Friday, September 25, 2020
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A History from Which No Lesson is Learned

By Ahmed Khalif

In the late 1950s, after the wind of the reunion of the Italian-Somaliland, in the south and the British-Somaliland in the north, the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie knocked every door and turned every stone to stall it. The reunification itself was catalyzed by the transfer of the Haud and Reserve Area of the Somali-lands by the British colonial government to Ethiopia. Haile Selassie couldn’t forestall the momentary momentum of the reunion of northern and southern parts of Somalia in 1960, but eventually achieved to unravel it.

ADDIS ABABA – NOVEMBER 1: Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, in front of the Jubilee Palace in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. Episode called, “Ethiopia: The Lion and the Cross.” Image dated November 1962. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Emperor Haile Selassie, with the power of the Cross, as his name alludes – which means the power of the Trinity – won the European powers’ favors in shredding up a Greater Somalia Dream: a bigger dream Somalis had of reuniting of all Somali-lands ; that comprised of Somali inhabited territories- NFD in Kenya, the Ogaden region  in Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Somalia. The Ogaden region – plus  the Haud and Reserve Area as a bonus in 1954 – was already given to Ethiopia in 1948 by Britain. The Northern Frontier Districts (NFD) was subsequently added to Kenya in 1963 despite of 98% of its inhabitants voting against that in a plebiscite. Djibouti, for that matter, became the last French colony in Africa and was forced to stand as an independent country in 1977.

In 1964 when Somalia was engrossed with Britain’s politics towards NFD and Kenya, Ethiopia attacked Somalia to abort the Greater Somalia fever and distract that energy from the nascent Kenya. The latter had signed a defense treaty with Ethiopia for the same purpose before it even became independent.

Ethiopia also had won to bring OAU headquarters,  the AU’s predecessor, in Addis Ababa which gave her ample diplomatic leverages in Africa to forestall Somali dreams of reunification.

Ethiopia’s animosities toward  Somalia are based on historical wars, religious, and self-aggrandizement. Ethiopia’s covetousness for the Somali lands is abundant in history. Ethiopia’s rulers, with the Cross painted on their foreheads, had long implored European powers to come and defeat their Muslim foes and conquer their lands for them.

In 1878, in a letter to the heads of the European powers, Menelik wrote, “My road to the coast, to Zeila, Tajura and Aden is at present closed by the Muslims. They prevent my receiving…….. even messengers of the Gospel. Will you kindly raise your powerful voice in order that I may have this way opened to me?”

“We want you to take Massawa from the Turks and either hold it yourself or hand it over to us.”, wrote Sebagadis Weldu, Tigre Dejjazmach, in a letter to King George III in 1827.

Ethiopia is in the heart of today Somalia’s troubles. It was the sole base and the sponsor of all armed rebels who fought Siyad Barre regime off the power. It has been supporting all warring functions in the Somali Civil War and with longtime goal of defeating  then all, picking them off one by one, Addis Ababa played one off against another.

Ethiopian leaders were tenacious in their envious efforts to conquer Somali-lands; and to this day they don’t hide their avidity to Somali seaports; they wish obtain them through both the Cross and craftiness.

Ironically, today Somali leaders repeatedly flock to Ethiopia in hope of the Ethiopian leaders finding solutions for ever going pettifogs, as if Ethiopia and Somalia have been forever bosom buddies.

Most recently, due to their obliviousness of their immediate past, the leaders of the same British-Somaliland and the Italian-Somaliland that once Haile Selassie endeavored to stop their reunion pinned their faiths ludicrously on Abbiy Ahmed, a latter-day Haile Salassie of Ethiopia, to broker peace between them and reunite them after they destroyed and separated themselves.

PM Abiy twitter post showing his version of Ethiopia and Somalia’s map

On the next day, he (Abbiy), purportedly the  mediator, published on his Twitter page a new map of Somalia without Somaliland; understandably his position on the Somalia-Somaliland matter which conforms to the long standing policy of Ethiopian rulers toward Somalia, a page from the old colonialism playbook: divide and conquer.

Winston Churchill one said: “Those who failed to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”

It is nothing less than a curse that the Somali leaders of today naively invite the Ethiopia to their seaports for which it’s long coveted.

It seems that the daemon of stupidity has possessed the Somali leaders. They couldn’t discern between their friends and foes. They trust in all. And thus, they became like the parable of the blind sheep which, after it got lost from its flock, mistook a hyena as its fellow sheep, following its footfalls to its burrow.

The Somali leaders’ dilemma is their ignorance of their history to which they would refer, as a guide to their future. Should they learn from their history, Somalis shouldn’t fight each other, let alone turning to the Ethiopia – or its abettors, for that matter – for help.

Ahmed Khalif
Email: [email protected]


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