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Wheel Within a Wheel; Never Ending or Beginning.

By Samiya Lerew

Somalias political situation is perhaps best described in the words of Alan & Marilyn Bergman in the 1968 song The Windmills of Your Mind: “wheel within a wheel; never ending or beginning”. Within the past twelve months, the Federal Republic of Somalia has seen three different prime ministers, several attacks on parliament, assassinations of high profiled members of Government and the endless demolition of businesses and activism in Mogadishu.

Despite the execution of a microcosm of national criminals, well-co-ordinated attacks have still been carried out by terrorists. The most recent audacious attack (on the Halane compound near Mogadishu airport) was carried out on the residence of HE Nicholas Kay, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia. The base is also home to the African Union peacekeeping soldiers in Mogadishu and is the one and only green-zone in the city; it routinely offers security to its residents and the many NGO staff that live there. The intolerance of these terrorists for other creeds and cultures is emphasised most recently in the attacks that took place on Christmas day, 2014. This offense was designed to inflict trauma primarily upon Christian residents. Fortunately enough, the Halane base was heavily defended and the attackers’ efforts were thwarted with minimum casualties.
This assault on the Halane base exposed the flawed efforts of the UN and EU in rebuilding Somalia. Somalia was readmitted to its full status within the UN in 2012. This was achieved by an elaborate and well-staged operation called ‘Somali peace reconciliation’ among the main warring clans and a constitution was subsequently put in place to facilitate a federal government. The constitution itself, however, is rife with conflicting articles. All elements outlined in the document are designed to please particular clans who have been fighting for supremacy; the desire is to subjugate other clans and very little else.

Realism

To make sense of it all, let us look at the Somali situation through the lenses of Realism. Thomas Hobbes, in his book ‘Leviathan’ (1651), described humans as natural born savages. He stated that “life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. The Leviathan is described as maintaining order by keeping man at bay through restriction. Hobbes went on at great length to describe how in the absence of a greater authority, war, all against all, is inevitable. Between 1960 and 1969, Somalia had a clan-orientated government. In its first decade of independence, corruption, clan tyranny, sectarian murders and the mockery of justice lead to the formation of a highly popular military coup. The resulting military rule lead by Mohamed Siyad Barre became the aforementioned Leviathan in this case. All observations from Somali political commentators (who are Somali-born) concede that in the first 5 years of military rule, the country prospered, resulting in genuine progress and justice for all. Unfortunately, the country took a regrettable turn towards dysfunctional nationalism, and the USSR was orientating the nation towards war. The 1977 Ogaden War did not come out of the blue; the USSR trained large military officers and provided all the military weaponry needed for warfare. In his eagerness to unite all Somalis against clan-driven division, President Barre marched his troops into Ethiopia to liberate Ogaden. Ironically, the 1977 war achieved quite the opposite: clan division, clan animosity, clan factions and clan guerrilla warfare became rife. This became the dominant Somali political dynamic. In 1991, war broke out, against the ideals that Hobbes described. This civil war, with all its proxy fighters, went on for 21 years.

A clan may sometimes operate as a state does, albeit an unevolved one. The difference is that it does so without higher purpose. A clan tries to maximize power so that it can fend off would-be attackers. The individual alone is nothing, but when part of a collective they may suddenly become significant. A clan, in this case, behaves like an octopus; each of its tentacles desperately reaching out for something to feed into its own mouth with no coherent or enlightened prospects in mind. For example, one type of ‘tentacle’ (clansman) holds public office with only one thing in mind: the enrichment of himself (and those who immediately surround him) and not necessarily the remainder of his clan members. Another clansman who is able to obtain great wealth, perhaps as a remittance agent or as a businessman, would do whatever necessary to advance his own clan members, sparing no cost and disregarding the consequences of their action. A third clansman would spend his own money in order to build online websites so he can broadcast clan propaganda, etc. Hence every clan member (at least those who managed to build a diaspora population), even though they obtained refugee status as minorities, have their own online media. Above all, the worst ‘tentacles’ are those who were educated in western countries (especially in the USA and UK) who have studied world politics, speak fluent IR language with a North American accent and call themselves a ‘Think-tank’. Their main objectives are to promote special interests and sanitise the ills that his clansmen do. Clan pride can be traded as though it were currency – it is apparently a pride worth killing and even dying for, and it becomes a form of insurance to cover these groups from liabilities. If the intelligent and educated use their valuable skills to advance their clan status and have no further vision for their state, then I beg the question; do such short-sighted people even deserve to have a state?

