Ignorance is a dangerous weapon. Couple it with a selfish interest and you can produce a deadly synergism. Guided by this myopic view that lacks knowledge, the Janet Britt’s of the world are determined to protect their selfish objective of using the desperate Somali situation as a cash-crop. It does not matter “what” and “how” a concerned, genuine Somali, such as Mahamed Heeban, feels about his people, or whether he can rightfully express an opinion. In fact, these foreign predators have mastered the reputation of silencing anyone who challenges their distorted view of what our people want. One glance at the Somali situation from the distance and they will qualify themselves as experts of the Somali cultures and their tribal complex, time-tested systems and relationships. An ear full of one misrepresented view fed to them from one individual or particular group with interest, and these foreigners will rush to conclusions presenting their ignorance as guaranteed cure-all solution. Challenge their ignorance and you are under attack. They will even call you a lier--- screaming “YOU LIE”. They are scared to death that someone might expose their ignorance.
A case in point is an article titled Unsubstantiated Critique ; The Dark Heebaan of the Logic of Heebaan by Janet Britt recently posted on wardheernews, where she lashes out Mohamed Heebaan for commenting on article written by Abdul Ahmed III, titled: Regionalism and Alternative Forms of Governance.
Janet Britt, defending Mr. Ahmed III’s article writes:
“The article is one of many pieces published as an excerpt form a collaborative research work that uses a large data sets on Somali clans, ethnography, social association data and large historical data. Ahmed’s article presents in part an analysis of why the former Somalia has disintegrated; we derive a powerful clan based mechanism that leads to self segregation by the clans and shows verifiable ground truth that what use to be Somalia is no more”.
She continued to write:
“The notion that Somalia’s new quasi-states are somehow contrary to Somali nationhood is highly flawed and contrary to empirical evidence. With the exception of the period between 1960 – 1991, Somali people lived in their chosen traditional states, some of which were far more advanced then today’s Somalia”.
Janet claims that Somali clans before 1960 existed as “ independent traditional states” and some of these states where even more advanced than today’s Somalia.
Really, Janet? Name one “state”.
She even has the audacity to ask Mr. Heebaan to present supporting evidence for argument, while vehemently playing down the value of his own experiences, knowledge and understanding he has of his own culture ---claiming that citizenship does not matter. I do not know Mr. Heebaan, but I do not think he ever mentioned citizenship as the sole weapon he used to discredit the author.
She continued to write:
While a fair and intellectually sound critique is acceptable, I believe that the citizenship or ethnicity of the author is immaterial to the argument of what has transpired in what we purposefully for semantic reasons call “the former Somalia”.
Finally, we encourage Mr M. Heebaan and others to share whatever technical and empirical data he may to present solid counter-arguments to our work (if any at all). In the absence of such rigorous information we would invite him to get familiar with our work on Somalia and Somali peninsula in order to abort any undue , uninformed sophomoric attacks on individuals authors and the integrity of their work.
My question to MS. Britt is: who are you?
Here you are asking Mr. Heebaan to present facts and references for disagreeing with Mr. Ahmed III’s article, which now clearly turned out to be yours. Why else defend someone else’s article so vigorously with such a passion, unless, of course you are the author. It also struck me that even your article, this thing you called a research paper, did not bother mentioning or presenting citations or references, as required of all research work. Is this what you called a research? What population did you sample? What was the size of your study population? Where did you find them? Whom did you interview? Any Somali?
If Mr. Heebaan and other concerned Somalis have any ulterior motive, it is because they want a strong Somali nation with respected sovereignty, where all Somalis live and co-exist peacefully with each and with the rest of the world. We will take it any form we get it, federal or centralized, because we deserve to be a nation. Not the failed clan enclaves you are prescribing for us.
If you care to know about the Somalis, maybe you should read little more about us before you attempt to discredit our own experiences.
