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Modernization Versus Tradition

ISSUE 221
Front Page
Index

This Week's Somaliland News

Headlines

How An Australian Company ‎Deceives Its Shareholders

Al-Itihad Military Leader Paid Clandestine ‎Visit To Somaliland Last Month‎    

Rayale Rescinds Agreement With House ‎Leaders On The Amino-Weris Issue

Somaliland Convention 2006 ‎To Be Held Washington D.C.‎‎‎‎‎‎‎

First Transit Office Opens In Somaliland‎

Militias From Majeerteenya On A Killing Spree‎‎

‎“Africa’s bondage of boundaries: it is time to loosen the chains”‎

Somalia: Losing Livelihoods As Drought Bites in Juba Valley

Regional Affairs

Somalia Govt to mediate fighters over Mogadishu control

Somali Militia Says Negotiating Over S. ‎Korean Ship

Fossils discovered in Ethiopia fill evolution gap‎

AU condemns coup attempt by Chad rebels

US praise for SA peace efforts in Africa‎‎‎

Man Working For German Aid Group Killed ‎In Somalia‎‎‎‎

Trade deal boost Ethiopia's exports to China‎‎

Chad breaks diplomatic relations with Sudan

Museveni Urges West On Somalia

Editorial
Special Report

International News

Iran warns against US attack

Arab countries tell Hamas gov't to adopt Saudi peace initiative

World Bank announces strategy to combat corruption‎‎‎

Minnesota Aggressively Educating ‎Immigrants On Tax Laws

Keeping Al-Qaeda in His Grip
Al-Zawahiri Presses Ideology, Deepens Rifts ‎Among Islamic Radicals‎

Speech Of Prof. Suleiman Ahmed Gulaid ‎President Of Amoud University At THET NHS ‎Links Conference 2006‎‎‎

FEATURES & COMMENTARY

THIS GUN FOR HIRE‎

Official: U.S. Backing Somali Militants

Sudan’s Turabi - Muslim Women Can ‎Marry Christian Or Jew

In Somalia, A Different Kind Of Medicine

Food for thought

Opinions

Somaliland Budget 2006: The Blind ‎Leading The Blind‎

Modernization Versus Tradition‎‎‎‎

Is The President Of Puntland Playing ‎With Fire?

IS NON COLLECTION OF CUSTOMS ‎DUTIES FROM MS Total Red Sea Over 8 ‎Years,
Be Classified As CORRUPTION Or ‎GROSS NEGLIGENCE By The Authority?

Siadist Writers And Somali Website’s ‎Cyber War‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎

Balkanization & The Ghost Of Greater Somalia


By Ahmed Aideed, London

Recently, there have been articles that seemed to lament about the sway held by traditionalist in Somaliland’s politics. The articles raised very salient issues as regards Somaliland’s constitutional democracy and the role of traditionalist mostly in conflict resolution. They however rightly acknowledged the significant contribution played by the “traditionalist” in the settlement of armed conflicts and political disputes since the reclamation of sovereignty.

However, the main contention seems to be the effect of the “traditionalist” on growth of constitutionalism in Somaliland. The arguments, at least as I understood them, is that such significant and what can be viewed as extra-constitutional role of the traditionalists may hinder or even arrest the growth of constitutionalism in Somaliland. It is assumed that such an overarching influence of the traditionalist are necessarily limiting progression of constitutional democracy in Somaliland.

I beg to differ and argue that “traditionalist” had and still have a major role to play in the development of constitutional democracy in Somaliland. Recent history confirms their historical and positive significance in the democratization process. Secondly, I would argue that constitutionalism and traditionalism (for a lack of a better term) need not be incompatible.

The view that Somaliland modernization process is being impeded by traditional elements is not wholly factual and there is no clear evidence that links our tradition to such conservative resistance to development as is implied. In fact I am of the view that the main impediment to the desired modernization and constitutionalism is not tradition as such but rather the new crop of politician who feel threatened by the introduction of merit based and policy guided politics. These are the class that have the most to loose if Somaliland marches on toward complete constitutionalism.

But what is the difference between ‘traditional’ and constitutional governance? There is a misconception of the terms where while the former is equated with things of yore and at time gone by, the latter signifies modernity, plural parliamentary democracy and what have you. Such simplification of terms is grossly erroneous. Modern democracies trace their fundamental identities to principles of governance established several generations ago. In fact most newly established democracies have the tendency to wash their shortcomings on the excuse that they are new, young or lack the old tradition or history democratic governance enjoyed by “older” democracies.

The essence of democracy includes separation of powers, rule of law and civil liberty. These core human values are not modern invention of modernity but rather an intrinsic part of social being. Different societies may differ on how these values are implemented and or designed. These differences however, do not amount to absence of such values as they are intrinsically inalienable from social being.

Every society has experienced in one epoch or the other, the alienation of these values from the social governance of their society. For the case of Somaliland, Barre regime is perhaps the most recent and vividly recalled incident of such withdrawal. But as the conferences that led to the reassertion of our sovereignty clearly demonstrated, the intrinsic values associated with modern governance are abound in our own culture. Our elder who are the living custodians of our culture may lack the sophistication associated with modern governance but they have proved to the world that if a society is left to make use of its own cultural devices it can achieve the same desired result more efficiently. These singular achievements rest the case for the relevance of our traditions in our self governance.

The important question that we should be addressing is how we can effectively integrate our cultural values, practices and structures with modern statecraft. Is the current bi-cameral legislature properly designed to make efficient and effective use of both traditional governance resources and modern administration of government? What roles should be given each of the two houses? How should parliament as a whole check the executive branch? Is the current constitutional arrangement adequate for the hybrid system we seem to desire? What is the relationship between the Judiciary and the House elders? How can we strengthen the current constitutional arrangement to avoid conflict of jurisdiction between the different organs? And above all how can we build the capacity of all our institutions to enable them deliver peace and prosperity to our young nation?

These are odious task that need our concerted critical support. It is time for our educated elite to climb down from the fence and role up their sleeve and help our political and traditional leaders move the country further. Such engagement need not be marred with fruitless counter-arguments but rather a spirit of constructive engagement that accept the value of different viewpoints.

AAideed09@aol.com


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