Thucydides was largely mentioned during the end of the transitional period. The new government of Somalia was ready to be recognized as a state by the UN, only this time with new constitution with its reinvented system of segregation called 4.5. This indefensible apartheid-reminiscent order was justified using Thucydides’ ‘Melian dialogue’. 4.5 outlined that the bulk of the land (and all that it contained) was to be divided amongst four clans, along with the domination and control of the parliament. These clans have been fighting for supremacy and those who conscientiously object are regarded as worthless; as half-a-being. Along with 4.5 and the silence of Somalia’s western friends (the providers of military and financial support), a widespread gross violation of human rights has descended upon the minorities.
Let us look at Melian Dialogue and how it came about; Thucydides (a general, war historian and a philosopher) left behind an important account of the Peloponnesian war in 400BC. These accounts of war between Athens and Melos island indicated that Athens threatened to attack the islanders unless they surrendered to the will of their aggressors. Melians pleaded to the better nature of Athenians, also arguing that God was on their side. However, the Athenians asserted that ‘might is right’, and it duly attacked Melos, killing all men of fighting age and enslaving women and children. Thucydides stressed the importance of power and the dangers of being weak: “The strong do what they want to do and the weak will have to suffer what they must”. This is an increasingly relevant and applicable quote in the Somali political landscape today.

Never in the history of conflict has there been such a misuse of Thucydides’ Melian dialogue like there has been in Somalia. In Somalia it is increasingly the case that the strong do what they want and the weak should endure what they must. Unlike Athens, Somalia’s dominant clans who dragged themselves through a relentless power conflict (even against the backdrop of the civil war), failed to produce a winner on either end. The UN, along with all of its agents and NGOs, combined with African union soldiers, effectively brought the civil war to an end. In other words, and rather ironically, it was the International Community that was the ultimate victor of the Somali civil war. The International Community has both the responsibility and duty to take into account The International Bill of Human Rights (UN General Assembly resolution 217 A (III)). As such the UN cannot ignore its own Human Right Charter. For various reasons, this same international community had, to a certain degree, permitted (or at least neglected to prevent) the establishment of the 4.5 system. The losers of the civil war were granted what they could not have achieved from this seemingly infinite battle. Instead of making them face consequences, they were rewarded with the spoils of the war. Tremendous efforts were made by the international community to put Somalia together again, spending a colossal amount of money in the process. Unfortunately, a catalogue of errors damaged their efforts to carry out this unenviable task.

Anarchic world

Hans Morgenthau in Politics Among Nations (1948) states that the “political man is an innately selfish creature with an insatiable urge to dominate others”. In an anarchic world with no overarching authority, states are liable to behave in whatever way they please with indeterminate (or non-existent) consequences. In the case of Somalia, there is limited regional authority to govern the destiny of smaller constituencies, and as a result of this there is an order-less and chaotic clan system. Beyond even this lies the example of the helter-skelter capital city of Mogadishu. Here we have several layers of anarchic systems, and each layer can do what it pleases. According to Kenneth Waltz’s The Theory of International Politics (1979), theories about international politics could be developed on three levels of analysis: the human individual, the state and the international system. In the case of Somalia, we have a superpower known as the USA, attempting to assist in getting Somalia back together again. It does so by using other states who would put their own interest first. We also have the UN and all its agencies with NGOs, who at best try their hardest to help Somalia to better itself. With the absence of a disciplining authority or rules to follow, they all operate on self-regulating rule.
In short, we have several layers of state-deprived systems trying to cooperate with each other; yet there is no viable accountability. In this case it is unavoidable for biological man to take advantage of the incoherent layers of a lawless world. For instance, a large sum of money delivered from the USA, EU, Middle East or other benevolent donor countries for the purposes of ‘helping Somalia’, can travel through such a myriad of borderline-miscellaneous agents and sub-agents that the recipient (in this case intended to be the people of Somalia) would have very little or nothing to show for. The suspicious disappearance of large sums of money, a vanishing trick that would put the great Houdini to shame. However, reports are available (on paper only) of how these finances have been managed.

