Somalia: The Meeting of the Minds
By M. J. Farah
Somalis are not belligerent, anti-government, pirates or terrorists, as they are often portrayed in the media. A number of you subconsciously or consciously believe this false depiction of a remarkable people. Somalis are simple people who desire to live in a peaceful environment with justice, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, just like the people of the United States. Somalia, as a country, now faces an uncertain future because Somali youthsâ€™ leadership qualities remain dormant.
A courageous, capable, credible, and committed Somali leader is needed in order to unify the minds of the Somalis and cease the vicious cycle of violence. I believe that a â€œmeeting of the mindsâ€ of the youth will become the foundation on which Somalia rises from the ruins of war, and becomes a respected country once again. This union of the minds includes mutual partnership with interested groups and nations. Consequently, the future of Somalis can be better than their past.
It is exciting to know that young Somalis are organizing and forming political organizations. Even though their objectives are remarkably similar, it appeared to me that each organization stands alone. As I thought about the problem of the youthâ€™s divisiveness, the late President Abraham Lincolnâ€™s quote comes to mind â€œA house divided against itself cannot standâ€. Therefore, the youth of Somalia must become a team and focus on the solutions or the catastrophic situation in Somalia will remain unchanged.
Historians often note that it takes extraordinary crises in order for a society to produce a great leader. It is not a coincidence that Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, Somaliaâ€™s national hero, emerged out of the crisis of Somaliaâ€™s occupation by colonial powers.
So, why is it that the last nineteen years of civil unrest in Somalia has not produced a great leader?
A great leader who needs to be awakened from the long sleep is among the Somali youth. There is no silver bullet solution to Somaliaâ€™s problems and nobody has all the answers. But, I am confident that Somali leaders will collaborate more and compete less on important national matters. This cooperation, coupled with consistent peace-making efforts, will yield tranquility and prosperity in Somalia. Moreover, Somalia needs visionary individuals in positions of authority who would be eager for progress and have the willingness to move the country forward.
Winston Churchill once said â€œIf your past is in a quarrel with your present, the cost will be your futureâ€. I believe that Somali leaders have merely focused on problems, rather than searching for a future-oriented solution. At every Somali meeting that I have been part of or heard in the Somali news services, people often talk about problems and engage in the blame game. We all know the problems. We need to stop the scapegoat-making, and focus first and foremost on finding or creating sustainable solutions. It is effortless and work-avoidance to blame clans or the international community as the sources of the conflict in Somalia. If this is the case, can we remove clan politics and the international interests out of Somalia? The answer is no.
Every country in the world has tribes or clans and they do not have the problems we have in Somalia. Thus, the problem is not the clan. It is both the lack of an effective, visionary leader and lack of unity between Somalis. The current generation has yet to lead, and take responsibilities in writing their own history. If they do not realize how indispensable they are in solving the crisis of their time, history will not be favorable to them.
Each one of the Somali youth organization must work diligently in perfecting the union and the wellbeing of the Somalis regardless of their little differences. Again, it is vital that they do not blame the people, but that they work with the decision-makers of the country. When this happens, the decision-makers will make the right-decision for the sake of the nation rather than their narrow and individualistic interest that would result in further ruins of the nation.
Every time I hear that Somalis are ungovernable people, Napoleonâ€™s quote comes to my mind â€œThere are no bad soldiers, only bad officersâ€. It is tragic that Somalis happened to have had bad leaders. Those backward leaders continue to make not merely poor judgments, but also strategic blunders which place our nation on the wrong path, and have claimed the lives of many innocent women, children and men.
Because of Somali youthâ€™s divisiveness and the lack of understanding of the complexity of the situation, external interest groups continue to highlight their differences in order to frustrate and further divide to their own benefits.
As imperfect as the United States is, it welcomed many Somalis from the deplorable refugee camps from around the world and offered them a piece of the American dream, a peaceful life and an education in the United States. Therefore, many young Somalis have a favorable opinion of the United States. However, the United Statesâ€™ current foreign policy toward Somalia will result in an undesirable outcome, a continuity of the status quo. If the international community, particularly the United States government, wants to see Somalia stabilize, they should encourage or incentivize an effective leader through diplomatic activities to the highest position in the country, the seat of the president.
Remember, Somalisâ€™ differences are very miniscule. They have every reason to succeed. Somalia is a rare phenomenon in Africa because it has one religion, one language, and one culture. They are incredibly brilliant people, and the degrees of cultural closeness between them are unmatched. Their entrepreneurial skills are fantastic, as demonstrated by what is happening in Africa with respect to the businesses established by Somali refugees after the collapse of the country in 1991.
Essentially, there is a need for Somaliaâ€™s youths to unite their ranks and demonstrate that they can engage in a peaceful and intellectual inquiry about the forces behind the conflict. While they work on the objectives of regaining their country from corrupt officials, foreign or domestic, it is important that they remain strategic about their political realignment with other organizations and their interests. Hence, there should be a degree of equilibrium between the Somalis youthsâ€™ interests and the interested groups and nations.
As stated before, Somalia has a history of bad leaders accompanied by a political misunderstanding between Somalis, amplified by external interest groups. This political squabble is curable with the right leadership and the union of diverse and dynamic Somali youth groups worldwide. An increasing number of decision-makers in top ministerial positions should be coming from these groups. These individuals must engage in Somali politics, be highly educated and motivated to pursue change in the form of a forward-thinking course of actions. First, the Somali youth must unite their minds and hearts for the sole purposes of fixing what is broken in Somalia, thus, leaving a legacy of a stable Somalia with peace and prosperity.
There is an African proverb that says â€œIn unity, there is strengthâ€.
The Somali youthsâ€™ unity and purposeful actions, using the power of the pen and paper, are what is required of them in order to establish a new course for Somalia.
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** M. J. Farah, M.Ed. is a financial aid counselor, lecturer at BHCC and he currently resides in the Unites States. He can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.