Evolution of the Somali society… Or why Somalia has been struggling to get back on the feet?
The essayist is of Somali origin and has lived in Somalia during the time of the “lost paradise”. He grew up in Beletweyne and studied in the cosmopolitan Mogadishu. A scholarship allowed him to take up post-graduate studies in Western Europe. Due to the emerging and ever since protracted conflict in the country, he continued his stay abroad. In recent months, however, he returned to his mother country where he spent several months travelling and visiting places of his past. Along the journey, he met countless old friends and made new ones. Extensive conversations with his peers allowed him to get a profound insight to the current state of affairs in Somalia, from an outsider’s perspective.
The sun sets over Somalia….
By Anonymous, 13March 2014
Since 1991, a war for access to resources has been ongoing in Somalia; fueled by the strong aspiration of various tribal groups to illegitimately gain wealth and political power. The epicenter of the conflict has been the capital city of Somalia, Mogadishu. Ever since, it has been a war that affected mostly innocent people living in the city whose genuine concern has always been to run their daily business peacefully. Never even considering that their livelihoods would be at stake, they have become the focus of scrupulous interests of political leadership and speculations. Well-organized and equipped tribal militia have emerged from the “bush”, indoctrinated to hate their compatriots and politicians from other tribes. Targets of their meaningless killings have been businessmen, political figures and religious leaders of particular tribes, often encouraged by illiterate but power hungry amateurish politicians that failed to enter the Somali political arena peacefully. Instead, they have ordered those tribal “bushman” to humiliate, rape or even kill. Innocent people from other tribes have been forced to leave their home turf, either as internally displaced people (IDPs) within their country or as refugees abroad. As a result, power hungry politicians have remained in the city and scrupulously appropriated properties belonging to fellow countrymen, such as private houses and businesses, but also governmental buildings including schools, hospitals, universities, ministries, industrial areas and military zones. In the conventional comprehension of those politicians, the unlawful acquisition of assets contributes to the wealth of their individual tribes, hence leading to their increased political power in the country. The illegitimate attainment of wealth and related political power has only been possible by means of protracted conflict in the country. Rejoicing their newly gained influence, they request absolute obedience by subdued tribes. This malicious spiral has been whirling ever since the conflict has commenced, and the political arena in Somalia has been distressed by this fact.
At the very beginning of the conflict, a wide majority of Somalis anticipated that the motivation behind the conflict was a vigorous change in government rather than the killing of innocent persons, the ruining of livelihoods, properties and subsequent displacement of populations. The slaughtering has continued; men, women, old, young and even children have been amongst the fatalities. Only the tribal affiliates of the murderers have not been forced out of their homeland and dispossessed as the others. In addition to that, ignorant fellow tribesman have not intervened and prevented the continuous violence. Previously, they have been relatives, neighbors, colleagues and friends; and still, they seem to have been in agreement with the ongoing pointless slaughtering of innocent people. They have not made any effort as such to intervene in the conflict. It has been part and parcel of the propaganda machinery to make them believe that the “wealth and power will be collective” and the whole tribe will benefit in the long term; newly gained assets, including agricultural land and properties will be shared. As many people left Mogadishu searching for safety and security, they were followed and the killing was extended across the whole country and only crossing the borders into neighboring countries provided the desired peace.
The dark side of Somali history is ongoing, and this essay aims to uncover atrocities that have taken place and continue to be committed in light of greed for wealth and power. Despite the infinite existence of Allah, the Almighty, one day the violence turned against the perpetrators. While the conflict has prolonged, slaughtering has turned both ways and became crueler than ever before. The trust among people has gone lost and in order to be safe, armed militias have had no other choice than to stay within the confined tribal or sub-tribal areas. This also applies to civilians who are safe only within the area of their tribal majority or where well-equipped militias can protect them. Citizens who have lived all their lives in cosmopolitan Mogadishu, neither native to the tribal area nor with militia support, have been forced to return to the place of their tribal origin or leave Somalia altogether. This has lead to a major brain drain and outflow of well-trained and experienced human resources.
