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In Today's World, Is It Possible To Unify All Somalis Under One Flag?
By Noah Arre
In the late fourteenth Century the European population was expanding at an alarming rate while its resources were shrinking…. Hence the drive to find new opportunities as a result of which the age of exploration in which new lands, the Americas, Australia and the far off islands of the Pacific were discovered or rather conquered.
Then, in the second half of the 19th Century, to further gain power, prominence and wealth, imperialist Europe conquered the rest of the world mercilessly intimidating and even destroying any one who stood against its will using of course its relatively more advanced power…military and material.
Furthermore, to consolidate its power in the new lands, Europe changed the whole face of the new continents by drawing artificial demarcation boundaries even when such boundaries divided families, friends and close societies. And it is in that process that each European nation carved whatever area it saw fit to its liking and even relatively advanced kingdoms in the new frontiers were totally decimated and completely destroyed.
Fortunately for the new European immigrants and unfortunately for those they occupied, it was during this time that conquering Europe seized every productive land and occasionally wiped out indigenous communities and sold others as slaves… crimes that Europeans have yet to confess and address let alone apologize and pay reparations.
The division of Somali-inhabited lands of the Horn of Africa back in the 1880s, into five regions,…NFD, a British quota and now under Kenya, Italian Somalia, now Southern Somalia, British Somaliland Protectorate, now Republic of Somaliland, French Somali Coast, now the Republic of Djibouti and Western Somalia, now the Ethiopian Region Five, was only part of the great European conquest of the African continent and its resources.
Today, however, whatever happened then is now only history. And today even nations with military might can hardly change borders let alone capture regions. For instance, once great Russia , despite its present military muscle, cannot reclaim its former members let alone its Eastern European satellite states. And even mighty USA is powerless and cannot easily intimidate those it automatically labels as the “rouge states of the world or the axis of evil” despite being the sole superpower of this day!
One reason of this new powerlessness of the supposedly powerful is that, in this new age information and globalization, no nation can easily ignore basic international law and declare war against another. And even if it does, it must first at least win the hearts and minds of the international community in general and that of its people in particular because the era of dictating the destiny of others for them is long gone.
Not surprisingly therefore, once seemingly invincible President W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair face stiff resistance even within their own die-hard supporters and that is why their popularity is today sinking to new lows; their executive orders ignored and the internal bickering of their national policy makers is enormously devastating.
By the same logic, it is safe to say that die-hard proponents of Somaliweyn who entertain the idea of uniting Somalis under one flag by all means, including force, to form Greater Somalia, are virtually daydreaming. And Somalis must therefore reinvent Somaliweyn into a new form that is more compatible with time. And certainly by doing that, I believe, all Somalis everywhere would have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
First it is certainly true that Somalis are one of the few unique homogeneous societies in Africa . They dwell in the same proximity…Horn of Africa. They share a common language, a common culture and a common religion. Unfortunately, they fail to coexist, for one reason because probably one's tribal loyalty always outweighs one's commitments to nationalism, culture or religion; and for the other because there seems to be a complete heterogeneity within the Somali homogeneity. This is due probably to their long background and history of being under separate colonial masters and hence inheritance of different social and governing systems.
Traditionally, Somali traditional law upholders reined in their clan members at times of troubles and were in fact capable of punishing perpetrators of crimes committed by their clan members especially against other clans. And fortunately, those elders always immediately appealed for calmness during difficult times and without reservations and/or conditions cooperated with one another apologizing each other and together solved any problems in good faith and just under the acacia trees. That is how the Somali pastoral democracy admired by many, worked since man knows.
One strange thing that happened in the South during the civil war and continues to happen there however, is that many Somali elders of some clans seem to have never enjoyed any powers at all within their own people. And sadly, it is in these regions that the dimensions of human rights violations and crimes committed by some clan warlords are completely beyond any human comprehension. The traditional Somali respect and protection of women, children and the elderly during difficult times were/are totally violated there. And surprisingly, the so-called Transitional Federal Government system rewards warlords and criminals with high positions including government ministerial portfolios.
In addition, it is sorrowfully painful that Somalis whose social life and norms were once admired by historians who described Somali way of life as the "pastoral democracy" are today truly perplexed by the enormity of the crimes committed in former Italian Somalia during this tragic civil war.
However, fortunately, in Somaliland , the situation is different because traditional leaders there have always had the will, the courage, the wisdom and the power to restrain their community members as they wield immense influence within their people. This is why the civil war in Somaliland ended quickly. My salute goes to those who had saved Somaliland and its people from the demonizing death and destruction that unfortunately still devastate our brothers in former Italian Somalia.
New Somaliweyn can be five states/regions that support each other
Somalis, pragmatically, the Somaliweyn of yesterday is unworkable in today's world and four circumstances necessitate reconfiguring it into a new form that is more compatible with time.
First, Somaliland insists on its decision to reclaiming its sovereignty and bringing its borders back to that of pre-colonial times is final and irreversible. It believes the union for which it voluntarily forfeited its freedom took her to only civil war and disaster. So, Somaliland says its secession is final and adamantly refuses to go back come what may. This fact is a new reality in today's Somalia that must be taken into consideration.
Second, the Republic of Djibouti realized in its independence's heydays of the seventies, that it should be far better off without Somaliweyn and hence decided to go its way. However, Djibouti sympathizes with Somalis and certainly is willing to share future with them after all it has a Somali ethnic majority though it will never join any Somaliweyn in its old form.
Third, Kenyan Somalis believe that they are far better off to stay with Kenya because they do not want to repeat the mistakes of the sixties at which time, the "shfita" wars brought devastation and mayhem to their country and people. Consequently, Somali Kenyans decided to stay with Kenya and many Kenyan Somalis are in fact high-ranking government officials. Consequently, Somali Kenyans are not ready to join Somaliweyn either!
Fourth and finally, Region Five of Ethiopia is by Ethiopian Federal law allowed, like the rest of that nation, to govern itself. Hence, Somalis there will gain only if they play their card right. In fact, they could eventually gain independence from Ethiopia should they decide to do so. Unfortunately, myopic Somali clan politics and priorities prevent that to happen and Ethiopia will certainly punish divided politically immature Somalis in their country. So, Somaliweyn in its old form will only bring disaster to their country and people.