Life after the transition period

“Nations with extractive political and economic institutions are likely to be poor, whereas those with inclusive institutions are likely to be rich.”

- Why Nations Fail

Finally the transitional period is over for us. We now have a legitimate government that has the blessings of our people and the international community.

We took new direction when our parliamentarians elected a president that was virtually unknown in the political circles of Somalia. His election is truly a major change for our country.

I say this, because this is the first time in a very long period that our people wherever they are in the world are truly feeling hopeful and optimistic about the future of our country. There is a real feeling that things will finally change for good in our country. There is the feeling that we have finally closed the dark chapter of the past 22 years.We are all feeling this way because we have recently seen real and concrete changes on all fronts in our country.

The first real change that we have experienced is that our people have realized after a long period that they just cannot keep backing groups who don’t have their interest at heart. And our honorable parliamentarians have reciprocated that feeling into action. They responded to our feelings and aspirations when they took the step of electing a president that was virtually unknown in the political circles of our country. Their action is truly a significant gesture. It means they have decided to cut the ties to the old groups who were running the affairs of our country. It means they have realized that our country needed to move forward and the only way they could do that was to once and for all change the old ways of doing things in our country.

However, the steps we have taken so far are great and they deserve to be hailed. But we have to remember that this is just the beginning. What lies ahead is the real challenge. As we all know our country has been in anarchy for quite a long time. Throughout that period, we have been living in a stateless country where there was no law and order. Our governmental and civil institutions were none existent because they had disappeared with the civil war.

The most critical step we need to take right now is to rebuild the institutions that will safeguard our people and our country. We need to build strong institutions that will ensure the integrity of any government that comes to rule the land. Without these institutions suspicions regarding the intentions of the government will always arise and people will not be able to trust their government. We will also not be able to achieve whatever we are trying to achieve as groups who want to destabilize our country and hamper our progress will always take advantage of the lack of transparent institutions that exist. That is why building these institutions are of utmost importance to our unity and survival as a nation.

One of the biggest problems the civil war period has created in our country is that there is little trust between some of the groups who are involved in the political and social process of our country. When the last government had collapsed everyone went back to their little towns and cities. Since there was no state that could rule the people and give protection, everyone gave their allegiance to tribes who in return looked after the interest of their own members.

We now have a government that is representative of all those tribes, but still the suspicion and mistrust that existed since the collapse of the last government still exists. I am sure anyone who is fully aware of the situation in our country knows this problem exists.

Therefore, we have to find a way to deal with this issue. One of the ways we can deal with this problem is to setup a transparent system that has checks and balances. In this way everything that goes in and out will be known and on top of that no group will be able to accuse the other without any verifiable evidence.

What we also need to build are institutions that are politically and economically inclusive. I believe if we do this then the playing fields will be leveled and all the stakeholders will be able to work together and have confidence in the system and the government.

The Beginning Of A New Era

“There is strong synergy between economic and political institutions. Extractive political institutions concentrate power in the hands of a narrow elite and place few constraints on the exercise of this power. Economic institutions are then often structured by this elite to extract resources  from the rest of the society.”

- Why Nations Fail

It is been coming for a long time. No one in their wildest imaginations thought that it would take more than four decades to see a Somali Parliament being formally elected in a Somali soil. As they say ” it is better to be late than never”! This is truly a historic moment for our nation and our people. History is full of many defining moments that make or break the destiny of nations/society. I think that moment has dawned on us.

Long gone are the days when dictators could suppress the freedom of an entire nation. Gone are the days when warlords and warmongers could dictate our future. Gone are also the days when our people could easily follow wicked and selfish politicians with their evil intentions and mislead us with their hateful rhetoric. Gone are the days when our people were disconnected from each other.

Our country has finally awakened from the coma and our people are no longer in hibernation. We are fully conscious and self aware and our hearts are beating as one. Now that we have a legitimate formal parliament that has the blessings of our people it is time to close the dark chapter of the past 22 years and put it behind us for good.  I know it has taken us a long time to reach this historic point in our short history as a nation but the reality is that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The real challenge starts now as there is a long and steep road ahead of us.

Our long journey to the road ahead and beyond starts with first and foremost electing the next President of our Federal Republic. I am confident enough that our honorable Parliamentarians will carefully deliberate and think about the hardships and miseries our people had experienced the past 22 years and realize that the hopes, expectations and aspirations of the entire Somali people home and abroad are resting on their shoulders. I am also sure that they know without a shadow of a doubt that it was lack of leadership and vision that has failed our country and our people. The great French Enlightenment writer and philosopher, Voltaire said: “with great power comes great responsibility.” Surely, you now have the power to determine and choose the person who will lead our people and our country and it is your responsibility to make sure that you elect a president that is decisive, strong-willed, patriotic, and selfless. A president that is capable of unifying our people and healing the pains and the emotional scars that we have all suffered. A charismatic president that is capable of steering our country forward and that never looks back.

Now more than ever, our people where ever they are in the world are brimming with hope and they finally sense that the old days of lawlessness, chaos and disorder are becoming history. They finally sense that their perseverance, sacrifices and steadfastness  is bearing some fruits. Last but not the least, I just pray to almighty Allah that whoever wins this coming presidential elections in the parliament next week leads our country to peace and prosperity. Amen.

