Somalia: Searching for Unity in a Fragmented Country


By Hussein Abdikarim “Gendisch”

Somalilandsun – Twenty three years have passed since the collapse of Somali government back in 1991. Since then, multiple regional states constituted as separate states, including Somaliland, which emerged as a breakaway conglomerate with no formal recognition from anywhere. Other eastern communities built their own administrations. In 1998, in the south east of Somalia, Puntland was formed.

Lately, two communities from the south in Jubbaland and south east of Baidao declared their quasi autonomous states within Somalia as well. Like Mogadishu, all the emerged states are based single clan domination over others. Previously, the federal government’s leaders failed to put those states together to non tribal enclave States and move to all inclusive established autonomous states based eight previous regions after independence (Six from south and two from north) or eighteen regions after October revolution 1969. Somalis citizens everywhere are hungry for a government that secures its own borders, secures its citizens and their properties, delivers services and cares for national business interests around world. Unfortunately, none of this has been seen for the past two decades. The question to ask would simply be why?

Tribal Extremist and Corrupt Politicians.

When one hears the word extremism, we tend to think about religious extremism, but what we’ll discuss here will be Somali tribal extremism and opportunists. Somalis in the past lived together across tribal lines in many cities in the past. Mogadishu and Kismayo in particular were melting pots for metropolitan cities following them such as Baidao and Beletwien. Contrarily, now a days many people live in small, comfortable tribal enclaves after many tribes lost their lives and properties in Mogadishu. They believe capital city is no longer city for all. The fact that Somalis from North Somaliland and Puntiland are selling their properties in Mogadishu and building in Hargeysa, Kismaayo, Boosaaso and elsewhere that is a clear indication that separation isn’t that further than expected. In the past, Somali citizens experienced freedom of movement without a fear that a tribe may deny your rights, property, or otherwise. For example, governmental workers, civil servants, and military personnel from the North move to the South to work and vice versa. Southern workers used to work in the North so people could inter-marry across tribal lines and encourage unity. Unfortunately, now days, people tend to stay within tribal lines for marriage. Intermarriage between families decreases rapidly and that will widen the ‘diversity’ gap between tribes. Some Somali citizens, though that are dedicated to friendship and Somali unity are moving across tribal lines. These sorts of narratives are always discussed in the talking points with clan leaders and politicians. Can Somalis win the battle of today to unite without discussion of reconciliation, or will we lose our National Identity as Somalis and as a community.

During the last Presidential election of September 20, 2012, many Somalis were very jubilee in celebration of the new president-elect as the first civil society and activist leader in office. Others, though were surprised how many southern leaders become the top four Contenders to presidency. In fact, three of them hailed from one of Mogadishu’s dominant clan. It became a wakeup call for many other tribes of North-Somaliland, Garowe, Baidoa, Jinaay and Kismaayo. Many communities who live outside of Mogadishu become anxious and skittish of the domination of Hawiye in Somali politics, business, and education. The Mogadishu power house that is often spoken of is not so far from reality. This includes the alienation of many Somali unionist around globe. Controlling Mogadishu, the capital city, and not sharing power and wealth became obnoxious to many citizens, so they decided to move fast to become independent from Mogadishu’s elite power base and domination by electing the most extreme politicians (in terms of the rhetoric thoughts and views of tribal extremism). Somalis are divided more than ever and foreign jihadists and foreign elements are dividing the country. The main purpose of these meddling foreign powers is so that they can rule them politically and militarily and then ask them at a later date to join their countries as the Haud and Reserve Area did in Ethiopia and NFD in Kenya. Today, both communities in Ethiopia and Kenya are better off today than Somalis in their own country in terms of security.

The ethnic Somali population in the world is around 15-20 million people, and half of them live within the Somali Republic. The other half resides in Ethiopia’s Somali region, North Eastern Kenya, Djibouti, and Yemen. Estimates say that nearly 20 percent of the Somali ethnic population lives in foreign countries. This means that around 1.5-3 million Somalis live in domicile foreign countries other than their own, and this number is growing. In Africa, Somali tribes are also disappearing and losing their identity and languages to other East African comminutes in Oromia, Harare, Guragu and the Afar (as well as becoming part of Borane in Kenya and Ethiopia). At the same time, many Somalis are integrated and assimilated to foreign countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America. There is a strong possibility that the Somali people may disappear off the face of earth as the strong, proud people with an intricate culture and unique language they once had. I think if Somali tribesman feel they should treat foreign neighbors better than to their country, one day they may gain of political power or wealth. That’s why Somalia’s neighbors show sympathy to leaders they feel they are in common interest with their directives.

Can Somalis reconcile each other?

How do a people, a nation, look at its future – not necessarily in terms of the immediate, but in decades’ time? All too often issues of governance, reform and security are proposed and pursued with little attention given to the aspirations of those for whom they are intended. Society got leaders whom plan a long vision of their nation and sold to bigger stake holders and move forward with some common interests and values. Somalis blame one another for past failures, some blame neighbors, others blame foreign armies and jihadists. However, this is far from reality. Somalis alone are responsible their miserable circumstances. Somalis need to take responsibility for them. In reality, they did not reconcile from each other for past atrocities, and the killing, raping, the grabbing properties continues.

