By Faisal S. Ahmed
It is a progress that Somalia and Kenya have a good diplomatic ties. There was a time when this did not exist, and Somalis were rounded up like animals for seeking safety in Kenya’ cities. Corrupt policemen exploited vulnerable people to receive bribes. They called Somalis ‘ Mbuzi-goat’, and they would ask ‘ Do you have any goats’ for buses plying between Garissa and Nairobi at the Tana River Bridge.
But Kenya has undergone radical transformations- the people did but the politicians removed from realities of the markets are fixated on extorting bribes and disrupting social activities. The public proclamation of Kenyan leaders is merely a piece from the foregone days when people on either side had no stake in each other’s homes.
The suspicious Somali-Kenyans, and other ethnic groups developed a trusting relationship with Somali merchants. It was part of the common conversation, that there was a time when Somali-Kenyan spied on their brethren from Somalia telling the Police of their whereabouts. But this has changed, and people who were once considered toxic, received welcoming hands as their values became apparent.
I remember personally of a visit to the office of Garissa Mayor. Then Mayor said to me and everyone else ‘ If Kismayo is given to me for free, I will not accept it’. As life ironies unfolds, the same mayor is involved in the politics of Jubbaland seeking a piece of a place he had such a contempt. I found those statement offensive because Kismayo is my home.
Imams at Garissa Mosques even blamed the refugees for bringing vice to the town. On his credits, I do not know where he came from, but this man introduced ‘Ice cream’ to Garissa and operated first Cinema. His name was ” Canonuug’, a warehouse of creative ideas, yet the target of vile talks from the cities’ moral enforcers. Even the Imams warmed up to their more and better educated brothers from Somalia who helped them expand their scholarship in Islam. First orphanage fully funded by Saudis was the idea of these refugees including my own cousin-Sheikh Abdirahman and Uncle Sheikh Mohamed Haadi ( May Allah rest his soul in peace).
People changed, and life move into a positive trajectory but poorly informed politicians including ours in Mogadishu are fixated on awakening our primordial desires for exclusion, and ignorance. I purchased a pizza from a Kenyan woman yesterday and the night before yesterday from Kenyan man in Mogadishu-soul of Somalia. I do not want these people depart. I want them stay, make a living and contribute to the economy of Somalia with their skills.
On my way to Mogadishu, my taxi driver, A Kikuyu man told me that he trusts Somalis over Indian traders. The Kenyans from interior come and buy from the Somalis knowing that they will not be cheated out of their money. Somalis in Kenya and elsewhere have only purpose: Survive; make something out of yourself even if it means risking dying in the high seas-this bad decision.
Times have changed, and politicians used to easy money also are seeking easy way to enrich them. What is easier than leasing off rich oil blocks while proclaiming to protect national interest. We know there exist in Kenya two classes as my late professor (this was the dean of the faculty Art at Egerton and was murdered because he was related to Ms. Lucy Kibaki) put it ” Wenyeji and wananchi ‘meanings owners and citizens.
As citizens we need to exercise restraint. May be this is a political game. If you watched the house of cards, you get it well. A times politicians make up things and creates a situation to distract people and gain their attention. Fear and Love are two powerful tools of manipulations. These are at play now.
Faisal S. Ahmed, CPA, JD
Email: [email protected]
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