Few Can Make a Difference

  “If one ember is left alight, no matter how dimly it smolders, a fire will eventually break out.”

 -Robert Greene

What do you think happens when someone tries to do something and no matter what that person does he or she always fails? Of course that individual will lose morale and get sick of the constant failure that is plaguing him/her and consequently just give up with the inner feeling that he/she is just doomed.

This is the feeling that we have been living with for the past two decades. However I want to stress one point: ‘when you hit rock bottom, the only way out is up.‘ Wars are inevitable in life. They have been happening since the dawn of humanity.WWI & II was caused by the Europeans. They were fighting for power, dominance, resources and ideology. Those two wars had caused unimaginable loses of lives. There was pain, desperation and great sufferings. It had destroyed the whole continent of Europe.

Since what was happening in Europe was an internal struggle, the Europeans and their leaders embarked on a mission to end their vicious circle. They figured out a way to externalize their internal struggle and the solution for them was the so called “scramble for Africa” which led to the colonization period. In retrospect, their move was inhumane and immoral.

Coming back to my point, we all have to find a healthy way of externalizing our struggle. I say this because of the peculiar things that are happening in our country. For a start, one of the funniest phenomenon that has developed in our society is that almost  everyone is talking about politics and every man you meet is aspiring to be the president of the country or at least hold a political office. I wonder the man who said “every man in Somalia is his own Sultan.” was right

The only reason I think we are experiencing this strange phenomenon is because our people especially our teenagers have nothing to do. They have no other activities that interest and capture their imagination. They barely have any role models. What do you expect them to do when all they hear and witness and watch from the TVs are the chronic and the unending political and social entanglements that our country is going through?  The ugly truth is that there is nothing else that diverts their attention- the fact that even aspiring to be a professional sportsman/woman is stigma and discouraged by the overwhelming majority doesn’t help either.

I know deep in my heart that there are many great men and women out there who are patriotic. They are disheartened by what is happening in our country. I also know that they truly want to contribute and make a difference regardless of how small their contributions are. I also know that somehow you feel outnumbered and isolated and that you felt like the individual who approached the insane group and tried to make sense to them and at the end was accused of being insane himself, ha-ha.

You don’t need to feel that way. You don’t need to think and say what I can do alone. What you need to remember and do is to continue your struggle and know with great conviction that you are not alone and that few can make a difference and change the destiny of many.

The Way Forward

 ” Leadership means give-and-take, not going into negotiations with your ego in play.”

-Amanpour

Human beings are the most complex creatures on Earth. When it comes to the spectrum of our actions and feelings, we are capable of doing both great and destructive things. We can become the most caring, loving, compassionate and selfless individuals . At the same time, we are also capable of turning 180 degrees and carry out the most selfish, evil and barbaric acts ever imagined.

We are full of contradictive and conflictive emotions and actions. It is this combination of mixed and opposite extremes that makes us so complex. However, most of our actions are predictable because even  the most unpredictable of us become predictable because of their unpredictability. Hence there is always a pattern to our behavior and actions.

Can you imagine a world where more than 7 billion people live in and where resources are “scarce” and each and everyone of those people are trying to survive and make a living. Where each community/individual is trying to get an  edge over others so that they can secure their future and the future of many generations to come. This is exactly the world in which we live in today. No wonder that we always witness dirty politics which causes  wars, suffering, despair and hardships since not everyone of us makes a living in a fair and balanced way. Everywhere you look at there  are conflicts and constant struggles. I guess Charles Darwin was right when he said in his theory of evolution that “only the strongest will survive.”

There have been many talks, debates and books written on the clash of civilizations, Holy wars and the eternal struggle between good and evil. I believe that all these suggestions are pretexts for declaring and waging wars on those deemed less worthy and weak when in fact the major reason for waging those wars and creating conflicts is for  basic economic interests. I am not denying that there are other factors too, but those are only part of the picture, not the full picture. For instance, lets talk about religion. What do you think and say when you see President Ahmadinejad of Iran saying that America are the enemy of Iran because Iran are an Islamic country and after few weeks flies off  to Venezuela which is also a Christian nation and calls President Hugo Chavez his brother and ally? You see the irony that I am talking about?

Coming back to our country we always talk about the problems of tribalism and how it is the root cause of our divisions. However no one ever talks about  what causes tribalism. You already know the answer. Our chronic tribalism and divisions are caused by our wrong believe and thinking that resources are scare. This thinking made us very greedy and led us to fight each other for the control of resources as each tribe wants to make sure its own survival and as result of that advance its own position. Since all of us have our own self interest at heart which of course you can say is understandable , it is always inevitable that our interests will clash and that is the main cause of conflicts.

What we need right now are leaders who can understand this dynamic and see things from this perspective. Only then can we work on how to match our  interests or at least bring them closer to each other  and as a result of that come to common grounds. We need leaders who don’t  have “a winner-takes-all attitude”  and don’t see things as a zero-sum game and finally don’t  go to the  negotiation tables with their ego.

