By: Mohammed A. Ali Baranbaro
Somalilandsun – This sort of article is an oddity for this organization because normally we chose to focus on more pertinent issues that strengthen the bedrock Institutions Somaliland needs to augment in order to sustain itself; a strong and ‘living’ Constitution, independent and ethical Judiciary and Media. We also campaign for Somaliland’s recognition through media correspondence and back door lobbying.
But if one has been an observer of our nation’s slow but progressive political and emotional decline, one could not be blamed for seeking treatment for a sudden bout of depression.
Persistent nuisances detrimental to Somaliland can no longer be ignored. The ‘silent majority’ of Somalilanders can no longer afford to be oblivious to these problems as this young and struggling Republic becomes unhinged. A ‘vocal minority’ who isn’t accountable to anyone dominates the discourse. They are mainly in political parties (politicians), media and are tribal warriors who are more concerned about their placement in our society than that of the nation.
They show no urgency for the immediate needs of the people and lack decorum by showing no restraint. As a consequence peoples divisions harden, the enemy list grows and tribalism is brought to the forefront without shame or contrition. And Somaliland media enables and perpetuates this tit for tat thus the spread of frivolous stories about individuals and groups that have no relevance to Somaliland’s development.
These three entities aren’t some unseen or ghostly like presence that come out of their shells in the dark of night to destroy our nation. We know the enemy, we have seen the enemy and the enemy is us!
Political Parties (politicians);
Generally politicians do what they need to do for their political survival. No more. No less. If those who support them aren’t demanding that they appeal to what’s best about people, why would they change? Why elevate the discourse? This constant trivial political pursuit and the daily battle for the never-ending election cycle have taken a psychological toll and almost everything else has taken a back seat. This is evidenced by the helplessness if not the malaise people feel. Politicians are simply a reflection of their society and until and unless that society demands better of itself, nothing will change.
It would be naïve to suggest that with the snap of two fingers tribalism should end in our homeland. But it isn’t naïve to suggest that we must begin somewhere! Every one of us believes ‘qabiil’ is someone else’s problem; it’s not them or their family or friends who are contributing to this dilemma. If this is the case then who are the ‘others’ we always blame? Self-reflection and criticism have never been a strong human trait but we have taken this to another level and in the meantime Somaliland loses.
An independent media is one of the core principals of a developing nation. That independence exists to a certain extent. Unfortunately we have misused that right. To be fair, the media has generally done great work in bringing attention to the plight of our people and their immediate needs. Our intent is not to slight them in any way nor is it to challenge an individual’s right to free expression or the medias right to publish what they deem appropriate. But what happened to showing restraint and looking at the bigger picture? Or does the need to steer more web traffic or attract more readership to one’s publication outweigh the greater good? It has become, willfully or not, a conveyance for sensationalism in which tribalism, division and hatred are spread conveniently. Slandering and destroying peoples’ reputations through accusations and innuendos must cease.
In this regard, the media could show restraint and leadership. Our intent, therefore preference, is to encourage them to filter through the noise and set a high standard.
We were once asked by Independent Diplomat (ID is a non-profit organization that gives advice and assistance in diplomatic strategy and technique to governments and political groups) why for such a small (population) group of people we always seem at odds since our nation is in dire straits? When we asked how they came to that opinion; the simple answer was researching and observing the people of Somaliland, their politics and media. That kind of response should be considered catastrophic to our cause.
Our purpose here is to awaken our senses and encourage all of us to not only self-reflect but to stop digging ourselves deeper into oblivion. It makes us feel better and righteous to blame a President or someone else, for that matter, for our problems. It won’t make a difference who we elect until we (individuals) change.
The first thing alcoholics must do once they realize they have a problem is to utter – out loud – to themselves and others that they are alcoholics. Our assumption – and more so to the point -is that this is done in order to get through the impenetrable human skull.
We find ourselves at a crossroads. Any more time we spend on trivial matters is time stolen from getting clean water to a mother and her children. Any more time spent on which Minister was fired from what job, is time stolen from building a hospital. Any more time spent on which political party is up or down, is time stolen from building schools and fixing our justice system so people aren’t treated unjustly by their own politicians.
We pray Allah help and show us the true path.
Mohammed A. Ali Baranbaro
Chair: Somaliland American Guild
Somaliland American Guild was established in 2004 and is dedicated to the institutional development of Somaliland. Our aim is to lobby for her recognition and for the fair treatment of the people of Somaliland.