ABDISALAM M ISSA-SALWE




HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON THE CHALLENGE FACING
            THE SOMALI SACRAL UNITY




  PAPER ...
CONTENT

1. Introduction.....................................................................................................
1. INTRODUCTION

The disappearance of the Somali state in 1991 from the international scene is seen as a unique
phenomenon...
Somali nationalism has some parallels with European nationalism. Nationalism as a
movements in Europe was based on the not...
very rigid, centralised system. This not only leads to frustration, but also contradicts Somali
traditional culture.

The ...
These new leaders, living away from the communities were free of the traditional pattern of
constraints and became less an...
These illusions of denying their social engineering mislead the national policy and social
expression. In the end this end...
‘tribes and ethnic groups divided would seek to become united, to become members of the
same state, or form a state of the...
Mentioned above, boundaries came to be associated with the external shell of the state. This
strategy became a survival ki...
four days, 26-30 June 1960, before British and Italian Somalilands were united into the
Republic of Somalia.

Their bold e...
Under NER three regions came to be identified. These are Bari, Nugaal and North Mudug,
whose people share a single socio-e...
They put their proposal in January 1948 to the Commission of the Four Powers (Britain,
USSR, US and France) which visited ...
5.4 PROBLEMS FACING THE PROCESS OF RESUSCITATION

Kinship influence has played a major political force in the Somali polit...
element of clanism. Nonetheless, the new social situation has engendered a new political and
social space where Somalis co...
7. CONCLUSION

Any solution, unless it is based on today’s reality, is prone to fail or possibly to complicate
and intensi...
8. REFERENCE

Adam, Hussein M. (1992): “Somalia: Rural Production Organization and Prospects for
         Reconstruction”,...
Lewis I. M.; A Modern History of Somalia: Nation and State in the Horn of Africa, (London:
         Longman, 1980).
----- ...
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Historical Perspective On The Challenge Facing The Somali Sacral Unity

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As what is at stake is the survival of a nation whose problems could not solve within a nation framework, this paper attempts to put forward a new paradigm on the challenges and dilemmas facing the midnimo (unity). It will examine what caused the ‘sacral’ Somali concept of midnimo (unity) to disappoint the Somalis. This assessment leads the analysis to look at the courses which reversed midnimo and to derail the country from its original undertakings.

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Historical Perspective On The Challenge Facing The Somali Sacral Unity

  1. 1. ABDISALAM M ISSA-SALWE HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON THE CHALLENGE FACING THE SOMALI SACRAL UNITY PAPER PRESENTED AT quot;IL CORNO D’AFRICA FRA STORIA, DIRITTO E POLITICAquot; HELD AT ROME, 13-14 DECEMBER 2002
  2. 2. CONTENT 1. Introduction....................................................................................................................... 1 2. Brief Background of the Midnimo Concept........................................................................ 1 3. Internal Blow: the Breakdown of the State ........................................................................ 2 3.1 Misconception of the Concept.................................................................................. 2 3.2 The Erosion of The Traditional Authority ............................................................... 3 3.3 Illusionary View of Misleading Policy..................................................................... 4 4. The External Setback: Uniting with the ‘Organic’ State..................................................... 5 5. Redefining Midnimo.......................................................................................................... 7 5.1 Somaliland Republic ................................................................................................... 7 5.2 North-eastern Regions (later Puntland) ........................................................................ 8 5.3 Bay and Bakool Regions (now Southwestern State)..................................................... 9 5.4 Problems Facing the Process of Resuscitation............................................................ 11 5.5 The Fear of Group Domination.................................................................................. 11 6. Pros and Cons ................................................................................................................. 11 7. Conclusion ...................................................................................................................... 13 8. Reference ........................................................................................................................ 14
  3. 3. 1. INTRODUCTION The disappearance of the Somali state in 1991 from the international scene is seen as a unique phenomenon in this nation-state era. No one expected Somalia to disintegrate in the first place. Somali society is unique in Africa as it is a homogeneous ethnic group. As the cohesion of the Somali population was much stronger in the early years of independence, in the 1960s, the logical conclusion was that Somalia was less prone to disintegration than the majority of African states. However, this has proved an illusion. Somalis’ national consciousness is based on the shared heritage of Islam, belief in a common ancestor, language and culture. This notion, which is also called midnimo (unity), has preserved Somali-speaking people for centuries. However, currently it appears that the midnimo is losing out to the challenges of the twenty-first century. After four decades the dreams and expectations arising from their midnimo look vanished. A cloud of human misery and uncertainty spread over the Somali nation as their crisis led to a dual blow: (i) the breakdown of their state and (ii) the Somali Republic's failure to unite with those of her people who remained outside the boundaries of Somalia drawn by the colonial powers. What went wrong? What made Somali aspirations fail? What caused midnimo to let Somalis down? As what is at stake is the survival of a nation whose problems could not solve within a nation framework, this paper attempts to put forward a new paradigm on the challenges and dilemmas facing the midnimo (unity). It will examine what caused the ‘sacral’ Somali concept of midnimo (unity) to disappoint the Somalis. This assessment leads the analysis to look at the courses which reversed midnimo and to derail the country from its original undertakings. 