Defining and Examining the Term 'Faqash'

HARGEISA, 25 March 2010 (Somalilandpress) – The term Faqash originated from its widespread and popular use amongst Somalia’s former northern regions (Now Somaliland) to describe those who were a part of/or loyal to the expansionist and oppressive regime of Mohamed Siad Barre. The term was literally derived from the sound the boots of its officers made when walking in mud and became a popular derogatory name to describe the troops that many citizens felt were more of an occupying force than an actual government that represented the people.

While the current meaning and context of the term has been hotly debated and discussed due its misuse by those who consider it to be a tribal term, after much research I think it is quite evident that when one looks at the facts with an open mind, that the term simply refers to an ideology that existed in Somalia (and continues today) not much different from ideologies such as Marxism, Nazism, Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, Fascism, etc. The only reason that we need to continue to understand and study this ideology is because it has been exported in the minds of an entire generation of Flight 13 Refugees who have taken this idea abroad with them and created an international network of those who pray for the downfall of the biggest victim of this ideology; the people of Somaliland.

The European Holocaust is debated up until this day by two sides who often debate the number of people who died and whether or not they reach in the millions. The Somali Genocide and Holocaust that took place, while not as internationally popular, is much different in that pretty much everyone is very aware of the loss that one side in particular endured. The only difference is that the attitude of those who suffered the least during the implementation of the Faqash Ideology states ‘So what if a genocide took place? You weren’t the only victims because ever since then we’ve been killing ourselves instead of you and you should feel sorry for us now.’ This longing for the peace and stability provided in Somalia former, even at the expense of the entire northern population, is what makes the beneficiaries of the Faqash ideology long for the ‘Old Somalia’, flaws and oppression of the north included.

While the people who suffered the most and experienced the highest loss of life due to this ill-thought out ideology hail from current day Somaliland, we must remember that this ideology was an enemy to all of Somalia former and the remnants of this ideology is what prevents current day Somalia from recovering from Somaliland’s secession. Let us not forget that the first targets of ‘Faqashism’ were the people who hail from Mudug & Nugaal regions of Somalia.

There is a popular adage from WWII that exemplifies a lot of what led to this tribal mistrust and hatred that exists until today. Like the adage ‘… and then they came for me…’, many tribes indeed benefited from their alignment with the Faqash regime as they stood to personally gain and benefit from this association that was used to oppress and single out a single northern tribe for indiscriminate abuse and classism and subtle racism. It’s no secret that tribes associated with certain ‘men of power’ in the old Somali regime were awarded favours and were treated differently and as super citizens.

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While Siad Barre was himself an insecure and insolent man, at the peak of his power he had managed to amass a team that was a force to be reckoned with which included smart strategists and propagandists. The divide and conquer technique that many accuse Somaliland of being a product of is actually the technique that has created the havoc that still runs 20 years after it was last implemented in Somalia. Whereas Somalilanders have chosen to unify under the banner of one country and one people, as was the dream of Somalia former, Somalia still suffers from the divide and conquer technique to this day with mistrust and a thirst for power superseding the brotherly love. The only difference is that Somaliland has chosen a democratic method and a respect for self determination to keep its citizens together as opposed to the strong arm tactics used by the former regime.

So back again to the word Faqash, and demystifying the strong aura that it carries. Why is there such strong emotion carried by the term? To understand the emotion involved with such a strong term one has to first explore why the term still lingers around and has taken on so many contexts which have nothing to do with the actual true meaning of the term itself.

The current misuse of the term to blanket insult people hailing from a certain region or tribe is an adulterated context of the term, but one must understand that a lot of the people who misuse this term do so due to either real life traumatic experience or hardship endured at the hands of the Faqash Regime. Many people suffer from post-traumatic stress, were displaced and or lost their property or close family members due to the tactics of the Faqash Regime. While I do not agree with their uniformly calling an entire region’s population Faqash, the pain and sense of loss that has led to this error should be easy to understand and sympathise with. While I hate them for using it in such a sinister way, I can see where they’re coming from.

I equally understand when the average citizen from current day Somalia becomes enraged or feels insulted and takes offense when they hear the term as they feel it is being directed towards them thanks to its true definition being abused by the few who are bitter towards all of their brothers from the south. I think that those who are quick to get offended are just as lame as those who abuse the term as they are looking for any reason to point a finger at the other side and create an opportunity to display the animosity they harbour deep within their souls.

My message to those who get offended quickly is that they should shrug off when someone calls them the term as an unwarranted insult. I would never get offended if someone yelled ‘Hey You White Cracker!’ even if I was the only other person in the room because I’m obviously not a RITZ product. The word Faqash stands for the expansionist ideology of Siad Barre’s former regime that used any means necessary, including outright oppression, to subjugating entire populations based on where they fell in the hierarchy of the class system that was used to maintain Siad Barre’s grip on power. So unless you support everything this regime did, then relax, it’s not you who we’re talking about when we use the word Faqash.

And my message to those who indiscriminately use the word Faqash to paint an entire region or country as such is to also take it easy. While it’s hard to not hate the people who benefited either knowingly or unknowingly from your hardship, you have to understand that this was a state-sponsored ideology and that whoever wasn’t benefiting financially for towing the government line was either too scared or ignorant and uneducated to do something about it. And to those who use it in a tribal context, please remember that some of the biggest Faqash were from the Isaac Clan itself including the imbeciles who were a part of the SRC who sold their entire country (all of Somalia former) for a few pieces of choice property and the trappings of office.

So there you have it. The true meaning of the word Faqash has nothing to do with tribes, nothing to do with Somalia bashing, and nothing to do with one group of people being better than the other. It is a simple descriptor word used to describe both the ideology and atrocity of a government that was lead by Mohamed Siad Barre. It is not meant for those who continue to suffer from the actions of that man and who acknowledge that he made a lot of mistakes that have impacted so many. To those of you who dream of Somalia the way it was before because you were a ‘house negro’ and dream of its return, you are the ones we speak of when we continue to use the word Faqash up until this day. If you still support what Siad Barre did, inwardly or outwardly, or are offended by being called Faqash, we can compromise and start calling you ‘Douches’ instead, because you support murder and ignorance on par with the Nazis.

Written By:
Maxmuud-Aar X. Xuseen (Mo Hussein)

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Views expressed in the opinion articles are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the editorial

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