Lame Parliament

The Somali parliament is dominated by warring clans. There are four armed-clans with full representations and the rest of the peaceful and unarmed-clans are condensed to half a clan, hence 4.5. It means that they are only worth half of the others. It also dictates what one Somali-born American professor named Ahmed Ismail Samatar calls “duopoly”. The high post of the parliament i.e. the presidential seat and that of the prime minister can only be held by Hawiye or Darod clans. Sub-clans have won important battles. Abgal (a sub clan of Hawiye) won the battle of dominating Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. A second sub-clan named Majerteen (of Darod) have won the good ear of British foreign policy makers, towards Somalia. Between 2010 and 2012, young inexperienced and impressionable members of the British foreign office (Somalia desk) were befriended and beguiled by men belonging to the Majerteen clan, now in charge of Puntland. A battle worth winning. Hence, only Darod or Hawiye can hold the two top jobs. I am quite sure real democracy will solve this problem.
Unfortunately, those who are regarded as lesser-humans, which are the silent majority of Somalia people, cannot hold top jobs because they are considered to be the descendants of ‘inferiors’ or the descendants of the Bantu clans. Such is the belief of the dominant clans, a form of ideology. To belong to a certain clan is seen as a form of qualification. A pastoral person could come from a primitive life, whom does not have any qualification or knowledge of what governance is, becomes a member of the government or a minister by simply having a clan name next to that of his own.
This camouflaged apartheid system has led to various problems for the supporters of the current Somali government; the INT/COM. The parliament itself became the battle ground for petty point-scoring, bribery by presenting ‘moshin’, bickering, petty clan-boasting rights so on and so forth. The parliament itself became the battle ground for clan-supremacy. The representative of the so called ‘half a clan’ do vote for whoever they are told to do so because they have no debating powers or they are told to keep quiet if they try to raise their voices. At times the minority MP’s are simply used for keeping their people in line when they protest, like a sheep dog.
The four dominant clan members of the parliament should be balanced by another four pacific clans so that a coherent balance can be achieved. For instance, if the ‘Jareer weyne’ clan (i.e. the Bantu clans) are represented in parliament as one clan. The Banadiri (the coastal dwellers) are considered as one clan. The oppressed clans the ‘cadaver-eaters’ are counted as one whole clan and the Beizanis are also counted as a single clan. As such the Somali Parliament would not be a lame parliament because there would be something to counter balance the badly-behaving clan-MPs. Solution wise.

Beizanis

Missing from the Somali political picture are the Beizanis. Most Beizanis are the descendants of the first wave of globalisation from colonial settlers. Beizanis were the ruling party during 1930s, 40s, 50s and even into the 1960s. After the country’s independence, most civil servants, court clerks, lawyers, teachers and merchants were Beizanis. These particular cosmopolitan people had the experience to run a state and don’t have the burden of being loyal to clanism. Sadly the Beizanis are totally marginalised from the current Somali politics and yet it is they have the key to unlock the quagmire.
Assimilated Beizanis

