Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Africa’s democracy outgrows foreign preaching by Bashir Goth, Special to Gulf News

Kenyan polls is the first time that an African court invalidated the vote won by a sitting president based on the merits of the constitution and election law

Gulf News, 13 Sept. 2017--1For as long as anyone can remember, it has been the western world dictating the norms of democracy to Africa and the rest of the world. No matter the efforts by these countries, the West’s imposing standards of democracy were nearly impossible to achieve. Especially when those standards required witnesses and results endorsed by international observers. But not anymore.

Watching Chief Justice David Maraga’s powerful opening statement during his announcement of the Supreme Court’s historic decision to invalidate the Kenyan presidential elections held on August 8 and his call for fresh elections in 60 days, I could not help but recall the words of one of Africa’s independence icons and Cold War martyrs Patrice Lumumba.

In a letter from his prison cell to his son and by extension to Africa’s future generations, Lumumba said: “The day will come when history will speak. But it will not be the history which will be taught in Brussels, Paris, Washington or the United Nations. It will be the history which will be taught in the countries which have won freedom from colonialism and its puppets. Africa will write its own history and in both north and south it will be a history of glory and dignity.”

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The Artisan Grace - Poem about the Somali Gabooye by Bashir Goth

The following excerpt which I use as an introduction to the poem is from an article I wrote in 2007 about the status of the Gabooye community among the Somali people.

"They have no voice among us and no political representation. And if anyone of them dares to protest, we easily silence them by invoking the M-word. This makes every Somali around them flee and avoid them like a plague. Even in the national charter of the current Somali Transitional Federal Government they are nameless although they have taken a little better status by being referred to as the 'others' among small but respected Somali clans. This is the closest they have ever come to share a status albeit an insignificant one with other clans." (Link)


Take a look, brother, a full look at me
An eyeful of the whole of me
Poke my skin hard, and pinch it if you will
Cut my flesh, deep into the blood and bone
Until I cry for I am not made of stone.

Can you see now?
That I shudder in pain?
Can you see my blood,
As red, as fresh as yours?
Can you see my bones,
And the marrow in plain?

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Africa’s Singapore is slowly taking shape by Bashir Goth, Special to Gulf News

Published: 17:00 July 22, 201

Djibouti does not frequently feature in the headlines, but the leader of the tiny country in the Horn of Africa and his international partners recently touted this state of rock mountains, and extremely hot weather as the new Dubai, the Shekou of East Africa, and the rising African Singapore.

If it sounds difficult to imagine such a glowing future for a country which the Associated Press once dismissed as a place devoid of resources “except for sand, salt, and 20,000 camels”, think for a moment of the state of the Arabian Gulf metropolises in the early 60s which would in a mere 30 years transform from impoverished pearling villages into Arabian Manhattans. Djibouti is poised to transform in much the same way in a fraction of the time, if it takes advantage of this moment of opportunity.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Why mainstream media failed to read people's hearts by Bashir Goth | Gulf News

What once was considered as conversation behind closed doors is now discussed in public, while civility and decency are trashed, and truth sacrificed at the altar of competition for profit and rating

Monday, May 08, 2017

Is the London Somalia Conference 2017 another imperialist deja vu? By Bashir Goth | Special to Gulf News

Somalis see no reason to trust this week’s conference in London after similar initiatives in the past did little to address the core issues

Published: 19:45 May 8, 2017  

In a deja vu situation that does not excite many Somalis, the United Kingdom announced that it will host a major international conference in London on Thursday, “to accelerate progress on security sector reform and agree the new international partnership needed to keep Somalia on course for increased peace and prosperity by 2020”.

It was in 2012 when the first London Conference on Somalia was held with the declared intention of helping Somalia to transform from a failed state to a stable nation with functioning government institutions. Somalia’s partners pledged millions of dollars for the beleaguered country’s reconstruction, including $77 million (Dh283.2 million) earmarked for rebuilding Somalia’s security forces. A year later, the European Union (EU) also pledged $2.4 billion at a conference in Brussels to enable the conflict-ridden Horn of African nation to stand on its feet.

At the time, the stubborn extremist group, Al Shabab, was quoted to have branded the EU pledges as “Belgian Waffles: Sweet on the outside, but really has not much substance to it”. They also predicted that the funds would remain an unpaid hollow promise or would be lost in corruption.


Friday, April 07, 2017

Did Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand rescue Somali drought victims? By Bashir Goth | Special to Gulf News

When disaster hits somewhere in the developing world, the conventional wisdom is to look to international humanitarian organisations for assistance. But not anymore. Not if one takes the recent drought that devastated Somalia as any indication. Instead of the humanitarian organisations, it was the Somali Diaspora remittance and modern mobile money transfer technology that teamed up to provide urgently needed relief aid to the tens of thousands of nomadic people that lost their livelihoods.

