Somaliland:The poverty of ideas: the blind leading the Blind

A man with body paint in the colours of the national flag participates in a street parade to celebrate the 24th self-declared independence day for the breakaway Somaliland nation from Somalia in capital Hargeysa, May 18, 2015. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
A man with body paint in the colours of the national flag participates in a street parade to celebrate the 24th self-declared independence day for the breakaway Somaliland nation from Somalia in capital Hargeysa, May 18, 2015. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

The very notion of statehood, the production and social reproduction of  social relation is contingent on a process of selection. A major institution of selection and reproduction of the society is the educational system in a society. The system in other words is critical in maintaining and socialising children and young adults in the norms of the society. Norms are important in a society, it is the glue that holds together communities and societies.   No doubt what is the “social” in social reproduction is dependent on the theoretical perspective one adopts. But irrespective of the theoretical perspective one adopts this issue has been at core of the debate in social science, political discourse and discursive practices in the field of education in advance d societies.  The field of education in these societies is an arena where hierarchical structure of the society are produced and reproduced. Young adults are expected to acquire skills, values and dispositions or acquire relevant cultural capital in order to competitive in an increasingly competitive labour market of the globalized economy. Every country in the advanced democracies are working hard to attract people with skills to advantage their country in global economic competition.  However, these countries are also creating robust educational system to prepare their youngster of future generations for these changing economic conditions. These countries no doubt have the resources, human and material resources to advantage them in this competition, and to strengthen their economic grip and superiority

I strongly believe that Somalia, and Somaliland as weak state can and are in a position to create the foundation for a society that can in short a  period create an  institutional capacities and culture  to be a succes story. But  what these countries need is to create the condition a strong change in the mindset of their citizens – a strong sense  of trust among the citizens that the institutions trusted with the task to redistributing the scant social resources is done in a fair and just manner – meritocracy is and should be the norm.  Recently I read somewhere that  every ministry in both Somalia and Somaliland the cmposition of  employees reflect  the clan of the Minister. Nowhere in the world is clan belonging a merit and qualification. I am aware in post fordist economy the very notion or idea of meritocracy is under serious scrutiny, but this discussion is beyond the scope of this short article.

I am not involved in Somali/Somaliland politics neither do I consider my self part and parcel of the Somali/Somaliland elite in diaspora. In fact I have made a conscious choice not to participate, I have made it in the Swedish society, and economically I am doing fine. But this is not the reason why I chose not to engage myself in Somali/Somaliland politics in diaspora, the reason is simply is a mirror reflection of the discourse and discurive practice in the home country.

Thst is,  intellectual discourse in Somali associations in Europe is non-existence, it is simply about clannism. The project and the motivation of the so called diaspora, particularly their leadership is to advance personal interest, political careers, acquire projects that benefits them economically. The qualification and intellectual capacity of these so called leaders are not different the young camel drivers in Somalia/Somaliland. We are a society that does not believe in merits. They are not different from “cultural leaders” in Somalia/Somaliland. Look at the Swedish Somaliland diapora elite/leaders.  I will be surprised if any of them have a university education, and in any leadership position within the Swedish society. Correct me if I am wrong. What happened to intellectuals such Amina Hagi Adan, Raqiya Hagi Dualeh, Nuh (history lecturer at Lafoole University college), Saed Fahiye, Ahmed Daar,, Hussein Tanzania  etc. The status of political and intellectual discourse is characterized by what I will like to call. The blind leading the blind. In Somaliland politics I applaud the heroism of Prof. Ismail Samatar and his herculean ambition to change the political discourse and discursive practice in Somaliland. I think if we are going to create a strong society, we must create strong institutions. To do this we need a social blue print and a committed political leadership, which is not interested in power for the sake of it. The content of the blue print or social contract can be a subject of intellectual and ideological debate. The later should be a debate on how best to realise it. The objective is create a vaiable and a strong state that works for the benefit of the citizen, a state that is transparent and accountable to the people. In both Somaliland and Somalia what we are seeing unfolding is a state that is hostage to clannism and vice versa. The sad thing is that I do not see even a beginning of this intellectual discussion in diaspora and inside the country, in fact and unfortunately it is in diaspora that clannism is the driving force.

Ali Mohamed

Associate Professor of Education


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