2. BRIEF BACKGROUND OF THE MIDNIMO CONCEPT The midnimo concept is based on Somalism. This in turn has its roots the feeling of national consciousness which focuses on the shared heritage of Islam, belief in a common ancestor, language and culture and, in addition, the geographical continuity of the areas they inhabit. The clan is the most important political unit in the traditional system. Clan membership is traced through the male line to a common male ancestor from whom the group takes its clan name. Through this patrilineal, agnatic genealogy system enables all Somalis to related each other. The language creates a feeling of unity, a unity which has sacral characteristics. This feeling focus on the basis of the Somalism. As the Somali midnimo has its roots in the oral tradition of Somali culture, the interiorising force of their oral word relate in a special way to the sacred, to “the ultimate concerns of existence” (Ong, 1982). Thus for the Somalis, midnimo cannot be violated (midnimada Soomaaliyeed waa muqaddas). This makes Somali nationalism, in the words of I M Lewis, “…tailor-made, and their problem was not that of nation-building, but of extending statehood outside the frontiers of the Somali Republic to embrace the remaining portions of the nation” (Lewis, 1980). 1
  4. 4. Somali nationalism has some parallels with European nationalism. Nationalism as a movements in Europe was based on the notion of ethnically homogenous nations, whereas nationalist movement in Africa revolved around the population of a given colonial territory regardless of their ethnicity (except in a few countries). As the populations were in most cases ethnically heterogeneous, the struggle was waged in the name of a territorially defined population. Therefore, their goal was usually independence within the existing territorial boundary. While most African leaders were engaged in a policy of developing a set of values and ideas that all citizens of the new state would identify with, Somali leaders were faced with the reverse problem: that of unifying their people under the Somali state. The idea of the 'unification of all Somalis' became the core of Somali aspirations. Many Somalis viewed the establishment of the Somali Republic as a step towards the culmination and realisation of the Somali nation. Since independence in the 1960s almost all Somali foreign policy has focused on the task of putting all Somalis under a single state. This fact constituted 'a dilemma where Somalia remains a nation in search of a state' (Samatar et al, 1987). 3. INTERNAL BLOW: THE BREAKDOWN OF THE STATE Scattered over a territory covering nearly 600,000 square kilometres in the north-eastern corner of the African continent, the notion of midnimo allowed the Somali-speaking people to survive for centuries and to form one of the largest single ethnic groups in Africa. Yet, the sacred midnimo appears to face the challenge of the twenty-first century. The heart of the dilemma lies in the system of government which Somalia took at the beginning of the modern state. It is a centralised and alien system of government introduced by European colonial powers. When lineage’s number increases it is more likely that sub groups will develop. When the clan or the community expanded to new localities they used to set their elders or community leaders to look at their affairs. This gave the clan or community the autonomy to manage their own affairs and also to provide their members with secure, close relationships. The new system of government which was introduced after independence has reduced drastically the control of the local community over their own affairs. The modern Somali nationalism provided a mechanism to transform the cultural nationalism to a political nationalism. This new trend also predicted a new form of notion which has transformed the autonomous and harmonious Somalism to a strict form of centralisation. The psychological environment fashioning the feeling of Somalism was the mechanism behind this determination. Behind this, the concept of centralisation was based on the often misinterpreted Somali notion of midnimo (unity), often called Somalism. 3.1 MISCONCEPTION OF THE CONCEPT What led to the current problem is believed to be the misinterpretation of the concept itself. midnimo is often misinterpreted and distorted until it has failed to be what it should stand for. The drive of unifying the missing territory has been interpreted to putting Somalis under a 2
  5. 5. very rigid, centralised system. This not only leads to frustration, but also contradicts Somali traditional culture. The diversity of the ecological and economic conditions compelled most Somalis to lead a scattered life in either pastoral, agricultural, or towndwelleres. All these types of living shared a similar culture. This cultural bond is the basis of Somali egalitarianism which is based on equality on ground such as: social experience, economic and social life styles that did not create separation; a predominant oral culture that tends to unite people, so that people are able to cross their boundaries to identify with each other with a language that fosters unity. This type of life made Somalis to live widely dispersed and consequently to lack the necessary organisational form needed to form a single political unit. The centralisation of the system of government has also effected the essence of traditional authority as well as the type of authority which was replaced during the formation of the modern Somali statehood. How has the impacted been developed? 