By Abdi Mohamud
In October this year, the City of Beledweyne in central Somalia was hit by floods after the Shebelle River broke its banks. More than two-thirds of the city was covered by water that forced the majority of the citizens to relocate to higher grounds. The magnitude of the destruction by the floods was unheard of. The floods were so fierce and so extensive with such speed and force that devastated great deal of the city within a short amount of time.
Reports on the floods stated that few lives were lost although the flood victims lost everything. Their homes, businesses and all other sources of livelihood were gone as the water filled up businesses, schools, offices and residences.
Reports suggest that the city had never experienced anything like this although Beledweyne has known floods throughout its history. The people of Beledweyne were ill-equipped and unprepared for such a sudden and overwhelming catastrophe. A combination of meagre resources, shortage of expertise, and the sheer amount of water that escaped from its natural route, have made this flood one of the worst in living memory. In this piece I will attempt to shed light on the response of the Somali people and how the floods has changed the political dynamics in Somalia.
This was a rare moment which demanded and required a rare response and action. And Somalis rose to the occasion and acted swiftly, patriotically, compassionately, and above all generously. Somalis in every city, town and village felt and acted in unison. Those at home and abroad responded in kindness and urgency. National leaders as well as community, business, religious leaders, and ordinary Somalis showed unprecedented support and solidarity. Reports had it that even the otherwise adversarial Somaliland showed its human side and urged its people to donate handsomely. And they did that by giving close to 2 million US dollars to people of Beledweyne. Many dignitaries, including President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre, former presidents, Sheikh Sharif, and Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud headed to Beledweyne. Other notables were Abdullahi Nur Osman, the president of Hormuud Telecom Foundation and the well-known Somali Sheikh, Mohamud Umal.
Relief supplies started coming from all over the country with essentials such as food and clothing delivered to the flood victims. News media broadcast member of the nascent Somali National Army distributing and handing out relief supplies to the needy. This was the first time the Somali National Army served its people in that capacity in 30 years. This generated a good deal of furor, excitement and pride by the citizens to see their army executing its duty. Some citizens could not contain their emotions and started shedding tears of happiness while women ululated in beautiful voices.
Despite the tragic loss of lives and properties, this was a rare moment that united all Somalis who came together to ease the pain, devastation and disorientation felt by the people of Beledweyne. National pride, enthusiasm and Somalinimo reigned supreme. The nation felt triumphant with conviction, hope and that better days are ahead. This evoked memories of pre-independence days when Somali Youth League (SYL) united the national for the noble goal of liberating their country. Somalis found unity and purpose in this calamity and prevailed. This tragic event was a blessing in some ways. The national unity hastened and paved the way for national dialogue and understanding. The president, Mohamed Abdullah Farmajo and leaders of the opposition parties had a meeting a few days later to iron out their differences. Former president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, addressed the media after the meeting in Villa Somalia and expressed optimism and satisfaction over the outcome.
The Beledweyne floods became a “National Project” that every citizen wanted to play a role. Political differences, regionalism, clan affiliation and other negative attitudes disappeared instantly. I believe that the national leaders read the mood of the people, and decided to seize the moment, and change the political course. That is commendable and I hope they will do more towards reconciliation and unity.
While the nation came together in support of Beledweyne flood victims and rallied around the “National Project”, one group chose to remain obscure and distant. This group is none other than Global Somali Diaspora also known as Horusocod. It is not clear why Horusocod as an organized group failed to act and show up in Beledweyne. It seems that Horusocod was busy with securing next flight and hotel discounts when the nation needed it the most.
This group has been around for some time and we do not know its objectives, goals and operations. All we know is that it stages showy yearly conferences. I have talked to some sources, inquiring about what this group exactly stands for and what it is aiming to achieve. The sources have told me that the group is sort of lobbyist/activist that is attempting to influence decisions made for Somalia by foreign governments and organizations. The sources have stated that the group targets UN organizations operating in Somalia, AMISOM, and neighboring countries. It is not clear on whose behalf this group is acting on. Similarly, we do not know what strategies and policies, Horusocod wants the foreign bodies to adopt and the impact the same will have on the way the country is governed. There is concern that this group’s activities could be detrimental to the national interest and that it may be aiding to governments and other entities that may be acting against our national interest.
The members of the group mainly consists of educated people and as such Somalis expect the group to engage with fellow Somalis if it has meaningful solutions to offer. Horusocod should be talking to people from all walks of life inside and outside the country and present its ideas, concerns and strategies deemed useful for the country and its people. The group should rethink its strategies and move away from the never-ending dependency on others that are not much ahead of us. Horusocod may not accomplish much by staging hastily organized gatherings in Kigali, Nairobi or elsewhere. People in those places have their own challenges but they do not seek help from us. This does not mean to discourage cooperation and helping one another but rather to recognize that over dependency is undesirable and problematic. Horusocod and Somalis as a whole should accept to look inside and learn to remedy our ills and refrain from rushing to others for assistance.
The Beledweyne floods have shown that we are capable of overcoming all obstacles. I call on this group to take active, and transparent role, and get engaged constructively in the national recovery and rebuilding efforts.
–GLOBAL SOMALI DIASPORA: A HELPLESS GIANT By Faisal Derie
–IS GLOBAL SOMALI DIASPORA ANOTHER ISRAAC? By Mohamed Abdi
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