By: Khaled Mohamoud [Ibn Khaldun]
It has really been a tough moment for those who are against the emancipation of Somali-studies knowledge production since the recent Cadaan-Studies activism has started critiquing the themes of whiteness prejudice in Somali-Studies academia.
This recent wave of Cadaan-Studies activism was spearheaded by a Somali-Canadian historian by the name of Safia Aidid. She is now a PhD candidate in African History at Harvard University.
A subsequent backlash from the white elites who dominate Somali-Studies academia was highly expectable and actually it occurred when Markus Hoehne presented the vile mindset of whiteness and white supremacy by trivializing Somali scholarship in a disrespectful and emotionally loaded manner.
It has been a kind of strange and to be honest unexpected that some Somalis especially Somalilanders got outrageous about the Cadaan-Studies activism [Which is about critiquing the privilege of whiteness in Somali Studies interdisciplinary scholarship.] Though I can’t argue that those Somalis who are against Cadaan-Studies activism are academically sane yet there is one thing which is quite certain and it’s that a massive social media propaganda campaign was launched by a few people from Somaliland.
In the first instance, it seemed an unfortunate misunderstanding that some people thought Cadaan-Studies activism is motivated by an ideological despise of the first phrase of the newly established Journal’s name “Somaliland Journal of African Studies” in the sense that they were against Somaliland. But when Cadaan-Studies activists repeatedly explained their cause, agenda and everything by putting a great effort to remove this misunderstanding it became clear that it’s a willful misinterpretation and a planned effort to undermine Cadaan-Studies activism through disinformation, conspiracy theory and ad-hominem arguments.
I have coined a name for that discourse for the purpose of clarification and I have characterized them as Dhako-Cadaan discourse which basically means whiteness mindset manifested in black people’s worldview.
The propaganda Nonsense:
“Cadaan-Studies activism is politically motivated and is anti-Somaliland because they criticized the Somaliland Journal of African Studies”
Whether this argument arises from a misunderstanding, ignorance or a deliberate distortion it’s bizarre and far from reality as much as I know.
This activism was ignited when some Somali academics got noticed that there are NO Somali scholars or students in the SJAS’s editorial board, board of advisors or even authors. This means that Somaliland academics suffer from that exclusion.
The University of Hargiesa distanced itself from this Journal and said that they have nothing to do with them.
Cadaan-Studies activists are fighting on behalf of Somaliness against whiteness prejudice through emancipating the process of knowledge production of Somali-studies, their cause is beyond politics and tribalism it’s about getting neutral academia.
On the other hand, the dhako-cadaan activists are fighting tooth and nail to discredit them just because they challenged the whiteness construction in the Somali-Studies academia.
“Cadaan-Studies activism is backed by political institutions in south Somalia and in that sense they have a hidden tribal agenda”
Dhako-Cadaan activists fail to support this argument with some factual evidence; it’s like saying Cadaan-Studies activists are backed by extraterrestrials, there is no way to tell which argument is true as they both lack evidence.
Some Dhako-Cadaan conspiracy theorists even go further and assert some pretty insane claims, peculiar ideas, nonsensical fear mongering or incoherent and self-defeating bullshit but have no factual traces whatsoever.
“Safia Aidid who is the leader of the Cadaan-Studies activism campaign is from South Somalia so she is politically inclined to Somalia against Somaliland”
This is the most absurd disinformation argument that I have encountered so far. Safia openly said through her Facebook account that she is NOT from south Somalia and that she is actually connected to Somaliland. Some of her relatives were members of the SNL movement while others were the founding individuals of SNM.
As far as I know, she is from a well-respected family in Hargiesa and Jig-Jiga but anyway the above argument is quite ridiculous and has no value at all.
Dhako-Cadaan Mentality: A colonial residue
The colonial construction of whiteness had an assimilative impact on the culture and folklore of those who were colonized and today’s construction of whiteness privilege manifested in the 21st century’s globalization exacerbated the already devastating situation.
“Since white folks have been in control for so long, we have determined what is valuable or interesting or useful in terms of education. Greek and Roman mythology, Chaucer, and other canonized works have been selected and revered through the ages as critical components of any “solid liberal arts education.” [White Anti-Racist Activism: A Personal Roadmap by Jennifer R. Holladay, (Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books, Inc., 2000)]
In our Somali context people subconsciously hold that whiteness has a superior quality, subsequently we have even ritualized some fragments of the western culture. That being said, it’s not surprising that some of us proudly express whiteness mentality as a way to compensate their emptiness. A century of colonization and another post-colonial half century were the Somali people [no matter what territory] have lost so much marked the historical milestones of our failure and demise. What is worse is the deep inferiority complex that our fellow Somalis suffer from by which is manifested in Dhako-Cadaan discourse.
Key to Our Renaissance:
In my point of view, I’m inclined to the argument that this activism against biased White-Studies is our hope to emancipate our knowledge production process, its inspiring that we need to think and search what the hell is wrong with us? What options we have to survive as a society and as a people? What can we learn from our contemporary history? These questions can’t be answered in a white dominated academia, a white scholar may not have the necessary credentials to understand our society and in that sense he may not be able to articulate applicable solutions for us, he/she might not have the necessary motivation to explain our society, our history or our way of life in an objective and factual manner.
This is why we need neutral Somali Studies academia; this is why we need activism and intellectual revolution. Change has come to Somali-Studies.
In conclusion, I would like to express how I despise this Dhako-Cadaan propaganda machine, As a Somalilander I’m deeply sorry that our young, honest and pioneering Somali academics get all these patronizing and offensive remarks.
I would like to recommend, Somali scholars to stand up and take part this renaissance movement, this is the right time for intellectual revolution, it’s time to wake up and think by producing our own knowledge and controlling our own narrative.
There should be a detailed agenda for reaching our academic goals and objectives; we need to form effective think tanks that can feed social and political practitioners with objective truth and unbiased interpretation of our reality. We need to take part reconstructing our society in way that can let us develop peacefully and establish a civilization. This is a good reason to debunk all these propaganda and disinformation nonsense that were spread throughout the internet.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” ~ Edmond Burke.