Friday, December 09, 2011

Dignity is in peace, not in cowardly murder

Bashir Goth

All Somaliland communities were shocked by the gruesome and cold-blooded murder of innocent people sleeping peacefully in their own homes in Seemaal area on December 5, 2011; a horrific reminder of the slaughter of innocent travelers on the highway near Kalabaydh area on July 11, 2009.

As a relative of the victims, I can understand that the first thing that comes to the afflicted community’s mind is to take things into their own hand and revenge. In the absence of an effective government, revenge and retaliation were once the only nuclear deterrents that the Somalis knew. Not to retaliate for your dead ones was and can still be considered as a sign of weakness if not sheer cowardice in the Somali context. Men of peace, particularly at times of heightened tensions are looked down as wimps, while belligerent men who rally the clan behind the Tollaayeey and Aabbahay Goblan banners are seen as heroes.

It is not easy to control one’s emotions in the face of such calamity, and the easiest, most emotionally immature choice is to take the gun and revenge; because anyone, even a child or idiot, can grab a gun and kill people, but not everyone can take the most difficult route and snatch peace out of the jaws of death.

The gun-toting war hero can win a battle at the cost of dozens even thousands of lives lost but the peace hero wins victory by sparing equally as many lives from imminent death. Aggressive violence and war come easy but at a high cost. One should look at what is at stake in a war; death and destruction.Yes, one might believe they are living in dignity and some can argue that death is sometimes better than living in indignity, but in cases like that of Kalabadydh and Seemal it is the murderer who lives with indignity and not the living relatives of the victims.

Cowardly terrorists who sneak in under the cover of darkness and cold-bloodedly murder innocent sleeping people and travelers are devoid of all dignity. They are indeed a shame on the community they hail from and it’s the duty of their community and the families they came from to do what’s right, allow and support our police department to thoroughly investigate this act of violence and hand over any suspected parties for judicial judgment. But to answer their heinous act by killing other innocent people is equally abhorring no matter how honorable it might look in tribal traditions.

My intention of writing this short piece is therefore to commend the Gadabursi Community for trading the empty pride one feels in taking revenge and killing to the real pride and dignity that comes with being peace heroes rather than war heroes in dealing with the Kalabadydh daylight murder. I would also like to call upon them again this time to resort to their renowned wisdom and tradition of taking the dignified but difficult route to peace in dealing with the Seemaal killings. It is quoted of Somaliland’s former President Rayaale to have said: “Dagaal Ducaan Ka Doortay…” ( I rather choose prayers over war…) As despicable and wimpy as that might look to the bellicose psyche of the Somalis, it indeed reflects a moral high ground and the epitome of wisdom and intellectual maturity.

I say this while demanding justice for the victims slaughtered in Seemaal. We all demand justice for him and those before them. The Sultans of Awdal have unequivocally said this. The Sultans of Gabiley and Hargeisa have said it. The opposition and government political leaders have said it. The wise men and women of Somaliland have said it.

Justice should be done and done quickly and the government should keep its promises to apprehend the murderers and bring them before a court of law. Safeguarding the security of its citizens is one of the fundamental and national responsibilities of the government. These recurring, cowardly and terrorist acts are a threat not only to the national security but will also destroy the bond and cohesion between the community and will in turn cause a great damage to the reputation and image that Somaliland has built over the years as a peaceful oasis.

The steps the government has taken so far and the unanimous condemnation and shock expressed by the different quarters of the Somaliland community are all welcome and highly reassuring, but it is the sole responsibility of the government to turn its words into action and bring the criminals of the Kalabaydh and Seemaal to justice. This should be a matter of national priority for the government and it should devote all its resources to that cause instead of using live ammunition on peaceful demonstrators and arresting and imprisoning community leaders for exercising their right for free speech.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Heestan soo socota “Qaaddirow Allow” waxan tiriyey maalmihii ugu horreeyey ee ay qaylo dhaanta abaarta iyo macaluushu ka soo yeedhay Soomaaliya bishii July bilowgeedii. Haddaba markii aan waayey cid muusig raacisa ayey ila noqotay in aan shucuurta ay wadato la wadaago dadka Soomaaliyeed.

Qaaddirow Allow

Miyaan qulbaa
Maan qayliyaa
Ma qudhaan jaraa
Mise waa qaddare
Lama quusto ee
Wixii lay qoraan
Qaadirka baryaa

Qaaddirow Allow
Qaaddirow Allow
Qayrkay dunida
Aan la qaybsadee
Quudaraynta iyo
Qaxarka iga saar
Waxa qaaradaha
Qabno aasan iyo
Qoom walba intii
Loo qoofalee
Loox loogu qoray
Ani qaawaniyo
Ciid quusatiyo
Dheri iyo quddaa
Qayb iigu hadhay
Aan quud ku jirin
Tani waa qisee
Maxaa lay qadshee
Qirinqiirka iyo
Dadyow qoomamiyo
Qiilqiil i baday
Miyaan qulbaa
Maan qayliyaa
Ma qudhaan jaraa
Mise waa qaddare
Lama quusto ee
Wixii lay qoraan
Qaadirka baryaa

Qaaddirow Allow
Qaaddirow Allow
Qayrkay dunida
Aan la qaybsadee
Quudaraynta iyo
Qaxarka iga saar
Cirku wuu qirtoo
Wuu qaawan yahay
Ciiddu waa qallayl
Geed qaadhay iyo
Qori baa ku yaal
Qorrax iyo dabayl
Dhagaxaan qotoma
Yaa la ii qoroo
Nolol quudashiyo
Qormo la iiga dhigay
Tani waa qisee
Qiiq iyo dagaal
Xumo soo qutura
Maxaa igu qodbee
Qoobad iigu xidhay
Miyaan qulbaa
Maan qayliyaa
Ma qudhaan jaraa
Mise waa qaddare
Lama quusto ee
Wixii lay qoraan
Qaadirka baryaa

Qaaddirow Allow
Qaaddirow Allow
Qayrkay dunida
Aan la qaybsadee
Quudaraynta iyo
Qaxarka iga saar

- Bashir Sh. Omar Goth, July 12, 2011.