During and after the colonial era, a great many Somalis were assimilated to become paesani. They were brought in to the towns as children and were educated through the colonial system. This faction of Beizanis may be considered as clan members; however, they have no loyalty towards the clan politics and recognise themselves as Beizani. When the civil war broke out in 1991, almost all assimilated Beizanis were forced to leave their home town of Mogadishu. 80% of the current inhabitants of Mogadishu came to the city as militia warriors, pastoral community that came to live in the city and Internally Displaced Personnel (IDP). Pastoral life is very different from urban life. They follow a primitive rhythm which is entirely incompatible with what we regard as a civilised. Law and order is seen as tyranny and oppression. Hence the city suffered a massive brain drain. Since the war broke out in 1991, the subsequent generation grew up knowing nothing but war and instability. They have no morality beyond what the warlords have taught them. This is called the ‘lost generation’.
The assimilated Beizanis wish to return to their homeland. However, the mechanism to integrate them back into society is absent. Lawlessness has taken over Beizani houses and properties. What is left of the properties are destroyed, broken down to just their shells and ownership has been claimed by others. The country needs the Beizanis to return to demonstrate what peaceful, intelligent and moral people look like. The Beizanis that are descendant from colonial settlers have their identities as Somali people denied by the new Somali government. The government looks at them as descendants as foreigners with no claim to their homeland.

Beacon of Hope

From here onwards the country has chosen federalism. It will still remain the federal state of Somalia but every region will have control itself following devolution. This new regional government-building is a blessing in disguise. The regional government will put in place authority of their own states with diplomatically chosen MPs to be their representatives in the federal government. Prior centralising power has been an unqualified disaster. Each state will raise its own policing system, educational programmes and skill-training. As such, power will not be centralised to one part; hence jobs will be distributed evenly amongst its own people.

A beacon of hope comes from the South West region. Consisting of Bay, Bakol and Lower Shabelle. The inhabitants of this region do not boast perceived clan superiority or obsession of homogeneity. It is not the core of their everyday life. They consist of many different groups of people; farmers, peasants, craftsmen, artisans and in general hard-working people who are all village-dwellers. Unlike people of the north east of Somalia, idolism is not something to be proud of. Instead creative and productive attitudes are applauded and the people believe in living harmoniously with others. There is hope that this one particular region can economically advance itself. However, the top leaders are not people who have received western education. Their only knowledge of how to run state and government is that of how the warlords did. State chaos is all they know and therefore the UN Mogadishu office has the duty and ability to give training on how a state should operate. These people must forget the dark times of the war. Unless they are guided in how to run a state there is a real danger that these people may slip back into war as the leaders know no better. It is the UN Mogadishu offices duty to teach these people how to leave behind the interwar politics and to realise that the time when these war tactics may have helped is in the past and that a better future lies ahead.

The geographical region of the south west region lie in the bread basket of the country; agricultural land, stone quarries, gas and oil reserve, a long coast and an abundance of minerals. If the top leaders remain ignorant of everything other than warlordship, then the rich land they reside on will go to waste. By all reason, their land should be the envy of other states. However, this particular region has undergone destruction of unimaginable magnitudes by famine and war. Most affected are its people.

The solution to this Somali quagmire lies in true power sharing, Beizanis must be part of the state-building and not be denied of their citizenship. The international community should assist this particular region in a positive way; different from the misplaced help that has been offered to Mogadishu.

By Samiya Lerew
Author of the article.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2015 in Somalia

 

Hyena’s Justice

Hyena’s Justice.
Hyena rules

The Somali justice system is shambolic. After the country’s seat in the UN was reinstated, the new Somali government did not make justice its priority. Assuming that clan justice would provide some sort of rough even-handedness whilst neglecting a vital part of governing institution. The new Somali government is riding high on a horse called 4.5. Appointed judges, court clerks and law enforcers are comprised of individuals who have no experience in the judiciary system and yet are expected to conduct justice as they see it fit. This has lead to wide spread power abuse: carpet bagging, arbitrary arrests and arresting innocent people without warrant. Young men have been charged and incarcerated only for their bullet-riddled bodies to be found dead in the dusty streets in the outskirts of Mogadishu. Dangerous criminals are released from jail on the pretence that the law has not been written yet, therefore there is no article which finds these men guilty of terrorism charges. These terrorists have walked free.