Your Attitude Determines Your Latitude

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he never existed.”

-The usual Suspects

Today we are living in a world dominated by great inequalities. Everywhere you look there are staggering disparities in income, education, standard of living, science and technology. Nothing is new about this trend. Social and economic inequalities have existed since the beginning of time. What is unique about this trend is the psychological effects it has had and it is still having on the so called “Third World Countries.”

Many people think or are thinking now that maybe people in the developed world are more intelligent than people in the less developed countries. There are many reasons for this distorted perception. First, the European colonization played a huge role in this ill-conceived mindset. It created a sense of inferiority from the side of the governed since they were mostly backward in terms of civilization, legal systems and science & technology.

Second, a freshly graduate with a smart idea from an underdeveloped country sees his/her counterpart that happens to be in the developed countries implementing ideas and running a successful business in a short period of time while he/she cannot do it at the same time.

These two cases coupled with the fact that they have been dominated for so long with respect to economics, politics and science & technology have created and instilled a sense of inferiority and self-defeating thoughts in the minds of many people from the “third world countries.” This fact made them question their own intellect and capabilities and as a result of that it left a seething doubt in their conscience.

The fact is that there has been no single scientific research that proved without a reasonable doubt that one’s intelligence is determined by his/her race. In other words, there is no strong positive correlation between intelligence and race. I also strongly believe without a shadow of doubt that God is just. He gave everyone a capable mind and the ability to realize and achieve one’s own potential . One thing we know for sure now. We know that they are not more intelligent than us. If that is the case, then why some communities/nations perform better than others? Are they more intelligent than the rest? Of course not.

When you see someone that is outperforming you it means that person is doing something that you are not doing so in order to bridge the gap you have to figure out what is it that they are doing. Of course today we are living in an era where your success  is most likely not determined by your hard work rather it is determined by your nationality and where you happen to be. That is why the bright, hardworking and freshly graduated student from a third world country can’t understand and digest why he/she is struggling with life and everyday trying to make ends meet while their counterpart on the other side of the court has a support system, access to cheap credit and many other opportunities.

The reality is that life is not fair and many of the things that happen to us in life is not of our choosing, like where one was born and which nationality you belong to. But we have to remember that God has given us a free will and that we always have a free choice. We can either feel sorry for ourselves and accept our fate or we can get up,  make the most out of what we have and take our destiny into our own hands. The choice is always there for us to make.

If we truly want to leave our mark on history we have to first get hold of our minds and fix our compasses on the right bearings. We have to tune in to our inner voice. That sneaky voice in our head. We have to listen to it very carefully because as it turns out 90% of our fears never comes true, hence we become prisoners of our own fears and insecurities.

Nothing in this world ever materializes on its own. It takes the collective commitment, will power and determination of the people to make things happen. It takes the collective creativity, ambition, resilience, tenacity and steel of nerve of the people to create things. If you do this and luck is on your side then surely nothing in the world can ever stop you. we have to realize that the world is out there for us to grab.

Fairness, Justice & Equality

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by  their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

 -Declaration of Independence

One of the most abhorrent acts in the sight of God is injustice. God considers justice a supreme virtue. In fact it is only next in terms of importance to the believe in God’s exclusive right to worship. Allah declares in the Quran : “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even if it be against yourselves, your parents, and your relatives, or whether it is against the rich or the poor.” (4:135)

Justice and equality are the cornerstones for building a virtuous, moral and peace-loving society. If history is a good guide then we all know that no nation on earth has ever reached greatness without embracing and implementing universal values such as social justice, equality, freedom and tolerance. These values are the cement that holds a society together. Hence, any system that lacks the values we have just mentioned will surely not get any legitimacy and is doomed to fail at the end.

I am a strong believer of the theory of causality. Every action we take in life has its own consequences. Some maybe implicit while others are explicit. Our people have incurred so many injustices. Since the past 21 years, thousands and thousands of innocent people have lost their lives, their loved ones and their possessions. Some of us may have experienced horrific acts which are unbearable. Murders, executions and target-killings have become common occurrence to the point that now people are reacting to them indifferently. This is an alarming situation because material losses might be recovered but the moment we lose our empathy and emotions is the moment we cease to be human beings.

I believe we have spent enough time talking about our problems and challenges. There have been many heated arguments and debates about them and why they happened and what caused them. I am not saying that we should entirely stop talking about them. What I am saying is that instead of talking about problems all the time we should spend our energy on how to bring about solutions for our problems. Instead of seeing problems all the time, we should see the solutions for them. The reason I am saying this is simple: the more we think and talk about problems the more we lose sight of their solutions and become negative and  as a result that we become part of the problem. Buddha said: ” we are shaped by our thoughts, and we become what we think.”

We all live once and life is too short. Every one of us will be judged and accountable for his/her deeds. We have to make the most out of  our limited time here on Earth. We have to collectively fight and struggle against tyranny and oppression.  We have to be just and fair in our dealings. All of us should stand up for justice, equality and fairness. We have to remember that no matter how far down we have gone the wrong road , we can always turn back.