In a scenario that is reminiscent of Adam Smith’s metaphor of the “Invisible Hand” which explains how free market dynamics make things happen for the greater good of society, the victims of Somalia’s recent drought saw that Invisible Hand come to their rescue through ZAAD, the mobile money transfer service, provided by the local telecommunications company, Telesom.

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Friday, March 31, 2017

Maanso: Khali Duur

Maansada soo socota "Khali Duur" waxay soo baxday 1999 waxay ka hadlaysaa xaalka Soomalidu markaa ku jirtay welina ku jirto. Hoos ka dhegeyso

Khali Duur

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Somalia: A country devastated by drought, famine and conflict By Bashir Goth | Special to Gulf News

Failing to help imperils world peace and security as extremist groups will use the suffering of the people to their advantage by attracting unemployed youth to their ranks.

We often hear the platitude “water is precious” while we carry around bottles of water we can drink anytime. We bathe with it several times a day, wash our cars with it, flood our lawns and gardens with gallons of it, and waste it in every conceivable way. On rare occasions, when we wake up in the morning and we don’t find readily available water in the faucet we go crazy, frantic that we can’t brush our teeth, wash our faces, or flush our toilets for a single morning. Now, imagine, just a sip, stands between you and death, and there isn’t any to be found.

This is exactly what is happening now in Somalia where according to the United Nations more than 6.2 million people face famine and starvation due to food insecurity caused by poor rainfall and lack of clean water.
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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Somalis embrace new president as a sign of hope by Bashir Goth | Special to Gulf News

People expect Farmajo to take the nation back to the days when it was cited as an example of democracy and good governance in Africa

A new president took over the reigns of power in Somalia on February 8 after a resounding victory over his predecessor through an election in which votes were on sale for the highest bidder and millions of dollars changed hands in a country where more than 73 per cent of people live under $2 (Dh7.35) per day according to a World Food Programme report in June 2015.

Despite this monumental corruption, which the New York Times described as a ‘Milestone of Corruption’, Somali people have celebrated around the world as 311-member clan-picked lawmakers elected the new Somali president at an airport hanger protected by African peacekeeping forces. The new President, Mohammad Abdullahi Farmajo, who had worked as prime minister from November 2010 to June 2011, comes at a very critical time of the country’s political situation. He defeated his closest contestants, the outgoing president Hassan Shaikh Mahmoud, who was in office since 2012, and Shaikh Sharif Shaikh Ahmad, who held the office from 2009 to 2012, from a list of 24 candidates.
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Friday, February 10, 2017

An open letter to Somalia’s newly elected President, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo by Bashir Goth

Mr. President,

When I address you as Mr. President I don’t say it lightly. I feel the weight that every letter of it carries. And I am sure you feel it too. Not only as an honor that the Somali people have bestowed upon you but as a heavy responsibility that has been entrusted to you.

Mr. President, the Somali people were ecstatic about your election. Somalis at home and everywhere in the world jumped to their feet with happiness when you were declared the winner of the election. Somali youth flooded the social media with their excitement. Mothers expressed their delight with poetry. The excitement was overwhelming. Even people in breakaway Somaliland didn’t want to be left behind. Their proverbial patriotism kicked off and many of them have unequivocally voiced their enjoyment for the wind of change coming from Mogadishu.

Let me first join the people and congratulate you on your historic victory.

The question, however, that comes to mind Mr. President is whether you would seize the moment and reflect on why the people give you such unqualified support and unreserved trust without even testing you. Will you understand the awe and fear that comes with the burden that such enormous hope puts on your shoulders?

I hope you do Mr. President, but amid the jubilation and celebrations, let me try in my humble way to put this into perspective and to remind you of the issues at stake once the dust of jubilation settles down and the real test of your leadership begins.

Mr. President, as Professor Abdi Samatar said in his moving speech before the parliament on the eve of the Presidential election. The Somali nation fell from being a beacon of hope and democracy in Africa to a shamefully failed state. After 26 years of long night, of shame, of disrespect and of nearly losing our sovereignty and our territorial integrity, the people were looking for leader that would bring back Somali decisions to Somali hands after neighboring countries played with the fate of the nation for many years.

There were occasions over this long period, when Somali people experienced glimpses of hope which immediately disappeared and left them in despair. In 2000, Abdiqasim Salad Hassan received a hero’s welcome in Mogadishu. People saw hope and celebrated but the expectations were soon dissipated and the nightmare returned in earnest. So beware. In 2006, the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), defeated the notorious warlords and drove them out of Mogadishu and for the first time they opened the capital’s airport and port for commercial operations. People saw hope but soon this vanished too. So beware.