Rape crimes have gone through the roof. President Hassan announced one morning that rape had become punishable by death. This law was passed without the consultation of a council or fellow MP’s but instead was made in the manner by which the country is accustomed; with the mentality of dictatorship. This had very serious implications. Before the death penalty had been imparted, young rape offenders who had been named and shamed as a rapist had been punished by their elders and clan members. The new law, however, meant that an entire clan would protect any rapists within their midst as it was not acceptable for them to lose a male life. As such, men are now more confident to rape women because they know their next of kin will protect them from the death penalty. President Hassan’s own law backfired; he would have been well advised to consult with elders both male and female and the law enforcers, before passing a law without any idea of possible ramifications. In Somalia, female elders are more reasonable and rational individuals but, sadly, their opinions are overlooked and pushed aside by both the Somali government and UNSOM.

On the other hand, it is difficult to provide justice for all when the governing system itself is based on 4.5 unjust systems. The way we see this odious political system, was that Somalia was sinking in an ocean of civil war. The international community, for peace sake, has turned a blind eye on the fact that the warring clans are united in ostracising the “cadaver eaters”.
Other groups who are peaceful and productive were included in the marginalized groups of people. These people are the Reer Xamar, Beizanis, Reer Barawe, Bajuni, Jareer weyne and numerous other clans who did not engage in the civil war. The dominant clans were given the green light to abuse the people they see as ‘abuseble’. The clans abused at will and nothing held them back. The 4.5 governing system opened a can of worms. Not only has the International Community agreed to push aside the law-abiding, hard-working, productive and peaceful people of Somalia, but the International Community goaded the dominant clans rather unwittingly to ‘out-bad’ each other. It is not a rocket science to figure out that something that is rewarded gets promoted.
Many peacful clans are now given no choice but to face extinctioon or fight back. it is sad the UNSOM has abdicated its responsibility on this issue. UNSOM has to take the minorities on board for Somali peace and reconciliation. I spoke to Eng Yarow Sharef Aden following his attendance at Chatham house on the 9th of May 2014. He stated his concerns and the following are his points:-

1- Reconciliation has to be the first priority because without genuine reconciliation nothing can be done to deal with insecurity.

2- To define the Somali nationality in clear manner. (Somali nationals are only those in the Somali Republic) and not the Somalis living in the neighbouring countries

3- Justice from grass-root level.

4- Inclusiveness in security forces, where all clans are equally represented

5- Disarming off all Somali clans and gangs.

6- Creating an atmosphere of trust between civilians and government security apparatus.

7- Rehabilitation of militants in responsible manner.

8- Formation of local administrations from the grassroots (Bottom up approach), with inclusiveness, justice and fair manner.

9- Repatriation and relocation of refugees and IDPs has to be implemented with cautious to avoid land disputes that can lead to civil war.

10- International community to support the security initiatives by working closely with the Somali Federal government.

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2014 in Somalia

 

African solution for African problem?

By Abukar Arman

 

 

Abukar Arman posted another magnificent article exposing the folly of an “African solution for an African problem”. This slogan might be romantically poetic but its real effects devastate lives in Somalia and keeps the western players in yet another quagmire. Mr Arman dissects this slogan quite intelligently.

“Somalia: African solutions for African problems?
Interventions from neighbors have not brought Somalia the promised peace.
Last updated: 09 May 2014 11:23 – Aljazeera

Abukar Arman
Ambassador Abukar Arman is the former Somalia special envoy to the United States and a foreign policy analyst.

AMISOM’s forces have only complicated Somalia’s security situation, argues Arman [Reuters]

One of the most potent intoxicants in Africa today is the canned phrase “African solutions for African problems”.

While “ASAP” is an acronym that connotes a timely and efficient result, most if not all, operations that are veiled with the romantic motto, have proven that they are not indigenously conceived, funded or driven.

Since this phrase entered the African lexicon in 2007, it has proved to be of no substantive value to the continent or its people. Contrary to what it was originally intended, the phrase has been taken hostage by domestic political sloganeers and foreign elements eager to advance zero-sum interests. It also became the ideological impetus that helped establish multi-national African forces such as AMISOM.