At that point in time, global humanitarian actors had greatly mobilized and resumed humanitarian assistance all over Somalia; they had also resumed to dispense into the city of Mogadishu. The main objective has been to assist communities affected by the conflict, with food supplies, health support, shelter and anything else required to make communities resilient under the current circumstances. At the same time, conflict mediation processes were recommenced in order to ease the fighting. Subsequently, the targeting of the legitimate beneficiary groups has always been a concern. By addressing “traditional” community elders, international humanitarian agencies assert to reach out to the most vulnerable groups. In reality, community elders tend to closely liaise with warlords and instead of representing the needs of communities they have exposed strong personal interests. By insisting on the practice of delivering aid to people through the respective leaders deceives its genuine purpose. If at all a war could be argued to be fair, this Somali conflict has become even more unjustifiable by tolerating that the most distressed strata of society remain entirely unattended. Would not the delivery of humanitarian assistance to communities directly be much wiser?
By giving more control into the hands of hypocritical community leaders and warlords, their power over the communities advances. Whoever seeks humanitarian assistance and support in accessing basic supplies through humanitarian assistance is forced to obey to the false authority of self-declared community leaders; otherwise, no help will reach disobedient but most needy community members and the lack of livelihood options results in hunger and starvation. On the other hand, those elders and warlords have understood to gain maximum benefit from this “humanitarian business model”, by neither investing much of their capital nor time. The occasional shooting and destabilization efforts in the region are just part of this new business model, showing that they possess supreme control over the tribal area. It is them who decide about peace or war in their immediate tribal area, and by doing so they either facilitate or block the delivery of assistance to the most needy. In addition to that, the elders and warlords have been actively engaged in providing logistic support for delivery of humanitarian assistance (food, drugs and shelter, etc.), contracted by the humanitarian aid agencies. They provide the means of transportation and receive daily allowances. Not only that, more often the newly emerging leaders of the communities demand to be the overall manager of the aid delivery operations, including the monitoring of financial cash flows. It is extraordinary that rarely there have been monitoring systems established to follow up on delivery. It is because of this that operational budgets were not disbursed to the full amount and were partially shifted to private bank accounts. In addition to that, food, drug and shelter as well as agricultural equipment were transferred to more profitable markets, either in the same area, in other cities of Somalia or crossing borders illegally as contra-band products. This “business model” has proven that the more communities starve, the more aid would flow and as argued above, the more profitable gain would be made by corrupt community leaders and their warlord friends. According to Somali understanding, this has been the most profitable and never dreamt of business ever, allowing certain people to become rich within a very short period of time. Consequently, it is not in their interest at all to have neither a stable nor a peaceful country.
Once, one of the legendary Somali warlords was asked about his thoughts on peace and the militia turning in their weapons in order to achieve this. His answer was as expected. He is not at all interested in contributing to mediate the conflict and promote the peace process in the country. “Is there any business more profitable in this world than being a warlord and the traditional leader of my tribe in charge of facilitating humanitarian aid delivery in my tribal area? I am earning more than hundred thousand USD per day.” According to him, there is no need for peace in the country and no need for a government, either. At the commencement of the war in 1991, he was a soldier barely earning enough to cover the living expenses of his family. The work with humanitarian agencies allowed him to gain personal wealth and status within the tribe. Today, he claims to be a millionaire and is a well-respected tribal patriarch. Moreover, he has become a national level decision maker. He shows pride in highlighting the fact that he has not made any investments in the “business” away from coordinating and commanding militia forces. On the other hand, the militia forced humanitarian agencies to deal with this warlord and tribal elder in “business terms”. He could not care less than about his personal wealth, instability in the country and non-presence of a functioning government. In conclusion, he emphasized the fact that if aid agencies would stop to collaborate with him, he would block access to the areas under his control, claiming that the distress of the communities residing there will increase (and this despite the fact that the community barely received any support through his presence).
