The educated minority of Somali intellectuals assume they know better when debating on Somalia’s issues and its recent predicaments. Many had received their professional training elsewhere outside the country of origin. They, therefore, are always in comparative mode in deliberating on Somalia for its best way forward. They never contemplate putting on the shoes of local natives and think of the mundane world of people suffering from trauma of civil wars, deprivations and stateless existence with no protection whatsoever from human and civic rights abuses in an environment fit for the survival of the fittest. This privileged minority of educated Somalis think only of optimum solutions to Somali misery, ignoring realities on the ground. They don’t realise that they are disconnected and delusional about how to rebuild this country. I was having a conversation with one of those guys the other day, when he suggested and asked a question as to why people aren’t willing to organise themselves and start lobbying and promoting their causes for the future? I looked at him, in fact, stared at him, for a moment, before I responded to him that wasn’t as easy as it sounds to him. Then, he complained about what he called “inflation and proliferation of traditional leadership with so many titled leaders being created on daily basis. Ahaa. I asked him, “is that bad or good?” He said that it was definitely bad idea to have so many elders around. I shared with him my notion of why this was happening. Somalis as a predominantly pastoralist society, have no developed civil society. In a nutshell, what you feel and see here are changes happening within the society towards more organized centres of influence and leadership, moving forward. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing or notorious idea.
The best example of this disconnect was expressed by a governance expert from Switzerland in secondment placement in Puntland State during the first year of its creation in 1998-1999. I was his contact person at Puntland Presidency. At time there was a severe drought taking place in Puntland and nomads were losing livestock in enmase, turning owners into destitutes influxing into urban centres. The public pressure as result was unbearable – water-trucking alone took a toil.
One evening my Swiss colleague and I were having glasses of camel’s milk ( the guy loved drinking camel’s milk, a habit he picked up in Mauritania) at Zahra Islaan’s restaurant/teashop in Garowe, when he suddenly asked me, “don’t you think nomads are stupid – why don’t they slaughter their herds before they lose them to the drought, and store dried meat in sacks for them to consume it later”. I was dumbfounded.
I am not attempting here to exaggerate the fact that Somalia’s intelligensia don’t fare far better than the impressions of this white Swiss guy.
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