Other lyrics on the plight of Somali mothers by the author:http://www.blo
1. Eyes Frozen to Sky
2. Spare A Moment
3. Ha Iga Ooyine Aamu

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The following haiku poem grieves the unending plight of the Somali people. Life is however stronger than any misery, and the poem had to end with a note of defiance, embracing the resilience and strength of the human spirit.

Eyes Frozen To Sky*

War in my country
No rain to wash the blood
- weeping in winter

Bang, bang, bang
Bullets, bullets and bullets
No one hears the wind

Peace is far away
Blinking stars in the night
- dark clouds gather in spring
Mother holds dead child
Husband under her feet
- eyes frozen to sky
Bare bones everywhere
Carcass smell in summer
- lonely bird above
Last whistle not blown
Buds sprouting everywhere
- bees out in spring.

-Bashir Goth,

*I wrote the first four stanzas of the poem on October 8, 2007 and I ended it with the last two stanzas on Aug. 18, 2011. It seems time is frozen in Somalia.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Somaliland finally comes out of its shameful silence

By Bashir Goth

Somaliland has finally spoken. It says it is ready to participate in the international efforts aimed at easing the suffering of the starving Somali people who are experiencing what the UN has described as the worst humanitarian disaster.

As welcome as this step may be, many conscientious Somalilanders, and other Somalis as well, may see it as too little too late.

As the world, moved by the unimaginable extent of human suffering caused by drought and war in Somalia, rushed to secure shelter, food, medicine and comfort for the tens of thousands of barely walking human skeletons arriving Mogadishu and Somalia’s neighboring countries, Somaliland decided to watch the unfolding catastrophe of its kin and kith with shameless indifference.

For almost a month since the UN officially declared famine in the regions of Bakool and Lower Shabelle of Southern Somalia on July 20, 2011, starving Somalis trekked to neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia while tens of thousands were internally displaced in Mogadishu and elsewhere.

All this time Somaliland authorities stayed silent. They even failed to issue a statement expressing their grief for the pain and suffering of the Somali people. No one expected Somaliland to airlift relief supplies to Somalia but everyone expected and wished if they could show some sort of solidarity with their brethren such as expressing their readiness to receive starving Somalis fleeing from war and drought to the peaceful land.

In a situation where the UN says one child dies every six minutes, Somaliland should have been the first to be shocked by the tragedy of the Somali mothers burying their emaciated children one after the other as the walk to seek help. It should have been the first to mobilize the world, the first to open its ports and airports for international aid, the first to share their meager resources with their famished fellow Somalis.

But the Somaliland administration waited for Ambassador Augustine Mahiga, The UN Special Representative for Somalia, to visit them in Hargeisa and appeal to them to help their Somali brethren.

And now after the entire world has rushed to the rescue of the Somali people, and after the entertainment and sports celebrities launched the Bob Marley campaign under the title ‘I’m Gonna Be Your Friend’ which is expected to reach a global audience of over 700 million in Facebook and Twitter, Somaliland authorities saw the opportunity to jump on the bandwagon and get their share of the limelight and international focus.

Somaliland has missed a golden opportunity to reach out to their fellow Somalis, to heal the wounds of the past and to build bridges of future cooperation and brotherhood, an opportunity to pause and reflect on the realities around them; and above all Somaliland has missed an opportunity to prove to the Somali people and to the world at large that the peace and stability of Somaliland is more boon than bane for the Horn of Africa.

For further reflections:
1) A Somali mother’s sad lullabay to her child: Ha iga ooyine aamu
2) Spare a Moment

Monday, July 25, 2011

The following poem marks the terrorist attack that shocked the Norwegian people on July 22nd, 2011.

Why Norway, why in this way?
By Bashir Goth

Why Norway, why in this way?
Why? A question with no answer
As no answer fills the void
No answer rises to decipher
Why Norway, why in this way?

Why terror strikes without a thought
Why it devastates, demolishes, devours
Why it raises hell that ends in naught?
But why Norway, why in this way?

Oslo is mourning, Utoeya is bleeding
Innocence is defiled, paradise betrayed
Common sense is for answers pleading
Why Norway, why in this way?

Flower after flower, beauty after beauty
The murderer chose with ill intent
To ambush life with heinous duty
But why Norway, why in this way?

With every cry, he chose to pry
No tear should live, to tell the tale
No young elite, no one to sigh
But why Norway, why in this way?

Small and tender as be they may
Adept Norwegians astounded all
As Vikings and Black Death they kept at bay
And never will they; another dismay,
Make them sway, not in this way

A home of democracy, a resort of peace,
Norway will remain, for all to breathe
No color to bar, no creed to cease
And never will they; another dismay
Make them sway, not in this way.

---July 24th, 2011.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Col Iyo Abaar - War & Drought
By Bashir Goth

Col iyo Abaar, war and drought, were the historical enemies of the Somali people; the two disasters that played havoc with their nomadic life.

The fear of these combined calamities was so engraved in the Somali psyche that it manifests itself in their prayers; Ilaahow Col Iyo Abaarba Naga Hay (O’ God spare us from both war and drought). There was also no ills worse to invoke when cursing an enemy than to curse them with war and drought; Col iyo Abaari ku Qaadday or Col iyo Abaari Kula Tagtay are both curses that bid you to be taken away or snatched away by the twin terrors.

Nabad iyo Caano (Peace and Milk) was the antidote to Col iyo Abaar. And if the rainy season was exceptionally good and the pasture was abundant, then it was a time of Bashbash iyo Barwaaqo”; a time of splash and abundance or prosperity”.

For Somali nomads, therefore, Nabad iyo Caano was their best time, it was for them a time of Nimco Ilaah (God’s bounty). It was when both people and their livestock and in fact all plants and creatures on earth had Biyo iyo Baad (water and food). Without rain, Somalis live on dead earth.

