Monday, 7 September 2009

New Banadir-A Reality

Many and prevalent are the articles and essays that retard our social discussions, injecting into our collective discourse arguments that are neither based on facts nor on reason; the utter pervasiveness of this behavior has poisoned any attempts to objectively address some of the pressing issues facing our society today. Articles penned not for the common-interest of the Somali people, but simply designed to score some very personal points whilst hiding behind the ever convenient banners of religion and patriotism. But it would be wrong and a mischaracterization on my part to simply reduce the recent theatrics of Dr Ali S. Faqi into such simplistic categorizations, for the good doctor actually goes a step further in indulging himself into some very profane ideas about history and politics in general and it is within this repeated trivializations of some of the most heartrending episodes in our history that one finds the true tragedy of Somalia.

Dr Faqi’s article, as all such essays do, begins with a fallacious assumptions -that the very meeting on this Benadir Project was a secretive (and then he hilariously proceeds to post a picture from this very “secret meeting”) and proclaims it to be a deceitful initiative intended to “polarize” and “push controversial agendas.” Consequently, Dr Faqi makes the speculative conclusion that this Benadir Project will “undermine the current TFG,” which goes well with the overall extremely crude if not deliberately deceptive theme of this article.

But beyond Dr Faqi’s contradictory and self-defeating argumentations, it is really not that hard of a work to show how serially empty of logic his assertions are. The Benadir Project arises from the basic belief that the traditional view of “from above” approach,-namely the idea that a Strong Central Government should predate any attempt to stabilize the country, of solving the Somali tragedy as both outdated/impractical and counterproductive as a dozen and more attempts of such assumptions have led to a catastrophic failures and perpetuation of the Somali conflict(perhaps here is where Mr. Faqi’s employment of the insanity quote would have been appropriate). Accordingly, it calls for a bottom-up approach to solving the Somali quandary and aims to empower local institutions by equipping them with the necessary tools to tackle local problems and to help create the needed environment that will pave the way for the gradual stabilization of the Somali State. This is seen by proponents of the Benadir Project as realistic and cost-effective means to solving some of the pressing issues facing our country and our region in particular.

Nor does the Benadir Project mean the Balkanization of Somalia as Dr Faqi has wrongly misconstrued. A strong and stable Benadir will mean the (dramatic) reduction of violence and injustice in Somalia and especially in Mogadishu, and the weakening of the social agitators and the realization of the ultimate dream of a return of a peaceful and stable Somalia. Consequently, the argument that a) that it is a clan project and b) that it militates against the basic idea of Somalia are simply concocted and a distortion of the vision and objectives of this project. Benadir is home to multiple clans and its people have a centuries old tradition of peaceful co-existence, whether in Mogadishu, The Shebelle Valley and in Central Somalia and these clans will ultimately have to compromise and work together for the greater good. Furthermore, the Benadir Project is not rooted in paranoia and hatred of others, but is simply a mobilization against injustice, social anarchy and disorganization. The docility of our masses in the last 18 years as both victims of social agitators and also as the willing accomplices in some of the misdeeds and crimes that have taken place in this region, have shown the easiness and effectiveness of exploitations that can arise when society doesn’t have a binding vision and tangible aspirations. These socio-political cataclysms manipulated through religion and the clan have had trouble consequences and hindered any attempts to recover from years of brutal wars and anarchy.

This project will have deep roots in the culture and history of the Benadir region while at the same-time adopting a realistic and progressive vision to bettering the lives of its people. The success of this project will indubitably depend on the choices it leaders make and what trajectory they set to follow. In this regard, the success of this project should be measured by its capacity to comprehensively change the domestic structure of this region and its adoption of a strong and vibrant constitution and also representative institutions that guarantee the democratic foundations of this project.

The Somali groups in Banadir should rally behind this project for it will not only lead to local governance for the region that has become the perpetual victim in the Somali civil war but will also safeguard their interest from predatory groups. It is commonly known that the different groups in Banadir region have peacefully coexisted in this very region for several centuries. One does not have to mention the long coexistence of the Somali pastoral groups alongside the merchants and traders of the Banadir coast, i.e in Warsheikh, Mogadishu, Merca and Baraawe. The alliance between the Wacdaan Mudulood clan and Geledi clan that eventually led to the creation of the powerful Geledi Sultanate based in what is now Afgooye is also familiar to those who are acquainted with the history of this region. Morever, one does not have to mention the memorable resistance struggle different Banadir groups waged against the Italian colonists. Indeed, those who have a rudimentary historical knowledge can understand the coexistence and common history of the Somali groups in Banadir (Shabelle Valley and Banadir port-cities) that spans several centuries. Dr. Faqi, however, is either unaware of the common history that binds the different Somali groups in Banadir region or he is deliberately creating this artificial grouping of Lower Shabelle, Middle Jubba and Lower Jubba in what he refers to as ‘Riverland’ . Merca, Baraawe, Mogadishu and Warsheikh are the ancient Banadir port-cities that were connected to the vast hinterland of the Shabelle Valley and this is precisely why his claims are specious at best. But then one wonders if Dr Faqi will be charitable enough to even acknowledge these very elementary facts.

Three paragraphs down and one finally begins to see the underlying reasons behind Dr Faqi’s article for it is precisely in the paragraphs that follow that he finally suspends his own stated values and moral-outrage and goes on a full throttle employing the very sins of clannish and thuggish sentiments he readily accuses the former Prime Minister Mohamed Ali Ghedi of, and in fact even goes on to blame an entire clan (through erroneous and insipid insinuations) of holding the country “hostage for the past 20 years,” through their “USC.” But what is instructive for the reader is the constant usage by Dr Faqi of the previous abuses and injustices against the Bendari and Lower Shabelle Clans to further his own personal vendetta against certain individuals in the Benadir Project; and even though his disingenuous cries about the recent reshuffling of the TFG Cabinet are admirable, one wonders why the good doctor wasn’t quite as interested in even mentioning the total absence of any member of “Ghedi’s clan” in the previous cabinet.

Regrettably, “this is a country rather short on irony and long on euphemism,” and dubious men like Dr Faqi will always have an audience for their retarded trickeries. Indeed, to paraphrase C E Hitchens, an article such as the one authored by Dr Faqi that bases itself on a big lie and a big misrepresentation can only sustain itself by a dizzying succession of smaller falsehoods, beefed up wilder and (if possible) yet more contradictory claims. Seen from this angle, the Benadir Project is neither a myth nor a Lalaland as Dr Faqi conveniently perverts- it is the sum of the common will and aspirations of the entire people of Benadir (regardless of their clan affiliations) to construct for themselves a future that is free from the habitual injustice and brutality that has become the defining legacy of the last 18 years.

By Daud Jimale

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