This is not to exculpate Somalis from culpability for their predicament, but to stress the ruinous role foreign ideas played in assisting Somalis in their self-immolation and national hara-kiri.
One such ruling foreign idea is that Somalis can only organize themselves along clan lines. The other ruling idea, which is the sequel to the first idea, is that clan-based Regionalism/Federalism is the panacea for Somalia’s governance ills. These ideas are relentlessly marketed by foreigners and their Somali accomplices, that it has, today, assumed hegemonic status. Influential players and pundits in the politics of Somalia subscribe to these ideas. The Gramscian exposition of hegemony is strikingly evident in the present-day Somalia, and these ruling foreign ideas have become ‘common sense’ and ‘natural’, voluntarily accepted by the subordinated silent majority. The point to emphasize is that “political rulers” (mainly foreigners) in Somalia found and built their monopoly of power on this system of ideas based on clan and partition, and “political governors” (Somalis) validate and legitimize themselves through processes sired by the selfsame structure of ideas.
The birth of Hiil Qaran Party in 2011 was the first real challenge to this cycle of recycling failed and foreign ideas as a solution to the political problems of Somalia. This political party, founded by prominent Somali intellectuals, political leaders, and elders, is about galvanizing the grassroots for a common vision of a unified and democratic Somalia, governed by rules firmly grounded on Somali and Islamic values. More importantly, it is about reclaiming the ownership of the ruling ideas that will guide and direct current and future political search for a unified, sovereign State in Somalia.
Political organization in Somalia is mainly based on clan affiliation and clan alliance. Put differently, the clan disposition of a given political party predetermines the membership of such party. This is so because most parties seek and get support from particular clans or regions, and declare that they champion the political aspirations of these particular clans or regions. Even in the rare instances where political parties that espouse nationalist agendas emerged, they failed to earn the confidence of the nationalist base, because either their message was weak, or because the flag-bearers of these parties were incompetent or had a record of criminal history or/and dodgy personality.
Hiil-Qaran has made a radical break from this form of clan-based party politics. The leadership of Hiil-Qaran is composed of Somali men and women from different regions and clans with organic connection to the cause of Somalinimo and indisputable intellectual and political pedigree. These are men and women who have succeed in life at a personal level, and could have taken the easy road of resting on their fame and fortune. That way, they would have avoided censure, grief that is sure to come with any political career in today’s Somalia; they would have pleased and appeased many people. Instead, they chose to fight for the right cause, inviting and earning scorn and accusation, perhaps more than they earn praise and encouragement. This is so because the idea they promote is an underdog in the existing political platform of Somalia, and the one they eschew is an incumbent idea that enjoys the benefits and muscles of incumbency.
Hiil-Qaran’s political leadership, and in particular the Samatar brothers, not only defended Somalia’s honour and sovereignty at all times in the last two decades, they remained a voice of hope and inspiration amid the doom and gloom that was engulfing the Somali sun and soul. Undeterred by pervasive negativism, unhygienic political landscape, and conspiratorial derisions by those who do not agree with their political perspectives, Professor Ahmed I. Samatar and Professor Abdi I. Samatar, stubbornly enthused a noble idea of bringing those who believe in genuine Somalinimo together. They mounted a fierce counter-attack against the profane ruling ideas of institutionalized clannism and fiefdom mentality.
The birth of Hiil-Qaran presents a test to the Somali nationalists, too. For far too long, this large but disorganized group agonized on the sidelines, reduced to a negligible fraction, grieving over the demise of their motherland. For far too long, the nationalist base has remained dormant bystanders, cursing man and God for the misfortunes of Somalia, but unable or unwilling to do its part to cleanse their nation of the evil of clan that it is beholden to. The establishment of Hiil-Qaran is about to slay the excuses of those who wear lethargic despondency to justify inaction. It is about to separate those who wear bogus “Somalinimo” as a fad from those who are willing to sacrifice their time, energy and resource to advance this righteous ideal. Hiil-Qaran’s advent is a clear and present challenge to the conscience of those who publicly and privately avow their love for the Somalia. The challenge for proven and prospective nationalists is, therefore, to come up with a better political programme, or to rally behind Hiil-Qaran. To rally behind Hiil-Qaran is not to blindly chant its slogans, but to support it on the issues the party is doing right, and to offer ideas and alternatives on the issues it is doing wrong.
Foreign ideas gave Somalia warlords as leaders; traitors as statesmen, and common criminals as religious leaders. Foreign ideas bequeathed the futile Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to Somalia. They gave AMISOM and a multitude of other foreign military forces a license to defile Somalia’s sovereignty at will. More crucially, these foreign ideas are sculpting the future of Somalia through a perilous RoadMap.
Hiil-Qaran is not only against those who are governing Somalia, or the processes that bring these governors to power. It is against the ideas that sire and nurture these formal structures of rules. It is against the foreign ideas that are trying to replace these unusable structures with a similar setup, come August 2012. Hiil-Qaran is against the ongoing proliferation of clan fiefdoms that undermine the unity and strength of the Somali nation. This mindless fragmentation in the form of clan ‘States’ is encouraged and abetted by the ruling foreign ideas, which create differences where there are none. Today, regionalism, which is a subterfuge for clanism, is the common sense. Hiil-Qaran is mindful of the need for devolution of resources and decentralization of political decision-making to regions, but does not accept the ‘Bantustanization’ of Somalia as a corrective recipe that will lead to omnipotence of justice, national cohesion, and economic prosperity in the country.
Hiil-Qaran is about indigenous solutions for the Somalia problem. It is about political self-reliance. Supporting Hiil-Qaran is supporting all these ideals. It is about interrogating and overcoming foreign ideas that are mindlessly touted as the building blocks of Somalia’s national catharsis with the ease of presumed impeccability; ideas that in reality entrenched the nations’ quandary. These dominant foreign ideas will not silently yield ground to the native ideas of Hiil-Qaran though. It is therefore to be expected that the road ahead will be very bumpy. Perforating the myth that these alien ideas are the ‘common sense’ is the first shot of the fight-back by Somali nationalists. Hiil-Qaran has started the struggle. Somali nationalists must join its struggle and heed its call.
By Muktar M. Omer