3.2 THE EROSION OF THE TRADITIONAL AUTHORITY In spite of the fact that Somalia’s nightmare came into focus in this decade, it is believed that it had begun in the closing decade of the nineteenth century. This had not only resulted in the partition of Somali territory, but also had left behind a centralised system of government alien to the Somalis. Traditionally, Somali political authority was spread throughout the community, as there was no centre for political control. Clan leaders dealt with people politically on a face-to-face basis, and were responsible for all affairs concerning the clan and its relations with other clans. They claimed no rights as rulers over their people. The clan- leader had not much executive power (Kapteijns, 1993). Somali egalitarianism is encapsulated in the right of every man to have a say in communal affairs. After lengthy discussion and analysis of the matter concerned, a decision in the shir is decided by consensus. During the late 1930s to 1960s lineage politics were manipulated to serve the political needs of the colonisers. A new form of hierarchy was introduced, and chiefs, called caaqils, were appointed by the colonial administration to represent and speak for the clan lineages. This process was to undermine local authority. These subordinate caaqils were used as political representatives of colonial authorities as they were paid a stipend by the colonial administration and given other concessions. These spokesmen were generally, for obvious reasons of convenience and availability, drawn from the urban areas. The colonial masters paid them and as a result undermined the traditional source of authority (Lewis, 1980; Samatar, 1988). This also weakened the integrity of the community harmonious relations and enforcement of peace for “the common good among local groups was replaced by a high public political profile of a socio-economic nature” (Sadia, 1994). Traditional chiefs thus became marginalized. Such social changes, which saw influence shifting from traditional (rural) leaders to a new urban leadership, were to have an impact on the modern Somali political leadership. While, the ability of the traditional assemblies to influence decisions grew steadily weaker, power shifted to modern political leaders who were not up to the communal responsibility. 3
  6. 6. These new leaders, living away from the communities were free of the traditional pattern of constraints and became less and less accountable for their actions. This new political culture created a type of leader who was more concerned with personal power and aggrandisement. Such a person, physically and socially removed from the traditional power base, felt free to operate unchecked by the clan, and this lack of responsibility to his constituents was not compensated for by a more general, though essential, sense of responsibility to society as a whole that should accompany public service. This degeneration in standards of responsibility would help pave the way for the subsequent leadership crises during the military era, and in the period of disintegration of the Somali nation state. The civilian government, which ruled Somalia in the 1960s, did not change much of what they had inherited from their colonial predecessors. They gave priority and sometimes paid salaries to the “townie” clan representatives. The military regime, which came to power in 1969, followed a similar policy. In addition to that, it created their clan representatives called nabaddoon and samadoon (peace-seekers). Clan manipulation was also a mark of the regime; the policy became a political instrument whose effect on the Somali public was to build up resentment among other clan groupings. The regime set a two-tier system, one which rewarded some sub-clans for their loyalty to the Kacaanka Barakaysan (the Blessed Revolution), and the other to persecute and repress those sub-clans quot;for their recalcitrance or reluctance to be enthusiastic about the new order imposed upon them.quot; (Siciid, 1993). To create fear among the social groupings, family members and neighbours were encouraged to spy on each other and report to the Guulwadayaal, the para-military force established, which acted as the regime's watchdog at neighbourhood level (Issa-Salwe, 1996). The song “harkaaga laguu diray” (your shadow is watching you) was meant to intimidate people from drifting from the ‘revolutionary path’. 3.3 ILLUSIONARY VIEW OF MISLEADING POLICY Clanship remained a major force in the Somali politics since 1940s. This influence did not abate with modernity as claimed by some scholars and intellectuals. This view has raised many debates which continue until today. According to I M Lewis and Said Samatar, Somali leadership, including the intellectuals, failed to realise clanship influence over Somali politics. The kinship group or lineages are the building blocks of Somali society and it is the one which has the Somali socio-political identity. During the independence struggle the nationalistic mood influenced a trend which was to get rid of the clan name which was the traditional way to address themselves openly. This influence was also evidenced in the Somali modern poems which had a major role in moulding the nationalist mood. The view of the new educated elite which was developing in this period was influenced by the new trend. According to Abdullahi H Adan, the civilian government's approaches “were essentially designed to preserve, rather than upset, the political balance that grew out of the nationalist agitation of the 1940s and 1950squot; (Adan, 1997). This gradualist approach on social and economic change could not satisfy the populist elite dissent political manifested by quot;ameliorative political demands (reformism) versus revolutionary oppositionquot; (ibid.). 4
  7. 7. These illusions of denying their social engineering mislead the national policy and social expression. In the end this ended up with various Somali governments to create false impression to deal with the social reality (example, the “ex”, the rhetoric of Siyad Barre). For some leaders this was a cover up policy while the kinship influence played their policy (i.e. Barre’s rhetoric façade for his MOD strategy). Instead, the military regime quot;denied any public space or opportunity clan driven politics, it also constrained the activities of its entrepreneurs in the name of national unity and social modernizationquot; (ibid.). The divisive element of clanship is thriving with modernity. For example, it has adopted the modern technology for its ends (i.e. the Internet). Currently, there are almost four hundred Somali websites. These sites come broadly under six categories: community/political, cultural/literary, professional/educational, online newspapers, business and personal. The majority of these websites tend to publish in the form of ‘online news'. Some of these sites tend to use the web as a means for expressing their political stance of movement or their specific group identity. Their aim is to rally their social groups or communities. The other factor for using ‘online news’ is construct identity; thus the ‘online news’ feature is just a side effect. Despite all six categories running different services, they generally have similar structures. For instance, the majority of them have online newspapers, literary, Islamic information links and an Internet Relay Chat section. The characteristic of the Islamic links shows Somali importance for Islam and its teaching. Somali websites activities epitomise the turbulent, darkest sides as well as the best sides of the history of the Somali nation. When a society begins to disintegrate during periods of social or economic turmoil, it experiences an identity crisis. In such a situation, quot;people endeavour to reconstitute their identities and social meaning by articulating and identifying with alternative discoursesquot; (Laclau et al, 1985). 