Somalia suffering now, but future can be great


A man passes in front of the rubbles of the popular Medina hotel of Kismayo on July 13, 2019. [AFP]

Since 1991 when the reign of longtime leader of Somalia Major General Mohamed Siyad Barre collapsed under civil war, the country has faced formidable challenges.

National disintegration has become fashionable as a means of economic, social coping by different regions and communities. As a response to the insecurity, the African Union created the African Union Mission (Amison) and first deployed them in 2007. With a lot of hope President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo was elected to office in 2017. Today, Somalia is experiencing challenging times. What, however, concerns majority of observers in Somalia are the callous, negative opinions and commentaries from people who otherwise carry respectable titles.

Some “Know-it-alls” compare Mogadishu to Kabul, arguing that Somalia is a legal fiction, not a State, with only a single solution to these three decades old problems. That is dismembering, balkanisation or splitting the country into Statelets. No doubt, there are many reasons why such opinions are wrong. Trying to compare the national, historical political challenges facing Afghanistan and Somalia is unhelpfully wrong. It’s a false equivalence.

The history of Afghanistan is complex. It’s a landlocked country without a coast to attract people and trade. It has been described as the “graveyard of empires”.

Somalia is a single ethnic nation with Africa’s largest coastal belt, over 3,000km long. It has a crucial global strategic location. Other than majority of the population being of Islamic faith, there is little to compare about Somalia and Afghanistan.

The prevailing political situation in Somalia is depressing but not hopeless. The GDP economic potential of this Horn of Africa nation is extra-ordinarily huge, over $400 billion. According to Prof Ali Mazrui, problems of the African conditions are caused by “the paradox of maladministration, retardation and technical backwardness, leading to severe poverty, ignorance, diseases, civil wars and high environmental degradation.”

It’s up to people of Somalia to discover their own formula for success. The three pillars of a prosperous nation are a working economy- markets, the State and communities. “Clanism is the refuge for the poor and the insecure”. They need also find their own “philosopher Kings” to lead them in national recovery, and rebuilding. This optimism, nonetheless, rests on definite, solid grounds: discipline, hard-work and culture.

-The writer is a consultant

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