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.

The Power of Balance

” We’re flawed because we want so much more. We’re ruined because we get these things and    wish for what we had.”

-Don Draper

If you carefully observe  the earth, heavens and the surroundings in which you live in , you will immediately realize that everything around you is in order and is functioning according to a pre-determined natural order. What may seem chaotic in the beginning may actually be part of a more balanced grand scheme.

Almighty Allah has created everything on earth in opposite pairs so that balance can be maintained . Male-female, day and night, life and death. We may think they are different things but in reality they are all the two sides of the same coin since the existence of one gives value to the existence of the other. We value life and cling on to it because of death. How can you realize the value of light if you haven’t experienced darkness?

There are many things which are good for human beings but if used in excessive manner they all become harmful to us. For instance, when thirsty one must drink water .There is only that much amount of water you need to drink in order to quench your thirsty. If you exceed that level then you know that it will feel weird in your stomach and it is likely that you will throw up as a result. Similarly, death is part of life. If everything was immortal then earth would have been overpopulated and natural resources overburdened and finally drained therefore there has to be death in order to maintain the balance, avoid chaos & destruction and continue the cycle of life.

Every religion understands and appreciates the value of balance. Almighty Allah says in the Holy Quran: “But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters.” Surat Al-Qasas{28:77}

In this Ayat you can clearly see the balance that Allah is talking about. He is saying that we should worship him and do good deeds in order to deserve heaven in the hereafter which is the eternal home yet we should never forget about our share in this world since we are his vicegerents on earth and have a responsibility. yet, I always encounter many people who strongly believe that this world is not for them and is a world that is made for the unbelievers.

In order to protect the balance of power Allah has ensured that there will be no one supreme power on earth since it will lead to tyranny, oppression and injustice on earth. Through out history there hasn’t been one single supreme power!. When the Roman Empire was at it’s peak there was the Persian Empire which challenged their authority. Today the U.S is the undisputed Hyperpower in the world but it’s power is not limitless as there are other powerful nations such as China and Russia who limit its movements.

Balance is an integral part of nature but it is one of the most challenging things to achieve. A wise man who was a taxi driver once said to me that” human beings are never truly happy with any state of their lives “.I believe his expression was a true reflection of the moods of our times. Everyone wants more than they already have. We are advised to never be soft but instead be kind. What defines us as human beings is our ability to express our emotions yet being very emotional clouds our judgments and perspective on things. We are also encouraged to be generous but never be frugal. The list is unending but one thing is clear from these statements.

It is obvious now that the key to solving all the above paradoxes is ‘balance’. I think the reason we are facing so many challenges these days is because we have lost our perspective on the power of balance. We should all embrace the spirit in the power of balance. We should all strive to achieve balance in our thoughts and actions because a balanced life is life well lived.

The Cost of Tribalism

For those who have seen the Earth from space,

and for the hundreds and perhaps thousands more who will,

the experience most certainly changes your perspective.

The things that we share in our world

are far more valuable than those which divide us.

-Donald Williams

Tribalism is the root and fabric of the African society.It is a phenomenon that has been haunting the continent of Africa long before the colonial rulers had arrived. Kwame Nkrumah– Ghana’s first president and one of Africa’s greatest statesman at one time said of the tribal system in Africa as “the main impediment to Africa’s independence, industrialization and growth”. Nkrumah’s words are still echoing in most countries in Africa. From Senegal to Nigeria in the west, to Kenya and Somalia in the east.

It is this tribal system that dominates every sphere of life in most countries in Africa. From economics to politics one cannot rise to level of high authority without the consent and support of his/her tribe. Allegiances are  first given to the tribe one belongs to then to the state. Tribalism also leads the state to commit atrocities against those tribes that oppose them. It also causes divisions, revenge killings and skirmishes between competing tribes for resources. In rare occasions even genocides were motivated and inspired by one ethnic group who saw themselves as victims  and caused the 1994 slaughter of 800000 people in Rwanda.

When the British came to colonize the continent they perfectly understood the social fabric of Africa and the strong importance tribes had in Africa. It is under this context and the lack of unity tribalism created that facilitated and enabled the colonialists  to implement their strategy which was to first divide the people and then conquer them. We all have seen the negative impacts tribalism has in the society. It creates rifts and hatred between the community. It divides and disintegrates the society and makes them susceptible to foreign invasions. Finally if taken to an extreme it leads to wars and horrific genocides.

However, I want to reiterate that there is absolutely nothing wrong with claiming your tribe and being proud of your roots. It is perfectly natural- we are who we are and there is no denying that. The problem starts when one or few tribes think  that they are superior to other tribes and have more right than others. When loyalty to ones tribe leads to favoritism, cronyism and the subjugation of minorities. When politicians play the tribe-card and incite hatred and bigotry. And last but not the least when the benefits that comes with allegiances to tribes outweigh those of the nation.

I strongly believe that we should all appreciate and respect our differences. We all should cherish our diversity and always remember what Almighty Allah has told us in the holy book of Quran:

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).Al-Hujurat 49:13

When you Lose your way go back to the beginning to find your path

Τoday when I look my surroundings and try to understand the general feelings and perceptions of the people specially the young generations and elders, it is sad to say that all I see is desperation and confusion and I ask my self why? There is no one single answer to this but I am going to try to come up with answers which are based on my personal observations and experience .

Since childhood we were brought up to be good human beings, honest, truthful, cooperative and hardworking. We believe that  Islam is the one true religion and the only way of life and we have to be very grateful and lucky to  be born Muslims.

The harsh reality today is that our generation is lost and live in a state of limbo. We are like a boat  in the ocean that is caught by sudden storm and just floating direction-less.  Today the west is dominating  in every aspect of life and their   civilization is spreading like a wild fire. Our teenagers wear jeans, and T-shirts. We dine from their  top class restaurants and cafes. We listen to their music and watch Hollywood movies. Not that I am saying anything is wrong with that, because as the saying goes if you go against the current then the waves will push you back.  Politically the west is also calling the shots, America is the sole superpower in the world today. Financially the west controls the world bank and IMF. In a nutshell the west is playing the music and we are dancing to their tunes. Why this change of fortune and when will the tides change?

Contrary to some mistaken believes, the problem doesn’t not lay in Islam. Instead the problem lies with in us. We deviated from the right path, the just path and the road to salvation. Allah says in the Quran: ” Truly, Allah doesn’t change the (good) condition of people as long as they do not change their state (of goodness) themselves”.(13:11)

The above ayah truly explains the condition we are in today. God is just. When God created the earth he put all the things that we needed in it  and people were scattered all over the place and  were all equal. If this is the case why did some nations rose and others crumbled and  ended up in the wrong side of history? What made the status of one nation to rise than the other was not that they were the chosen ones, rather  it was their sheer determination and will power to take their fate and destiny into their hands, how they came together and decided to use their resources and brain-power in an efficient and effective manner. They realized  that fairness, equality, justice ,security , law and order were the corner stones that will lead them to success and prosperity.

What we are lacking today is a government that is for the people, of the people and by the people. A government that knows that they are there for the people and  that is accountable to its citizens.We are lacking  an environment that welcomes change, that is tolerant to differing opinions. W are lacking an environment that nourishes independent thinking and finally an environment that encourages and promotes positive thinking. In conclusion if we want to get to the right path we have to take the following steps.

  • Be God-fearing citizens
  • Establish a transparent and accountable system.
  • Ensure the rights of the people .
  • Establish law and order
  • Allocate resources of the nation responsibly and equally.
  • Protect the freedom, liberty and justice of the people.
  • Put more emphasis on health and education