By Mohamed A. Warsame
Somalia is at a cross road as our political situation is in an abysmal mess, and the environmental degradation is in the mist of ecological collapse that is no longer able to service to the community. To be fair, Somali’s conundrum politically and culturally is mostly self-inflicted as our cultural mindset is ingrained in clan acquiescence laden with stereotype and prejudice- it renders us lagging behind in all fronts in the pursuit of political, cultural and technological development. The context that Somalis find themselves in is fratricidal killings, extremism, absolute poverty, environmental degradation and cultural shortcomings. To seek answers to these challenges, one has to turn to history and sociology as these shed lights on how these challenges could be responded to when societies are subjected to them.
Our history and sociology are endemic with clan pride riddled with antagonism and distrust in the quest for survival. To be self-aware and to find a remedy that will be an antithesis to these killer traits wracked our communities, it is imperative to turn to critical thinking to question the false assumptions that feeds on clan acquiescence that would not offer any hope for political and cultural developments, but rather regression in every aspect of our nation, particularly national consciousness as clans utilise zero sum game for survival. Clan sociology derives from the belief that you win- you lose cognition, so there is always carnage in this contest of winning or losing among clans. The milieu we find ourselves in now is not the same as the one we were accustomed to managing our livelihood, since our livelihood, social fabric and environment have changed due to urbanisation and globalisation. Thus, different perspectives are needed that could envisage new solution with foresight and creativity.
Lack of cultural and national consciousness renders an ontological emptiness. The current scenario manifests the plight of the Somali community devastated and exacerbated by the unresponsiveness shown by Somali political leaders. To find an antidote to our current dilemmas, it requires a quick response in embarking upon initiatives with magnanimity and altruism as opposed to archaic methods of survival, such as the I win- you lose mentality. Currently, our community is subjected to never seen drought, extremism, and clan politics that stokes hatred among clans rather than unity and altruism.
Finding solutions for a community that in despair in overcoming political and cultural disintegration, one has to turn to human sociology for inspiration in responding to the challenges that we face. It is worth mentioning how Arnold Toynbee explains challenges and responses regarding how civilisations rise and fall. For Toynbee, civilizations growth hinges on about how they respond to the challenges they come across. Civilisations rise and fall depending on the ability to respond to the the challenges surrounding them as he states: “Man achieves civilization, not as a result of superior biological endowment or geographical environment, but as a response to a challenge in a situation of special difficulty which rouses him to make a hitherto unprecedented effort.”
Likewise, Ibn Khaldun postulated, before Toynbee centuries ago, that human cohesion and solidarity- ”assabiyah”- are crucial for community survival. With solidarity and cohesion, they are able to respond to any challenges they face and repel rival competitors. He suggested that if “asabiyyah” declines, other stronger groups will overtake its place resulting in civilisations rise and fall cycle. What asabiyyah meant here does not refer to the clan acquiescence, rather it means the characteristics that tie community solidarity and cohesion, and it might include rules, justice and altruism.
Forsaking clan acquiescence is needed to respond to the immense challenges we face as a nation comprising of cultural, political and environmental dilapidation. It cannot be denied the abject condition that the majority of our community are locked in, particularly, the pastoral community due to climate change and inappropriate land use. This necessitates our political leaders to immediately respond with aptitude and creativity to salvage our brethren who are in peril of being wiped out of the face of the earth. In the next coming days, the Somali parliament is about to pick a new leader for us for the next four years. Knowing the mess of our nation, the new parliamentarians have a mammoth responsibility to sensibly select a leader for us with vision, consideration and higher moral value rather than the one inundated with clan acquiescence and short-sightedness that we have been accustomed to in the past two and half decades. The world around us is changing politically, economically and environmentally, and responding to challenges it encounters, so we should too.
Mohamed A. Warsame
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