The First Lady of Somalia, Edna Adan Ismail, deserves respect and appreciation for her efforts to advance the health and well-being of many Somali mothers . She is the former wife of the late Mohamed Ibrahim Egal, the last democratically elected Prime Minister of Somalia in the good old days: when Somalia was a democratic country and Mogadishu had pristine beaches, a decent museum and an educated elite; when it was safe for school kids to stroll wide boulevards freely without fear of suicide bombers or moryan kat addicts wreaking havoc on innocent civilians; when Mogadishu was the cleanest city in Africa; when Paradise was still intact before getting lost for 2 decades to hyenas masquerading as humans.
After Somalia’s free fall into chaos and fragmented clan-based enclaves, Lady Edna became the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Somaliland, one of the many enclaves that mushroomed after the total meltdown of the Somali State. Although Somaliland tries hard to present itself to the world as a peaceful and democratic country so as to gain recognition, the reality on the ground tells a much different story: Hundreds of prisoners languish in its jails; scores of innocent civilians face displacement and certain death in periodic skirmishes with the neighboring Khatumo State of Somalia in places like Las Anod and Kalshale; the recent kangaroo court trials, in which scores of civilians defending their land against arbitrary seizure by the Somaliland administration were sentenced to death, prompted worldwide outcry and UN condemnation. In fact, not all is well in Somaliland as Lady Edna tries to convey to the world. Somaliland is a fragile democracy that is prone to all kinds of dangers including possible incursions by Shabab fighters fleeing from a resurgent Somali army.
Nowadays, Lady Edna is the owner-manager of a maternity hospital in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, which has become one of the best equipped hospitals in the Horn of Africa. The hospital was partially financed by donations from Somalis all over the world even those from regions that Lady Edna regards as full of terrorists.
Most Somalis admire and respect Lady Edna. However, our lady seems to have turned her back on a large section of the people who grew up regarding her as their first lady in the 1960s. She has narrowed down her circle by electing to favor one section of the Somali people instead of becoming a voice for all Somali women. There are thousands of Somali women languishing in desolate refugee camps where they suffer from harassment, rape and oppression. These women trek hundreds of miles to escape from devastating famine and poverty, only to end up in miserable camps that violate their most basic human rights.
After becoming a Foreign Minister for the unrecognized state that seeks to divide the Somali people, Lady Edna used the media to distance her Somaliland from the rest of the country by declaring in a VOA interview that she and the non-Somali interviewer would both need translators to understand Somalis in the South of the Country. With this statement she was referring to the “Maay” dialect that differs slightly from the mainstream “Maxaa tiri” dialect spoken in the majority of the other Somali regions, North and South.
Lady Edna seems to cherish magnifying the fault-lines that have afflicted Somalia over two decades of anarchy. She is now trying to paint millions of Somalis in the North East, South Central and Southern Somalia as terrorists who are out to destroy the free world while she conveniently forgets to mention that the head of the Shabab, Mr. Godane, and a sizable number of the Shabab fighters are from Somaliland. Furthermore, Her exaggerations ignore the fact that many Somali regions are beyond the control of the Shabab and warlords. Although these regional administrations were established many years after Somaliland, they may surpass it in the fields of development and democratic institutions.
The exaggerations of Lady Edna and the timing of these assertions have saddened millions of Somalis who are hopeful that their country, with the help of the International Community, will extricate itself from the ills magnified by her exaggerations. The gathering of the Somali traditional leaders and hundreds of civil society members, including many from Somaliland in Turkey; the liberation of Mogadishu and Afgoi from the clutches of the Shabab; and the impending liberation of Kismayo in the coming weeks are expected to create a new atmosphere that contradicts the bleak picture our Lady is trying to transmit about Somalia to the world.
A recent BBC report from Mogadishu talks about a construction boom in Mogadishu, a good indicator that Somalia is on the mend, and is on its way to an irreversible recovery. Perhaps, Lady Edna should read a recent article by Bashir Goth, a fellow Somalilander who used to lobby for Somaliland recognition, in which he welcomes Somalia back to the fold of the International Community.
Finally, Somalis expect that Lady Edna will open her second maternity hospital in Mogadishu. She is still Somalia’s first lady despite her unfair attempts to use Somalia’s problems as a platform for Somaliland recognition
Ali H. Abdulla E-Mail:firstname.lastname@example.org