As is clear in Somalia, this kind of politico-military system – especially when neighbouring states are directly involved – routinely contain or “solve” a problem by creating several newer ones that perpetuate dependency, exploitation and indeed subjugation.

“When one asks a powerful neighbour to come to aid and defend one with his forces…These forces may be good in themselves, but they are always dangerous for those who borrow them, for if they lose you are defeated, and if they conquer you remain their prisoner,” forewarned Niccolo Machiavelli several centuries ago.

In Somalia, not only did our current leadership, and that of the last decade, fail to heed the aforementioned warning, they obediently competed and outperformed each other to prove themselves as unyielding loyal subjects. It is clear that no Somali can pursue a political career in his own country without first getting Ethiopia’s blessings. Already, Ethiopia has installed a number of its staunch cohorts in the current government and (along with Kenya) has been handpicking virtually all of the new regional governors, mayors, etc.

Byproduct of vicious fratricide

Recently, while reading on poverty, I came across the anthropologist Oscar Lewis’ (controversial) theory “the culture of poverty” in which he argues that while poverty might be systemic and generational, it fosters unique self-perpetuating value system that ultimately becomes engrained in the poor person’s way of life.
Witness – The Mayor of Mogadishu

People who are altered by that attitudinal phenomenon commonly have “a strong feeling of marginality, of helplessness, of dependency, of not belonging. They are like aliens in their own country… (and) have very little sense of history”.

I could not help but reflect on our own self-defeating, self-perpetuating predicament.

As in Stockholm syndrome, a good number of the Somali leadership have become emotionally and politically bonded with the very power that abused them and fuelled enmity between them (off and on) since the seventies.

Capitalising on that psychological advantage, Ethiopia has managed to get the exclusive right to set up an embassy inside the Villa Somalia (government compound), independent “consulates” in Somaliland and Puntland, and independently operating intelligence command centres in each of these balkanised political entities. To further complicate matters, Ethiopia has signed independent “military treaty” with each of these political entities.

Yet, the current leadership – as those before them – seems content with such arrangement. That, needless to say, motivated Kenya to follow the same effective strategy – isolate the centre from the periphery, and lure the latter entities into deals that they can’t refuse.

Exposing the lame ducks

Only a few weeks into the Ethiopia-led (AMISOM) military operation, the UNSGR warned the next violence that targets the UN may force it out of Somalia.

“I am deeply conscious that if we make a mistake in our security presence and posture, and suffer a significant attack, particularly on the UN, this is likely to mean to us withdrawing from Somalia,” said UN Special Representative Nicholas Kay.

To underscore his message, he adds this: “There are scenarios in which if we take further significant losses, then that would have a strategic effect on our mission.”

Was this a reckless telegraphing intended to implicitly dare al-Shabaab with a “Go ahead, make my day; force us back to Nairobi” message? Or was it a cryptic warning intended to preempt the Ethiopia/Kenya tag-team from getting too creative in their covert operations intended to manipulate facts on the ground?
Inside Story – Somali refugees : threat or victims?

While you ponder, consider adding this into your calculus: The UN deliberately bypassed AMISOM when it commissioned a Ugandan contingent of over 400 Special Forces to guard its facilities and staff. This particular contingent is neither officially part nor does it take any orders from AMISOM. Why?

Because, the controversial implanting of Ethiopia and Kenya into AMISOM has changed its dynamic from a peacekeeping force into a political vehicle.

Ambassador Kay is too experienced to make haphazard security-related statements. He was well aware of what he was saying and where he was saying it. He affirms that awareness in his presentation. Between the lines he was signalling his frustration with the Ethiopia-driven AMISOM, and how he and UNSOM ended up biting the dust. I have argued before that the Ethiopia/Kenya and US/UK interests are in an imminent collision course.

Musical chairs and revolving doors

Though the next election/selection is more than two years away, the usual suspects of mostly political conformists who are devoid of any transformative ideas or strategies are already in their hysterical manoeuvring and counter-manoeuvring routine. They are dutifully eager to demonstrate their capacity to perpetuate the status quo.

