuu imi inabtow, waxaad odhan se mooyee

 Sida ayridhabankaan kuu ololayaayoo

oon iyo harraad baa hilibkay idleeyee

kuu imi inabtow, waxaad odhan se mooyee.

Although women used to have good manners

I could not endure the sadness of my love

I have come to you, cousin, not knowing what you will say

Like a she-camel whose suckling has stayed behind, I am howling [in frustrated longing]

Thirst has emaciated me

I have come to you, cousin, not knowing what you will say.

Singer: Mariam Mursal. Song: Kuu imi inabtow (Inkastuu asluubiyo adab dumar lahaan jiray), ‘‘I Have Come to You, Cousin.’’ Date: Early or mid1970s. 34.

Kapteijns, Lidwien. Women’s Voices in a Man’s World : Women & the Pastoral Tradition in Northern Somali Orature, c.1899-1980.
Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Press, 1999. p 184.

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Burjiko Evolution

Image      ImageWho remembers burjiko made from sepiolite of Ceelbuur. I still remember vividly in the back of my mind my amazing happy childhood in my beloved Mogadisho. I must have been seven years of age when I was summoned by my parents and asked to go under the tamarind tree and sit by the burjiko and with my babis, fan, and wave it so that the tea kettle would start evaporating faster. I use to huff and puff as I was impatiently waiting for the tea to steep as the smell of cloves, cardamom and cinnamon would fill the air. Dhinbilo, fire sparked and lightly burned my hands. After that, I would get a majabe glass, filled it with hot tea and served my dad. I still remember that glass. It was a Duralex and it read: Made in France. Apparently, my grandfather and all significant notables of pre-independence Somalia used it .

Later on, I learned how to make Canjero and became the master of burjiko cooking.

Gone are those days. Today the burjiko has been replaced by the solar power as the reader can deduce from the picture.

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Moral Traditional Leaders and the Future Political Stability

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Courtesy of my dear friend Amin Amir (http://www.aminarts.com/)

One seems to follow the proverb that goes fiqi tolkiis kama janno tago, but unfortunately the reality is more intertwined than one could imagine. That is to say that, whilst there is a strong individual sense of the Somali individual, it also true that there is a strong attachment to the social structure based on the genealogical institution we call qabiilka, the clan.

As human beings we all need a strong sense of belonging starting from our biological attachment to our motherly womb up to growing up and become part of the community and society. In Somalia, unlike in the West, the sense of attachment to the communities is still prevalent as individualism, as one knows it in the West, has yet to flourish and allow people to exercise their political right, for instance.

Why all this discussion then? Well, I wanted to introduce an issue that I have been thinking about for the last few months which is exploring the role Clan Elders, oday dhaqameedyada, have had in Somali society and whether resurrecting their roles will bring about institutional appeasement and take us out of this anarchical dissolution we have been hit by since Allah knows when..

When colonial empires set foot in Somalia in the late 1800’s, they started to engage in the typical divide and conquer mentality which is buying up traditional leaders to facilitate internal penetration leading to a more thorough scheme of exploitation. Clan elders were offered protection and favours as the population’s welfare became secondary. There has been a great resistance by the Sayid, for example, who used this clan system to move  a huge war in all of Northern Somalia. This war and its long aftermath has indelibly changed the peaceful nature of Somali social structure as masses of people have moved internally , predominantly towards the South and coastal regions.

In the post-colonial state, initially, Clan Elders were seen as an integral part of the decisional process of society where possible, unless they posed a threat.  If we look at East Africa, both Kenyatta and Nyerere saw the role of traditional leadership as a threat to society and hence eliminated their functional responsibility (Akiba, 2004). Nyerere was influential in replacing the traditional scheme of elder leadership with a more socialist approach, perhaps because he was the son of a very influential chief.

At any rate, in socialist Somalia the role of Clan leadership was banned and the whole notion of clanism was seen as a threat. During the eighties, a new breed of traditional leaders was brought back as the government grip on power started to loosen up as a result of the war with Ethiopia. Some argue that newly formed economic elite functioned as a bridge between the government and the clan elders, which eventually broke down the revolutionary establishment.  While Southern Somalia descended in a never ending political instability, regions in the North were able to use the traditional Elders for their social appeasement and conflict resolution. The Guurtida example in Somaliland is a clear example of  the indispensable role of clan chiefs. Even Puntland was succesful in bringing together different clan families under one banner and move towards a stable framework.

In the South however, charismatic leaders were under the authority of warlords and never allowed to exercise their dominant role in society, which is practicing appeasement based on  xeer and dhaqan. We have lost this idea in the might South which is the cradle of Somalia as well as the richest agricultural territory of the motherland.

Today, we all are thinking about the Road Map process and how the Clan Elders have been summoned to take part in the Constitution-Making Process which will start a new paradigm shift in turbulent Somali historical existence.  I believe in the paramount role of the Elders to find a tangible solution to political quagmires afflicting Somalia as they are looked upon to resolve our anarchical status quo for the long run.

If the elders use their moral authority and exercise their traditional role without   interferences then we will reach a tangible solution to our problem.  But, in order to do that, they must have arbitrary judgment and become independent without being politicized by politicians who are climbing short and tall trees, geed dheer iyo mid gaaban, as the popular expression goes, to influence their opinions and forever taint the process towards institutional stability.

This is the last possible card we are playing if we want to gain our “sovranity” back and re-build our beloved country in an effective and representative federal structure that would allow more decisional power to large chunks of society who were basically shunned and whose lives have never been included in decisional making processes.  That is why we have to reverse the saying Fiqi Tolkii Kama Janno Tago and show flexibily and open mind frame to resolve our current situation.

Okon Akiba ” Constitutionalism and Society in Africa”, 2004.

STANDING FREE (keli u taagnaansho)

The faltering idea of the post-colonial state in Africa was formed under the European notion of the nation state, a concept of sustainable governance largely adapted in the 19th century onwards. This scheme was facilitated by gradual developments of mass literacy, voting according to ones education as well as mass media. A complex and intricate ideological system a civil and military bureaucratic governing body that was forcedly implemented in Africa after colonies reached independence from colonial powers.

How Africans adapted this idea can be summarized in the words of Chinua Achebe who wrote in his novel Anthills of the Savannah how its rulers “…openly looted our treasury, whose effrontery soiled our national soul”. In other words, African elites continue to harm their brethren and perpetrate colonial mentality of exploitation without looking at the interest of the masses of children and women who constitute the majority of the population.

Somalia is not exempted from this phenomenon; in fact it would be an amazing case study if one would look at the almost quasi homogeneous status in terms of language, religion and ethnicity and the inability to resurrect from a state of permanent anarchy as they struggle to overcome their differences and reach a stable political consensus.

The purpose of my blog is to explore how the Somali identity has changed and formed over the years. There is a strong sense of community in Somali society as well as the need for each individual to stand alone as a “free subject” detached from the oppressive clanism system which stands as a barrier to individual freedom and economical prosperity. The average  Somali is under 30 years of age and seeks  a better future for  himself/herself.  He/she identifies the clan communalism system as the barrier, the so called isbaaro or sbarra borrowed from Italian language, to the process of becoming a free subject. There is the need to emerge as an individual capable of exercising his/her own way of being and individual: a civic person who can fully manifest their citizenship role……

Unfortunately the lack of resources, education and political stability is not allowing this identity to shape itself as required.

The needs are many. We all crave a new way of being Somali.Individuals who stand alone and express themselves free from the chains of ignorance and petty clanism mentality!