4. THE EXTERNAL SETBACK: UNITING WITH THE ‘ORGANIC’ STATE The collapse of the Somali state in the early 1990s triggered a new debate over the question of how and why this came about. Different theories have been put forward one of which identifies the fundamental malaise resulting from the boundary problems which Africa inherited. Somalia's resources, energy and spirit concentrated on the goal of uniting its remaining kinsmen in Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia under one flag. This policy effectively isolated it from the pan-African movement. However, Somalis themselves did not see that pan-Somalism, which was the driving force of their foreign policy, as contradicting their pan- Africanism. In fact, they regarded it as an application of the wider principle, since it aimed at a legitimate unification of territories which colonial interests had arbitrarily destroyed. Many OAU member states, however, saw Somalia's position as troublesome and potentially divisive and were not well disposed towards it. The newly formed African countries resisted the strategy of putting all Somalis in one ‘organic’ state in the 1960s; they saw Somalia's position as upsetting the balance of the newly formed African states. In the early 1960s, it was widely believed that the inherited borders of the new African states would give rise to many bitter conflicts (Touval, 1972). The predictions that boundary and territorial conflict would plague Africa after independence were based on the assumption that 5
  8. 8. ‘tribes and ethnic groups divided would seek to become united, to become members of the same state, or form a state of their own’, and that they would therefore challenge the boundaries dividing them. The domestic influence over the boundary politics is one of the aspects involved in state formation. Many states advocated the territorial status quo and the sanctity of the boundaries imposed by the colonial powers. The ethnic compositions of these states, their political history and their internal politics were the factors which influenced them towards boundary and territorial problems. Boundaries may from to the external shell of the state. Therefore, for many new African states, their survival got linked to protection of the shell. Maintenance of the status quo has come to be associated with the self-preservation of the state (Ibid.). If secession were granted to any group or region, it was feared, it would stimulate secessionist demands from other groups or regions, thus threatening the integration of the state. Many African states were vulnerable and suspicious of any challenge to the boundaries defined by colonialists for fear that the framework of political entities in the continent might be swept away in anarchy of tribal and other conflicts (Gobban, 1945). The year 1960 is known as the annus mirabilis of African independence as the majority of African states came into existence during that year. By the latter half of the 1990s there were fifty, or (if the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic is included), fifty-one independent states. With only a few exceptions, (such as Ethiopia, Egypt and Liberia), all are relatively 'new' states. As they acquired statehood, the new states began to search for new identities as nation- states. They embarked on the task of welding into a nation a variety of peoples, speaking different languages, and at different stages of social and political development. Boundaries may be called the external shell of the state. Therefore, survival of several new African states depended on protecting the shell. By defining themselves according to the inherited colonial boundaries, the majority of African states found that for their own survival they must respect the inherited colonial borders. In many cases, the maintenance of the status quo has come to be associated with self-preservation of the state. Despite the fact that almost all African states have at one time or another been involved in some border dispute, four states have been opposed to the principle of accepting the inherited boundaries. These were Morocco, the Somali Republic, Ghana, and Togo. Their irredentist policies caused many conflicts with their neighbours which also became international concerns: conflicts between Morocco and Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania, Somalia and Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, and between Ghana and Togo. In spite of this, almost all African states have at one time or another been involved in some border dispute. Two states opposed the principle of accepting inherited boundaries. One of these was Somalia. Somalia's territorial claims, and the counter claims of Ethiopia, Kenya and France (Djibouti) have provoked many international problems. Somalia's aim was to unite all members of the Somali nation within a Somali nation-state. Somalia's claims can be categorised, according to Touval's definition, as ‘core values’. Claims which concern ‘core values’ of self-image focus upon ethnic distinction. For the Somali people the creation of an independent Somali Republic, on 1 July 1960, was only the beginning of their struggle for national unity. The policy of uniting Somalia's remaining relatives under one flag challenged the principle of accepting existing borders. 6
