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Tuesday 15 November 2011

A Glimpse of Hope for Somalia

A British gentleman who worked for the UNHCR’s office in Nairobi once told me that the Somalis living in the diaspora have an opportunity to rebuild their homeland. “There are only two kinds of people you will find almost everywhere you travel to in this world --a Jew and a Somali.

Teaser Image A Glimpse of Hope for Somalia

You and many Somalis around the world today have an opportunity to better your lives and the lives of your people,” he said. At the time, I did not really pay much attention to the gentleman but his words stuck with me a year or so down the road, when I eventually moved to the United States.

Today, Somalia is facing the worst humanitarian crisis due to a famine that has already taken the lives of tens of thousands of people mostly children.

Thousands of others are dying due to the unending civil war, which has ravaged the coastal capital city and many other cities into rubles. On Oct. 4th, Al-Shabab carried out the single deadliest attack to ever occur in Mogadishu and in Somalia in the form of suicide bombing, killing more than eighty innocent people, mostly students waiting to hear whether they won a scholarship to Turkey.

Despite all of these and numerous other obstacles and challenges, I am convinced that Somalia has better days ahead of her. Days when Somali children will not have to die of starvation. Days when the Somali government will be led by competent individuals and leaders who put the interest and the prestige of the country before clan and individual interests.

Days when the cool coastal breeze of the Indian Ocean will fill the air of a peaceful Friday night in Mogadishu. And, days when I will not have to endure a lecture from a protected American kid on how my homeland is a ‘no place’.

I am not one of those who write poems and articles based on a ‘dream’ they had of a peaceful and a prosperous Somalia, because in the eyes of political analysts and international journalists, Somalia is considered a failed state to them. In the eyes of many in the international community, Somalia is a lawless country with a slight chance of hope.

In the eyes of some of my friends and people I am surrounded with daily, Somalia is a pirate infested country.  All of these maybe true. But to me, and many other Somali students studying in almost every prestigious university around the globe, Somalia is a candle in a dark room that is in need of a light source.

That light source today are the Somali youths scattered all over the globe. The youths who decided to walk hundreds of Kilometers in Canada to raise money and awareness for their brothers and sister dying of starvation in Somalia.

The youths who mobilized themselves here in the United States and in the U.K together to provide a relief program for the displaced in Mogadishu, without the help of any NGOs during the month of Ramadan, and in the process crossed the imaginary clan boundaries that forever divided us. The youths who did all of these and much more, even though most of them have never been to Somalia.

These youths are scattered and live in every corner of this world and they speak almost every language that can be spoken. They have studied almost every subject that can be studied; they are doctors, lawyers, politicians, astronauts and engineers. They are students and alumni’s of many prestigious universities in their respective countries.

They are citizens of almost every country that is in existence today. And in addition to that, most of them if not all have reserved a special part of their heart for their homeland—Somalia. This is an investment that is accruing an interest at a higher rate, and the people and the government of Somalia should take advantage of it.

What is remarkable is that most of them have never seen a peaceful Somalia. They have lived most of their lives reading and hearing bad news coming out of their homeland. Some of them even grew up as refugees in refugee camps. They know what war can do; they know the feeling of not having a peaceful country feels like.

They yearn to see a country that is progressive and that can take care of its citizens. They yearn to see normalcy coming back in the villages, towns and cities of Somalia. With these individuals, educated, in position to make decisions and influence the government—no civil war will ever occur in Somalia.

With these individuals running the hospitals and clinics across the country—no Somali child will die of treatable diseases. With these individuals managing the defense forces, the coast guards and the navy of Somalia—no foreign military ships will be needed to safeguard one of the busiest trade routes in the Indian Ocean.

The Somali elders, although some of them are full of wisdom need to understand that their time is limited. They have been running, and some dragging this country for years— it is time for new young faces to represent the Somali people. It is time to give a chance to those who are willing to leave the comforts of the Western world, and use the education they have acquired to rebuild their homeland.

It is time for those who have lived peaceful with people of other cultures and religions—forget about other clans, to run the institution needed in rebuilding Somalia. The Western world and the United Nations also need to understand that installing another government full of uneducated and opportunistic individuals in all the three branches of the government will never bring peace to Somalia—all they will see is disagreements after disagreements, new Prime Minister after another.

With that said, the Somali youths in the diaspora and those who reside inside the country need to step up. They need to understand that Somalia needs them. Not when it becomes peaceful, but now. Because without them, the state of peace will never be achieved in Somalia.

By Yasin Ali
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Yasin Ali is a student at Wake Forest University majoring in Political Science.

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