When I met my wife for the first time many years ago, all she knew about Somalia other than a story she heard as a child about the Mad Mullah was that: “It was a dry land that came to life after rain.” Surprisingly, this was the first time in my life that I took note of my country described in such a graphic and indeed a realistic way. Sometimes, we need to see ourselves through the eyes of others.

It is no wonder that fatalism holds sway over the Somali people as their life hangs on the forces of nature and the Will of God, for who else but: “Allah sends down water from the sky and by it brings the dead earth back to life. (Surat an-Nahl, 65).

The Somali farmer can throw seeds to the ground, but he knows that without rain he should not expect to harvest them. If rain fails to come, then there is nothing he can do but look to the sky and pray. It was at a moment like this that a Somali farmer expressed his plight in the following biting lines:

“Illayn laguma doog dhabo hadhuud
Roob an kugu daadan
Cirka meel dushaada ah illayn
Dooxid lama gaadhid…”

Today, the Somali people, as in many times in the past, face the apocalyptic double hit of Col iyo Abaar.

Of the two, however, it is the Abaar that devastates the lives of the nomad. It is referred to as Abaar iyo Oodo Lulul, drought and tree shaking, as Somali nomads shake trees with their traditional hangools – a kind of a stick with a hook- to fall dry leaves for their livestock). One can run away from an enemy and avoid the areas of hostilities, but one cannot escape drought, particularly when it hits across traditional grazing areas. This is why the collective memory of the Somali people records the worst droughts that devastated the people through history.

Known by their telltale names that give graphic description of their catastrophic impacts on people’s lives and livelihood, some of the best memorized droughts include: Abaalees, the one that overran everyone and everywhere; Liqa iyo Qutura, the one that swallowed and stayed unyielding; Arbacadii, the one that started on the year that began on Wednesday; Xaaraamo Cune, the one during which people were forced to eat the inedible or legally prohibited food; Hawa Rida, the one that humiliated every proud person; and Jaahweyn, the one that stared at people in the face for a long time.

Also remembered are Maadh Gambiya, the one that devoured all wealth; Hayaan Dheer, the one that forced people to travel long distances; Siigacase the one with red sandstorms; Jaan Ma Reeba, the one that didn’t spare a single shoe as even shoes were boiled and eaten for food; Haarriya, the slow moving and grinding one; Bariis Guradkii, when the people were forced to eat rice which was an alien grain to the Somali people at the time; Sima, the equalizer as it made all people equal in misery and penury; Dooryaanle, the one that was characterized by the enormous quantity of worms it produced due to the enormous number of carcasses of dead animals around; and Daba Dheer, the long tailed – the never ending one.

When droughts last long and people and livestock perish, the only option the surviving people have is to seek refuge in a place which is mostly far and alien. In the old days the name for this torturous journey was Daaduun (escaping from famine and poverty). The word Qaxooti which is today’s parlance for refugees was used in the old days for people running from war and hostility but not from famine. Just like we see them doing today, the people on Daaduun would travel as far as their weak legs could take them, as far as their last drop of water could last them, and as far as the famished, haggard and malnourished children could make to the nearest graveyard or the nearest help whichever came first. But today, Somalis are running for Qax iyo Daaduun -both running from war and from drought’s famine).

Watching the news with my son and hearing that each day around 1500 people arrive in Kenya, he quipped: “Aabbo, if the Somalis leave the country in this rate and I know your population is small, I wonder, if anyone will remain in it.” He is a college student now and I remember addressing him in a poem I wrote when he was yet unborn telling him about the misery of the Somali people:

“…Insha Allaahu dhib yari iyo caafimaad
Waad ku soo dhalane
Ilmayohow la wada dhawraya
Bal an war kuu dhiibo
Hadday adiga nabadi kuu dhantahay
Dheregna aad hayso
Ood caalamkaba dhexdaa hooyadaa
Moodday dhummucdiisa
Adduunyada dhib baa joogta iyo
Dhiilo iyo ciile
Dhawrtay isku laayeen tolkay
Dhiigna loo qubaye
Waxa dhagarta loo galay anaan
Dhiilka la ii shubine
Gobannimadii loo dhaxay runtii
Gaalka lagu dhoofshay
Haweenkiiba kama dhaashadaan
Dhiilahaan lulaye
Dhul aan kuugu faaniyo ma lihi
Dhoobo iyo ciide
Dhagax buu Ilaahay ka dhigay
Ani dhankaygiiye
Dhawrkii bilood buu habeen
Dhibic ku tiixaaye
Dhuuni baan ka raadcaynayaa
Qooddi dhabarkiiye
Awr baaban weli dhaansadaa
Dhererka jiilaale
Dhallaankii harraad bay dhugteen
Dhabarka saarraaye
Ceelkii dhicirta weynaa beryahan
Looma dhaadhicine
Dadkaygii dhammaayo ma hadhin
Ruux ad dhugataaye
Iskadaa qabiil nin u dhintuu
Loogay dhirifkiiye
Dhilmaanyaaba weli laysa iyo
Dhaxanta dayreede…” (Laba Dhuux, 1989)

Since then the world has changed beyond recognition. The Berlin Wall fell, the Soviet Union had collapsed the cold war had come to an end; the information technology has made the world a global village. But even after two decades, just like the many decades before, the conditions remain the same for Africa. Nothing changes in Africa. It is either war, brother killing a brother, or drought, or both of them. Daaduun and Qaxooti all along. It is as if time stands still as I referred to it in the following stanzs:

“…Afrikay dhagax dixeed
Miyaad sidii dheri jajabay
Duleedka u dhooban tahay
Dharaartii soo baxdiyo
Habeenkii loo dhaxaba
Waqtigu ku dul dhereran yahay?
Waa kani dhiigii qulqulay
Haraha dhacadiida ee
Sidii durdur loo dhurtee
Miyaan ciiduba dhergeyn?
Miyaanuu ubad dhallaan
Dhirif li’i seexanayan?
Awrtani dhoomaha sidee
Jiilaallada dheelidiyo
Miyaan dhaankuba degayn?
Samada aan dheehdayeen
Quraanka u dheelmiyiyo
Miyaan ducaduba dhalayn?… (Dhuxusha Ka Madoobiyaa, 1999)

Even long before that I was, like many of my country people, lamenting the centuries old misfortune of my country and Africa; a misfortune that has become an everlasting viscous circle where the agony and distress expressed in a poem stands vividly valid over nearly 30 years as the day it was penned down. It gives me no comfort to read the following poem Qiiro that I wrote in December 1984 and was listened by many people back then in audio cassettes to be shocked that the conditions stand the same.

