Sadly, tribal vilifications thwart Somali intellectuals’ efforts to help their people!
By Noah Arre
It is sad that Somalia had collapsed more than two decades ago and remains in comatose to date. And it is equally sad that its people are on the verge of extinction as their lives go from bad to worse year after year!
The current Somali famine in which the caring world community is rushing food, medicine and other life saving supplies to the starving Somalis will do a lot to save the lives of kids and mothers whose debilitated bodies may however, be beyond any biological repairs. And it is sad that over the years, malnutrition has had its toll on Somali kids and their mothers. And the barely alive skeletal human pictures one sees on the internet, television or other media outlets lately, makes any person with human heart to break down to tears. And certainly the Somali intellectuals wherever they are thankful to the caring world community for remembering again Somalia during this difficult time and mobilizing resources to help!
However, one BIG question that people across this global village is probably always asking is “why is the Somali intellectual indifferent to the Somali plight?” And while that is a legitimate question that begs a meaningful response, answering it satisfactorily, in my view is too complex.
As one of the lucky Somali guys who graduated from a national university in the seventies thanks to Somalia, I left the country in the mid seventies and finally ended in the USA where I had additional education despite hard times. And by the time, Somalia collapsed in the early nineties, and the civil war broke out, I was in the USA for over ten years.
After that painful fall, fortunately, the Western world extended its hands to help by offering immigration to Somali families that were in refugee camps in East Africa or the Arab world. So, many families were resettled where I had already lived for years. And like many fellow Somalis there, I found it a must to welcome the new immigrants. And so many including me, came to them hoping to give whatever moral and material support we could afford to our people.
Unfortunately, as soon as he saw Somalis, the head of the new community, a total of 20 families, broke into tears shouting “why are people from the TRIBES who destroyed our homes, our farms and our families back home, here too taking over whatever America is giving us? …. we do not want to see these MERDERERS here too!” He continued, cursing us! Of course, we tried to calm him but could not and sadly all those with him either remained silent or supported him.
Friends, to the horrors of the Church agency that brought them, the new Somali immigrants refused to accept even our presence and insisted we should leave! But the irony is that agencies that bring refugees to USA which apparently, our immigrants preferred over us, do nothing more than pay their rents for a few months; then push them to find a labor job that usually pays the minimum wage which could be as low as $4.50 per hour. And then abandon them forever. And sadly such jobs only pay you a total of $180.00 per week or $720.00 a month. And of course after the federal tax, Medicare deductions, etc. you make no more than $150.00 a week….that is $600.00/month. And out of that, one has to pay his/her rent, food, utilities etc.
A few months later, the Muslim community in our city learned the hardships our new Somali immigrants were facing and called us to the Mosques possibly assuming we did not care. But to their surprise, they too learned the dilemma we faced before. And likewise, the Department of Health and Human Services of the state we lived contacted those of us they could get in touch with, but again they too realized what some of us went through with our community before!
In another bizarre story, an old Somali woman who spoke only Somali had a job somewhere in the city I lived. Unfortunately, according to reports she filed with a local hospital, she hurt herself in the job. So, her people who possibly lived in another state, advised her to sue the company! And so she filed a law-suit. A few weeks later, many local organizations spread the news that a Somali lady who hurt herself in a job is suing the company she worked for but needs a Somali interpreter! Would you help her possibly expecting you to lie for her so she wins? Or would you rather run for your life knowing in what you might end up?
A few days later, someone forwarded the email to me. But after I read it, I thought over all possibilities. And based on what happened to others who I knew went through similar stories during this tragic Somali history, though I wished I could, I decided not to for fear of the possible consequences. For one thing, she would only trust people from her TRIBE and for the other, even if I successfully helped her and she won the case, making $100,000.00 for instance, she might automatically assume I took the rest because naturally, Somalis are suspicious of one another especially when they are not of the same TRIBE. And the saddest part of the story is that even many intellectuals of her TRIBE might equally believe her by believing only her version of the story and never give you the benefit of the doubt.