  9. 9. Mentioned above, boundaries came to be associated with the external shell of the state. This strategy became a survival kit for the many new African states and therefore they opted to protect this policy. Maintenance of the status quo has come to be associated with the self- preservation of the state (Issa-Salwe, 2000). There has been many sympathy which Somalia gained from some quarters. However, it did not help to achieve its aim. This colonial legacy was to impact on the political, social and economic life of the Somali nation. In fact, this is believed to be one of the major factors which led to the collapse of the modern Somali state in the early 1990s. 5. REDEFINING MIDNIMO Leading a decentralised life style is the tradition of the Somalis and the current crisis has led them to realise how far it is important for them to regain what belongs to them. This also reflects Somalis’ loss of confidence in their politicians. This last influence has awakened in the Somalis the need to take part in the political life of their country. The civil war, which ensued after the ousting of the military regime, created a situation that forced people to return to their clan quot;areasquot;. Once in their safe area, these people began to feel the need for some other essential requirements or services. Thus, these requirements and the underpinning social intercourse could not be possible without a regulating body or institute. It was this need which brought the creation of some administrative bodies in some parts of the country. It is this same feeling which has pushed Somalis towards decentralisation. Somali culture offers some clues how best Somalis can survive. Somalis led a decentralised life for centuries. A mechanism for decentralisation is possible when there is a system based on regional autonomy or state (canton). The principal based on this system is a bottom-up approach, which maintains procedures built from the grass roots. At present, the Somali midnimo faces its biggest challenges. When a society begins to disintegrate during periods of social or economic turmoil, it experiences an identity crisis. In such a situation, quot;people endeavour to reconstitute their identities and social meaning by articulating and identifying with alternative discoursesquot; (Laclau et al, 1985). Following the breakdown of the State, Somalis did not give up trying again to reconstruct their lives. In spite of the fact that the midnimo has experienced its downfall since the creation of the state, just recently it took to a new turn which may be re-awaken. This is what can be referred as resuscitation of the midnimo. And some of its development may be witnessed from how the Somalis are trying to respond to the collapse of their statehood. Somaliland was the first to attempt to regenerate midnimo in 1991, followed by North-eastern Regions in 1992 (later Puntland in 1998), and Bay in 1995. However, this process took place at many levels for example the establishment of Amoud University, etc. 5.1 SOMALILAND REPUBLIC On 18 May 1991 the Somali National Movement, which had taken control of the North- western regions, declared the regions as an independent Somaliland Republic. They argued that its action was not secessionist but rather the reinstatement of the status which existed for 7
  10. 10. four days, 26-30 June 1960, before British and Italian Somalilands were united into the Republic of Somalia. Their bold effort can be perceived as having two effects: that of trying to reshape or redefining the midnimo as well as drawing themselves into a no-way-out situation. This is more evident when Somaliland tries to define itself as what had constituted the former British Somaliland (formerly North-western, Awdal and Togdheer regions). Not only have they exasperated the Somalis, but also have frustrated the Somali peace solution. Somaliland’s venture not only has impact on the Somali nation, but also touches the very heart of the century old problem of the formation of African state and controversies about their boundaries. In spite that of this secessionism appearing to signal the end of the long road to midnimo and offering a respite to some African countries who fear the apparent Somali expansionism implied by midnimo, it makes African leaders throughout the continent tremble. If secession were granted to any group or region, they fear, it would stimulate secessionist demands from other groups or regions, thus threatening the integration of the African state. Many African states are vulnerable to and suspicious of any challenge to the boundaries defined by the colonialists for fear that the framework of political entities in the continent might be swept away in an anarchy of tribal and other conflicts. Nevertheless, the ethnic Somali people of regions bordering the Somali state played a major role in the process of the midnimo when they expressed a desire first to join their brethren of Italian Somaliland in 1960. In April 1960 in Hargeysa, the Legislative Council passed a resolution calling for union with Italian Somaliland. During this period, there was rumour that some of the new Somali political leaders in the north had campaigned for a different option from that of the people: to delay the unification with Italian Somaliland. Others went further: to advocate the formation of a separate state. Both groups’ ambitions were defeated by the strong will and aspirations of the Somali people. Just after four months of the formation of the Somali Republic, the first challenge to the unity was experienced in December 1961 when a secessionist military coup led by twelve northern officers was attempted (Lewis, 1980). The objective was to detach the northern region from the Somali Republic. The revolt leaders were arrested by their subordinates who defied the orders of their own commanders (ibid.). While the aspiration of the Somalis played a major role in suppressing the secessionist coup, they attempted to express their feeling in more democratic ways, when the majority of people of the north voted against the constitution of 1961 in a referendum, whereas in the southern regions only a huge majority in favour (ibid.). 5.2 NORTH-EASTERN REGIONS (LATER PUNTLAND) The second course of action for the resuscitation of midnimo came on 21 December, 1991, when Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF) leadership, the traditional religious leaders, intellectuals and politicians of the North-eastern regions (NER) agreed to form a regional administration under the leadership of former Police Chief (1960-1969), General Mahamed Abshir Muse, with Abdullahi Boqor Muse as General Co-ordinator (Issa-Salwe, 1996). They justified their move on the grounds of the collapse of the central government and the need of self-reliance and self-defence. 8