Qab-qabta waddankeena
Qalaanqalka taagan
Wanaagga la qoomay
Qiyaama jooga
Rasaasta qarxaysa
Qaxootiga daadsan
Abaarta la qiiqay
Hooyada qaxarkeega
Ilmaha ka qandhaysan
Qareena u weyday
Ilmada ku qubaysa
Odayga qulubkiisa
Dhulkuu qodanaayey
Hashuu u quminaayey
Abaari ka qaaday
Carruurta qadoodi
Caloosha qarraadhay
Qorraxda duhurkiiya
Ku beer qadhqadhaysa
Intuu qalbigoodu
Ka qoonsan lahaa
Miyuu shir qabiilo
Qalqaashay dadkaygu
Qolaba dhinaceega
Miyey qaradeeda
Ku muujisey qaylo
Miyuu qasku oogmay
Qaraabo is weyday
Nin walba qolqolkiisa
Xumaani ka qooqday
Qarddoofa nacaybka
Qabiilo is dooxa
Ninkii qabta taagan
Ka food qabsanaayey
Qalaanqalka diiday
Wanaagga qiraayey
Miyuu nin qaloocday
Qaradle ku tilmaamay
Muxuu qab-qab dhaafay
Hoostana ka qalaalan
Intuu qacda foolka
Dibnaha ku qaniinay
Qadaadkana taagay
U qoystay waxyeelo
Tollaayda qabiilku
Maxay dad qareena
Xumaan qabadsiisay
Nin walba qorigiisa
Intuu qacda waaga
Qorfaha kula hoyday
Miyuu qummuciisa
Walaal ku qiyaasay
Reerkii u qabneeyey
Carruuro u qaaday
Ninkii dab u quudhay
Miyaan qudha waaye
Dammiir qabayaynin
Qarniga la dhaqaaqay
La qaybsaday uunka
Wixii qurux yaalay
Qorraxda lagu dooday
Miyuu kas qabiilo
Qamaanshay dadkayga
Quluufan qallaafan
Waraabe qarjeexan
Walaal is qarddoofay
Dhulkoo wax la quuto
Qadhaab laga waayey
Dadkoo qoqobaysan
Ummadda qirinqiirka
Cumaha la qaniinay
Ku neef qabatowday
Simbiidhada qoobka
Qodaxda igu taagan
Qarooma xumaanta
Qormada degi weyday
Miyaan gulub qaylo
Xornimo u qalqaashay
Hashaan qummisteeda
Shallaad ugu qaaday
Miyaa qaran weyday
Halkay shalay qiiro
Qiyaas li’i daaqday
Dhulkii qoyanaaye
Qaboojiyey beerka
Miyaa qalal dhaafay
Beertayda qardowday
Cirkiina ka qaaday
Carrada laga quustay
Qarraadhay habaaska
Miyaa qalalaase
Ku beertay qabkayga
Qaxarka hiyigaygu
Afrika qulubkeega
Miyuu ku qalooday
Qooqaanida dooga
Barwaaqo qorshaynta
Waxaan ku qarwaayey
Sowtaa laga quustay
Afrika qirinqiirka
Sowtaa qaldhabaysa
Qiyaama haleelay
Qadaadaha weelka
Sowtaa qolqol meerka
La quuddaro oyday
Qaxooti wax mooday
Intaan qaaradayda
Qarsoomin dadkeedu
Qabuurta dushooda
Quruumo kaleeto
Hudheelo ka qaydan
Gabdhaa kula qooqin
Rabbow cirka qaadhay
Wanaag bal ka soo qub
Qabooji dadkaaga
Adaan qudradaada
Ka qiil suganaaye.(Qiiro,December 10, 1984)

So is this the destiny of the Somali people, one may ask? To which I could give a resounding NO; simply because as Somalis we are not less than other human beings in the world. In fact the Somali people are a very industrious race with great resilience. Their survival skills and entrepreneurship are proverbial. We are not also less patriotic than any other race in the world. On the contrary, one can argue that the root cause of the current debacle of the Somali people is patriotism went awry. They are the victims of their own nationhood and their legitimate dream and struggle to unite their race in one state and under one flag. An unlucky nation in hostile surroundings, they found themselves like a lone wolf in an unfriendly environment and a world dumb to their cries for justice.

As frustration breeds desperation and helplessness, it is natural in such a situation for brothers-in-arms to turn against one another and descend into a macabre condition of absurd proportions. The situation turns hellish also when the nature itself plays its hand.

No one can doubt also the hospitality and the generosity of the Somali people, a character that is deep-rooted in their nomadic culture. One thing we Somalis lack however is a sense of community and cultural cohesiveness. Just like our nomadic life when families moved together, settled together, fought together, died together and survived together in bloodlines, we still do the same and segregate ourselves in bloodlines even when we migrated to distant lands.

Visit any metropolitan in the world such as Nairobi, Dubai, Riyadh, London, Amsterdam, Melbourne, Ottawa, Minneapolis and Washington D.C and it will take you no time to find where your clan members gather. You may stay as long as you wish and unless you deliberately go out of your way to search for old classmates and old friends who may not be related to you by blood, you may end up not seeing any Somali per se but your own clan members. We do this while we see other African brothers such as Ethiopians, Sudanese, Kenyans and others making their own communities despite their differences in ethnicity, culture, religion and language.