Friends, the weird part of the story is, if you do what is morally right for a typical Somali who has a problem, it is possible you become a victim of TRIBAL vilifications as Somalis rarely trust one another. And it is the perceived blind hate based on suspicion that often makes you withheld your sacrifices toward your people, thanks again to TRIBALISM! It is no wonder, therefore, that the Somali intellectual withholds his sacrifices toward his/her people after all he/she could be vilified for doing even if you are right!
In yet another sad story, a Somali intellectual established a social services center in his adopted home town in the West so that he could help his community. And after hard work, he completed all the documentations and the by-laws of his NGO as per the local government requirements. And according to an interview he gave over to a local media, his goal was to be an advocate for his people so that they get their rights and all their social services. Unfortunately, soon he was forced to close it because of the “he is not from my TRIBE” syndrome because few were willing to register with him. In fact, according to him, most said they would rather go to foreigners for help. So, the whole project failed apparently he was not from their tribe!
In yet another bizarre story that I heard when I was working in the United Arab Emirates from 1997 to 2008, Sheikh Zayed, President of UAE and the king of the richest Abu Dhabi Sheikhdom offered nationality to Somalis who worked there because he loved Somalis. However, his office requested some Somalis to select a head who he could directly deal with for all their needs. But as usual, looking the matter through their own myopic TRIABL perspectives, Somalis automatically fought over which TRIBE should get the leadership. So, the president’s office got no response. Fortunately, after a long wait, knowing Somalis and realizing their agreements to disagree forever, Sheikh Zayed again called them and raised his number to three leaders so that the issue is finalized. But again things were back to square one. And so, the President, May Lord, the Almighty bless his soul, angrily took back his offer and closed that door once and for all!
My dear Somali friends, stories like these are rife anywhere our communities live and incidents like these are only the tip of the iceberg. They have their parallels and precedents.
Today, the Western world that out of humanitarian assistance, gave Somalis sanctuary during their difficult times, now knows them well and is in fact sick and tired of it. It is a fact that it (western world) considers Somalis as villains and the natural liars of “a failed state” in the Horn of Africa or the rag tags from the Dark Continent! It is sad that for Somalis to coexist is
My dear Somalis, let us face the facts, at this time when the whole world competes for supremacy, Somalis are competing to annihilation and sadly we are in deep moral deficit, mental deficit, emotional deficit, spiritual deficit, health deficit, muscle deficit and material deficit! But had we only controlled the uncompromising TRIBAL monster that devours our whole existence, our people would have never been through those hardships!
Somalis, may I refer you to Mr. Bashir Goth’s poem of the eighties:
”…dadkayga hagaasay, habeen hilbahooga waraabuhu hiigay, hooyada ladiweyday, habarka na haysta…. hayeyda, hayeyda, hayeyda adduunku ku haybsho jalkooda, haddaan umadaydu hagaagba arkaynin, hurdada ka kacaynin, miyaan anna heesta, hadaaqiyo guuxa, naftayda hodaaya, hubaal uga seexo!
For the original full poem you may write to Bashir at firstname.lastname@example.org
And so, may I ask:
- For how long should we, Somalis remain in this status quo aggressively employing the “us versus them” syndrome?
- For how long, one must trust ALL his clan X people as his truly trusted friends and keep seeing ALL others as his natural enemies?
- For how long should each Somali remain in his TRIBAL enclave, enjoying his false self-esteem and inflict maximum damage to those of other TRIBEs?
- For how long the TRIBE SYNDDROME will remain as the epitome of all Somali ideals?
- Do we, as Somalis, know that we are considered today, as the lowest of low of all humanity because Somalia is the only failed state in this global village?
- For how long Somalis should remain indifferent to the plight of their people whose skeletal bodies placed on the internet, television or other media outlets, makes all mankind cry?
Friends, despite all our blunders, we cannot give up hope. And so, it may be a high time we come together, forget the past, forgive one another, hold shoulder to shoulder and together sing:
“…An is weheshano walaalayaal an wada jiranoy walaalayaal….Wada jir bay laba gacmood wax ku qaban karaane!” And only through doing that can we, Somalis save our children whose whole existence in the Horn of Africa is at stake