Darkness in Somalia
If there is anything that Somalis are good in, it is to replica and imitate recklessly, especially for what is considered insincere and illegitimate and above, that does not require deep thought, stern effort and responsibility but allows becoming well off over a short period of time. As the days of prosperity for Somali warlords discontinued, recently, certain youth in the country emerged in the humanitarian sector. At the time when the conflict started in Somalia, most of these were adolescents from families who neither had the opportunity to leave Somalia nor to gain access to higher education. They eagerly studied Arabic and English language and acquired the basics of development terminology. They absorbed the humanitarian language claiming to assist the suffering Somali people. And, they established local non-governmental organizations (LNGO) and associations claiming to support particular beneficiary groups, vulnerable groups such as IDPs, women, youth and children; each one of them covering a distinct tribal area. In order to widen their visibility and access to donor funding, some of the LNGOs contacted relatives abroad praising the extensively emerging business opportunities in the humanitarian sector across the country. As a result, diaspora organizations in support of fellow Somalis registered predominantly in Europe, North America, and the Gulf countries but also in other random locations. Now both the diaspora and the respective “branches” in Somalia have access to substantial funds provided by humanitarian and donor agencies. Besides the warlords and red-bearded elders having benefitted before, also the non-governmental sector has entered the “pathway to prosperity” based on the misery created by the conflict in Somalia. Within a few months, LNGOs mushroomed in every corner of the country. Somalis even claim that every family in the country maintains a NGO. Of course, each of them proclaims to be the most experienced and trustworthy institution in the tribal, sub-tribal or sub-sub tribal area; hence, they ought to be contracted to implement humanitarian activities guaranteeing that assistance will unquestionably reach intended beneficiaries. Once and so often it happens that a member of the humanitarian community is killed, working for both local and international agencies. The main cause is that they try to provide support to Somali communities in tribal areas without approval of the so-called tribal leaders. In order to avoid those targeted assassinations, one must get in contact with or contract a Mukulaal Madow, the Somali term for a “Black Cat”. In order to claim that a certain LNGO is able to provide vast coverage within Somalia, offices with the banner of the LNGO are opened in various strategic locations. This is negotiated with the particular leaders of the tribal areas, undoubtedly with financial gain involved. It has also become a practice that international agencies collaborate with LNGOs who claim to be familiar with local dynamics and ensure the implementation of activities.
Shedding light on some
But what are the proficiencies a LNGO requires to have access to donors and humanitarian funds? Certainly, good communication and writing skills in English or Arabic, depending on the official language of the particular donor agency to be addressed. A digital camera is handy and allows documenting the process and outcomes of projects in communities that claimed to be supported. And of course, the visa to travel to Nairobi and Arab Gulf countries to attend meetings is critical.
The chairman of a LNGO supporting agricultural activities in Lower and Middle Shabelle Regions explained that he usually awaits the commencement of seasonal activities and the preparation of agricultural land, in order to join farmers in their activities as a pretended visitor. And in order to bring as many people as possible together in one location, he invites them for lunch. A group photograph will later on show the successful project outcomes and the well documented field visit to the community will tell the achievement of results, including the fieldwork. He confirmed that these pictures are used for donor reports along the elaboration of project activities that in fact have never taken place. Short interviews with potential beneficiaries claim the level of community satisfaction and gratitude to the funding agency.
Following the same argument, during one of his many site visits, the author of this essay witnessed the outcome of a well-funded irrigation project. Where there was supposed to be a functioning deep well, including storage facilities and a distribution system, only tanks were delivered and left behind in the middle of nowhere, with no sight of any borehole whatsoever. Only from the distance one might be able to assume that the required infrastructure has been provided. The local community confirmed that they had meetings with representatives from an INGO who promised to provide the community with consistent water supply required for human beings and animals, particularly important to sustain much appreciated livelihood activities also during the dry season. The tanks were built and the INGO vanished.
Above case studies reinforce the argument that the humanitarian agencies have repeatedly benefitted from the desperation of local Somalia communities and the good intensions donor agencies show in supporting local communities and making them more resilient. The difference between the work of LNGOs that have been growing like mushrooms in every corner of the country and warlords terrorizing communities is that LNGOs do not carry weapons and are not surrounded by well-armed militia. However, if imperative LNGOs would be able to mobilize and stir up conflict and killing between different groups in support of their ultimate goal, gaining profit through “humanitarian work”. Over the years, LNGOs have become wealthy, contrary to the communities they have been meaning to support; they have remained poor and illiterate and above all, based on the fake claim to support the most vulnerable, they are even well respected. As a result, communities, their particular red-bearded leaders and local militia can easily be corrupted by occasional pocket money or lunch provided by LNGOs.
This kind of corruption goes even further up to the higher government levels. Traditional and often illiterate leaders delegate particular members of their tribe to be represented in the Somali Parliament, and while the President is elected by the Members of Parliament the Prime Minister is appointed by the President. The positions of Ministers and Director Generals of the various Ministries are collectively negotiated between the tribes based on the 4.5 system. Right from the offset, this system is prone to corruption. It can be argued that the President of this country was (s)elected by certain interest groups within tribes, often financially supported by “humanitarian businessmen”. It can be argued that the humanitarian sector in Somalia is a shadow business, as the provision of humanitarian assistance to vulnerable communities in many cases is not genuine at all. Often, decision makers that disperse funds to humanitarian projects on behalf of the international community are neither aware of the Somali complexities nor do they know the context well. The evidence becomes clearer when investigating the irresponsibility towards monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of projects in order to steer the outcomes into the intended direction. It could be argued that some donor elements are part of this shadow business that has been ongoing for many years, gaining a substantive share from well-anticipated donor funds.
