Where does Somaliland live and where does it rot?

In this time and age, all manners of content – magazines, movies, music, books – are pouring into one’s home through one’s cable television line. The cable is now known as broadband because, even though it looks the same, technology has made it fatter and faster. So what is good for technology appears to be good for man, otherwise how one could explain and understand what the people want to watch, read, achieve and aspire to.

As everyone should know by now, and too few seem to remember, very little in this world turns out to be precisely what it seems to be. Over many of the scenes we witness today there hangs the jaunty romantic air, half cynical, half idealistic, half realistic, of an old fashioned habits about politicking – lots of cracks, corrupt societies, some understated soul searching, plenty of uncultured characters. The picture reminds us that public actions are motivated by private needs that only look suspicious, which people are not supposed to see them happen, and, that in any event, public figures and politicians are to be too hasty an instrument to explore them properly.

The trouble is that all people, young and old alike, have really failed to describe the problems they encounter without fear and favor. If there is a reason analysts are so oblivious, intellectuals so reluctant, people so doubtful, politicians so confused, it is how our political mentality grows with our national aspirations.

The true understanding of what we are going to achieve and aspire to at this time is a matter of our concern. A shared poverty, for instances, is a source of solidarity across the board. It is an area that has received less attention than it deserves. The oversight is understandable.

Concern, then, is not a matter of what one imagines but of today’s insight. And today’s insight becomes tomorrow’s rationalization. There are points to consider, if one has a radiant presence and still has the will to bless his/her future with a display of poignant maturity, free from intrigues and inclinations.

Every nation that believes in living and working together for the common good, appreciates and applauds the idea of investing in all people from the moment of birth. Because it is one investment that enriches all people by influencing them in a positive way. Enabling the people to pass more than a touch of wisdom along to subsequent generations.

One of contemporary Somaliland’s strengths has been the centrality of politics to our imagination. This gives democracy energy, elicits excitement and participation. But you have to occasionally wonder whether this obsession with centrality of politics is really about solving social problems or finding excuses for them. Just think the puzzle that has cropped up in Somaliland parliament recently that has a bearing on Somaliland’s long-term future. It makes one wonder if politics is a symptom or a disease.

Politics is important. It is deeply thrilling. But there is a danger that Somaliland politics has become the narcotic, the narcotic that numbs the pain of not recognizing that we do not trust each other enough. There is also a striking absence. Where is the energy in politics? Where is the groundswell of nobility and novelty among politicians, where is the evidence that Somaliland politicians as public representatives recognize the gravity of their social responsibilities? Does the mania for politics and power stem from any functional justification? Or does it stem from an attraction to position and privileges?

The simple answer is, of course, that the mantra for politics stems from an attraction to positions and privileges. The story of what happened in Somaliland parliament seems to confirm this proposition. Whatever happened, the dispute was an aimless bust, unaccompanied by a visual sense or structural scheme. It was just a project that had gone through a series of tony moves, motives and hotel lobbying in the vagrant of hope of witnessing a privileged moment.

Somaliland parliamentarians proved that they cannot cultivate their intellects, enrich their minds, and enlarge the sphere of their social responsibility. They demonstrated that they could only keep their hearts closed and cramped. Pathetically enough, they just proved that they are cash-oriented and not cause-oriented.

There is no point lamenting the absence of a genuinely liberal impulse in Somaliland politics, if politicians are rife with mistrust. The point of becoming a politician is not to achieve particular and personal objectives; it is to sublimate the defects and deficiencies of the public into actions which could help to build up and preserve principles of civility. Liberal values and liberal minds are in short supply not because of politics failed us but because Somaliland politicians failed politics.

It is as if the entire edifice of Somaliland politics is built not to produce pedagogic outcomes, but to deliberately compensate for the politicians. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If selfishness is the starting point, insincerity will also be the outcome. It is simply that vested interests have taken over.

It is right to feel that our political culture is infused with dishonesty. We are obsessed with fibbing about facts because this is less elusive than the real problem, which is intellectual dishonesty. This means saying things you do not really believe. It means starting with conclusion you wish to reach and coming up with an argument. It means being untroubled inconsistency between what you said yesterday and what will say tomorrow, or between standards you apply to your side or the other guy’s.

Look at the irony of this mentality. It is as if cynical actions and aims create the order of today’s Somaliland politics; as if the divisive effect won’t go away; as if just a handful of arguments, not ideas, are what mends our ways.

Somaliland people have constantly been frustrated by two things. Where does Somaliland live and where does it rot? Does it live only in public as some assert, or does it rot in politicians as some others contend? He who by his efforts perceives of the loftiness of how Somaliland citizens emerged comprehends the soul of this land of ours, the soul of resilience.

Of course, politicians have played an awful role in producing the dismal picture we see in Somaliland politics. The biggest story in it is the perfidy of the politicians – the self-abdication of all public figures. Who is then responsible for the crime on quality and merit? The victim is Somaliland: a nation as goods as the people who lead it.

The belief that politicians are selfish is so widely cherished that it is almost part of Somaliland’s civic religion, along with that stuff about being created equal. Whether this belief resembles the reality we all share is an issue that does not arise. But outright whoppers by politicians are not fairly rare

How nations are led? Good governance, transparency, accountability, Justice? Of course. Yet the effect of all those factors can be remarkably enhanced by the addition of one more thing: caring, adult supervision. And it is the most important thing.

The beauty of ruling behavior is matched by the beauty of its morality. And it is the absence of the latter quality that extinguishes Somaliland politics. Someone with no integrity is trying to lead you and you are the gofer.

I intend to use the occasion for some stocktaking. Where does Somaliland stand today? What are our achievements? What are our failings?

In our short journey as a young nation state, we have nurtured stability so well that its roots are strong and deep. This is the biggest achievement, but the praise goes to the people, because they are in charge of the order.

When I take stock for Somaliland’s failings, the first thing that comes to mind is the failure of the faulty of our ruling behavior and justice system to keep up with the times.

As all of us remember, during the election campaign, Siilaanyo promised to be a uniter, not a divider. He promised to be a reformer and a resurrection. He promised good governance, transparency, accountability, sound justice and freedom of expression. The result?

Siilaanyo came to the field of Somaliland presidency with less experience than any other previous president.  He proceeded to run the affairs of the government with an ad hoc committee. He simply sat back and stayed out of the fray. The result is that the man who talked more about what he would do than how he would do it finds that his bet has been called. Siilaanyo did not succeed in making real the dream of good governance that he sold in his election campaign. He has never even offered the nation a poem of reconciliation. His powers of persuasion are so weak that it is impossible that he will succeed in healing the nation and building consensus. He made his inexperience a virtue, his vagueness a shield, his sins a sign of sincerity.

Whether it is insanity or insincerity or a combination of both, Siilaanyo’s ability to tune things out has failed. The tension between his intemperate and his capacity for insincerity is so unique. It is mirrored by the clash between inexperience that borders on ignorance and arrogance born out of grievance and some experience with failure. It is also reflected in his willingness to surround himself with Hirsi Gaab and his likes on the one hand and his disdain for haughty individuals on the other.

The office has been won, the honor remains to be earned

By: Jama Falaag

     Saudi Arabia, Jeddah

 

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