  11. 11. Under NER three regions came to be identified. These are Bari, Nugaal and North Mudug, whose people share a single socio-economic resource, and a common political and traditional leadership. Although administratively NER regions were working as one entity, competing interests within SSDF leadership on the other hand, and between SSDF and the Council of Elders (Isimo) on one hand weakened and obstructed the smooth running of the administration. Nevertheless, these regions were united on the policy of self-reliance and of mobilisation of regional self-defence campaigns during the early years of the civil war. In August 1998 NER joined with Sool and East Sanaag regions to form a new administration. Representatives from these regions agreed in Garoowe to call the administration the Puntland State of Somalia. Ethnically, these people are mainly from the Daarood and Meheri clans and their attempt is partially a direct response to the domineering political ambitions of the Hawiye in the south and the secessionist moves of Isaaq, the predominant clan in Somaliland. Puntland was to articulate itself within the framework of the Somali state. Puntland’s new border encroaches with that of Somaliland as two of its regions Sool and Eastern Sanaag are also claimed by Somaliland. The Puntland leadership declared that “this is an experiment and first step towards the new Somalia” (see Puntland State Information, August 1998). This policy, according to them, is to “recreate” Somalia by a bottom-up approach as “this will lead to the establishment of separate regional administrations, leading to negotiations between equal regional states to pave the way for the reconstruction of a central federal system of Government in Somalia” (ibid). The central government would have primary responsibility over national defence, foreign, financial and monetary guidance. 5.3 BAY AND BAKOOL REGIONS (NOW SOUTHWESTERN STATE) The Conference of Digil and Mirifle held in Baydhaba in 1995 responded the third attempt to redefine midnimo. Between 26 February and 19 March 1995 traditional leaders, elders, intellectuals and women’s organisations of Digil and Mirifle community met in a conference to answer the pressing needs for security and basic social services following the breakdown of the state. The conference passed a regional constitution which decided to form a regional administration which would be run by a Council of Leaders. The constitution emphasises that the supreme authority in the political affairs of the region is the Council of Leaders. The Council of Leaders should be composed of 33 permanent members (see The Conference of Digil and Mirifle). The conference further reiterated that the regional arrangement has the responsibility to enter in contract with other Somali regions to form a federal Somali state. The type of federal structure proposed by the Conference of Digil and Mirifle for the future Somali state is based on “four states” divided among the main Somali clans, the Hawiye, Daarood, Isaaq and Dir community (ibid.). For the Digil and Mirifle communities, the notion of decentralisation goes beyond their resolution of 1995. During the independence struggle of 1940s and 1950s, the Independent Constitutional Party, known also as Hisbul Disturul Digil & Mirifle (HDSM), advocated a federal system for the Somali nation. HSDM represented the southern region ethnic people, namely the Rahanweyn, Digil, Bantu and Arab communities (Issa-Salwe, 1996). 9
  12. 12. They put their proposal in January 1948 to the Commission of the Four Powers (Britain, USSR, US and France) which visited Muqdisho following the defeat of Italy in 1945. The commission was established to investigate the wishes of the former Italian Somaliland, concerning their political future. The Digil, Mirifle and their allied communities’ worries extended also during the independence. They always used to worry the pastoralist to migrate to the fertile area they live. Migration is part of Somali society tradition. For centuries Somali clans migrated, first from south-eastern Ethiopia, which is believed to be the cradle of their earliest ancestors (Hersi, 1997), spreading north-eastward to populate the Horn. Centuries later, a new wave of migration began flowing in the opposite direction, to the south and west (Ibid. 22). The traditional migration patterns that can be discerned show that the Somali clans followed two main routes: the river Shabeelle valley and along the line of coastal wells on the Indian Ocean littoral (Lewis, 1993). By the close of the seventeenth century Somali clans had spread to the northern part of what is now Western Somaliland, and the southern part of the Jubba river up to the Tana river, presently Kenya (Ibid.; Hersi, 1997). In spite of the fact that Somali migration subsided for some time, it did not disappear completely. In fact, it gained a new impetus during the modern Somali state. Following the Sahalian drought of 1973-74, the Somali government began a policy of expropriating the fertile land along the Lower Shabeelle and Middle Jubba river (Besteman, 1996). And in the following year it enacted a mandatory land registration (the 1975 Land Law) which required farmers to “apply to the state for leasehold title” (Ibid.). Although this process is common in most of African countries, in Somalia it degenerated as the system became so centralised and easy to abuse and manipulate. Only those people who could afford to access the cumbersome administrative requirements could register. Because of this, many local people were displaced. The policy represented the first phase of an irreversible demographic shift in modern times, in which the pastoralist clans migrated to southern Somalia (Menkhaus et al, 1996). The deterrence of the Digil and Mirifle community, however, could not hold long as this did protect them from General Mahamed Farah Garaad Aideed’s Somali National Alliance taking the region by force in late 1995. General Aideed took advantage of the situation to take control of Bay and adjacent regions, following a political dispute within the Somali Democratic Movement (the Digil and Mirifle armed movement). The general’s militia’ booty was the land stretching from Marka through Lower Shabeelle and Jamaame to the Lower Jubba region. During the same period these regions became the battleground of Siyad Barre’s forces and General Aideed’s. This triggered a famine whose intensity and intensity of the situation the world came to realise only when Baydhaba hit the international media as the quot;City of Deathquot; (Issa-Salwe, 1996). In the end of 1999, with the held of Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA) (to fight General Aideed’s forces), the Digil and Mirifle community regained the control of their region. And on 8 December 1999 for the third time since the 1940s, they established their own quot;autonomous administrationquot;. Similarly, HSDM’s proposal reflected their fear of pastoral domination by the Daarood and Hawiye clans. Federal form of governance is seen by these communities as “safety and protection of their land” (Menkhaus, 1980). 10
