Thursday, August 16, 2018
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Rejoinder: The bitter and poisonous pen of Yusuf Garaad

By Abdi Mohamud

I first heard Yusuf Garaad’s name sometime in late 1980’s on Radio Mogadishu. The name was new to me and perhaps, to many Radio Mogadishu listeners at the time. Apparently Yusuf was a new hire. I was a regular listener of Radio Mogadishu so I knew by name many people working there. The programs were not great. Praise for Siad Barre and his regime was the priority. The radio management was tasked with exaggerating the regime’s accomplishment. Reporting on the projects completed, tours by president and ministers, and agreements entered by the government were the main items on the radio every day. There was no much input about the real situation the country was in. High rate of unemployment, lack of security, armed rebels were reality across the country.

Yusuf Garad

Yusuf joined this government propaganda tool. He landed at the news desk on day one. Yusuf was young. He was either graduated at the time or he was in his final year in university. He had no experience in reporting or radio business in general. Yusuf took every listener and probably radio employees by surprise. How he ended up there and became a news reader from nowhere is still a mystery.

There were talented and well-known news presenters/readers working for the radio. Axmed Cabdi Nuur, Axmed Xasan Cowke, Tera, Maxamed Cali waji, Dandurey and many more were household names in Somalia. It took every one of these fine journalists for years to get to the news desk. However, Yusuf achieved this success with no obvious efforts. Maybe luck was on his side. Maybe it was something else that enabled him to jump to the front of the queue and got ahead of everyone else.

Similarly, Yusuf was lucky enough to rise to the top so quickly when he joined the BBC Somali Service. This was another surprise. People were and are still questioning how he got there fast. It is another mystery. It is great if one seeks career advancement but it has to be earned. Both at radio Mogadishu and at the BBC, Yusuf did not possess credentials that would make him more suitable or qualified for the job than others. Some said that Yusuf sweetened and endeared himself for his bosses at both radio stations. To quote Dr. Nuur Hassan, Yusuf Garaad had ability to suck up to his employers. Obviously his charm worked.

Dr. Nuur Hassan, in his recent piece in Wardheernews , expressed concern on recent Yusuf’s writing on Somali civil war. I share that concern with Dr. Nuur Hassan. The war has not ended yet. Al-shabab seems to be determined to continue its indiscriminate and senseless killing of innocent Somalis every day. Puntland and Somaliland have the guns pointed at each other.  Things may get out of hands at any time. Allah forbids. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail. Ahlu- Sunna is still destabilizing the Galmudug government. So any Somali, trying to venture into Somali civil war should be careful.

Caution and Care

My advice to Yusuf is to exercise caution and care if he decides to write about the civil war. The wounds are still fresh and many people are in pain. So if you wish to tackle these complex issues, please do so responsibly. Approach it in a way that would lead to understanding, respect and peace. Help to create trust and healing. Stoking the flames will be futile endeavor as we already have plenty burning around.  Patriots use their pen and influence to advance national interest. That is the duty on every Somali and more so, on the elite to which Yusuf belongs. Help people demonstrate the good in themselves or what the scholar Michael Ingatieff called the ordinary virtues. Respect, coexistence cooperation should be promoted.

Messy Affairs

Somali civil was so messy and so tangled affair. Thousands of people were killed, internally displaced or forced to seek refuge in foreign lands. The war has affected every community and every corner of the country. It has been brutal. The death of one person is as horrible and painful as the death of 47 or more people. No justification for killing people.  It is contrary to our Islamic teachings as well as international laws and norms. So, if choose to quantify how many were killed in Jazira beach, or in the indiscriminate bombardment, exchanged by Ali Mahdi and Aideed, that reduced the City of Mogadishu to rubbles and beyond recognition, or if we try to figure out many deaths occurred when General Aideed laid the siege the City of Baydhabo for months starving its inhabitants to death, we may get exhausted before we get nowhere. The death toll is so high, and we will never know the true numbers.

Every Somali has played a role in this national shame and disaster. Many have participated directly in the killing, looting and all atrocities committed. Many others have kept cheering for the killers while others have decided to stay on the sidelines. So, everyone is guilt to certain degrees. That is what makes it messy. No easy answers to these war issues. So, Yusuf do not rush to cherry picking. It will be counterproductive if you choose to blame some groups for wrongdoings. You may open Pandora’s. This does not mean that I am defending the wrongdoers. However, the point is to have detailed, well-researched, comprehensive and consensus-based system in place before embarking on holding wrongdoers to account. Learn from countries that have been through difficult situations. Rwanda and Cambodia can serve as good examples.

Abdi Mohamud


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