If you have to explain in three simple words how Somalia could emerge from the ashes of war, these words would be â€œpeaceâ€, â€œdiplomacyâ€ and â€œeducation.â€
Somaliaâ€™s contemporary history is clouded with cycles of political violence, and economic deterioration coupled with periods of political and economic upheaval, foreign occupation, dictatorship and continued environmental decay.Â The depiction of Somalis as victims only perpetuates the status quo.Â These challenges could be reversed with the right leadership who can engage with Somalis in a new strategic direction that includes peace, diplomacy, and education.Â This starts with your generation, the Somali Youth.
Peace is the word that constantly occupies my mind, and I assume that it is constant in the minds of many Somalis everywhere.Â In fact, I once went out of my way to help a young brother in need.Â A few days later, he came back to me, and told me that he wanted to do some blessings for me. As a Muslim, I believe in the power of blessings or dua in Arabic.Â So, he asked â€œWhat kind of blessings would you like me to ask God for you?â€Â For a moment, I thought about what he said to me and uttered, â€œPeace in Somalia in my lifetimeâ€.
If you have confidence in the future, you can endure hardship in the present.Â I have a degree of confidence that Somali Youth will work for peace in Somalia, and also around the world.Â This feeling allows me to stay optimistic despite the despicable plight of our nation.
There is a call to Somali Youth.Â A call that requires a different action, a genuine peacemaking action is your generationâ€™s calling.Â For the sake of the nation, the question is, will you answer this urgent call?
Every generation is expected to contribute, and leave a legacy in this world.Â As we learned from our Somali history, our forefathers and fathers answered the calls of their generation in establishing modern Somalia as we know it.Â They wore the uniform in defense of their country against many adversaries.Â They gave up their own wants, needs and desires for an indispensable historical gain, the establishment of modern Somalia.Â Somalia as a nation is now in danger of disappearing from the world stage.Â Â So, what is the solution? And could Somali Youthâ€™s exercise of diplomacy be part of the solution?
There must be a new approach, with cautious diplomatic engagement with international communities.Â Furthermore, local diplomatic action is also needed for bridging the gaps between Somalis, regardless of their political names or tribal affiliations.Â Political names such as Al-Shabaab, Hizbul Islam or Ahlu Sunna Waljama, and other tribal names are designed, and used to further divide, to frustrate people, and to weaken the Somalisâ€™ aspiration to regain their nationhood.
The division of Somalis serves the interests of our adversaries; those whose desire is to see Somalia remain under the protection of Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Special Representative for the UN Secretary-General for Somalia.Â I was attracted to Ould-Abdallahâ€™s initial speeches about Somalia, but his actions placed our nation on the wrong trajectory.
I believe that the solution to Somaliaâ€™s problems will not come from the United Nations or any other foreign entities; it will come from the enlightened, and the educated Somali Youth.Â Therefore, the time has come for you, the Somali Youth, to leave the AK47s behind, and to start using the power of your minds to build bridges between feuding Somalis, to address the nationâ€™s weaknesses, and to intellectually challenge those who are violating the interest of the nation as a whole.
You need to stop the bickering over stupidity, and see the big picture.Â The big picture is about nation-building, coalescing around a strong institution and leaving a legacy that outlasts many more generations to come.
You are aware of the story of the Somali Youth League (SYL), which was formed in 1943.Â The SYLâ€™s objectives were to unify all Somalis, to create opportunities through education, to develop the Somali language, and to safeguard Somali interests. Of course, you have many more tools at your disposal than they had. However, they had more intimate knowledge about Somali culture, and its tribal structure than your generation has.Â If you have an open-minded approach towards creating peace in our homeland, then you can learn and adjust as you establish an environment that is conducive to peace and harmony.
Why were the SYL successful, and how did they maneuver the clannish minds of the Somalis?
The SYL understood the power of diversity within the team and they ensured that major clans were represented as they established constituencies of friendship and trust between Somalis.Â Also, they valued education as a national asset, and they wanted to create an educated society in Somalia.
How will you know what is happening if you do not take the time to educate yourself and others around you?Â As I tell my students, education is a great equalizer, and it will open many doors.Â In the current Somali crisis, I see education as the best weapon, not the Russian-made AK47s that are killing our young men.Â Â The more we educate the people, the less they will be inclined to participate in wasteful infighting.
The United States did not become a superpower because it used weapons to muscle its way to superpower status.Â Instead, they used public education as tools to compete against its adversaries, and won.Â The SYL did not use AK47s; instead they used their brain power in order to solve major problems.Â Of course, they won. They understood what was at stake and used the power of the pen in order to reach their objectives.
First and foremost, this peace-making commitment must be led by the political will of a visionary President that wants to leave a legacy of peaceful and prosperous Somalia. Therefore, you must promote the best of you, the Somali Youth, in terms of intellectual, and knowledge capabilities to the highest office in the land, the presidentâ€™s seat and his cabinet members.
In conclusion, it is my hope that you, the Somali Youth, respond to your generationâ€™s calling and understand that this call requires a different action. The action demands that you leave the AK47s behind and start using the power of your mind to change minds and to win peace in Somalia.Â It is important that you start to think about what you plan to leave behind as your legacy as SYL or other groups have done.Â SYL understood the price of peace, the art of diplomacy and the significance of education.Â While you learn from the past, you need to devise your own solution to the challenges of our time, and establish a commanding position that outlasts many more generations to come.
There is an African proverb that says â€œPeace is costly, but it is worth the expenseâ€.
Your generationâ€™s calling is not to wish for peace, but start working toward creating a peaceful Somalia for you, and for those who are yet unborn.