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|The Birth of Rayyaleism|
A. Mohamed Ali Hashi ‘Dhimbiil’
People must be judged by their opportunities. - Victor Hugo, Philosopher and Novelist.
Every generation, out of relative obscurity discovers its mission, it either fulfils it; or betrays it. Frantz Fanon - The Wretched of the Earth
Somaliland is pregnant with promise; it is carrying in its social and political womb an under-developed political process that has yet to be fully delivered into our political space. This political process is a about a precious idea that peoples and nations throughout history have through profound social upheaval come to discover. The coming together of distinct historical experiences and the desire to break with a traumatic past is the most basic political and social instinct of society. This desire is born from the failure of the past to reconcile with the present and the future. Indeed, the desire for political and social change is what describes the political character of a people. The social landscape in Somaliland is pregnant with this possibility, understanding this social process, this political process, is crucial to understanding the struggle of the people of Somaliland to break with the past.
Another political idea is also dying and is in its concluding stages as a model for organizing political life. It is not dead as an idea although its heavy shackles holds society prisoner. This idea is the false symbols of tradition and lore as the basis of our political life. A recent commentator called the clan, the ‘very first intelligence’ this description points to the validity of this institution through time, where, its central organizing themes consistently brought together society and secured the basics life. However, when newer and more complex historical periods emerge, they arrive with newer concepts of organizing political life. Concretely stated: The political structures that we in Somaliland are building are a manifestation of the ideas of the people, the times we live in, and the emergence of a new direction for the people of this country. The debate between those who believe in a progressive and forward looking country as opposed to a static and deeply fatalistic backward looking vision of the country will remain with us for some time. The contest is not about how things are, but rather, how they ought to be.
Somaliland for some is a clan dominated landscape seen through traditional history, steeped as it were with the lore and tradition of the clans, where the institutions of tradition are privileged as agents of change and the answer to our political questions.
Others - and I am one of them - see Somaliland in the context of the institution of history, the idea that we are a people before history; and that there are social and political forces beyond the institutions of tradition that set the ebb and flow of our collective struggles in the horn of Africa, in Africa and in the world. I see my country as a post-colonial disaster that is emerging from the past and is indeed trying to build something new and altogether pioneering - the ideas of democracy as a focal point and direction in the political affairs this country. In a word: I believe Somaliland is uniquely set to develop its own institutions of government in order to secure, to use an often quoted maxim - life and liberty. I believe that the idea of constitutional government is winning this ideas battle and that is why it is important to hold leaders responsible in an open way and in open debate, when they misunderstand the march of progress in this country.
These are the two forces that are fighting for the political future Somaliland, those who believe in more modern political institutions recognize that no one can wish away the institution of the clan, nor look the other way, nor claim any amnesia when trying to understand its basic and continuing hold on life as we know it. What we need to recognize - and this is the crucial point - is that as a social institution the clan, contains no social, political and economic theory of government, nor can it deliver social and political goods in a way that makes progress in society an achievable objective. This does not mean that it should be outlawed; it means we should use it as an anchor in these times of transition, in these times of setting up our path to democracy and the rule of law. I have argued elsewhere - Addis Ababa Tribune - that the Guurti is an important anchor in this period of transition, but this is to anticipate.
It is this within this political canvas and this broad contest of ideas that Dahir Rayyale Kahin has emerged from. Many in the intelligentsia and those progressives in Somaliland who visualize the country in these terms supported the candidacy of President Rayyale because he represented the symbol of the rule of law; constitutional government; and, good government as the basis of politics. This president represented these notions precisely because his candidacy for President would never have been secured in the previous political template - Shiir-Beeled - not even in his home province of Awdal. The Presidents accent to the highest office in the land was based on the rule of law; progressives in Somaliland and outside Somaliland supported his candidacy in the belief of what the man represented not who he was. It is this message that was carried out to the people of Somaliland during the campaign, a campaign it will be remembered I participated in vigorously with my strong defense of this President during a time when the opposition mauled his person.
