Friday, September 11, 2009

An open letter to Mr. Dahir Rayale Kahin, President of Somaliland
By Bashir Goth
My cousin, Mr. President, let go with dignity

At the outset I should congratulate you on a work well done. Your overall performance is highly commendable, given to the difficult circumstances prevailing in the region and the insurmountable challenges you face at home. The fact that you have maintained the peace and stability of such an impoverished, unrecognized and tribal house of cards over seven years is nothing short of a miracle. You did this through your renowned patience, your tolerance and your proverbial choice of prayer over power even when your life was at stake. It is not my intention here Mr. President to enumerate your achievements nor pinpoint your failures, but I have no doubt that history and people will remember you with kindness and appreciation.

It is the ending, however, like anything else in life that lingers in memory. This is why I would like to urge you today Mr. President to quit. I know this is not an easy thing to do and I am sure the knee jerk reaction of your inner circle to my advice will be an outright anger and a total dismissal. They may not even bother to read this piece to assess my reasoning. Only the title will suffice for them to negate me and consider me as a newcomer trying to jump on the bandwagon of the Rayale bashing brigade.

Mr. President, it was not easy for me as well to write this piece. It is only after a long deliberation that I concluded as Martin Luther King Jr. said that “in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” So I decided not to watch you in silence while you teeter on the edge of a steep and resounding downfall but to raise a friendly voice and warn you about the dangers I see from my vantage point of being an outside observer able to see the cracks on the wall. The cracks are wide and deep Mr. President for every observer to see. The signs of the imminent collapse of the house of cards are everyone. I know you cannot see them Mr. President because your inner circle advisory have built a fortified wall around you; a wall that hides you from seeing the political reality of the country but cannot definitely protect you from the oncoming deluge. And when that moment comes, when the fake levees break, all your inner circle advisers will disappear and you will be all alone to face the flood.

Mr. President, history is replete with examples. I don’t want to give you examples, but you are heading on the road to infamy; the road taken by many unfortunate kings and leaders who were blinded by the false walls built around them by their kitchen cabinet members. It is not easy to hear the rumblings and commotion outside when all you hear and see is what happens in the four walls of your palace when all the reports and stories that reach your desk tell you that everything is fine and that people still glorify you.

Mr. President, I am sure you think you know everything and nothing I say would be of any value to you. But one thing that you may not be aware of is that you have been on the chair too long. The fuss, however, is not all about the chair Mr. President; it is about being the custodian of the only source of income. Seven years are not a big deal if your country was wealthy, if the majority of citizens had jobs and if the government was only one of several sources of income. The problem here as in many other less developed countries is that the government is the only source of income. And this is why the hungry public can be easily incited by equally hungry opposition politicians to rise against the gatekeepers of the state treasury. It does not matter if the treasury is empty, what matters is that the State’s begging bowl should be passed around. This is why seven years is too long for the begging bowl to remain with one person or one group. This is the source of all wars in Africa as I have expressed it a long time ago in a poem I addressed to my son while he was still in the womb

“dhawrtay isku laayeen tolkay dhiigna loo qubaye, waxa dhagarta loo galay anaan dhiilka lay shubine...”

Mr. President, I urge you to quit not because I see the opposition figures as better leaders and definitely not because you would not be able to defeat them in a national election. I am calling you to quit because I want you to expose the opposition leaders and deny them the only cause they have for plunging the country into a chaos and civil war. You have invested a lot of energy and time to prevent the house of cards from falling apart. It was never an easy task, but with your sagacity and patience you have managed to hold the cards together despite the forces that were trying to pull them apart. It is therefore your interest Mr. President to see that status outlive you and pass it on while the house still stands despite the damages it sustained through the years. And the only feasible way you can do that is to call it a day. You can do this with finesse in a televised speech to the nation. You can explain your reasons for quitting with all clarity and transparency. It will be your greatest legacy. It will be a speech worth listening to and I promise you it will go down in memory as one of the greatest moments of the history of Somaliland. Anyone who comes after you would then be just an irrelevant appendage. I say this not because I want to slight the importance of the opposition but because I see all they care about is how to reach the chair. Instead of building their political careers on smart political agendas and well planned national strategies, they hung their political destiny on one single objective – to dethrone you. They have shown that they can unscrupulously stoop too low, even to the point of appealing to tribal sentiments and inciting civil war to see you go. They use the conventional explosive tools of tribalism, poverty and ignorance to convey their message.

Unfortunately, Mr. President, this kind of acrimonious message is making inroads to the hearts and minds of the hungry nation. And there is one way you can reverse the tide, one way you can pull the rug out from under the opposition’s feet. It is simply to quit. If you want to bring change, you can bring it by letting it go. If you want to see in retrospect how good or bad you did during your term there is no better way than to quit, let others take the reins and watch their performance from afar. Sometimes Mr. President we must let go our beloved children to allow them to forge their own way. Somaliland has been your child for seven long years, it may be time for you to let go to see whether you were a help or hindrance to its growth and development; or as the anonymous saying goes “Sometimes you have to let go to see if there was anything worth holding on to.” So let go Mr. President, let go to show the world that Somaliland is not just another African country with a leader unwilling to pass the power.

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