"When, in the 1960s, most African states attained independence, the United States and the Soviet Union (and often European states) moved into the vacuum created by the departure of the imperialists and extended the ethnic and tribal divisions so that their own interests could be served. Colonialization was replaced by a form of Cold War neocolonialism---control of the new nations (or the old ones, for that matter) of Africa via their economies and through the national elites who had been cultivated by the Europeans."[Africa: A continent self-destructs]
The above quote highlights how the influence of colonialism or the Cold War has always over shadowed the countries it has conquered, hindering them from progress. The nature of colonialism was never truly by means of “good intentions,” but intentions of a more perverse nature. The notion of it being a catalyst to enlighten uncivilized societies was inaccurate and outright cruel in its many dimensions. Colonialism was an instrument to subjugate those who are perceived as inferior in the psyche of the colonist; it is to break down societies and their mentalities, their cultures, and way of life solely for the riches of their land. Prior to its political independence, Somalia was colonized by three European states: France, Britain, and Italy. Occupying a unique position unlike the rest of African nation-states, Somalia is peopled by homogeneous society with one language, culture and religion---a strong evidence that outside intervention plays a big role in Somalia's unrest. The presence of colonialism in Somalia still lingers today; it can be seen in the way we think, and the way we divide ourselves. We as people have been violated on our land, and in our minds. We are divided therefore we are conquered. The prevailing chaos and corruption explains why our environment can be easily exploited and openly destroyed with toxic waste dumping, and why our precious marine resources can be stolen.
Why do we continue to show them that we are weak, subjected to the pitfalls of our culture, the hatred and animosity that was fuelled by our colonizers? Furthermore we seem to sanction either in implicit or explicit terms corrupt men to govern our country. Corrupt and Ignorant men who can easily be persuaded to sell our natural resources out to the highest bidder shows how low we have morally sunk to the bottom. There is no doubt in our minds that we can squarely defeat those who have tried so hard to keep us from thriving to our fullest potential as a Great Nation. We are indeed capable of being a great nation that can be a role model to all other African countries suffering from the very same societal ills and hardships we are currently in.
An idea of a pan united Africa is a great fear for any developed country. We have the diamonds, the oils, the agriculture, and the intellect. The root cause of our problems are corrupt leaders, war lords, who strongly have good ties internationally, yet, exploit and starve their own people while collecting the riches of the lands and goods they have sold off. Our reactions to these extortions and exploitations were nothing more than a mere gesture of facial expression.
Solidarity cannot be achieved if we continue to have such vast tribal inequalities amongst ourselves. The purpose of social organizations like clan, tribe or ethnic is knowing your identity or where one's ancestors came from, but to use that as a tool to discriminate against people from another clan is absurd. Allah the most merciful says in the Quran : 49:13 O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things) .It is shameful to use tribe as a means to hate; however it is still done every day, whether it is on a boat in Somalia, or in a coffee shop on Dixon. This is our pitfall; this is what has shattered the thin glass that was our nation.
No one could have imagined this is what would have become of Somalia, no one imagined having to flee their home in fear they would be massacred based on their tribe. What is more dangerous is to use tribalism as a means to govern for example the 4.5 system. It is a dangerous phenomenon that harbingers prolonged suffering and conflict because it is always going to be unequal system, one clan will feel they are more entitled and superior and must, therefore, govern those inferior to them. Even with legitimately formed government tribalism always comes into play, not who is most qualified for the job, but a means to placate some clans; this is why no stable government can be formed in the future. Here is a proposition: Somalia needs to engage in a campaign of Social Reform; a new total model strategy and norm needs to be created for the betterment of our nation, one based on merit not on clan.
We as a nation need to evolve and keep tribalism and politics separate. We need to enrich our family structure with our religion and revitalize the Somali education system. Moreover we need to address the environmental crisis in our country weather it is the dumping toxic waste by foreign ships, or the massive deforestation by hungry money lords. All these important issues cannot be addressed when we continue to accept the same problems that hindered our development and created a chronic dependency on western countries for support and survival. We need to stand on our own and create our own agenda that benefits all Somalis. We cannot have justice if we remain partial to tribalism. We must unite in order to create better political transparency, and accountability to overcome the culture of indifference to the exploitation and corruption that plagued us . I speak on behalf of the youth, the future of Somalia.
By: Iman Salah
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