If our brothers from the Horn of Africa can do, there is no reason why we cannot also do it. But only if we learn that our short term political differences and interests should not impede our long term goals to prosper and work together as a community. Only then we will be able to feel our collective pain, we will be able to lean on each other, and by pooling the few bucks that each one of us can afford we can make a difference. One can easily fall, but to rise needs an effort and sometimes a help and I am sure as Somalis in the Diaspora, we have the capacity and I am sure the desire to do it, if we appeal to our sense of community and put our political differences aside.

Being in every corner of the world, I am sure as Somalis we are today stronger and more resourceful than we have been at earlier times. All we need is an organized effort to lift the misery of our people back home with the help of the international community. The misery is not eternal and the day will come when the media of the world will talk about our fortunes to the world instead of our misfortunes. And as I sang about the suffering of our nation, I also sang about my dreams of good days to come. And come they will if we all adopt and internalize the passion and optimism that exudes from the following stanzas of the following poem Walbahaarku Wuu Tegi( the misery will go).

“…Dalkaygow wallaahiye
Warwarkiyo waxyeeladu
Cidna lama walaaloo
Qofna weerka dhiilada
Wehel looma siiyoo
Kuma waaro ciilkee
Waxad wayda haysaba
Waagii dhowaayoo
Walaacani ku haystiyo
Walbahaarku wuu tegi.
Wallee maalin dhow waqal
Weelka loo dareershiyo
War caloosha deeqoo
Gaajada badh wiiqoo
Wadnaha ii qaboojiyo
Weedh aan ku diirsado
London waayirkeegani
Waxyigii ilaahiyo
Wada dhalashadeeniyo
Waayaha ka weyneen
Weligii go’ayn iyo
Waadaantan gaaladu
Waddankii ku dhaafteen
Galabtii wadaagniyo
Waayeelka hirarkiyo
Ababshaha wardoonkiyo
BBCiisdu way werin…” (Walbahaarku Wuu Tegi, 1999)

N/B At times like this it may also be healing to listen to the sad mother’s lullaby “Ha iga ooyine aamu”

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Bin Laden’s death may end a painful era for the Muslim world
By Bashir Goth

Bin Laden is gone. He died as he wished to die, a martyr to some but to many others an evil incarnate who chose to live by the gun and surely died by the gun.

But the nagging question is will the world be any different? Not so soon. As the Somalis say: Ayax teg, eelna reeb (gone is the locust, but it has left behind a lasting breed). Bin Laden has left behind a proliferating breed of Al Qaeda affiliates in many parts of the world. Indeed the world may experience nasty reminders in the near future as his followers try to demonstrate their ability to avenge their leader’s death.

One may hope, however, that Bin Laden’s departure closes a dark and painful era of division and hostility between the west and the Muslim world. No one can deny that Bin Laden and his extremist ideology were responsible for the killing of tens of thousands of innocent people around the world. Bin Laden adherents killed thousands of Muslims in mosques, in shopping centers, in schools and orphanages, in hotels and in their own homes while sleeping or meeting around their dining tables. The U.S invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq might never have happened and tens of thousands of lives as well as the material wealth and cultural heritage of old civilizations might never have been destroyed without the existence of Bin Laden. Muslim communities in the West might never have experienced such unprecedented alienation and Islamophobia and Muslim youth born and bred in Western capitals might never have sought deliverance and martyrdom in mass killing and suicide bombings. Thousands of spin doctors, spontaneous pundits and security experts might never have earned big bucks in the industry of terrorism and the Arab news satellite Al Jazeera might never have grown into such an iconic yet idiosyncratic news channel without propagating Bin Laden’s poisonous messages.

It is arguably true that it might have been ideal to capture Bin Laden alive and bring him to face justice in a court of law, but did Bin Laden himself believe in an ideal world? Did he allowed justice for the thousands of people killed by his supporters and sympathizers or did he ever express any sympathy to the victims of his terrorist marauders?

There is no doubt that Bin Laden’s Rambo type killing by Americans would turn him into a martyr, but it is also true it would be very difficult for Al Qaeda to survive very long without the deep pockets and outreach of Bin Laden and without his charisma as a Buddha-like figure who was born into wealth and luxury and chose to lead a harsh life among the poor. Al Qaeda was a house built on sand and stood only due to the ingenuity of its engineer and with the departure of the engineer, it will eventually fall. Granted that the debris and the fall out will cause a lot of damage here and there, but once the dust settles down there would be no Bin Laden to erect it again.

It is also worth to remember that Bin Ladenism has long been buried by Arab youth inspired revolutions before the death of Bin Laden himself. And we hope that Al Shabab, the Al Qaeda offshoot in Somalia, would take heed, disband and ask forgiveness from the Somali people for the heinous atrocities they committed before it is too late.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

A tale of two Shabab movements: Egyptian and Somali

By Bashir Goth

As I watched the youth-driven upheavals that have awoken the comatose Arab people into action to reclaim their dignity and their freedom, I could not help but compare the situation of the Facebook empowered youth that spearheaded the Egyptian revolution with the Al Qaeda inspired Somali youth Al Shabab.
In the following paragraphs I will highlight the similarities and differences as well as the two movements’ national references, international appeal and historical significance.

At the outset one can see some similarities as both movements were born out of frustration, anger and humiliation; the Egyptians by years of dictatorship, unemployment and hopelessness and the Somalis by years of internecine and protracted civil war, warlords, foreign occupation, unemployment and hopelessness.
They were both equipped with youthful energy and enthusiasm to bring about change and both revolted against fossilized status quo and old people robbing them of their future and holding them back. Both wanted to have their voice heard and counted.

But one may ask if both movements were born out of despair and humiliation, why has one inspired and rallied the whole world behind it, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, and the other has alienated and infuriated the world, both Muslim and non-Muslim. Let us count the ways.