In 2009, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed returned to a warm welcome in Mogadishu after the Ethiopian occupying army withdrew from the capital. People saw hope and to his credit Sheikh Sharif made some progress in removing Al Shabab from the capital, in starting to build the Somali military but the great hope invested in him was not realized. This was followed by Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud whose election was seen by many people as a remarkable beginning for a positive change but only to end up as farce. So beware.

Mr. President, when they see hope, Somali people are generous with their emotions and expression of love. We have seen it at the time of independence and unification of the country in 1960, we have seen it again when the military overthrew the corrupt and chaotic civilian government and announced the beginning of an age of accountability, rule of law and competence. The Somali people saw it as a new dawn and sang: “Waa baa beryey, bilicsan…”. The military regime not only squandered the trust of the people, but it threw us into the abyss in which we are today. So beware.

Once more today, Mr. President, the Somali people see hope in you. They are fed up with being cited as an example of internecine fratricide, of lawlessness, of extremism, of piracy, or ignorance and of corruption to the point that the New York Times described the latest Somali presidential election in which you have won as a milestone of corruption. The Somali people are sick and tired of seeing their fate decided by neighboring countries, of their political leaders genuflecting to the whims of foreign leaders and measuring their success by their degree of servitude to their bosses in Addis Ababa and Nairobi. They are fed up with belonging to a country that even its physical existence as a sovereign state is at stake let alone a member of the international community.

So you see, Mr. President, the jubilation of the Somali people on your election is nothing else but hope. Hope first, hope second and hope last. They yearned for change after Hassan Sheikh and his corrupt regime pushed them deeper and deeper into the dungeons of corruption and indignity.
Your responsibility is therefore as enormous as the hope people have invested in you. Everyone knows the difficult situation you inherited from the previous government. Al Shabab is still a threat, you and your government will still owe your protection to AMISOM and other foreign troops, the fact that the venue in which you were elected was at the airport with the protection of AMISOM forces and that generals from neighboring countries were publicly trying to intervene in the decision making process and sometimes threatening Parliamentarians to vote for their country’s favorite candidate is a proof that we are not a free nation anymore.

With all these issues at stake, the Somali people have great expectations of your leadership. For a long time they were looking for a hero, and all of a sudden you appeared on the horizon. And they applauded you. The burden is enormous Mr. President, but rest assured the people don’t expect miracles from you. All they want from you is to set an example. To be an example for honesty, a commitment for accountability, for good governance, for genuine efforts to set a momentum for building state institutions, and striving to achieve a certain level of fairness for all. The real test to this will be how you choose your Prime Minister. Whether you would be brave enough to break the wall of duopoly to borrow Prof. Ahmed Samatar’s description of the unholy power alliance in Mogadishu or you would go down the same old road.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “The institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.” So if you could be that man in being honest, in setting a vision, in lifting the people’s morale both in your words and actions and in being always mindful of the great hope and trust the people have invested in you, then the people will be generous enough to understand your failures. With the few statements you delivered thus far, you have shown Mr. President that you are not a man blessed with a gift of oratory but you can compensate that with being a man of action.

Seize the moment Mr. President, the people desire to see you as a President whose decision doesn’t come from Addis Ababa, Nairobi or elsewhere. This is the people’s first and foremost hope of your government. We need our sovereignty back. If you score high on this issue, you will break new ground as a new breed of leadership. Otherwise, as Karl Marx said: “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce”. We have already seen the tragedy many times but if you fail the people’s aspirations Mr. President then your legacy will be history repeated in farce. So beware.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A wish for a less absolutist world by Bashir Goth | Special to Gulf News

In the age of the internet, we seem to have lost touch with civility and good judgement

As we enter 2017, we face a world tormented by absolutism. A world dominated by black-and-white attitudes, where opposing political and ideological sides dig their heels deeper and deeper in their trenches. The narrative of politics, culture and social media everywhere seems to follow the old American idiom of “my way or the highway”.

You are either an alt-right or a liberal, a troll or a critic, a racist or a gutless global citizen, a climate change advocate or a die-hard sceptic, a Brexit supporter or a continental European, a fear-mongering xenophobic conservative or an unpatriotic destroyer of national identity, a native or an immigrant, a greedy accumulator of wealth or a heavy parasite, an elite egg-head or a deplorable ignorant, a zealot pessimist or irredeemable optimist, an untrustworthy crook or a pathological liar, a terrorist or racial hatemonger, a freedom fighter or a radical sectarian.
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