Monday, June 17, 2019
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Real Images of the Despised, Debased Somali Lot

By Faisal A. Roble

Two things do not add up together: On the one hand, the internet has been replete with images of Somalis being harassed, maimed and humiliated in Kenya. It became omnipresent in the media where Kenyan soldiers hit Somalis with batons, the butt of rifles and other torture weapons.  On the other hand, we are treated with images of the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, hugging in an ugly and non-kosher manner, the President of Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta, who had authorized this large scale expulsion of innocent refugees.

Kenya_expells_Somalis
The proximity of grief and gaiety

Not only that, but the only speech the President gave on this matter was more supportive of the extra judicial act of the government of Kenya and non-sympathetic to his people; he said Somalis are being subjected to this condition because of Al-Shabab in their country.  While we are with both presidents in fighting against Al-Shabab, we totally reject the logic of rounding up innocent Somalis and their families only to expel them from their homes and business in Kenya to the makeshift airport in Mogadishu. Meanwhile the government in Mogadishu stopped a solidarity demonstration Mogadishu residents organized (Wardheenrews Radio, April 9, 2014).

The questions is who is going to speak for the multitude of Somalis that are victims of extra judicial torture, rounding up of innocent civilians and extradition of displaced persons, all of which are in total contravention to international laws that protect and provide status for refuges.

Adding an insult to an already festering wound, “Somalia’s ambassador to Nairobi, Ali Americo, told the BBC Somali Service that he had discussed the arrests with Kenya’s Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku at a meeting on Monday.”  The Somali ambassador, seemingly in concert with the action the Kenyan government took added that “he had been informed that most of the 2,000 people arrested were Somalis.’ Nothing that the good ambassador said speaks about the plight of his people. At the closing of the week, the number of refugees rounded up shot up to 5,000 persons.

Somali_ref KenyaHow does that make the action of the Kenyan government consistent with Human rights principles and protocol? The President of Somalia owes a national apology to the nation in general and to the families who had so far suffered in the hands of cruel police action. He intentionally omitted from his speech the scapegoating of innocent Somalis, to which Neil Carrier, a lecturer at Oxford University whose research focusses on Eastleigh said: “There is this cycle of always coming back to see Somalis as the handy scapegoats. I would imagine it will keep on like that, unless there is some sort of radical change in the way the international community deals with it.”

Where do the priorities of the inane Somali government rest? Not long ago, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the home of the holiest shrine in Islam, has suddenly without due process ejected thousands of Somalis in a cruel manner.  The government in Mogadishu uttered not even a single sentence in solidarity with its people.

Granted that Somalia is not much of a state in the real sense of the word; but the Mogadishu government is the closest national sovereign state that Somalis have at this time.  As such one would expect that Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud would say something, even if it is a mere but supportive and caring national speech, about the plight of his people.

Very sad!! The powerlessness that Somalis feel today is akin to that of 1958, when Somalis helplessly watched the colonial power of England slice their land to friendly forces such as Ethiopia and the soon-to-be nation of Kenya.

Mohamed Haji Ismail, aka Balaayo Cas, or Barkhad Cas, a Somali poet whose patriotism was deep expressed his dismay and helplessness about the scheme abrasive act of Western countries in dividing the Somali society at the closing of the Second World War and the dawning of Somali nation state. That poem is tragically appropriate today for both the conditions and the absence of a credible and forceful Somali voice are similar: It expresses the powerlessness of the Somalis and the option of crying by those who care as being the venue to grief:

Awowgey ninkii indhaha tiray
Ninkii aabbahay addoonsaday
Ninkii anigana i iibsaday
Ninkii ifka igu adduun tirey
Lidaan li’i baa ishaa i bidee
Haddaan ogohoon ka aarsan karayn
Haddaan, Aadanow, unuunka jarayn!

Ninkaa araggiisa uurkaan ka nebcee
Aan ooyee albaabka ii xira!

