(Waridaad)-By: Mohamed A. Suleiman
There are very few stories that are as compelling to be told as the one that I am about to narrate. A few days ago I came home from work tired and longing for a short nap to help refresh for the busy evening hours of helping the kids with homework. I lay down on my back and before I knew it, I was in a deep slumber. Suddenly, I heard a light tap on my shoulder and a faint noise asking me to wake up. Thinking that the kids were a little too impatient with my snooze, I reluctantly opened my eyes to check out who was tapping me on the shoulder. What I saw was an image that will haunt me for a very long time.
After I absorbed the initial shock of this surreal situation that I found myself in, I gained enough composure to dare ask my visitor who it was. In a very faint, whispering voice it said, “I am your mother”. “My mother, I exclaimed”. “Yes, your mother”, it contended with such an affirmation. I shook my head in disbelief and decided to take a closer look to see if it was really my mother. “No you are not my mother and I don't know who you are. Will you tell who you really are?” I asked my visitor. “You dummy! You didn't get it. I am mother Somaliland”, she stated.
Before I got out of the bed to entertain my unusual visitor, I decided to take a closer look to checkout how “mother Somaliland” was holding.
I saw this ghostly, towering, haggardly looking image draped in dark colored cloaks hanging over my head. She looked tired, exhausted, withdrawn, worn-out, destitute, broke, hungry, abandoned, anxious, angry, dispirited, nervous, disoriented, sick, lost, used, abused, dying, delusional, and distraught. I was shocked and disturbed, and all kinds of strange thoughts and emotions ran through my mind.
In an attempt to make sense of what was going on, I asked “mother Somaliland” why she decided to pay me a visit. “Son”, she said, “I am looking for a shoulder to cry on.” “But why me, why me”, I protested. “Son”, she answered, “I was not looking for you in particular. I was searching for any one of my sons or daughters who can lend me an ear so that I could clear my just. As I was flying by on top of your residence in search of that son or daughter, I realized that I was too weak to carry on and I decided to drop in.” “Can you just fly a bit further down because this is going to be too much of a burden on me”, I protested. “It is a burden worth bearing son; plus I am too weak to carry on my search any way”, she declared.
The following is what transpired out of my encounter with my unexpected visitor, “Mother Somaliland”. Here is her narrative that she entrusted me sharing with anyone who cares to listen.
“You all heard the news and the news is not good. Son, if you or anyone else cares to hear, I am on the brink of vanishing away from the face of the earth. On the surface what happened to me may appear spontaneous and uncalculated, but on the contrary, I could tell you emphatically that everything I suffered was engineered and done so by design.
My troubles started when my liberators, the Somali National Movement (SNM), out of goodwill and gesture of reconciliation, relinquished their right to govern me to a bunch of unscrupulous thugs that did not have my best interest at heart. This window of opportunity that was opened for these individuals gave these mafia-type gangsters a chance to capitalize on the misfortunes of my people. And in order to accomplish their goals, they manipulated the fears of the masses by convincing them that they could lose their newly gained sovereignty if they do not go for the ride. In essence, my deliverance was entrusted with an unscrupulous gang, past and present, which only cared about their get-rich-quick schemes.
Son, what else would you expect when the people that are at the helm today are the same kind of group that were killing my sons and enslaving my daughters; the same kind of people who were conspiring with Siyad Barre to keep my people under subjugation. These same gangsters are willfully precipitating the devastation that had befallen on me and the disintegration that I face today.
My son, I don't know what happened to my people. They are either suffering from a collective dementia or they became so destitute that they don't care any more. How could they have forgotten the brutality with which my citizens were dealt with when in fact that experience is vividly engraved in my psyche? How did they forget the mass murder, the looting, the rape of girls and women, the killing of innocent children when these are all crystal clear in my head? How did they forget the bombing raids carried out by mercenaries on Hargeisa and vicinity,
Burao and Eil Afweine, including refugees who were fleeing the onslaught, when these images are forever going to be difficult to shake? How could they forget the roundup, the incarceration, the summary executions of scores of intellectuals and leaders, simply because they belonged to a distinct social group, when the horrors that I felt then are still haunting me today?
My dear son, it is one thing to forgive, but it is another thing to forget. My people have not learned a thing from their recent past and as the old saying goes: “Those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat it.”
My son, how else did Dahir Rayale Kahin, the so-called president of Somaliland, ended up at the helm of what appeared to be a fledgling democracy? It is a well-known fact that this man was a senior ranking officer of the notorious National Security Service (NSS), an organization that the Gestapo, the KGB, and the German SS would have envied because of its brutality. He was strategically placed at the Red Sea port of Berbera during the height of the genocidal campaign against my people. It is a common knowledge that such high profile postings were created for rewarding members in the NSS force who carried out their brutal duties with distinction.
My son, As Raqiya Omar of Human Rights Watch documented in her much-celebrated book, “A Government at War With Its Own People”, there were witnesses who lived in Berbera and elsewhere in Somaliland who directly linked Rayale Kahin to the atrocities that were committed there. Is it not ironic then that a man who served as a senior officer in the dreaded NSS during Siyad Barre's genocidal campaign could find himself sitting at the helm of a fledgling democracy that was born out of resistance to that brutal experience?
