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The gift and the curse

I have noticed something so unique yet so puzzling about the Somali people. They have a special concern and care for each other on all levels. Citizen cooperation has become a default part of the psyche of Somali’s regardless of what part of the country they hail from. We talk to each other, we look after each other’s children and when Somalis see each other in a place rare for Somalis we greet each other without thought. We listen to the music of the local artists regardless of their tribal heritage or what part of the country they were born in.

What is evident from the above is the fact that we do not have a problem with each other on an individual level. The challenge however arises when our older beloved relatives, who do not necessarily have opinions that are progressive, surround us. The aunt who feels like bashing clan (A) because she just wants to be the center of attention. The uncle who puts down clan (B) because he has nothing better to say or hasn’t been educated the right way on citizen cooperation. Therefore the role of the younger generation of Somalis who have had the privilege of a better education and better exposure to the outside world than our parents had, is not to succumb to the pressure of bored family members who just talk about tribalism for no other reason than to entertain themselves and expose a disease of tribalism to healthy minds.

Our responsibility is not to participate in the bashing and putting down of others, because life and our beloved religion (Islam) teaches us better. Our responsibility should not stop with empty words of “I am not a tribalist “, but we should demonstrate it in our actions by incorporating active leadership and spreading positivity.

Having said all of this, rejecting tribalism doesn’t have to mean rejecting our clans all together. Our respective clans are essentially our extended families, so rejecting tribalism should only be about rejecting the *respective members* of our relative’s or peers inappropriate behaviour and not rejecting our identity and heritage.

Note, the problem here is not with our identities, the problem here is misusing our identity and fabricating false privilege by believing in some fantasy of superiority over other clans. And this phenomena is called *narcissism*. It stems from one not having enough confidence in who they really are and constructing a false grandiose identity for themselves.

Normally in the western world, some people deal with or suffer from an individual narcissism. In case of Somalis however, we suffer from both individual and tribal narcissism. The artificial superiority illustrated “if I am better than clan (x) I know I can conquer the world in a way other clans cannot.” Then we don’t have to worry about working hard with honesty in our achievements, because we already believe in our “God given right” to get whatever we want.

I hope with a better understanding of ourselves, we can achieve a collective better behavioural and individual change. And take better positive steps towards a better future. The future is bright for all of us and let us stand together and eliminate this disease of tribalism. A burnt home will always have a foundation to rebuild upon.

By: Deka A. Ali

Edited By: Abdirachid Fidow