Different Approaches, Different Results

The Egyptians being more urbane, more educated and better connected to the world have taken a non-ideological, peaceful and sophisticated approach to civil unrest; a Gandhian type of civil disobedience. They have stunned the world with their mature behavior, their tolerance and macro vision of their demands as being like those of any other human beings. They rejected all kinds of division on religion, gender, ethnicity or clan. They based their cause on universal values of freedom of speech, good governance, jobs by merit and social justice.

They expressed their feelings in music, arts, graffiti and billboard slogans. They won the trust of their local communities by guarding suburbs, cultural institutions and banks. They prayed together despite their differences in religion, they danced together boys and girls, mothers and fathers, young and old people. They were all one people, Egyptians par excellence. And at the end the youth had cleaned up the mess they created during their campaign to prove that their revolution was to clean the country of all dirt and not to add more dirt to it.

On the contrary, the Somali Al Shabaab chose a brutal way. Their struggle was not driven by shared human values but by exclusionist, sectarianism, religious ideology. They proved to be less educated, less urbane and less humanist in their approach than their Egyptian counterparts. Al Shabab chose the gun and not the word as their tool of change even long after the Ethiopian forces, the raison d’ĂȘtre of their war, have left Somalia. They practiced brutal, inhumane atrocities that are reminiscent of the Spanish acquisition. They used coercion to subdue their own people. They alienated the youth by making music, dancing and all kinds of entertainment as punishable offence. They erected walls between genders. They forced women to be invisible and ordered them to disappear from the market where they used to earn the livelihood of their families; they shrouded them and even made wearing a bra a punishable offence. They separated women and men in public transport and in schools and made it impossible for boys and girls to socialize together or sit in one class together despite the scarcity of schools in Somalia.

While the Egyptian youth reached out and won the sympathy of the world through their perfection of the English language, the Somali Al Shabaab banned English language to be taught in schools, slamming it as the language of the infidel.

Whereas the Egyptian youth sought to win the support of the world media and international community, the Somali Al Shabaab shunned the international media as enemies of Islam and treated international organizations with derision and contempt, making it difficult for them even to help the poor and locally displaced people without paying heavy jizya to them.

The Egyptian youth’s revolution has recognizable human faces and names of dozens of media friendly young men and women who conveyed their message to the world as people with universal demands, jobs, accountable government and freedom of speech, with no ideological strings attached; while the Somali Al Shabaab is a faceless organization whose members are mostly masked as they are aware of the crimes they commit and they don’t want to be recognized. Their heinous crimes include severing limps, stoning girls and boys to death, beating women and men for socializing together or meeting for business. They also go around by false names that are alien to the Somali people.

The Egyptian Revolutionary youth are proud of their identity and they brag about waving the Egyptian flag for the whole world to see, while the Somali Al Shabab are ashamed of their identity and their national symbols. Instead of the Somali flag, they wave a black rag, a mourning symbol, a sign of death that is reminiscent of the pirate flags of the 19th century. The Egyptians are worldly, modern, nationalist and internationalist in their outlook. They embrace what is good of other cultures. The Somali Al Shabab is unworldly, antiquated, isolationist and revisionist in their outlook.

Different Role Models, Different Messages

The Egyptian youth-driven revolution shares similarities with revolutions that have changed the fate of humanity for the better such as the French Revolution, the American Revolutionary War and the revolutions for freedom in the former Soviet dominated Eastern European countries. On the national level they invoke the revolt of Ahmed Basha Orabi, the first Egyptian nationalist revolt against repression in 1882. It holds up Arab nationalism at the time of independence as its role model. The Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions took their legitimacy from the will of the people and inflamed the feelings of the elderly by chanting the nationalist lyrics and poetry that their fathers and forefathers chanted in their struggle against colonialism.

Al Shabab instead derives its legitimacy from medieval religious wars, the Spanish inquisition and in modern days from the damp, dark caves of Al Qaeda and Taliban. They echo the images of the Mogonlian barbarians and the marauding medieval hordes that destroyed the Roman Empire with the striking difference that Somali Al Shabaab has no empire to destroy and the only thing they managed to destroy is whatever remained of the soul, spirit, culture and pride of the war-weary Somali people. They do not want to take the Somali Youth League (SYL) that spearheaded the Somali struggle for independence as a role model. They dismiss them as a secular, sacrilegious movement. They even shy away from invoking the legacy of the Somali National hero Sayyid Mohamed Abdullah Hassan’s Dervish Movement which they see as heretic, sufistic and deviant school of Islam that does not agree with their puritanical and narrow interpretation of Islam’s holy scriptures. Even rekindling the people’s feelings through nationalist music is sacrilegious to them as they assume music in all its forms is an evil deviation from Gods’ path.

Whereas the Egyptian youth have united their people and rallied the support of the world through their refined behavior and humanitarian demands, the Somali Al Shabaab divided the people they intended to unite and shunned the sympathy of the outside world through their radicalized and religious-driven message of us against them.

Historical Significance

The Tunisian, Egyptian and other youth-led Arab revolutions won the hearts and minds of the world. Attracted by the civilized demonstrations of the Egyptians, the youth of the world had lent their support to the Egyptians in helping them to bypass the government’s blockade of the internet. The Egyptian and Tunisian youth have written golden pages in the history of their countries and have changed the world perception about the Arabs.

On the contrary, the Somali Al Shabab has written a dark page in the history of Somalia. It has tainted the identity, culture and dignity of the Somali people everywhere in the world, leaving behind a legacy of repression, darkness and fear in the psyche of the Somali people.

