There is no glory in celebrating the 18th May. After all, it is the day the once proud nation of Somalia has got the biggest tumble of its entire checkered history. It is the day a new form of clannish chauvinism has taken root in the entire Somali peninsula, particularly in the northern regions of Somalia. It is also the day the Somali nationalism and homogeneity was cruelly buried in the dusty streets of Burao by a mindless gun-toting, ragtag clan-militia who knew nothing but revenge. It is the day that sowed the seeds of hatred, suspicion and mistrust for generations of Somalis to come. It is the day that set the ball rolling for clan-based regional administrations to crop up everywhere to the extent that Somalis could not conciliate their mistrust and hostility to the current day.
18th May is the day that the once fearlessly independent and proud Somali people have been reduced to the joke of the world, and inevitably become synonymous with a whole host of nasty negative adjectives such as refugees, beggars, high seas pirates, famine-stricken and last but not least Al Shabaab terrorists. Escaping the hell and the horrors created by the warring clan militias that toppled the last functioning government of Somalia, 18th May is the day that the once proud Somali women, the pride of Africa and the Muslim world, have lost their dignity and defiled by every crook in the world like those raped and their bodies mutilated in Southern Sudan by knife-wielding SPLA soldiers four years ago. 18th May is the day that opened the floodgates for young Somalis to risk their lives and brace the high seas in search of peace and economic opportunities, where a large number of them have never made it. For many people in northern Somalia, 18th May is all about celebrating on the graves of the innocent civilians killed by SNM militia in Borama, Dilla, Las Anod, Erigavo and elsewhere in the non-Isaaq inhabited regions of Northern Somali.
18th May is about division, mistrust and re-incarnation of the archaic clannish supremacy of the old. 18th May has one way or another massively contributed to the misery and the current impasse of Somalia as other regions have followed suit SNM on this destructive road by establishing their own clan-based administrations that had almost made inconceivable to find a solution for the Somali problem. And finally, 18th May is the day the Somalis have fallen into the snares and shackles of their old age archenemies that their fate is slipping away from their fingers.
Following the unfortunate and spectacular collapse of the Somali state in January 1991, the SNM militia could have chosen the path of reconciliation and unity over the path of division and isolation by bringing all Somalis into the negotiating table in Hargeisa (their home turf) as suggested by none other than Ahmed Silanyo himself. Had cool headed prevailed in the SNM camp, peace and order would have been restored and a government for all would have been reconstructed, with USC militia in the south taking its part of the nation-building process.
As many Somali intellectuals, both inside and outside the secessionist enclave have suggested over the years, SNM could have easily followed the footsteps of Meles Zanawi’s TPLF (the Tigre militia that toppled the Ethiopian Derg) by creating a country that is at ease with itself and owned by all Somalis. Instead, it chose the path of division, isolation and secession that could not bear fruits for two long barren decades, despite knocking every diplomatic door in the world for international recognition. This self-imposed isolation had resulted in more than 80 per cent of the enclave’s population suffering severe financial hardships that only the very top of the social Stratham can afford to put proper three meals on the table. Karis xun, iyadna wax ku la’.
In a survey the Horn Cable Television conducted last week in Hargeisa prior to the upcoming celebration for 18th May, people were found to be not as thoroughly enthusiastic on the occasion as they used to be in the previous years. Street Traders reported a sharp drop in the sales of “Somaliland” paraphernalia – flags, scarves, baseball caps, etc. No huge and pompous ceremonies are anticipated in Hargeisa, Burao and Berbera – the secessionist heartland.
In conclusion, unlike 26th June, the glorious day that the northern regions of Somalia had gained their hard-earned freedom and independence from Great Britain, 18th May is fast becoming a day celebrated only by the die-hard Diaspora communities in the town halls of the big metropolitan cities in Europe and North America. Imagine living in an enclave where half of the population is celebrating a day that the other half has a complete and utter contempt for it. That is the secessionist enclave called “Somaliland”. And yet their politicians see no fault in this. The pro-unionist communities in the eastern and the occupied western parts of northern Somalia dread the very mention of the 18th May, let alone celebrate for it, though some guinea pigs representing these regions will always force people against their will. Moreover, many people among the secessionists have felt the heat of isolation and perhaps, for the first time, questioning what it might have been had different directions were chosen by the armed SNM militia in the aftermath of the fall of Somalia’s last central authority. It is not worthwhile to celebrate this dreadful day as it represents nothing but division, mistrust and isolation.
Mohamed F Yabarag