Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Somali untouchables
By Bashir Goth, 24 April 2007

IF YOU think that Dalits (untouchables) exist only in India think again. We have them in Somalia. But what makes the situation of ours even worse is that unlike India where people belong to different races, languages and colours; Somalia is the most homogenous country in Africa with people belonging to a single race and sharing a common language, a common religion and a common skin complexion.

To find a dehumanised group of people in a third world country may look normal, despite its gravity, but the real tragedy is when international human rights organisations ignore the plight of such people.

One such blunder that went unnoticed appeared in the March 2007 report of the Minority Rights Group International (MRG), which placed Somalia above Iraq as the world’s most dangerous country for minority groups. For anyone familiar with Somalia, this assessment will conjure up images of clans who suffered for centuries from sub-human treatment. We Somalis know them; UN organisations on the ground know them and anyone with Internet access will have no difficulty to find them.

Amazingly, however, the MRG, which brags in its website of listening to minorities and indigenous peoples to avoid prescriptive and patronising approaches, and having some 130 partners in some 60 countries, has not only failed to find them but has shockingly confiscated their only right of being a minority and adorned it to their tormentors.

The MRG described the Somali clans of Darood, Hawiye and Issaq as minorities who were under threat. These three clans are the most numerous, most dominant and most powerful clans of the Somali race, but by an absurd twist of fate they have become the most threatened minorities in the books of the imminent MRG, thus negating the true minorities such as the Gabooye, Midgaan, the Bantus, the Xamar Cad and others.

Coming across this enormous gaffe, I found myself obliged to take the awesome responsibility of teaching this imminent organisation a lesson or two about the Dalits of the Somali race.

Ladies and gentlemen of the MRG, we have a clan that we Somalis do not even allow them to share the name Somali with us. We call them Sab and we call ourselves Somali; we call them Midgaan and we call ourselves Aji (blue blood). It is ironic that the word Sab has the same pronunciation as the English word Sub which among other things means below; under; beneath, subordinate; inferior, less than completely or normal. And by a strange coincidence the Somali word Sab has the same meaning and even worse. Read more in Khaleej Times