It is rather depressing to realize that Somali people have been too humble to recognize the filthy business that developed based on their misery. They ought to stand up against those LNGO owners claiming to support their communities. Instead, they continue to respect the wealthy LNGOs owners that build their business empire on the desperation of people. It is irritating why local communities have never questioned the fact that their peers have become outrageously rich over only a short period of time.
The author of this essay has been travelling throughout Somalia in order to reconnect with his people whose lives he had not shared for so many years. From the perspective of a tenderhearted person and keen thinker about development issues in this world, it has been surprising how little comprehension the international humanitarian agencies and donors have about their role in developing Somalia. Initially good intensions turned against the anticipated beneficiaries, hereby making them even more vulnerable while being exposed to conflict and seasonal hazards.
No longer there is any doubt about the absolute carelessness by the international community followed by irresponsibility towards the humanitarian resources poured into Somalia, mostly involuntarily afforded by tax payers of donor countries. One might even argue that the money being spent is in accordance with well-developed shadow businesses in Somalia. This would mean that humanitarian decision makers are very much aware of the Somali dynamics and have their share.
No matter what, it certainly requires an investigation and thorough analysis of the humanitarian sector in the case of Somalia. It is problematic that there does not seem to be sufficient follow up at field level on the actual implementation of projects and the management of operational budgets assigned to LNGOs. Certainly, the security situation in the country can no longer be an excuse here. Moreover, the general question arises whether the international community is interested in the stabilization of Somalia and overcoming the status of a Failed State. Certainly, this can only go along with the strengthening of capacities at all levels of Somali institutions. The implementation of projects through respective line ministries and professional associations is unquestionably a means to achieve this; instead of contracting “one-man LNGOs” seeking to achieve quick impact at community level and long lasting financial gain at personal level from this situation.
The Failed State Somalia offers a thriving business platform, unrestricted and uncontrolled. Countless self-declared community elders and LNGOs, country representatives of UN agencies, focal points for INGOs as well as coordinators from international agencies cavort in the capital and other cities of this fragmented country as much as in the most remote areas; all of them being either directly or indirectly engaged in the humanitarian sector. While most of them bare the hardships of living and working in Somalia with the sincere intensions to contribute to the developing of this country and bringing back peace and stability, others see the governance vacuum as an opportunity to engage in illegitimate businesses carried out on the shoulders of the most vulnerable. Claiming to assist the most affected and desperate communities, the humanitarian sector has chosen to work independently from Somali government and professional institutions considered incapable and too weak to deliver assistance. Not following a developmental approach, the intention does not seem to build appropriate institutional structures to take up the role of humanitarian actors in the country while providing for long-term stabilization of the country as a general goal. Instead, through mismanagement of funds, the humanitarian sector has made few people very wealthy and contributed to the scattering of the country.
“There is no lunch for free”, economists claim. However, in Somalia the opposite takes place. Humanitarian funds poured over the country provide millions of lunches for free and have supported certain terrific minds to establish prosperous businesses out of it. This resulted in the fact that nothing in Somalia that can attract some sort of humanitarian assistance is left unattended. It reaches as far as the solid waste collection in the streets of Mogadishu and people residing in the camps assigned for IDPs. Even though it lies within the responsibility of the local government, solid waste would be piling up in the streets causing a major health threat without financial support of donor agencies. And IDPs are forced to reside in camps; often shelters in those camps are advertised on the low income housing rental market. IDPs seeking support in shelter, food and drug distribution are sent by the management of camps to the humanitarian agencies. Then, those items very often are sold in the free market, and the operational funds for the camps remain in the pockets of individuals claiming to be managing those camps. Humanitarian and development assistance have neither been provided to interim ministerial departments to manage IDP camps nor to municipalities to take charge of the solid waste management in cities.