End of Extremism and Al Shabab

The revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world have stolen the thunder from Militant Islamism represented by Al Qaeda, Somali Al Shabaab and others. The death of Mohamed Bouazizi, the young Tunisian street vender that sparked Arab revolutions, had also toppled the wobbly house of extremism. The beleaguered people of the Muslim world have found a peaceful and civilized way to express their grievances and reclaim their rights without denigrating the great religion of Islam and without sending fearful and hollow religious slogans to the outside world. People have recognized their needs are basic and worldly and not grand and heavenly. Arab youth-driven revolutions have signed the death of Al Qaeda, Al Shabab and the much hyped argument of the Clash of Civilizations. Al Shabab will soon be in the dustbin of history but they should not be allowed to get away with the crimes they committed, the hundreds of people they maimed, killed and the millions of mothers and children they deprived of their livelihoods and made them to live in hell. They should face their fate in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

It is time that the educated, modern, cultured and nationalist Somali youth begin to restore the pride of the Somali nation. I know we have plenty of you who are better connected and pained by the plight of your people back home. All you need is to get a collective voice and it is about time that you should have it. You should not allow retired politicians and the cowardly Somali intellectuals who preferred to keep silent about Al Shabab’s crimes dictate your future. As I said it before in an appeal I addressed to the youth long before the Tunisian revolt and I repeat it again, your people are looking to you to salvage their once proud homeland by employing your brains, your pens and your laptops in building a proud new nation and not by wasting your time and energy in seeking to change men’s beards and women’s bras.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mr.Silaanyo’s boomerang trajectory with free speech
By Bashir Goth
As always; it has to start with gagging freedom of speech. Not bad governance and corruption and not even rampant ignorance, disease and poverty. It is the oppression of the freedom of speech that is the Mother of All Warnings that signals whether a regime is going down the slippery slope towards dictatorship or not. Just look at history and dictators who fell out of grace after many of them started their rise to power as champions of human liberty and used freedom of speech and freedom of the press as their Trojan horses.

The leaders who climb the reins of power on the back of the press are always those who hasten to silence it once they sit comfortably at the Presidential seat. The reason is not difficult to understand. As the saying goes you can fool all the people some of the sometime but you cannot fool all the people all of the time, and I have to add that you cannot particularly fool the press any length of time. Once the initial euphoria is over, the press quickly returns to business and starts to play its role as watchdog. But when the press finds faults and exposes it, it baffles the new leader who used to hear only words of praise when he was in the political wilderness. And in places where freedom of speech and freedom of press are not entrenched in the people’s culture before being enshrined in the constitution, any censure by the darling press will definitely invoke the leader’s rage. It is amazing how quickly these leaders forget their own words and their ennobling of the role of free press and free speech.

It may be that President Ahmed Mohamed Silaanyo and his Interior Minister have not yet reached that stage, but no doubt the incarceration of the editor of Waaheen Newspaper, Mr. Maxamuud Cabdi Jaamac (Xuuto), by the government of President Mohamed Ahmed Silaanyo for publishing material that is already in the public domain and the imprisonment of a prominent elder, Boqor Raabi, for criticizing the government does not sit well with Mr. Silaanyo’s previous positions on free speech when he was in the opposition.

In denouncing the incarceration of the journalist, all I would do is to entangle Mr. Silaanyo and his Interior Minister with their own words. Commenting on the imprisonment of Haatuf reporters by Rayale Government in 2007, Mr. Silaanyo, as an opposition leader, described it as “a disgrace to our democratic process, our humanity and our nationhood…” Below are excerpts of Mr. Silanyo’s grand and applaudable statement in condemning Rayale’s record on freedom of press and freedom of speech:

“…Ugu horrayna waxa uu ka hadlay xadhigga Suxufiyiinta wargeyska Haatuf, kaas oo uu ku tilmaamay mid xaqdarro iyo dulmi ah. Waxana uu sheegay in cabudhinta noocan ah oo hore u dhici jirtey uu xadhiggani yahay mid si cad u xaqiijinaya mawqifka xukuumadda Madaxweyne Riyaale ka taagan yahay madax bannaanida saxaafadda, xorriyatul-qawlka iyo xuquuqda aasaasiga ah ee dadka.

“Taas [xadhiggaas] oo aan hubo inay ceeb weyn maanta ku tahay geeddi-socodka dimoqraadiyadda iyo dadnimadeenna iyo qaranimadeennaba,” ayuu yidhi Axmed Siilaanyo.
Waxana uu raaciyey isaga oo sharraxaya sida xadhigga suxufiyiinta Haatuf u waxyeelanayso Somaliland, “Innaga oo maanta higsanayna oo dunida u bandhigayna oo ku faanayna inaynu nahay qaran madax bannaan oo doonaya dunidu inay ictiraafto oo doonaya dunida inuu u bandhigo wax aynu qabsanay, geeddi socodka dimoqraadiyadda, xurmaynta aynu xurmaynayno sharafta uu qofku leeyahay, madax bannaanida saxaafadda, xorriyatulqawlka, sharciyadda, distoorka, inaynu maanta tallaabooyin caynkaas oo kale ah qaadno waxaan u arkaa inay aad iyo aad ay inoo waxyeelaynayso indhaha caalamka”.

Waxa uu xusay in xadhigga suxufiyiinta Haatuf uu cambaareeyey ururka caalamiga ah ee Amnesty International. Waxa kale oo uu sheegay in Madaxweynihii hore ee Maraykanka, Madaxweyne Jimmy Charter uu u soo diray Somaliland warqad uu ku cambaaraynayo xadhiga suxufiyiinta Haatuf, kuna baaqay in xorriyadooda loo soo celiyo suxufiyiintaas.