For almost twenty four years, the international community has attempted to introduce measures to promote democratic governance, security sector reform, and disarmament to a nation rife with conflict, poverty and disharmony. Since the fall of Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, there have been twenty formal initiatives, supported by the United Nations and multilateral and bilateral donors, to introduce stability through various forms of transitional governmental arrangements. The fear that Somalia is becoming a base for radical fundamentalism has prompted further efforts to strengthen government structures and to eliminate those that threaten such efforts. To date such well ‐ intentioned efforts by the international community have been notable for their lack of success. It may, therefore be time to take a step back from existing assumptions about Somalia’s lack of governability, and seek different approaches and solutions to the seemingly perpetual crises that have haunted that nation for more than two decades. There is no doubt that the frustrations that have arisen after the numerous attempts to restore stability and good governance to the Somali nation have taken their toll in terms of the international community’s attitudes towards the beleaguered nation.

First, International community’s diverse opinions and interests give to many Somalis leaders to become dependent to foreign interest and not to come table and negotiate to good faith. IC have a choice to make selecting one country( euro or North America) to help Somalis running their affairs and Gag them others for direct interference to Somali government or risk long term jihadist fight in region and lack of support of Somalis mass population.

Second, Somalis need to take initiative on their own by choosing reconciliation and their own location (Geed Hoostiis) or ‘under the tree’ as Somalis did in the past for their traditional customary law of justice. For many, past reconciliation is paid by foreign donors, and a small group of people benefit from it for personal gain. This is not true reconciliation. Instead the price paid for these atrocities should be handled within the Somali community, be paid by Somalis, and organized, by Somalis. What is the alternative of not moving that direction?

Mass Clemency law

First, the Somali Parliament needs to pass laws of reconciliation to Somali tribes and insurgency Islamists to forgive them and to forgive each other in general. It will show Somalis are paying a higher price of forgiveness for the crimes committed during civil war. Secondly, Parliament should declare an Act of Return law for properties confiscated by force during civil war. The four major tribes of the south should reconcile to each other first staring from D and H, Then DM and H, then BS and H and vice versa. When all four tribesmen agree how to share power, resources and listen each other’s grievances, they should then move to next level, South /North reconciliation. Our congressional delegation from the northern regions of federal government should be the leaders who coordinate reconciliation efforts between the North and South.

Somali communities prefer unity over dis-unity but leaders who can accomplish this are missing in action. Others are opportunists who only care about power and money. And they are more dividing or polarizing to communities since they are not meeting expectations of leadership within their constituency. For sure, politically, people are divided in what they think. Even tribes within tribes are far apart and it’s not easy to unite them since their interests are far different. In general, though, people can be united in two ways. First, using overwhelming military force and manpower to ‘unite’ them by intimidation, but there is no military power element. Also, the international community would not be ready to finance such a measure since the world community believes you cannot put Somali’s and firepower together. Remember Ahmed Guray army and conquering of Habasha (Ahmed Grann 1507 – February 21, 1543), Mohamed abdulle Hassan of the Dervish movement (April 7, 1856, in Buuhoodle, northern Somalia – December 21, 1920, IMI, Somali region of Ethiopia). After four years of independence, Somalia went to war with Ethiopia again the third time and within seven years of independence we started to building up the largest military in Africa that equipped with military hardware , land and air force and went to war for the 4th time with Ethiopia ( Ogaden war 1977-78). All of these military measures failed, meaning only the 2nd option can unite Somalis- civic Nationalism, the only option left for this country.

Civic Nationalist leader with long vision of Justice

When people hear nationalism they immediately refer to Ethnic nationalism or Territorial nationalism but Civic nationalist are what Somalis needed today (People who can identify themselves to Care about their country that belong to one nation that shared common value, like common language and culture, freedom, tolerance , equality and individual rights).

Today Somali nationalism is dead with passing of the late PM Abdirizak Hagi Hussein and too many politicians feel it’s an insult of Somali politics to talk about Somali nationalism. What we are talking about isn’t uniting Somalis everywhere; it’s uniting Somalis within the Republic of Somalia. We also know for sure that Somali democracy is far away since it is difficult to implement in poor nations due top the presence of all the variables that discourage democracy of any nation such as, the absence of Justice system that fair and partial, the lack of education, the lack of a middle class, high unemployment, and of course the hemorrhage of Tribalism. Somalis tried to use tribal power grabs before and it did not work. We tried organized religious groups and that did not work either and we got consequences for that grave mistake. The only options left are separate tribal enclave mini states with foreign backing as we know it or to organize a national plan that puts tribes together and share power, resources, and build strong justice institutions. What we need is a civic nationalist leader with great vision and wisdom who can lead with virtue, ethics, and integrity. One who understands everyone is obligated to act only in ways that respect the human dignity and moral rights of all persons and leaders, one who understands that leading people and making money can’t go together. An organized civic nationalist movement is the only way out so once again we can unite Somalia with a strong federal system, and lay the foundations for future generations.

THis is an original article of the Somali Current 


Hussein Abdikarim “Gendisch”. Telecom Analyst of Major Fortune 500 Company. He was a Former senior assistant MAF, Office of prime Minister of Somalia 2010-11. He lives United states. The feedback and comments he can be reached at