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All Fair-minded Somalis Must Concede “Garta” To Somaliland
Generally, Somalis are one of the most politicized ethnics you are likely to find anywhere in the world. From the denizens of the café culture in Hargeysa, Mogadishu and other centers to the local shepherd tended his flock in the countryside; they all enjoy a lengthy political discourse on Somaliland, Somalia and on Somalis as a whole.
Admittedly, I also share their passion for intellectual discussion, and in these modern times of e-mail and of a global village, one is daily assaulted by a range of diverse opinions, whether you like or not. Once again, admittedly, this is another one. But, one thing I found unique to Somalis is in spite of their differing ideas and aims, a Somali will always accept or concede “Garta”, always. Well, that was the case until nowadays, and in particular to those who oppose Somaliland.
For the non-Somalis, “Garta” is a term/word/phrase loosely translated as “the ability by a person or persons to accept/acknowledge/concede/abide by a decision taken as a result of a discussion between conflicting groups”. Quite a lengthy explanation, I am sure someone can be more succinct, but that is the gist of it. It is a long tradition, dating back centuries and seemed to have served Somalis well. Regardless of the outcome, win or lose, a Somali must always accept or concede “Garta”, it a dishonor not to do so.
Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to remind once again, the whole Somali community, the reasons why the people of Somaliland, young or old, man or woman, and regardless of tribal affiliation deserve “Garta”.
On June 26 th, 1960, the former British protectorate of Somaliland became the newly minted Republic of Somaliland. The new nation was instantly recognized by other countries throughout the world, unfortunately there was no AU (or OAU) at the time; otherwise it would undoubtedly join that too. On July 1 st, 1960, The Republic of Somaliland led by its “wise” politicians took a momentous decision to form a political union with newly independent Somalia. The idea of a political union was not put to a referendum in either country, but there has always been a strong grassroots support for it, particularly in the Somaliland. It was a decision that was to have profound consequences for Somaliland.
For the purpose of supporting my argument for “Garta”, I would like to restrict myself to Somaliland. I hail from that country and will nevertheless endeavor to remain impartial. In order to obtain “Garta”, one must try to understand the position all the parties involved in the matter.
So, let me begin my listing a few points, however simplistic they seem to others, supporting the Somaliland cause,
Firstly, will any Somali dispute that Somaliland and the majority of its inhabitants initiated the call for Union prior to 1960, whilst those in the south remained hesitant?
Will any Somali dispute that Somaliland made substantial, in fact, almost all the concessions to enable the union to happen?
Will any Somali dispute that a group of young military officers attempted to annul the union, because they felt it was unfair and damaging to the Somaliland?
Will any Somali dispute that all the presidential and parliamentary elections between 1960 and 1991 were completely fraudulent? Designed to maintain the status quo and eventually lead to one party state, Somali Youth League and afterwards, The Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party?
Will any Somali dispute political measures taken by successive governments including and most damningly the Barre Regime against Somaliland’s educated and skilled Somalis led to an exodus to the Arabian Peninsula and beyond?
Will any Somali dispute that the 1977 war with Ethiopia had an averse effect on all Somalia’s regions, but in particular, Somaliland, in terms of economic and refugee difficulties?
Will any Somali dispute that under consecutive military governors the human rights situations in Somaliland become grim. So much so, that Somaliland is unearthing mass graves on a daily basis?
Will any Somali dispute that with the exception of a few “favored” regions, most of Somalia fell into neglect and became military barracks?
Will any Somali dispute that all aspects of economic, educational, vocational, social life were centralized in Mogadishu?
Will any Somali dispute that any self-improvement programs in Somaliland led to a treason trail and lengthy sentences for the local volunteers?
Will any Somali dispute that Somalia eventually become and still remains in some parts, the land of “Qolo maad tahay?” (Which tribe do you hail from?) Instead of “Maxaad taqaan ama maxaad qaban kartaa?” (What knowledge or skills do you posses?). ?
Will any Somali dispute that incalculable lives were lost in the struggle against Barre’s tyranny with millions more since, and Hargeysa become the only city to bombed from the air by its own government?
Will any Somali dispute that whilst the most of Somali remained entrenched in chaos, Somaliland has been peaceful and progressive for the past 18 years?
Will, therefore any Somali dispute, Somaliland’s right to reclaim its sovereignty. Will any fair-minded Somali dispute that the 1960 Union has failed and can never be repaired. It was decision taken with the heart and not the head, and its failure lies solely on the shoulders of consecutive politicians who manipulated tribal and regional politics. They are still practicing their inimitable alchemy today in Mogadishu, Jowhar, and Baydhabo.
At the outset of this article, I promised to remain impartial, and in the interest of balance, I will acknowledge three positive outcomes from the 1960 union. They are, the campaign for literacy, the efforts to alleviate the drought “Dabo Dheer” in early 70’s and the eradication of polio in 1977. These campaigns constitute a considerable effort by the central government, but when they are weighed against all the arguments mentioned above, it doesn’t take a businessman to appreciate that this is a poor return on 31 years of union.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasis that these are my own opinions and do not in any way reflect the position of any other persons, except, perhaps those who believe in fairness, justice and the tradition of “Garta”.
Community Project Supervisor
Rural Education Committee