My son, the scenario that is currently playing out in Somaliland needs some real scrutiny. Imagine a world were the perpetrators rule the victims; where the villains preside over the heroes; where justice succumbs to the injustice; where truth is folded under covers and falsehood is given a legitimate footing; and where the perpetrators become the voices of victims which are rendered voiceless. To take the argument up a nudge, imagine if Sharon was to become the president of the Palestinian Authority, or Hitler was to preside over the Knesset.
My son, as much as a lot of people will be uncomfortable with the parallels that I am drawing here, the truth of the matter is: people who abuse their powers and commit heinous crimes against innocent civilians should be held responsible and should be forced to face the charges against them in a court of law, be it local or international in jurisdiction.
My son, Mr. Rayale Kahin is yet to face and respond to the documented charges that clearly indicate that he perpetrated gross violations while presiding over the NSS forces in Berbera. He remains tight-lipped about these charges and has never publicly spoken about his past activities with the NSS force. One wonders whether his silence is an admission of guilt or whether he is demonstrating the same kind of arrogance that brought down his former master, which he served so brilliantly.
My son, I hope you do not misunderstand me. I am not implying for one bit that my citizens did not willing or unwilling participate in their demise. I cannot put the blame squarely on Rayale and his criminal gang. I am wise enough to realize that my people committed grave mistakes when they were convinced to shelf the glorious struggle of the SNM that liberated me from Siyad Barre and his cronies.
My son, it breaks my heart to witness the heroes and the heroines of the SNM taunted, insulted, ostracized, despised, reviled, and detested by a bunch of hooligans who hijacked the aspirations of my people. It breaks my heart to see the widows and orphans of the SNM martyrs languishing in the streets scavenging for food when their husbands and fathers paid the ultimate prize for my liberation. Didn't my people see how people in other corners of the world emancipated themselves from dictators and tyrants; the likes of Rayale and his cronies? Didn't they witness the orange revolution that swept the Ukraine a few years ago? What about the popular uprising that brought Nicolai Cessescou of Romania down?
My son, Rayale and the like-minded crooks that he is surrounded by have broken every letter of the law. They trampled the constitution and disrespected and discredited the national institutions. They emptied the treasury to satisfy their greed and rendered the government covers bankrupt. What else do they have to do in order for my people to wake up and take notice of what is going on?
Son, what happened had happened. What scares me the most is the fact that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. My people had high hopes for the men and women who were elected to the House of Representatives during the last election. Unlike the un-elected, mostly corrupt and mostly uneducated “GUURTI”, most of the members had excellent credentials and it was deemed that they would be free from the corruption that plagues politicians in the developing world. As luck would have it, they fell into the same kind of trap and succumbed to the self-aggrandizement temptations that are so typical of African politicians. They dashed my people's hopes and failed to uphold a system of checks and balances that would discourage the likes of Rayale with dictatorial tendencies to be given a chance to legitimize the kind of one-man rule that is so prevalent in Africa.
My son, we have a dictator in the making in Somaliland. My sons and daughters in the diaspora should know that silence or indifference is tantamount to collusion. Rayale and his cronies are committing the same kind of human rights violations that my people resisted under Siyad Barre. The universal individual freedoms of expression, of association, of assembly, and of mobility are all being denied to my people. Extra judicial detentions and unlawful incarcerations are a common place. Dissenters are intimidated and my people live in fear.”
At this point in my conversation with Mother Somaliland, she became very emotional and started to sing Bob Marley's famous lyrics: “Getup standup, standup for your right; getup standup, don't give up the fight.” She repeated these lyrics over and over again.
I noticed that she was in distress. She started to sweat profusely and she mumbled something that I could not understand. I became so nervous and worried. All of a sudden, mother Somaliland fainted and collapsed right in front of my eyes. I was horrified. Instinctively, I thought of a course in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation that I took a few years ago. The first aid skills that I learned in that course helped me resuscitate Mother Somaliland. I then called an ambulance and she was taken to a nearby hospital. Mother Somaliland is currently on life support and clinging to life just by a thread. It will take Men of faith, wisdom, principle, action, and goodwill to revive our dear old Mother. The cowards, the fear mongers, the demagogues, and the hypocrites that reduced Somaliland to this regrettable situation should go.
For a moment of reflection, please read the following excerpt from the famous poem by the renowned Somali poet, Qaman Bulhan, may Allah have mercy on him, which typically exemplifies the kind of people that that are at the helm of Somaliland's government today:
“ Baadida nin baa kula day daye daalna kaa badani
Aan doonahayn inaad heshana daayin abidkaaye
Dadkuna moodayaa duul wada dhashoon wax u dahsoonayne
Dilla ma laha aahkiro haddii loo kitaab dayoe… ”
If you want to find out about her condition, please visit www.crymothersomalilandcry.org. If you click on this link and you get a message that says the page could not be displayed or a similar message that denies you access, please pray for Mother Somaliland; she may have passed away