Death of Immortal Tribalism, by Jama Hersi.
Death of Immortal Tribalism
Where everything is bad it must be
good to know the worst – F.H. Bradley
My durable quietism from contemporary Somali political discourses was due to numerous rationales. Firstly being influenced by left thinkers and reminiscing popular parlance in socialist realism, I said to myself melancholically ‘the gentleman does not find the world to his liking’ and thus desirable option was partly being noiseless and partly reflexive and imaginative. In other words I was endeavouring to construct better imaginative world at least interiorly, albeit silence can be as meaningful as words covered in different voices. My desirable quietism position was also compelled by the infatuation for littleness in contending Somali factions who merely offer separatism politics, which lack self-critical mechanism; and that does not excite my ambition, principle or intellect. Putting another way, my historical critique and enlightenment on competing political views, transpired to be criticism of certain factions; and therefore it was wise to give a time Somali political class to accomplish collaborative systems of representing aspirations, voices and hopefulness of Somali people, signposting principles of democracy.
It was also my intension to give a time merciless visible and invisible conglomerated actors to denunciate their perennial status quo of ‘it is just Somalis’ and internalize Somalis are complete humanbeings. Historically, my critics implicated me simplistically and inconsistently that I blamed international actors, current Somali political misfortunes. Had my critics consciously engage my prior articulations, they would encounter my proposition that self-inflicting wounds were exacerbated by international innervations and continually contaminating political carbuncles. However my critics completely miscomprehended the core of my persistent and prior theorization regarding my criticalness on international actors. Let me remind my ineffectual critics that I still belief with conviction; that there are imperial aggrandizements that inform hybridization of politics and tribalism that wrought and shaped contemporary Somali political psyche. Of course merciless and opportunistic imperial enterprises will never admit disciplined and designed hybridization of politics and tribalism, however, uncharacteristically British colonial officialdom, Lord Rennell of Rodd, once expressed and presaged that considering heartless treatment of Somalis by western emperors, Somalia ‘will become’ conflict zone of the region; he wrote, ‘a cockpit of East Africa’.
My dissatisfaction and ennui of quietism obliged me the requirement to unveil that Somali people – magnanimous, resilient and hopeful has not been reflected by Somali political elites – of littleness, frivolous and miserable. Contemporary political rhetoric is profoundly going deep and discrediting, and mapping novel and perilous political landscape mortalising our statehood, and as a result, our sovereignty. Therefore any rational mind, conscious citizen should counterpoint tempestuous rhetoric transpiring from current political class by reminding them that they do not represent aspirations, hopefulness and the dreams of august people – but deceive them to attain their perfidious ambitions. Central government leadership approached their duties as undutiful, triumphal fashion; as there are no sensitive issues to safeguard, as there are no political afflictions to remedy, as there are no societal incoherencies to bridge. We all knew deficiency of political theories and skills, and strategic immaturity amidst Somali government leadership, but what shocked numerous people is demagogic mindset, despotic attitude and the absence of the art of listening. Our national leaders may hide behind duplicated representations of their superficial performances, but unfortunately their codified performances merely signify complex tribal systems that operate within Somali political organizations. It is not only poor psychology therefore presuming that exclusion engenders hatred and intolerance but indeed yields unimaginative and indolent political taste. On the contrary, our national leaders present themselves as thought they know everything, disregarding the voices of the people and warnings coming from even their close associates. They may think they know everything, but certainly they do not know themselves.
In relation to regional administrations, there are equal miscomprehensions in relation to statehood and where national responsibility lies. Yes they can plan their primary administration as the result of federal constitution; yes they can decide, represent ambitions of their local people through virtues and equalities guided by the principle of democracy; yes they have duties of fulfilling positive intensions and dreams of their people. But at the same time they should not orchestrate these dutiful actions in a manner that is incoherent and contradictory to national authority and the representative of national sovereignty. It recently became norm to hear from regional administrations condemning national leaders, as biased and manifesting tribally impregnated behaviours toward certain regions, which might be fair contestation. However, you can only condemn your antagonist, while purified your manners, exalted your minds and directed your passions towards public good. Otherwise you would appear as adviser who does not advise herself.
Let me quote Maximilien Robespierre, one of the French revolutionary leaders and great orator, who articulated in his speech in February 1794 that ‘Democracy is a state in which sovereign people, guided by laws which are of their own making, do for themselves all that they can do well, and by their delegates do all that they cannot do for themselves.’ This simple yet copious quotation encapsulates three main points. Firstly ‘sovereign people’ represented by national authority should guide our laws and statehood. It also points out that the laws that govern people should be constituted by themselves and this is mandate that the regional delegates should exercise. But most importantly quotation emphasises that sovereign people guided by laws made by the people for the people cannot be achieved without collaboration of both national and regional delegations. Regional representative without national authority is hallucination; where national authority without regional administration is despotism.