“Waxa kale oo ka mid ah arrimaha noocaas oo kale ah, xurmo darrida lagula kacayo dadkan acyaantiisii iyo waxgaradkiisii iyo salaaddiintiisii iyo ummaddiisii intii qiimaha lahayd,”ayuu raaciyey Axmed Siilaanyo. Waxana uu xusay xadhiggii lagula kacay Suldaan Cismaan Suldaan Cali Madar iyo xubno kale oo laga soo xidhay magaalada Burco iyo sidoo kale, markab shidaal ganacsi ah u sidey Shirkadda Alxarbi oo loo diidey inuu ku soo xidho dekedda Berbera.
Waxyaabahaas oo dhami waxay wada muujinayaan dhammaantood dalku maanta halka uu marayo iyo halka aynu higsanayno ee qaranimada aynu ka raadinaynaa in aanay wax isleh ahayn,”. ayuu yidhi

In a similar but stronger tone, Silanyo’s current Interior Minister Dr. Maxamed Cabdi Gaboose, lashed out rightly at the incarceration of Haatuf journalists at the time when he was in the opposition. One may not believe that Dr. Gaboose, today’s strong Interior Minister, is the same man who lectured to Rayale’s government about the vital role of free press which he described as a seeker of truth. A truth which he said carried with it “bitter and sweet taste.” In a glowing statement peppered with wisdoms and anecdotes, Dr. Gaboose had even related a hilarious story about a president who complained to his own father about the criticism of the press to him. The father responded by collecting all the newspapers that criticized his son for a number of days, put them in a pile and then called his son, the president, and told him to stand on the pile. Once he stepped down, the father asked him whether he felt taller when he was on top of the newspaper pile than when he stepped down. And when the son replied that he naturally felt taller when he was on top of the pile, his father told him: “This is how you would feel if you win the newspapers to your side by taking heed of their criticism and correcting your wrongs.” Below is Dr.Gaboose’s words and it will be worth to read the whole statement to the end:

"Xukunka Madaxweyne Rayaale isagoo leh saansaantii Keli-talisnimada ayuu si badheedh ah horay ugu curyaamiyey hay’adihii qaranka ee loogu talagalay inay iskaabaan, isna ilaaliyaan, haddana wuxuu u soo jeestey in la cabudhiyo saxaafadda, iyadoo dhirbaaxada Haatuf looga dhan leeyahay inay inta kale ku quustaan.

"Saxaafadda xorta ah waxa loogu talagalay inay kaalin libaax ka qaadato horumarka dalka, iyadoo dadweynaha u sheegtay RUNTA (Dhaqan, dhaqaale, siyaasad, cilmiyeed) ee ka jirta dalka gudihiisa iyo dibaddiisaba: - Runtu iyadaa ah Macaan iyo Qadhaadh meel ku wada yaalla."

Reading the good values and the statesmanship that both men had shown in their previous praiseworthy statements which they said long before they took the reins of power, one might not help but remember the words of Herbert Hoover, a former U.S. President, who said: “It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own.”

I know it may not yet be fair to brand them with that title, but one may suffice to say that power corrupts and corrupts absolutely. However, if Mr. Silaanyo and his Interior Minister refuse to free the Editor of Waaheen and Boqor Raabi, and if they continue oppressing and stifling freedom of speech and freedom of the press, then one cannot help but fear that Silaanyo’s government may just be going down the famous path that we all know very well. And this would indeed be a sad trajectory for a government elected on a popular vote and rode to power on the back of the free press.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Somaliland: An alleged sexual deviant gets his day in court

By Bashir Goth

A court in Somaliland has found a German man guilty of making pornographic films of Somali women and has given him a four- year prison sentence and US$10,000 fine. This news story may raise some eyebrows or even evoke disdain from people who would dismiss the case as another botched trial from another infidel-obsessed Islamic country.

But wait a minute! Mr. Gunter Bischoss, 72, who lived in the region since 1993 and is married to a local woman, is indeed a lucky man because in some other parts of Somalia ruled by the rogue Al Shabab forces, Mr. Bischoss would not have had his day in court. There people are beheaded, limbs amputated and mothers and adolescent girls flogged and executed in public on decisions made in extrajudicial bogus trials presided by fanatically ignorant young thugs. There one doesn’t have to commit a crime to be subjected to such brutal treatment. Women are pulled out of public transport and flogged in public for wearing bras or not dressed in Al-Shabab ordained Islamic black robes; girls are stoned to death for talking to their male neighbors, radio broadcasters are slaughtered for playing Somali music on their radio stations; and even religious worshippers are killed for blasphemy simply because they don’t adhere to the Al-Shabab endorsed narrow interpretation of Islam. So if Al Shabab treats Somali people who are mostly practicing Muslims in this manner, it is anyone’s guess what fate would have been waiting for a foreigner like Mr. Bischoss.

But not in Somaliland! A territory of the Somali peninsula where the rule of law works, where an elected and stable government has prevailed for many years, where people look up to the courts for delivering justice, where the foreigner has even more rights than that of a citizen, and where Mr. Bischoss had his day in court.

In delivering the sentence decision, Judge Abdirashid Mohamed Mohamoud was quoted to have said that Mr. Bischoss was found guilty of committing crimes against religious ethics and morality by shooting pornographic movies and pictures with women from Somaliland. He pronounced his judgment like he would in any other criminal case committed by any local person. There was no commotion, no religious chanting, no xenophobia and no firebrand mullahs inciting people to take to the streets with anti-Western slogans or demanding death for Mr. Bischoss and his local accomplice, a woman who allegedly appeared in his pornography videos. She was also given one year prison sentence and some fine. No flogging, no stoning and no amputation. The prisoners’ full rights and full dignities were upheld during the trial. This was not lost on Mr. Bischoss himself who shouted to the reporters from the dock after hearing the judgment that: "The evidence in this case has been exaggerated and I will appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court."

Living almost 17 years in the country and being married to a local woman, Mr. Bischoss knew that he was in good hands; that Somaliland is not Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan or any other part of other mob-ruled countries. He knew that he had the right for an appeal and that he may even have the chance that the decision may be reversed by the same court or by the upper court if new facts come to light.

If anything, the words of Mr. Bischoss bring home the truth that the international community chooses to ignore; that Somaliland is a decent country, with decent laws and decent people that is struggling to live within the norms and values of the international community. A country that is crying to be heard and given the respect and the recognition it deserves for its accomplishments; a country that is astonishingly watching how the world flocks to Southern Sudan while its yearning for having its place among the civilized world is ignored.