  13. 13. 5.4 PROBLEMS FACING THE PROCESS OF RESUSCITATION Kinship influence has played a major political force in the Somali politics since the beginning of the 1940s. Political leaders have been torn between their personal ambitions, that of their groups (or grassroot supporters), which are generally based on the kinship ties, and that of their national commitments. If a leader opts for one at the cost of the other, he is either alienated from his groups or fails his national obligations. These illusions of denying their social engineering mislead the national policy and social expression. In the end this ended up with various Somali governments to create false impression to deal with the social reality (example, the “ex”, the rhetoric of Siyad Barre). For some leaders this was a cover up policy while the kinship influence played their policy (i.e. Barre’s rhetoric façade for his MOD strategy). Another major problem is the fear of clan supremacy. While the process of restoration is essential for the survival of the Somali nation, there is fear that the major clan would try to gain supremacy. For example, when SNM declared the Northern regions as an independent republic, most non-Isaaq people living in the north were uneasy, and suspected that it was an attempt at `Isaaq hegemony'. Similarly, the formation of Puntland created fear among the small Daarood groups, fearing that the Harti would attempt to dominate the region. 5.5 THE FEAR OF GROUP DOMINATION Although Somaliland has begun to articulate itself outside the Somali nation, it has similar concerns as the Puntland and Bay communities. Their common concern is their future. Their anxiety prompted them to review the responsibility they have towards the parts they have taken control of. What each group started in its own way can be seen an attempt at redefining what Somalis cherishes most: the midnimo. Their initiatives are known as quot;building-blocksquot; and are seen as a solution to the Somali problem. The reasons for their attempt, other than that of solving the Somali dilemma shows two tendencies: (i) the need to take their fate into their own hands (the inner desire of this yearning is the basis for ownership and political legitimacy), and (ii) their willingness to survive within the framework of the Somali nation. This last aspiration could be one of the fundamentals of human being to express himself. From the above underlying principle we can also perceive another important aspect which led to the civil war: the fear of clan domination. Basically, the mistrust created by the civil war is so deep that it has opened old traditional rivalries. The memory of the dreadful fratricidal war, which is still lingering in the minds of the Somalis, has caused society to review their political lives and fate. The trauma which resulted from the civil strife has its result in the fear of clan domination. 6. PROS AND CONS While ethnicity can create some form of social cohesion, it may also hinder any attempt to state formation. There is a theory which says that the utility of the traditional Somali political characteristics hardly reconcile with a view of a state. This view is based on the divisive 11
  14. 14. element of clanism. Nonetheless, the new social situation has engendered a new political and social space where Somalis could recreate themselves. While ethnicity can create some form of social cohesion, it may also hinder any attempt to state formation. There is a theory which that the utility of the traditional Somali political characteristics hardly reconcile with a view of a state. This view is based on the divisive element of clanism. Nonetheless, following the new social situation has engendered red new political and social space where situation Somalis could recreate themselves. Although what Somaliland, Puntland and Bay have started leads to reconstitute an alternative discourses, there are trends which may hamper or hold back the very process and goal which they are supposed to aim. Adopting the experience gained from the defunct Somali republic, these communities pledge to put their efforts on the process of institutional building so that the state authority can spread over its jurisdiction. As far as these new administrations are concerned, this process will decentralise power and create self-reliance in development. It seems that the dictatorial style of Somali leaders is still haunting Somalis. Both Puntland and Bay autonomous regions have been plunged into chaos following the dictatorial style of their leaders. Accordingly, it will promote quot;civil society inclusiveness and grassroots involvementquot; in peace making. It seems, however, that these administrations are more concerned to build their own power than public institutions. If this is true then this procedure may emerge to be an attempt by them to secure control of their people in ‘the name of order and law enforcement’. Any attempt to that direction will certainly have a negative effect as it will induce insatiability and create an environment of mistrust and insecurity among people. Not only it contradicts the very promise which their leadership are engaged (or contracted) with the people, but it may also derail its experiment. In June 2001, President Col Abdullahi Yusuf 's plunged Puntland in constitutional crisis when he unconstitutionally extended his presidency and that of his parliament for another three-year term. A number of Puntland's traditional elders meeting in Garowe in July 2001 rejected his claim, and named Yusuf Haji Nur, Puntland's former Chief Justice, as quot;Acting Presidentquot; until the election of a new administration. The elders then convened a general congress in August and, on 14 November 2001, elected Jama Ali to a three-year term in the hope that this would end the leadership wrangle. However, to force his will on the people, Col Abdullahi Yusuf has opted to use military force with the backing of Ethiopia. Similarly, in Baydoba, Xasan Maxamed Nuur quot;Shaarguduudquot; (RRA chairman) had thrown Bay and Bakool region in total chaos following disagreement with his lieutenants. Both Puntland and Bay show a tendency of a “command and control” type state. This condition creates a situation to oppose the will of the people or new ideas and at the end may generate resentment among the people. Once political power is used for illegitimate ends, it becomes difficult for those who hold this power to submit a system of governance which will demand accountability. For the benefit and integrity of the resuscitation, both Puntland and Bay leadership should generate an environment that would be allowed to flourish their cheered effort. In Puntland and Bay, as well as any other area in Somalia, the institute building process can be possible only with the people's vision and participation. At any level, Somalis must be convinced of the benefit of nation-statehood. 12
