The indispensable need for Somali youth groups to form a united front

by Gulled Ali

Roman Civil Wars, English Civil War, American Civil War, Russian Civil War, French Wars of Religion, Finnish Civil War, The North-West Rebellion in Canada, Irish Civil War, Argentine Civil Wars, Spanish Civil War. Selangor Civil War (that would be in Malaysia), Rwandan Civil War, Nigerian Civil War, Chinese Civil War, you get the picture right, and the list goes on.

Apart from the tragedies that come with the sort of civil unrest and armed conflicts most of these distinct nation states have had to go through, their stories, nevertheless, stand as a testament of an eternal truth that no one country, no matter the severity of its polarized politics and/or often destructive policies, is destined to remain in rupture.

As a matter of fact it offers the kind of encouragement and confidence that asserts the ability of any country regardless of their background or troubled circumstances to march, as is evident in these realities, not only to social progress but also political stability and massive economic development.

As I was putting the content of this piece in order, I tried my very best to steer away from and not address (albeit arguably important) the myriad issues eating Somalia’s heart out because, for one, the perception of what is true or otherwise is relative and second it might well be redundant repeating what is already obvious nor had my intention been to present a narrative in which I paint an image depicting Somalia as the victim of a regional and international conspiracy because the reality of it is, that might well be the case too.

The primary focus of this paper, rather, is on the promising future I believe Somalia is set for and the pivotal role of its youth in driving the country forward. But in order for real change to take place, we have to be liberal in our individual understandings of the underlying issues as well as pragmatic in our collective approaches to countering the many obstacles ahead.

The truth of the matter is, the Somalia we see today has become the prey of an atrocious world order designed to reap benefit for a cohort of powerful nations and in which states deemed fragile and disabled are expected to dance to the tunes of a very privileged few. It is imperative, therefore, that the youth fully understand how real the attempts on our country are as well as the unprecedented nature of the countless challenges advancing in from multiple fronts and taking on various forms.

Now, I am fully aware that I’d excused myself in my earlier statement (refer to the fourth paragraph) from not wanting to portray Somalia as a victim of systemic manipulation but to put things into perspective allow me to say a word or two that it really actually is. But how? One might wonder.

Through the meddling of international players into its internal issues by trying to impose foreign (alien is the right word) engineered solutions as a remedy for what primarily is a domestic problem, Somalia is a victim. In consequence of its nascent institutions and weak leadership and its vulnerability to pressures from special interest groups and stronger economies trying to further their own agendas and national interests at the expense of our own, Somalia is a victim.

Or the colonial era like divide and rule tactics devised time and again by regional powers to deter the horn of Africa nation from being fully functional considering its ambitions and capabilities once it will have fully stood on its feet, Somalia is indeed a victim. But nothing victimizes Somalia more than the complacency and lack of foresight on the part of our so called political elite

Now contrary to popular belief and much to the dismay of the majority of Somalis, it’s neither ignorance nor the identifying with one’s own tribe that is creating issues for Somalia. The former simply is a misplaced argument. Given the fact that our multiple presidents (you do know we have more than one president now right!) hold degrees ranging from law to finance to economics all the way to history, lack of knowledge is no issue.

And the latter, well let’s just say there is no way around it. Most of us are of the belief that tribe and Somalism can’t go hand in hand. Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Clan identification/affiliation, just as stated in the Quran, serves as a venue for not only getting to know each other but also for understanding one another. Think of it as mass, your brain most likely weighs about 500 grams while three bags of sugar weigh about 1500 grams. The fact that you’re more appreciative of your brain doesn’t necessarily mean that the concept of mass is of no use.

So wait, if ignorance and clan associations aren’t the problem, you wonder, then what is? And if so, what is the ticket out of this (our) mess? The major complication, in my own humble opinion, facing Somalia today is the lack of political input resulting from youth withdrawal and the solution, at least part of the solution is youth engagement. I fully acknowledge that this sounds too simplified but it is the only shot we have at this. After all, this class of elite currently in power has given us nothing, and I mean literally nothing but false hopes and broken promises. It is time we took upon ourselves to make sure that our children and the generations to come after them are neither labelled state less nor have to suffer the same fate of humility and crisis of identity as most of us currently are. This requires unity especially among Somali youth.

I have been delighted to have come across, for the past couple of years, a wide array of initiatives spearheaded by young Somali adults and it has been more than fulfilling. While such efforts to effect positive change on a grassroots level are indeed of paramount importance, the lack of coordination in their game plan seems alarming and to a certain extent, I am afraid, destructive. One might plead unity of vision but difference in design. I respond unity in purpose and coherence in approach is what the youth needs today if we’re ever going to make tangible positive change.

That is why I call on all members of the many Somali youth groups and any youth out there aspiring to help change Somalia for the better to establish a united platform where we can build a concerted youth effort to address, collectively, issues of existential nature to our nation that have for so long been left to the mercy of an elite group of profiteers. As the future inheritors of this country, we must stand reminded that we are not only in war with external forces but also in confrontation with our own incompetent leadership.

Let’s do this.

Gulled Ali
[email protected]

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