Some twenty years ago, we proposed the idea of establishing a local university in Awdal region, at a time when such thinking of such a project, let alone proposing it, was seen as some kind of lunacy. Overtime, we were able to build on the idea and turned the concept into a practical reality some 14 years ago, when we established Amoud University as the first community owned university in the world.
At the time, we had many people who opposed it and many who really and genuinely thought that this project would not work or would fail. We proved them all wrong with the help of the Al Mighty.
Today it enjoys over ten schools involving medical schools, education, engineering, business, agriculture, law, information technology and others. Not only did it develop to the satisfaction of the founders and the supporters of the project, but it also rekindled the Somali passion for education and knowledge and soon it was copied throughout the Somali inhabited lands of the Horn of Africa.
Any new idea or venture has always its detractors. At times, there would be those who would oppose it all the way, simply because this is the way they act or think. We call them the “Nay Sayers”, even if you are giving them honey. One should not, therefore, be surprised, when one hears about, reads about or sees those who are opposing the Dilla-Borama-Amoud road under construction.
There are those who oppose the road construction because they have some personal grudges or interest and there are those who oppose the project, because they are unable or unwilling to contribute to its development and there are those who have political motivations and there are the sheep who just follow someone who they would follow any way even if he/she was taking them to hell. There is one other category, which is those who oppose the messenger, just simply because he or she is the messenger. In this case, we are not talking about a religious messenger but the management of the road construction project.
Whatever the motive, we understand and we have no grudges against them for we know they know not. We know that there are those with whom we never really see eye to eye and that is natural. We must, however, all agree on one thing and that is the development of our country will always be our responsibility and our responsibility only and not some one else. We shall always be divided into those who would something about our development and those who would not raise a finger, waiting for someone else to initiate and do the doings. We also know that there would always be those who would be doing the talking, good or bad. This is life and life must go on.
For those who genuinely think that this project, like they thought of Amoud University project, might not really work or fail, we must note that any new project has some element of freakness about it. Only those who challenge the status quo change things and those among us who are carrying out the road construction project are a perfect example of those who say, “We can change our situation by ourselves”.
What we want to say to those who have misgivings about the road or the project is that you are trying to walk between raindrops. You cannot, because the project is a reality and it will be completed in sha Allah with His grace in the not too distant future and our travelers, guests and visitors, our sick and our women and children and our elderly and our students will travel easier than through that very rough and scaly and stony road that we have today.
Development and growth of our economy, our country and our people is in our own hands and not in the hands of others. It certainly is not in Europe or Asia or Arabia or the Americas and not even in our government. It is in our people and when our people decide to improve their lot, they would do so and the road project is another perfect example of that.
The road to development, and not the road between Borama and Dilla, is long and hard and would go beyond the current road construction. It would involve developing a viable economic base where our children and future generations would be comfortable with and not run away from, to far away lands as is the case today. We would have to develop our industrial base, our tourist industry, our health infrastructure, our agriculture, our information technology and our general business and how to become a competitor in the international trade.
What I noticed in some of the writings in some of the websites was some unease with the contractors carrying out the project. Chauvinism never takes any one anywhere, one must note. Fear and insecurity also do not build nations and people. Our identity and our ability is not eroded by handing the job to another capable Somali brother from another region. Nations contract with other countries, let alone one from the same country. We do not see all the brouhaha on why an Adali was not given the job. It is discomfiting to see these shallow feelings in some of our people. Even if there were some underhand dealings and we do not believe there were, so what, as long as the road is being built. The road is the goal and nothing else; and should we develop our economy the way we should, we would, in sha Allah, have some capable Adalis doing similar and bigger jobs in the country.
What has kept the Somali people behind for so long is this animalistic tribal instinct. We should not fall into that trap. Aid and helping hands will also never meet our needs, and our destiny, we must realize, is in our own hands. We welcome those who would play their roles within that framework and for those who do not share these views, we still understand, but we will not wait for them.
Dr. Suleiman Walhad