  15. 15. 7. CONCLUSION Any solution, unless it is based on today’s reality, is prone to fail or possibly to complicate and intensify the conflict. One of the main causes of Somalis’ present dilemma is mistrust. In spite of that Somalis have undergone much tragedy in their recent history. Event in the regions shows their commitment to rebuild their nation. This is what can be referred to as the resuscitation of the midnimo. If this current process fails the reality shows that the Somali most cherished midnimo will be gone forever. Former the Somali nation will be fragmented as some parts might be assimilated by other states, while others will have to face the new reality to form their independent state. Since the trust and legitimacy of the political authority lies at the grassroot level, this is the level at which the recreation of the state should begin. The relative success achieved by Puntland, Somaliland and Bay is based on this approach. As mentioned above, Somali culture offers some clues of how best Somalis can survive. Leading a decentralised life style is the tradition of the Somalis and the current crisis has led them to realise it is important for them to regain what belongs to them. This also reflects Somalis’ loss of confidence in their politicians. This last influence has been awakened in the Somalis and so has the need to take part in the political life of their country. This question is related to the issue of authority. As mention above, Somali political authority was spread throughout the community, the centralisation structures have severed the course of authority. The central government was expected to appoint the local authority. In this case, the local administration structures do not drive from the explicit consent of the local people, but depend instead upon the endorsement of a higher political authority. This alien system exasperated when the central government abused the system. The process of resuscitating the midnimo opens a new opportunity to recreate the Somali nation in a new structure of modern governance which balances the various communities throughout Somalia. Rejecting centralised rigidities which led to the chaos and opting for radical decentralisation is a foundation, not a luxury but a survival kit. Only a fully federal system (with fiscal freedom) which allows the people to govern themselves at the most local level as appropriate can give the Somali the promise of a news hope and peaceful future. 13
  16. 16. 8. REFERENCE Adam, Hussein M. (1992): “Somalia: Rural Production Organization and Prospects for Reconstruction”, in Beyond Conflict in the Horn, Eds. Martin Doorbnos, Lionel Cliff, Abdel Ghaffar M. Ahmed, Institute of Social Studies, the Hague, in association with James Gurrey, London. Adan, Abdullahi H. (April 12, 1997): Clan Mobilization and the Somali State: Explaining Differences Between the First and Second Republics, University of North Caroline at Charlotte, (http://www.somaliawatch.org/archivejuly/00817202.htm). An African Watch Report, Somalia: A Government at War with its Own People, January 1990. Besteman, Catherine; “Local Land User Strategies and Outsider Politics: Title Registration in the Middle Jubba Valley”, in op. cit. Bryden, Matt; “Strategy and Programme of Actions in Support of Local and Regional Administrations in Somalia in the Field of Institution-Building: A Proposal to the EU Somalia Unit”, November 1996 Cassanelli, Lee V., “Explaining the Somali Crisis”, in The Struggle for Land in Southern Somalia: The War Behind the War, Catherine Besteman and Lee V. Cassanelli, (eds.), (London: Haan Associates, 1996). Conference of Digil and Mirifle held in Baidoa, between 26/2/95 and 19/3/95, http://www.somaliawatch.org/archivejuly/001005605.htm). Constitution of Somalia, Mogadiscio, July 1, 1962. Fromm, Erich; The Fear of Freedom, (London: Routledge & Kegan Paule, 1980). Hersi, Abdirahman Ali; “The Arab Factor in Somali History: The Origins and the Development of Arab Enterprise and Cultural Influences in the Somali Peninsula”, (Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Los Angels, 1977). Human Rights Watch/Africa & Physicians For Human Rights, quot;Somalia: No Mercy in Mogadishuquot;, March 26, 1992. http://www.bond.org.uk/advocay/response2.html Human Rights Watch/Africa, quot;Somalia Beyond the Warlords: The Needs for a Verdict on Human Rights Abuses,quot; Vol.V, Issue No.2, 7 March 1993. Gobban, Alfred; National Self-determination, (London Oxford University Press 1945). Hersi, Abdirahman Ali; “The Arab Factor in Somali History: The Origins and the Development of Arab Enterprise and Cultural Influences in the Somali Peninsula”, Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Los Angels, 1977. Issa-Salwe, Abdisalam M. (1996): The Collapse of the Somali State: The Impact of the Colonial Legacy, London: Haan Associates. ------, (2000): Cold War Fallout: Boundary Politics and Conflict in The Horn of Africa, London: Haan Associates. ------ “Towards Decentralisation Structures: Puntland Experiment”, April 1999. http://www.somaliawatch.org/archivejuly/000731601.htm ------ “Somalia’s Degenerated Authority: Which Way Out?”, March 2000, proposal for the Technical Consultative Somali Peace Process Symposium in Djibouti. http://www.somaliawatch.org/archiveoct00/001011202.htm. ------ “The Welfare State of the Somali Nation: A Possible Solution to the Somali Dilemma”, in Pour Ue Culture de la Paix en Somalie, in Mohamed Mohamed-Abdi et Partice Bernard, (eds.), (Paris, Association Européenne des Etudes Somaliennes, 1997). Kapteijns, Lidwien; quot;Le Verdict de L'Arbre (Go'aanka Geedka): Le Xeer Issa, Etude d'une Democratie Pastoralequot; by Ali Mouse Iye, Hal-Abuur, Vol.1, No.1, Summer 1993. Laclau, Ernersto; and Chantal Mouffe; Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics, (Therford, Norfolk: 1985) 14
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