Saturday, June 16, 2007

Will the Awdal Convention 2007 match Haji Nur’s feat ?
By Bashir Goth
A Somali proverb says: “Meel hoo u baahan hadal wax kama taro”, roughly meaning (Talking will not satisfy where giving is needed.) Somalis are experts in talking; they can talk from here to eternity with beautiful rhetoric, marshalling long-winded rhapsodies from the fathomless wisdom of the poetic Somali language. They try to outdo each other, speaker after speaker. The speakers’ list gets longer and longer and topics on the agenda inflate into a mighty balloon. But just like balloons are popped at the end of a rapturous party, decisions made in Somali gatherings fly into thin air as soon as the participants leave the hall. No follow up mechanism is ever put in place, no commitments survive and no pledges materialize into tangible reality.

If history can be any a guide, one may have a reason to ask why the Awdal Convention 2007 being held in Minneapolis will be any different? Our hope is that it should be, but experience dampens our wishes. The overloaded Agenda of the convention of the North American communities hailing from the Awdal region of Somaliland already raises doubts. It builds expectations that are hard to meet. Topics from education, community development, social services, capacity building, natural resources, public health, trade, unemployment etc. This is an ambitious and unrealistic plan that far exceeds both the capacity and the circumstances of the delegates. The topics are just carbon copied from similar conventions held by well established, and experienced organizations and institutionalized communities that have a history of organizational and developmental achievements.

This doesn’t mean that the Awdal region doesn’t need development and assistance in all these areas. No, it does, but people need to measure their ambition against their capacity. As another Somali adage says: “Faras aanad fuulmadiisa aqoon, daba dillaac baa laga qaada”(if you don’t know how to ride a horse, you end up with a bruised butt.) Read More in Awdalnews Network.
Better Feral Beasts than Ignoble Lackeys
By Bashir Goth
Look who’s talking about sensationalism. Someone should remind Tony Blair that it was not the media but his government that “sexed up” intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction -- famously known as the September Dossier -- amplifying lie after lie to stir up support for a war against the non-existent danger of Saddam Hussein’s fatal weapons.

It was your government, Mr. Blair, not the media, who dropped the fraud investigation into the infamous arms deal between UK and Saudi Arabia, giving the media raw material for speculation about your share of the hefty kickbacks. Call it sensationalism if you like.

It was you Mr. Blair who quivered and appeared spineless and at a loss for words when standing beside George Bush on the White House lawn, trying to defend the indefensible.

As P.J. O'Rourke once said, “We journalists don't have to step on roaches. All we have to do is turn on the kitchen light and watch the critters scurry.” It was therefore your duty, Mr. Blair, to keep your kitchen clean instead of blaming the media for turning on the light.

The duty of the media is to speak up when the emperor is naked, when politicians decide to act like invisible creatures and insult people’s intelligence. And if exposing the truth makes the journalists “feral beasts” so be it sir. I am sure they would rather be “feral beasts” than ignoble lackeys.

May I pester you with more “sensational” questions, question that you may like to stay as invisible as the emperor’s new clothes: How much have you been paid, what kind of reward have you been promised, what kind of secret deal have you made with Bush and the American oil barons to ridicule yourself and the mighty history of Great Britain in reducing yourself to become Bush's poodle? Oops! Too sensational? Read More in Newsweek/Washington Post/PostGlobal.
Only Human to Believe Good Intentions
By Bashir Goth

We live in a world where celebrities are placed on a high pedestal; where glamour replaces saintliness; a world where the mass media projects Hollywood stars as the icons of perfection; where children around the world dream of becoming tomorrow’s Oprahs and Barrymores more than Nobel prize winners advancing human knowledge, even more than becoming humble, compassionate human beings like Mother Teresa.

We live in a world where renowned environmental experts shy away from expressing their opinions before the empty rhetoric of glitzy names, where seasoned book reviewers leave the field for talk show stardom to recommend their taste in books to a starry-eyed populace. In a world where artificial beauty can evoke more compassion than the hollow temples of famished children, where the plight of the poor can satiate the celebrity’s greed for more media glitz, where the tiptoeing sound of stiletto shoes gains more attention than the cries of mothers over the emancipated bodies of their malnourished babies, where an actress’s hairdo speaks louder than the hard scientific facts and figures of suffering compiled by humanitarian workers on the ground -- one can understand the need of UN organizations to use the services of Hollywood stars.

Therefore, if efforts of stars like Drew Barrymore, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt can feed the hungry, provide medicine to the sick and send children to schools, why not take advantage of their names and voices. If the dedication of George Clooney can highlight the cause of the Darfur people, why not grab it? If rock stars such as Bob Geldof and Bono can put the issues of Africa on the agenda of the G-8 leaders, why not thank them?

When Barrymore admits that the stories she has heard from Kenyan children who yearned for one meal a day, pencils and paper, have altered her life and humbled her to the core, it is only human to believe her. And if her efforts and those of other celebrities can give promise to poor African and Asian mothers, why deny them? In my opinion, considering the world we live in today, any action carried out with good intention and for good cause should be embraced and praised. Read More in Newsweek/Washington Post/PostGlobal.