The writer of this essay interviewed a cross-section of Somalis on their main source of livelihood, including a wide range of well-off Somalis trying to understand the incentives behind their business establishments and the funding sources. It has become clear that government officials do earn a monthly salary insufficient to live with their families in urban areas, rather it is the professionals employed by LNGO, INGO and UN agencies that can afford the ever-increasing lifestyle in Somalia. Excess wealth is only made by the ones who either own a LNGO, are country focal points, representatives and zonal coordinators of one of the international humanitarian agencies such as UN and INGOs or who entered a business contract with them. Others struggle to find one warm meal a day.
Another category of extremely well paid individuals, is the lawyers working in the courts of Mogadishu. This applies particularly to lawyers engaged in property issues, assisting those who have lost their properties during the war or whose properties are illegally occupied. Enormous money transactions are involved in reclaiming property; court trials are lengthy and costly. Instead of following legislative procedures, informal bidding processes are initiated and whoever is able to pay the greater amount will be the assigned “rightful” owner and champion of the trial. Often they are wealthy people who illegitimately gained their fortune. It is evident that this practice does not contribute to reconciliation in the country; rather, it steers up a new kind of conflict that calls for resolution by the many militant groups resident in the city.
Entering a tunnel
LNGOs running educational facilities, orphanage colleges and health businesses are following the same footsteps. There are uncountable establishments and most of them charitable by description with a rigorous religious regime. Most of the donor requests seek for funding to construct schools, universities and hospitals as well as orphanage colleges. Once granted the financial support, buildings and infrastructure building is carried out in a poor quality in order to reduce costs and maintain funds for the development of side businesses. Repeatedly, those schools, universities, hospitals and orphanages are private enterprises owned by individuals. In order to access the services provided by those facilities, enrollment and subscription fees are to be paid. As no sustainable business models can be demonstrated, these institutions continue to seek financial support from the international community. This includes the maintenance of buildings, remuneration of teachers, provision of books as well as drugs for hospitals. Any additional funding goes straight into the pockets of individual business owners, deceiving the humanitarian community. All over Somalia and particularly in Mogadishu, countless universities have been established. Because the country has not born appropriate teaching personnel yet, very often freshly graduated self-declared professors from the same unqualified university resume duty. There is no evidence of academic curricula, and the subject matters are extracted from the Internet and other university websites. Lacking sufficient fund allocation for recruitment of adequate human resources, often, inexperienced adolescent professors are tasked to teach four to five subjects. Even though, the humanitarian community invests in the academic education and regularly caters for student’s tuition fees, no investment in qualified human resources is made; hence, these ventures are highly unsustainable.
Over time it has become apparent that the before described and highly fragmented education model does not provide the country with well qualified and trained professionals to be profoundly engaged in building a new Somalia. For instance, a young professor from the Faculty of Medicine has been requested to teach microbiology, chemistry, physics, cardiology, physiology and anatomy during the course of only one day. Another freshly graduated business and administration scholar was promoted to become a professor of law while also being requested to teach at the Faculty of Engineering in the subjects of mathematics, computer science, electricity, and architectural design. Many students have graduated from these kinds of Somali universities. When a Dean of such university was addressed by the essayist, he confirmed that Somali universities are a worthy business model to “make easy money”. The author was even invited to take part, either as a member of the university board or as a lecturer. As a university board member, shares from the annual benefit are guaranteed besides the monthly salary. As a lecturer, the remuneration will be calculated based on the hours taught. To sustain the monthly financial cash flow, students confirmed that they have to cover regular enrollment fees. In exchange, examination will only be a formality. At the end of each term, each student receives a graduation certificate no matter the examination results. The students are well aware that professors are not sound in the subjects they teach, rather they keep on reading the academic books to the class and memorize the subjects by what they have read themselves just hours before. Simple questions raised by students are relayed to other students or answered the next day. In this system, students keep on paying their monthly fees and count the days until graduation.
There are more than forty universities following the same business model in the city of Mogadishu alone, not to mention plentiful schools, orphanages and hospitals that have surfaced in the country. Trying to understand the pattern of emergence, the author concludes that it is comparable to the warlord and LNGO system. Understandingly, also these business models copy approaches widely acknowledged by the humanitarian system and promoted by donor agencies. The provision of education and health has become a commodity; relevant projects are developed by mostly religious entities and submitted as funding requests to the international community. Rather than having a genuine attitude to this, the main objective is again personal gain, rank among the wealthiest individuals in the country and actively participate in the Somali political arena, or even become politicians themselves. This is Somalia today – most of parliamentarians and high-level politicians are strongly rooted in this shadow business.