Isagoo Iglan jooga buu i diloo
Ushuu soo fidshaa i iimaysoo
Waa taa aramidu i oofa tirtee
Asaag li’i baa ishaa i bidee
Ninkaa araggiisa uurkaan ka nebcee
Aan ooyee albaabka ii xidha!

Arladii ka samroo adduun ma hayee
Haddii la ilaashay afkaygii
Haddaan ikhtiyaar aqoontay hadlayn
Haddaanan erey qudha shirkaa odhanayn
Ninkaa araggiisa uurkaan ka nebcee
Aan ooyee albaabka ii xidha!

Wixii arrineen Ilaahay jecleyn
Haddaanan addimada ku oolin karayn
Aayaadka Quraanka wada aragtoo
Udgoonena yidhi “Indhaha ka qarshee”
Ninkaa araggiisa uurkaan ka nebcee
Aan ooyee albaabka ii xidha!

Ugaadha ninkii dhaqdee ururshaa
Ruuxii eegayaa adduun ka baxshee
Raggiinnii ogaa horruu u arkee
Ninkii ooridiisa u geynahayow
Inkeeg iyo shaal ayuu ku arkine
Iimowdey axankaaga weynee!

Libaaxa Annayiyo Abaarso ka ciyey
Abuuriin lo’da joogta baa urisee
Oodday jebisaa in ay u dhacdoo
Anshaxuu markaa ka guraa idilkeed
Waa kaa Ingiriis iidahayee
Idinna u dabbaaldegoo ariyahow!
Ayaanu ninna oran “Soomaalaan ahee”
Ordoo magacana ka iibsada!

Not long ago, such a melancholic sentiment of being Somali and powerless hit me in the face.  Invoked by a video that I watched, where Kenyan police men were whipping a helpless Somali man with multiple lashes, I felt an excruciating pain in the gut. So painful appeared the ceaseless and stream of lashes that the Somali man was receiving that he literally rolled back and forth, turned one side that was already bleeding to the other side in the hope of lessening the pain and suffering, just like slaves did when whipped by their masters/slave riders in the Southern belt of the United States, the infamous slave states.

As a Somali in the Diaspora, who is cognizant equally of what Black America went through, and who read roots and other antebellum literature, I wept with my brother and jotted down my silent wailing words in an article I called “Wailing with My Brothers in Garissa and Eastleigh in Kenya.” Out of pain and sorrow, I equated the current Somali status in the scheme of the world to that of the “nigger,” as in “nigger” meaning “powerless”, “despised” and “debased” by all (Ralph Ellison, the Invisible Man).

The current extra judicial act by Kenya against Somali refugees is nothing but debasing of thousands of innocent and peace loving people, telling them that they are less than, and showing them who has the bigger whip and lashes. I am profoundly sorry to see my people in this “wretched” condition.

What irks me most is the answerless question of who is responsible for our predicament? Is it the silly and selfish cohort of politicians who had destroyed the Somali pride that was not long ago the envy of all others in the continent? Who turned what could have been a recoverable nation into a “Rentier Market State” where the highest bidder has the last word, as opposed to the citizens of the country?  What is a nation state if it can’t utter a word of solidarity with its people in time of needs and suffering?

In the end, though, none of these matter.  Somalia is suffering from its own undoing of its statehood and had perfected the art of exposing its inner sanctum of nationhood to its enemies, thus rendering its citizens an open season for all to whip them, thrash and flog them. Today it is Kenya, yesterday it was South Africa, and tomorrow it may be someone else in the neck of our wood.

This is one of those rare cases where I get tempted to say Somalis have no one else, no African friends, no Arab friends, definitely no Anglo Saxon friends, aka the architects of the “war on terror”, the underlying philosophy that sanctions Kenyan action against Somali refugees.  I say so because, all these forces have one time or another enslaved Somalis, killed them, or looked the other way when suffering befell them.  This is, therefore, a moment of looking for a final consolation, solace albeit succor that we have in Allah the Almighty whose rivers of mercy and compassion never dry.

Faisal A. Roble
Email:[email protected]


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