The Presidents election through the ballot box was unprecedented, the very first political leader in this country to be elected in this fashion as President. The mandate from this election was unquestionable, the legitimacy of the President secured, the people of Somaliland watched breathlessly for some form of change to occur, even symbolic change - the changing of the guard being the most important. An expectation of a people whose commitment to finding a political system based on the values of democracy has tragically, through a profound misunderstanding of the wishes of this country; been betrayed by the forces of tradition and lore, who after suffering several defeats at the hands of the people of Somaliland are back in full force with the announcement of the recent cabinet. This decision to move back in time is the political decision of none other than the President; a president who has misunderstood why he is President of Somaliland. The people of Somaliland are witness to a new phenomenon in the political economy of Somaliland - the birth of Rayyaleism.
What is Rayyaleism? Rayyaleism is the inability to recognize the emergence of a new form of politics in Somaliland. It is the inability to understand the continuing and underlying wishes of people in Somaliland and around Africa of their wishes to live better lives in their communities. The people of Somaliland believe in change and in the material betterment of their individual lives and those of their families. That is why they adopted the constitution, because - and this is a crucial point - the previous political system could not deliver the political & economic goods that Somali Landers have been clamoring for since the attempted coup d'état by the late Hassan Keid and his fellow officers, and indeed completed by the revolution of the Somali National Movement (SNM). Their commitment to ratifying the document of change, the constitution of Somaliland, which is responsible for the sea-change in the political economy of this country, ought not to be left twisting in the winds of our individual and national complicity. The cabinet that was appointed by this government is a massive abuse of the trust placed on this president by the people of Somaliland - to those who voted for his candidacy and to those who voted for the opposition. Individuals must have the moral and ethical courage to stand up to this government even if they belong to the party, like this writer. It is that simple.
The people of Somaliland never elected this President on the basis of their traditional loyalties; neither did they elect this government based on the ideas of the past, the people of Somaliland elected UDUB for one simple reason: change. I belong to the political party UDUB a party that elected the President to move Somaliland to a new stage given the shift in our political template. Many joined this party to begin the renewal process, with a commitment to make this party a builder of coalitions and national consensus. No mention is needed of the loyalty and goodwill that our political party showed in your election into the chairmanship. No mention is needed of the struggle that stalwarts and operatives of the party committed themselves to in championing the cause of Somaliland though our political party. As strong supporter of your candidacy from the very first day, I wrote about the coming change because I believed not in you as a person but in the person you would become given the opportunity you were given first by the constitution and later by the ballot box. In a word Mr. President, the people of Somaliland voted for progress in their political affairs. The people of Somaliland asked for one thing in return, commitment to their daily lives and the President as the champion of their cause. I believe Mr. President that you are squandering a historic opportunity to lay the ground work for good government the single most important demand of the electorate. I believe with your appointment of this cabinet, the message has been sent out that the trough is open. Further it signifies that you are either a hostage to special interest or quite simply manipulating these interests for your personal aggrandizement. I believe that change starts with the President, and if the President is not an agent of change I believe that our party will lose its electoral and political currency completely. The repercussions of these statements I believe you clearly perceive.
The British poet Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, is not so much where one stands but to what direction one is moving, that is the important thing in life, the people of Somaliland will get change sooner or later, they are already moving to wards that direction, they have already accomplished small miracles, more is yet to come. Mr. President, the people of Somaliland are a people of goodwill, a people of commitment to progress, they have shown this progress by electing you their leader. Across the political, economic, and social lines the people of Somaliland are angry at your appointment of charlatans and scoundrels as cabinet ministers. The people of this country were promised good government; a handful of ministries and competent personnel as a show to Somaliland and the rest of the world that we mean business. What we have is the old business of corrupt politicians parading as leaders of our country. I am ashamed of what is going on and this letter is the beginning of my protest!
Long Live Democracy!
Long Live Somaliland!