Let me remind august and rational fellow Somali people that these regional and national delegates couldn’t misunderstand the importance of collaborative actions to support the voice of reason and public interest, but they were blinded by their private and personal considerations. They are exactly the same – servants of same masters – as their universal goals are pretending to quarrel concealing their incompetency; blundering and dividing the people to enhance their precarious ambitions. Consequently, vigilant and rational Somali citizen will not judge them by the difference and eloquence of their rhetoric, but by the identicalness in the result of their goals – confusion of the people, prolongation of their reign and diminution of the reason. May be I am labouring the point – the sameness of these incompetent little folks, but what I yearn for is presenting that unlike Spivak’s subaltern people, who could not speak for themselves after exclusion of political economy, after they were caught between patriarchalism and imperialism, between tradition and modernism; Somali people will speak for themselves under any circumstances. Somali people represent the opposite attitudes and manners of their political class: rationalism against absurdity, ambition against avarice, magnanimity against vanity, virtues against littleness. Unfortunately some people spoke against decadence of our political class in such annihilating fashion, and Jihadist is an ideal specimen here. Jihadist cleverly employs media performances addressing their victims and their intriguers. In the case of Somalia, Jihadists do not manifest themselves as victims but as political and ideological alternatives that reward their fellow Muslims in this existent and the existent hereafter. Their strategy is based on the combination of terror and virtues, where they cannot imagine one without the other and as result instil goodness drop by drop. I might appear that I am advocating political orthodoxy of Jihadist, but let me say with conviction that as long as we have government which lack democratic principles, innovative social policies, full-hearted commitments towards public good; Jihadist will raise their brave and resourceful heads, mobilize their intriguers, and disguise under the appellation of Jihadism as the emanation of all virtues.
Current political calamity and wretchedness of Somali hopes can only be the faulty of those who govern. Frantz Fanon, an intellect and activist, someone who never ceased unsettling my critical thinking suggested that ‘while politicians situate their action in actual present-day events, men of culture take their stand in the field of history.’ It is not therefore surprising that novice politician, as we have contemporaneously, to articulate their political priorities on present-day thinking, which its corollary can only be recalcitrant and contradictory. Because of their lack of political visions our leader’s political intensions – if they have any, other than their calculation of realizing and fulfilling their ambitions and desires – became dwarfed and complex for execution. What can rescue us from these political calamity and fatal influences of these novice politicians is therefore what Homi Bhabha called ‘pietistic articulation of political principle’ a principle of real negotiation; which means abandonment of current tribal political identification, displacement of derelict rhetoric; as well as embracement of ‘in between’, rational political territories that cater pluralistic aspirations of Somali people.
I am doubtful whether we shall ever experience different political disposition of current leaders as they lack political eloquence that effectively represent ideas and values, nor do they possess aesthetics of language to stimulate our positive emotions; but let us hope somehow political miracles appear from horizon and national leaders ignore regional political turbulences, focusing on institutional building. It is well documented in literature that dysfunctional political apparatuses are the genesis of institutional and administrative incapacities, which can only machinate ineffective management systems and thus unskilled workforce. Therefore public service operations and operators lack capacity of responding and implementing the needs of the people they serve. However dispiriting our political situation is, there are profound needs of institutional building to increase the capacity of workforce, improve standards of planning and implementation, and management of service delivery. Let me caution fellow institutional practitioners that I do not mean institutional development as mimicry of colonial legacy, where bureaucratic systems are established, and transpire to be an alien and inappropriate to indigenous culture, representing merely western values and free from all dimensions of nativism. This type of institutional development is as harmful as our technical ignorance and inertia. This then means identification of administrative systems based on recognition and understanding of beneficent, addressing our changing political, economical and social circumstances within our cultural context, however ill-fitting. It also means denunciation of politics based on kinship affiliation as it creates problems for equitable and accountable implementation of public service. Authentic denunciation substantiated by action and commitment to transform current political calamity. Human existent cannot indeed be govern by empty rhetoric, nor can it be nourished by false hopes, but only true words informed by love of people and country, led by real women and men to transform our dire circumstances.
As aforementioned it is fanciful to imagine that there is scope for institutional development without functional political apparatuses. However it is my infinite ambition that every inscription I articulate should have awareness of humanity, of human spirit, of human sympathy, of human endurance – ‘grace to humanity’ – and hope that our innate imperfection of human nature will one-day be guided by laws, justice and virtuosity of equity. That is why I ought to define current Somali political reality – sorrowful wretchedness, and propose practical necessity – institutional building, even under these ambivalent political bewilderment.
I am certain that numerous critics will partially read this succinct commentary and will say that I am radical in my reflection, pessimistic in my calculation, defamatory to our political class or whatever else comes to their adulterated and subjective criticism. However, I think we have entitlement stating that those who authentically commit to govern us should re-examine their perceptions, manage their prejudices and moderate their ambiguous deeds. Public expectation was that national leaders to enter communion with the people and convert our immortal tribal institutions into progressive political configuration pioneering rebirth of our statehood. Instead our leaders embraced recalcitrant trajectory, reviving tribalism, which its consequences are well known to us; and it is fair to say that current political trajectory will not (un)fortunately be the death of immortal tribalism, but will certainly be death of our immortal sovereignty.
Jama Hersi – Activist and Autodidactic in Somali Affairs
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