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Tribalism: Somalia’s Undoing

Back to my varsity-days in India, the final year of my Master Degree program, unlike the common Indians who mainly do not bother about the global affairs; a young dynamic varsity mate approached me and asked where I was from.

I vividly replied, “I am from Somalia.”

“Somalia! Can you please tell me why Somalia has never stabilized for quite a long time,” he asked?

My reply: “It’s all about tribalism.”

“Tribalism!” The man said, “What does that mean please?”

He continued, “do you mean because of different religious beliefs or caste-system? Both the former and the latter are root causes of Indian communal fights.”

I said no, yet I told him about having one religion, one language and culture; absolutely a homogeneous people in the horn of Africa.

“So what?” He asked?

To find the answer for this question, I twisted my brain to come up with a lasting yet digestible and unequivocal answer, but I could not. I eventually gave an ambiguous reply, perhaps to get myself out of this embarrassment.

What is a tribe?

Ontologically, we can say it’s an identity based on solid proximity and kinship that separates someone from others within the people or society in an area, a country, or a continent. It’s a genealogy and mythology related architecture which enables people uphold and preserve their identity in the longer run, so that their roots would ever be kept intact.

I think I won’t be good enough to draw a better or more in-depth definition(s) to the question above than those who specializes in Metaphysics or Engaged theory, as they can help us understand more about the social complexity structures and their interrelations through more empirical analysis. This paragraph is from personal research in an attempt to know about what tribe could mean in different cultures globally and to let myself be equipped with all the necessary resources to answer to any future similar question posed by that young Indian guy.

But the question is, “would the subjectivity of my answer any way do with the objectivity of such question”? The answer is an emphatic “NO.”

Being a Muslim by Allah’s grace, the below verse in the Holy Book (the Qur’an) which is quite explicit to the subject matter was always clicking in the back of my head, and as soon I have read about it with full attention; I confess, there is no a single more convincing unequivocal statement than the below in regard with my query above where Allah SWT says:

O mankind! Indeed; We created you from a male and a female and We made you nations and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, (the) most noble of you near Allah (is the) most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah (is) All-Knower, All-Aware.

Repeating this verse in the holy Qur’an several times, I was finding myself like absorbing in a great deal the very substance of our genetic impulse that goes alone with every heartbeat of ours (tribe devotion), and how Allah SWT clearly praised those who are righteous but not those whose tribal egos lays their bricks to build a foolish status. I am asking myself since our doctrine preaches this, why satanic doctrine?

Tribalism and its discontent

From Somali practices perspective, tribalism is nothing more than supremacism driven psychological notion and as Somalia slipped into the decades long vicious circles, tribal affiliations have enormously re-emerged and took the power from a vacuum. However, some of the tribes have collectively succeeded to set up Defacto state and intern survived from the ongoing deflagrations of the southern Somalia. Somaliland has opted for secession in the mid-1991 after the collapse of the dictatorship regime. Puntland have later on joined in a relatively lesser role and formed an autonomous or semiautonomous state of Somalia, where they have also succeeded to nurture peace within their territory. The rest of what was the greater Somalia have relatively failed to achieve a consensus to promote peace amongst their people and still copes with the burdens of instability, local and imported (the AU).

Tribalism is the source of the Somali problems in toto; it’s an institution where the wordmongers, shameless cultural leaders, corruptive politicians, heartless warlords, jackals and Trojan horse(s) hired by Somali enemies graduates. Tribes are the root cause of their problems as they are the hard cheque(s) which these groups use in their best interest but not the common interest. It acts as the only platform where the failed part of the society from within and the Diaspora attest their disqualifications and joins uncensored into the political stir of the country. Yet it’s, where the mindless tribes who facilitate them do their job are the collective victims of what they have sowed by their hands alone. In other words, it’s like an expiry-free death certificate issued for the elimination of hundreds of thousands of Somalis. Believe me, tribal affiliation is what can buy you the power today in Somalia. No matter how your background exposes your incompetency, still you can be a Minister, MP, VP or even the president of the country.

Bias, nepotism, opportunity-centrism and power concentration to clan affiliations are what drive the whole nation. A captain without proper navigation system had sailed off the ship of my people (country) with no lifeboats and left floating unattended for more than two decades. People are suffering and had been suffering from a pain the causation of which was diagnosed (tribalism) but kept uncured.

Somalia is a country where tomorrow lies for; people seem to be disappointed and losing the patience to meet what their future has in store for them. Let’s not be disappointed because the solution to our problems still lies in our hands, read about the world history to know what had happened in Somalia still amounts only fractions to what had happened in all the continents.

Let’s say ‘NO’ to tribalism; let’s say ‘YES’ to governance and prosperity.

By Khadar Hanan
Email: Khadarhanan@gmail.com
Doha, Qatar.