Until the collapse of the State in 1991, Somalia used to be the envy of African countries below the Sahara. In those days, the world rightly saw Somalia as a unique country whose people, unlike anywhere else in the continent, are homogenous, having one common language, culture, religion and shared aspirations. This is how they always existed before they were divided by colonial powers---Not as independent “states” as you wrongly assumed.
Maybe you should try to learn from those who disagree with your opinion, like Mr. Heebaan. Chances are they are right. Doing research helps you learn more about the subject matter. And the more you know about a subject, the more you realize how much you do not know about a lot of things. And you become humble because of it.
I have checked Ahmed III’s article, and like Mr. Heebaan, I failed to see what his argument-or what called is all about.
“Moreover, the quasi-independent regional polities such as Somaliland and Puntland provide “alternative mechanisms” as well as “socially acceptable policy prescription” to Somalia’s problem. They also represent examples of a distinctly successful normative policy approaches available to those engaged in helping Somalia end its long civil conflict.
Mr. Ahmed III continues to write:
The fact is however that the pre-conceived notion of fairness is one that is exogenously imposed or at least is perceived as imposed solutions (not endogenously derived as in case of Puntland). The perception of imposed rule (whether fair or not) affects the expectations as well as the behavior of Somali clans. Why would Somaliland or Puntland would want exchange whatever relative peace and prosperity for a future possible prosperous Somali nation state.”
Not withstanding the fact that the content of the article had little or nothing to do with the title, I personally found it difficult to understand what Mr. Ahmed III was offering as solution. His prescription is basically asking the International Community to leave Somalis exist as clans—something he wrongly characterizes as pre-colonial arrangements that do not constitute “fairness”. Meaning: Somalis never practiced fairness and do not deserve to prosper as a nation. In his opinion, so long there is a semblances of peace in these regions, Somaliland and Punt land do not need to be part of future prosperous Somali Nation State? He is even against the idea of governance and power sharing. He failed to recognize that Somaliland and Puntland are constantly in war with each other and have their respective militia facing each other on daily basis in Sool and Sanaag. Somaliland itself is in turmoil these days in some parts of the region, where land disputes between clans have resulted violence and unnecessary deaths, and may even escalate into more clan war.
Like many concerned Somalis, Mr. Heebaan has rightfully commented on the weaknesses of the Author’s views and rejected the notion that the International Community should not attempt to restore some form of law and order in these troubled areas in the south. Contrary to Mr. Ahmed’s assumption, all that the International Community is trying to accomplish in the South, at this point, is to find a lasting peaceful coexistence between these fighting groups in Mogadishu and its surroundings. There is no discussion on whether to re-unite all Somali clans is going on, let alone how. When and if the Somalis ever come together to discuss the Somali State, which is more likely to happen faster than Mr. Ahmed’s group would wish to see, then they Somalis will decide what is best for them. Most Somalis are willing to accept a federal system that mandates the distribution of legislative authority between a central government having jurisdiction over national issues and provincial governments having jurisdiction over regional issues. If that is what Mr. Ahmed is proposing, it was not clearly stated in his article.
My hope is that, like all other societies, the Somali people will one day combine in a joint effort to realize what they all need, a viable nation. And whatever form of government they agree on will have its own system of ends and its own means to exist.
Nevertheless, I have no problem with his views. What I have problem with is the way Janet Britt tried to discredit Mr. Heebaan’s view. We have had enough foreign architects who have either contributed to the Somali calamity in the last 20 years, or are engineering the dismemberment of the Somali people today. And if you see some of us extremely suspicious of foreigners promoting the status quo and actively engaged in the destruction of the Somali state, I think we have a very good reason to be on the alert.
Many Somalis rather see their nation dig itself from this humiliating state. There are those who have their sleeves rolled back and have their hands in the dirty, trying to resuscitate their country, whether building hospitals, roads homes, schools or digging wells. And we welcome anyone who is willing to help our people. But I wonder if the Janet Britt of the world has contributed a penny to help our people. I suspect not!!
Ali Bahar PhD
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