The tunnel leads deep into the mountain
By revisiting the proceedings of the last Somali Federal Government elections, the role of humanitarian funding in Somali politics becomes apparent and the influence it has on bringing out the worse of the Somali characters to become the new leadership of the country. From here it can be understood why it will take ages to rebuild this country and why it has been impossible to establish a Somali government based on the rule of law.
All those red-bearded and illiterate men who have been living in pastoral and agro-pastoral settings far away from urban areas with goats, sheep, cattle and camels were called to Mogadishu, the main reason being that they claim to be the tribal elders. Within only a few days, they were tasked to identify their representatives to the Somali Parliament. Undeniably, this method shows how distant the leadership is prone to be from reality and that there is no intension to have a serious government for the country. Considering that each Somali tribe consists of hundreds of thousand people, the elders would not be able to identify qualified capacities required for representation at the Parliament apart from individuals within their closely surrounding circles. Surely, the only fact they recognize is that inserting a representative from their tribe into the Parliament will increase their chances to have access to the illegitimate benefits of the “humanitarian business model”. Once the international community calls the elders to come to Mogadishu to attend the selection process, they come well prepared to Mogadishu well prepared for the imminent negotiations with tribal fellows interested to become a member of the Somali Parliament. In fact, some of those concerned parties directly address the elders and seek their promotion; the more cash offered to the tribal leader, the higher the chance to be selected. There are no prerequisites, neither of presenting a Curriculum Vitae outlining knowledge nor political experience of the candidate. Just before the critical meeting of the elders in Mogadishu, a wide range of potential candidates audition at the elder’s hotel room, present their particular skills and assets. Being aware of illegitimate practices and knowing of this rare opportunity to receive enormous amounts of cash in a long time, elders inflate the individual ratio, as there is always someone who can afford. In fact, the candidates for becoming Members of Parliament “nominate” themselves.
Indeed, most of the thoughtful people with political background and experience are not related to the shadow business of illegitimately acquiring humanitarian funds. They are well educated and qualified to handle the challenging task of bringing back Somalia on the right track. In addition to that, they possess high moral values and are not corrupt. Interviews with current Members of Parliament explain that a majority of them are related to the LNGO sector, especially those involved the education, health, food security, orphanages and empowerment of civil society and alike. Other Members of Parliament have been identified as former warlords or funded by one. This composition of the Parliament will handpick the President of Somalia and following the same principle, the person who can raise the highest price will be voted. Obviously, the ones who can afford the ransom are those who have access to humanitarian funds.
The most recent group that appeared at the political horizon of Somalia is Dammu Jadiid, the “New Blood”. The group comprises of a series of actors that have gained financial power by actively being engaged in the humanitarian sector in Somalia. Being financially strong, they either bribe elders directly or financially support potential candidates to be “selected” as Members of Parliament by elders. An experienced humanitarian actor does not automatically resemble an experienced politician. One could argue that this “passive revolution” has been introduced to the Somali political arena in order to weaken the transitional government further and strategically place cadres with the above-described NGO-mentality at the level of political leadership in the country. In this way, humanitarian-funding agencies can easily influence decision-making processes at macro level, hence, Somalia will be governed following the bad practices of earlier described NGO work in Somalia. The international and Somali communities have both misunderstood the term Dammu Jadiid. Instead of being yet another fundamentalist religious group terrorizing the country, it represents the real new blood that flows in the veins of the Somali governance system; well-experienced political leaders have been exchanged with greedy humanitarian actors.
Nowadays, it has become even more difficult for well-intended Somali intellectuals with sound professional backgrounds to return to the country and contribute to the reconstruction of Somalia. Dammu Jadiid and alike have become bouncers that cater for the whole humanitarian spectrum, in the fields of food security and health, education, orphanages and even empowerment of civil society. Great profits have been gained and the political power is under their control. It is very likely that all major donor funds and humanitarian support programmes for Somalia will be distributed amongst this crowd. Employment in their institutions find only those who either freshly graduated from universities managed by them or graduated from universities where their leaders graduated previously. Forthcoming Somali human resources are considered only those coming from “fake universities” that surfaced in the country or those with aligned ideologies. Somali professionals especially from Europe and Northern America are considered diaspora, with an extremely negative connotation. By doing so, they strongly discourage their return to the country and their positive contribution to the reform process in Somalia. The so-called diaspora has followed the developments in Somalia from afar and provided financial support from day one of the conflict, particularly to family members who remained back home. Recent propaganda against the diaspora claims that they have lost their Somali identity in western and “open-minded” societies, hence, would not be able to understand the complexities of the Somali society any more.