Intoxicated with the rhetoric that our “good neighbours are making self-sacrifice for us” these politicians are determined to hinge the future of our nation on the question of “Who would be the next president and the next prime minister?” rather than “What new vision and strategy would these individuals bring in order to help heal or repair our broken nation?”

Against that backdrop, on May 5, over 100 MP signed a non-binding resolution demanding the resignation of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud or face impeachment.

Make no mistake, Somalia is held in a nasty headlock by a neighbourhood tag-team unmistakably motivated by zero-sum objective. It is their so-called African solution (not so much of the extremist group al-Shabaab) that is setting the Horn on fire.

Against that backdrop, our IDPs (Internally Displaced Politicians) continue on their respective pipedreams. Of course, where there is no vision, neither strategy, nor political will and continuity matter.

Ambassador Abukar Arman is the former Somalia special envoy to the United States and a foreign policy analyst.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.”

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Somalia

 

Introduction to Somali Beizani

SOMALI BEIZANIS

Who are the ‘Beizanis’? The Beizani are a Somali clan whose ancestors came to Somalia in the early 1900s, during the Colonial era. This era was the period in which Somalia experienced an influx of Italian colonial settlers along with thousands of skilled workers from different parts of the world.

At this point in time, Somalia did not have skilled workers. Natives were tribal people who practised a pastoral life style based on primitive clan values.  Their world did not extend beyond family, the tribe and village. Nomads roamed freely with their livestock. Borders and boundaries introduced during this era did not limit the nomads from roaming freely. In any case, boundaries and borders were imaginary lines with no physical mark to indicate where territories began or ended. 

Unlike British Somaliland, Italian Somaliland brought skilled workers from other colonies such as Eritrea, Libya and Ethiopia. As Italian Somaliland prospered, more people with skills came from Italy, Yemen and Oman. Indian settlers came along during the British rule in south of Somalia. These skilled workers contributed in the building of Somalia, especially Mogadishu. Agriculture was also flourishing; the colony started to export agricultural goods to Europe which in turn contributed the boom of the country. 

Within this mixture of diverse people, work was divided and the Italians were the ruling party. The Eritreans were clerks and lawyers, Ethiopians were mechanics, Arabs were storekeepers and furniture makers and Indians were traders of gold and silver.  Highly valued hand crafted gold was exclusively made by the Indians. The official language at the time became Italian and as such schools were taught in Italian. As children from all these ethnicities went to school and grew up together, they became one people. A clan of their own.  They were known as Beizanis.

Another group of people also have come to join this diverse and multicultural community. Children raised by the missionaries. Orphaned children were cared for by the Italian missionary, most of them did not have known parents and some were given up by mothers who were unable to care for them. As these children grew up, they recognized themselves too as Beizanis. These groups of people were free from the ties of clan loyalties. For them, the love of Somalia was and still is far stronger than the emotional attachment of any clan.

Beizanis lived in Mogadishu (the largest city at the time), Merca (or “Marka” as it’s known today), Brava, Jawhar and Kismayo. Beizanis are every bit as Somali as the dominant clans claim to be. The difference is that the dominant clans are loyal to their clans first, and Beizanis are loyal to Somalia only.  Unfortunately, a civil war broke out in 1991. As clans fought over dominance, the humanitarian organisations and international communities went to great lengths to satisfy the warring clans. Productive and peaceful clans were condensed into half a clan, while the Beizanis were completely eradicated from the picture. The Beizani community are Somalis and stakeholders of the country that are not to be ignored.

Beizanis wish to contribute in the rebuilding of their country.  Unfortunately, all of their land and properties were looted. They are unarmed, marginalised, abused and unrecognised by the international community.  Somalia needs the Beizani, even if the big clans don’t. Civilized behaviour must return to Somalia if we are to move from this phase of clan quagmire and into a brighter future.

       

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2013 in Somalia