Saturday, August 28, 2010

Should Somaliland allow the formation of a unionist party?

Bashir Goth

Ludicrous idea, isn’t it? How can I suggest such a treacherous idea when I am known as an unflinching advocate for Somaliland’s independence and sovereignty? How could I dare even to utter the ugly U-word which I have denigrated so forcefully and irrevocably in many of my writings? I can see jaws dropping with bewilderment, devoted readers unbelievably double checking the source, and some of those already besotted with cynicism against the loyalty of clans on the fringes of Somaliland jumping to conclusion as soon as they see the title without reading any further and saying with a great sense of satisfaction: “Hey, gotcha? We knew all along that he was a unionist in disguise?” Likewise, I can see also unionist “Somalilanders” getting ecstatic about my rebellious approach.

Before anyone jumps to any conclusions, I would like to point out that Somaliland has chosen democracy as its system of government. And democracy entails equality and freedom for all citizens. Under the tree of freedom come its many branches such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion. Under the umbrella of this system of democracy and freedom comes also one’s right for dissent among many other rights. Any tax paying citizen should have the right to challenge the political system and be able to express his/her political opinion in a peaceful way. Democracy is not only about conformity, or herd mentality, or even about seeing only different shades of the existing system; but it is also about calling for dismantling the existing system and taking the nation’s destiny to a completely different direction if need be. It is therefore the right of every citizen to demand and promote the political system he/she sees as suitable for the country.

If the Kulmiye government opens the gate for the creation of many political parties as the party’s leadership promised during the election campaign, I can envisage many parties carrying different ideologies and diverse political orientations coming to the political scene. Other than the plethora of clan-based parties that will choke the party pipeline, one can anticipate the arrival of some ideology- based parties such an Islamic party, a secular party, a liberal party, a social-democratic party and most probably a communist party. With the onset of such unfettered democracy I don’t see why it should still be a taboo to create a unionist party, demanding Somaliland’s reunification with Somalia.

In Somaliland today there is a strange and unfounded fear of anyone expressing an opinion for union. Strange because Somaliland has adopted democracy as a political system and democracy is indivisible. You cannot deny citizens to demand their democratic rights to hold and express opposing views; and unfounded because the people of Somaliland have made their choice to abandon the union and reclaim their sovereignty with their own free will. Therefore to punish and criminalize people for calling or publicly advocating for the Somali union is an insult to the intelligence of the people of Somaliland. If anything, it shows insecurity and paranoia about the sustainability of the Somaliland project.

The absurdity is that any Somali from anywhere in the world, particularly Somalis from Ethiopia, Djibitouti, Kenya and even Somalia can enter, stay and do business in Somaliland, but Somalilanders who happened to have participated in the politics of Somalia cannot attend even the burial of their own relatives in Hargeisa, Borama, Buroa or any other place in Somaliland. Somalis who hold high political posts in Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti are welcomed in Somaliland even though they uphold their respective governments’ official position of rejecting the recognition of Somaliland, but Somalis who hail from Somaliland by birth are treated as criminals and thrown into prison if they step on the soil of their homeland and are not even allowed to visit their ailing mothers. Their only crime is that they oppose the secession of Somaliland. This makes Somaliland democracy and freedom a cruel joke, at least to the families of the victims of such an absurd reality.

And finally, here is the beef. Yes, I am a firm believer in Somaliland’s sovereignty and independence and will remain a staunch advocate for its recognition. The people of Somaliland underwent great suffering and yet still found the courage and willpower to invest a priceless amount of energy, time and wisdom in creating a country from scratch and establishing such an admirable model of democracy in Africa. And despite its lack of recognition, I want to see Somaliland determined to uphold its constitutional democracy and hopefully one day be a guiding light for African countries as well as others professing democracy yet denying their citizens basic rights. Obviously, neither I nor any sound human being would like to see Somaliland’s achievements go up in flames for someone’s fantasyland dreams, but I also strongly believe that Somaliland has attained a high degree of political maturity to democratically and peacefully challenge and defeat anyone that confronts its legal rights at the ballot box. Hence, I resent seeing my beautiful Somaliland that stands on unshakeable democratic pillars, behaving like a banana republic by incarcerating and denying its citizens the exercise of their political rights. And that includes allowing the minority unionist individuals to raise their voice and form their own party. We all know that such dissenters do not stand a chance of winning any votes, but giving them a political platform may contribute to deflating their argument and saving their lives from dying in the hellfire of Mogadishu.

28 August 2010.

1 comment:

  1. Ramadan karim Bashir. I heard you reading poetry in the somali VOA. You are a great poet. My grand dad was those early immigrants to East Africa. The few somali faces you see in the Kenyan parliament are just tokens and does not really speak for how somalis have been marginalized in that country. I think somalis live under the same conditions in Ethiopia if not worse. In this northern european country where I live the word somali is associated with negativity. But you know very well somali is an ancient and rich culture. Just as the qaraami acoustic music was replaced by a poor synthetic version, much of the somali culture has been destroyed.

    I think they should give a priority to establishing a centre for somali culture in Hargeisa. Many people would be happy to contribute to providing string and horn instruments. We need a conservatorium for somali culture. I am sure you have thought about these things.

    Ramadan's blessing to you and your family.