In recent history, there have been two peculiar incidents that are worth to be mentioned in this context; clearly stated during interventions in the Somali Parliament and from the President directly. The President requested the Prime Minister of Somalia to resign. As there has been no obvious reason, he declined this appeal. At the same time, also Members of Parliament demanded him to resign based on raised acquisitions against him. The President issued no written allegation paper to the Parliament to seek clarification on the case. Neither was the Prime Minister allowed to clarify the acquisition in front of the Parliament. The media was broadcasting the Parliamentary Session online, and instead of explaining the cause for the acquisition, the request was repeated over and over again. In addition to that, there was no evidence of the Prime Minister’s and the Ministerial Cabinet’s failure in fulfilling the mandate at all. The question amongst Somali intellectuals remains, what the cause for the Prime Minister’s forced resignation might have been. Another uncertain event has been the selection of the latest Ministerial Cabinet, considering that the President and his inner circle have appointed the Prime Minister who heads the government. A pre-condition for becoming a Minister is the negotiation of the candidate with the elders and Members of Parliament of his tribe in order to be nominated. It is those Parliamentarians who were selected to be part of the new Cabinet that were fighting alongside the President to dismiss the former Prime Minister. It is surprising that some of the former Ministers who belong to the President’s inner circle have reemerged in the new Cabinet, selected once more by the Parliament that declared days before the failure of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.
E p i l o g u e – Is there light at the end of the tunnel?
Somalia has not only been destroyed by civil war and armed conflict, but also what followed after when the flood of humanitarian support swept over the country. It poses a major challenge to rebuild this country, and serious re-thinking is required in order to advance an approach before it is too late. Today, donor agencies and humanitarian actors play a crucial role, more than ever before. An attitude revolution is badly needed, from direct implementation through LNGOs to provision of humanitarian assistance as a means to enhance good governance in Somalia. The emphasis should be on strengthening the role of national and local government as well as professional bodies to fulfill their assigned roles. This has been neglected for many years, and very often, national government was not even aware of the activities in the country as the contracts were made from afar between humanitarian agencies and LNGOs. In this way, the flow of cash and humanitarian assistance has never contributed to the capacity building of Somali institutions. Instead, international humanitarian and development agencies are to be located directly within the premises of the Line Ministries in order to provide on-the-job training to the respective departments. If this is not possible, the request should be to partner or strongly engage with those institutions that in future are to implement development projects. By delivering services to communities (as it is the role of government in the first place), the joint implementation of humanitarian and development projects will also contribute to the credibility building of government institutions. Through joint project implementation, Line Ministries will be in the position to acquire the necessary skills and tools to conduct needs assessments in a participatory manner, analyze the findings, prioritize interventions and implement projects hand in hand with beneficiary communities as their constituencies. Line Ministries and beneficiary communities alike ought to monitor project funds in a more systematic manner. This contributes to transparency and empowerment of communities alongside their representative institutions and builds confidence in a country where mutual trust has been misplaced.
The current state of the Somali education system is another problematical area. The forthcoming generation represents the human resources of Somalia. The role of the Ministry of Education in unifying school and university curricula is vital. Let us cultivate the human capital in the country as a source for rebuilding Somalia to a stable and flourishing country. Donor funds in support of this must be utilized in a suitable manner. Only when these preconditions are met, Somalia will have a chance to overcome the status of a Failed State and move into the direction to become a stable country once more.
At this moment in time, in Somalia there are many distinctive actors about; some are well armed with ammunition others with arguments. But they are all in agreement on the fact of the matter – to keep Somalia in a state of limbo, a place without law and order. The non-presence of a functional government demands continuous humanitarian support to strained communities, both from natural disasters and continuous conflict. The political economy of the new Somalia is based on conflict. The day that the humanitarian support commences to be more responsible, there will be a chance to overcome the meaningless killing and destruction of this beautiful country. It is in the interest of all human kind, starting from the most vulnerable in Somalia to the donor countries that have been providing funds over many years in support of those.
Anonymous, 13March 2014
 The term “lost paradise” refers to the pre-conflict Somalia and the memories of a peaceful and prosperous life in Mogadishu during the period of the revolutionary government that ruled the country from 1960 to 1991.