19 May 2007 04:25


  • Title: [SW Column] (Mohamed A. Ilal) Water down the Nationalistic fever 
  • From:[]
  • Date :[22 July 2000]

Opinions expressed in this column are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of SW.

Water down the Nationalistic fever 
Mohamed Abdulle Illal
Up until the outbreak of the conflict, the world community recognized Somalia as a sovereign state with a central government. And the assumptions were therefore that all fundamental principles of a state and rules of harmony were in place. Thus making it the due obligation of every citizen to abide by the laws of the nation. But, contrary to what was superficially evident, the state of Somalia was nothing but a weak association of tribes whose member owed loyalty to their respective kinsfolk rather than to the government of the country. And the fragile partnership was dissolved by the commencement of hostilities among the constituting tribes.
Since then, at least a dozen attempts were made under the auspices of regional or international bodies to piece together the wreckage of this country. However, all efforts ended in vain, and the reason is that everybody plays the drum of nationalism, but with an undercurrent of tribal influence. The Somali Reconciliation Conference now taking place in Arta, Djibouti, is the best example to this effect. Because, as we are all aware of, many Somalis enthusiastically saluted the first announcement of that conference. Nonetheless, many have already lost interest in it as the alleged objectives are overshadowed by the unsheathed tribalism, which means constitutionlized  tribalism.
So, I would say that the statehood of Somalia is comparable to a structure built on top of a temporarily inactive volcano. And when the cycle came and the volcano erupted, the components of the structure  became fragmented into irretrievable particles scattered all over the places. So, from this theory we can deduct that Somalia had never been a state (in terms of relation between the people and the government), and that it will hardly be one until its people' attitude toward nationhood changes, which of course will take time.
Hence, I would suggest that we water down the nationalist fever not warranted by the facts. And give more thought to the establishment of self-governing regions, which, to my view, is more likely to develop into a well-substantiated state for Somalia than a government actualized by force. In fact, it is incongruous with the conventional wisdom to impose self-styled government on different tribes who are practically at war with each other, for it will add fuel to the already simmering conflicts.


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