“In Africa,” says Professor Patrick Lumumba, “the shortest root to ill-gotten wealth is political leadership.” I couldn’t agree more. “If you want to get wealth without working for it at all,” he continues, “join African politics.” This short “root to ill-gotten wealth” incites many Somaliland Diasporas in Europe and North America to go back to Somaliland and join politics in order to steal taxpayers’ money. Why would these individuals—who live in one of the richest countries in the world (UK, USA, Canada, etc.) and have access to free high-quality education and/or high-paying jobs—go back to Somaliland and steal taxpayers’ money? Let me inform you who these individuals are; what kind of a life they lead in Europe and North America; why are they coming back to Somaliland; and the tactics they use in order to join politics.
These individuals have lived in Western countries—UK, USA, Canada, etc.—for twenty, thirty or forty years. They have had golden opportunities to get free high-quality education and become doctors, engineers, administrators, educators, economists, etc., but they choose not to attend colleges or universities. Since they have failed to benefit from the available free education, they are unequipped to undertake professional jobs. Therefore, they do unskilled jobs that require little to no formal education: assembly line factory workers, bank tellers, case workers, cleaners (janitors), taxi/bus drivers, watchman/security (“waashumaan” in Somali), cashiers, etc. Usually, they work eight-hours a day, five days a week from Monday through Friday. The little money they earn from their jobs barely covers their living expenses, e.g., rent, utilities, groceries, shopping, gas, phone bill, car insurance, etc. Therefore, they live paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet. It is a never ending cycle, with no light at the end of the tunnel. The result: uneducated, penniless, hopeless and, above all, desperate. And desperate people do desperate things. To escape from their depressive situation, they decide to join Somaliland politics.
These individuals found out that joining Somaliland’s politics is the easiest and the “shortest root to ill-gotten wealth.” They know that it does not require a university degree, skills, leadership abilities, or experience. The only requirement is to know how to appeal, influence and recruit their clan members. If they have money, it is a bonus. If they don’t have it, there is nothing to worry about. The generous contribution from their clan members, especially Diasporas, would do the trick. The primary reason they collect money is to bribe their clan elders and clan pundits—or af-miishaaro, the saw-mouthed sage. They usually run for a city council seat, parliamentary seat or, commonly, aspire to be appointed to a government position: minister, vice minister, director general, governor, etc. Small number of them tries to run for the presidency. Regardless of the office they run for, or aspire to be appointed to, all of them depend on the support of their clan members. That is the essence of Somaliland’s politics.
When they meet with their clan members, they usually do not talk about any important social issues—economics, health, education, etc. They simply inform their clansmen that “their clan” is marginalized by other clans and their rights and privileges are being taken away. They make their clansmen feel jealous, hateful, shameful, and fearful. When they make their clansmen feel insecure, angry and powerless, they present themselves as saviors of the clan. They urge their clansmen to get their act together and reclaim their rights and privileges. Although it is immoral, it is, nevertheless, a very powerful and effective way of appealing to clan sentiment. When they win the unwavering support of their clansmen, they run for an office or seek a government position. Running for an office just requires securing the vote of their clan members. But to be appointed to a position requires different route. They simply take several bribed-elders and pundits with them to talk to the president on their behalf.
They also falsely claim that they are educated or speak multiple languages. Some of them even have the audacity to take the title of “Dr.” although they had never gone to college or university. But simple background check can expose their lies. Most of them do not even speak the language of their country of residence.
As soon as they get into office, they immediately start stealing taxpayers’ money. They know for sure that they would never be caught, because they know that they can get away with it. If they are accused of corruption, their clan members are ready to defend them at any cost. Therefore, they are not accountable to anyone. They buy luxury cars, houses, expensive suits, and take vacations. They also indulge in their animalistic desires.
They cut off all contacts with their clansmen who have supported them. They surround themselves with armed police guards or drive cars with dark-tinted windows in order to hide their identity from their clansmen and family members. They tell their armed police guards not to allow anyone to visit or enter their offices or homes. The poor clansmen wander around the home or office anticipating to be invited. But no one recognizes them, let alone invites them.
This trend will have long-lasting negative effects in the foreseeable future. It informs our youth in Diaspora that they do not need to get higher-education or work hard in order to get wealth and fame. They just need to join Somaliland politics. At the same time, it encourages our youth in Somaliland to leave the country by taking the dangerous sea voyages so that they would become ‘tomorrow’s Diaspora’ and, subsequently, ‘after-tomorrow’s politicians.’
This should stop before it is too late.
Abdi Hussein Daud
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org