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 hämta (1)Most of you are familiar with the saying that “Power corrupts…” that might not be as true as most of us would take it to be. Power is an illusion given by others. But once you give it, it is hard to take it back. What one does with the power granted to him or her by society determines the kind of person s/he is. It then follows that power, per se, does not corrupt but it attracts the corruptible – those who cannot resist the somatic sensation of using it to deprave the society they swore to lead. Look at the history of the Somali leadership: it has always been the history lacqueys at the realm of a sane society and they finally succeeded in turning all Somalis into insane fawners.

 Since the rise of Siiraanyo, Somaliland was steeply becoming intoxicated with tribalism. The lure of power attracted Siiraanyo. I had already argued some where else that under this president, tribalism has been revived. It has and it went one step further. – it is doing a lion’s share to render peace sterile. Tribal politics undermines state development, human cooperation and regional development. But despite these evident drawbacks, the bazaars of tribal under dealings continue to flourish in Hargeisa and Djibouti as it does all over the Somali lands. The latest assault on Zeila and the two-pronged campaign to alchemize election results through a presidential decree nisi, constitute a typical example of how corruptible leadership can dismantle peace between neighbouring societies.

But why Zeila? The better question might be: why not Zeila? The magnificence of the history hatched in the streets and shores of Zeila continue to be one of the grandest marvels of the Medieval History of the Horn of Africa and that of Islam. Islam came to Zeila before it went to Medina and therefore, it has the oldest mosque in the world after the Masjidul Haram.

It has even been mentioned in Genesis. One of the shades of meanings attributed to the word “Havilah” in Genesis x.7 page 20 is “a region deriving its name from one of the sons of Cush and located just south of the Straits of Bab-el-Mandab, Sinus Avalites or the present day Zeila”.

The city was one of the jewels of medieval times. Although Ibn Battuta describes it as the filthiest city in the world as a result of the number of camels and amount of fish consumed in the city, he also concedes that it was a cosmopolitan and a centre of trade connecting not only countries but continents. Zeila is the Crux Australis of Somali history and defines the pride we all have in the ethnic Somali.

The defilement of the Somali pride and the proliferation of tribal endearment are the key issues and the driving force behind the recent dustups in Zeila. If the current Djibouti regime wants a share of that past glory for its tribe, there are easier and more peaceful ways to do it. The question, though, remains where was Issa when Haji Diide declined a British invitation to hold a meeting in Zeila but instead opted to hold it on their ship, “lest”, he said, “you take our soil in the soles of your shoes back to your distance lands”? Where was Issa when Ugas Nur sent a delegation to Zeila to sign the Anglo-Gadabursi Treaty? Where was when Gadabursi gifted them two of their five seats in the unity government of 1960? I am earnestly hopeful that the Issa intellectuals can answer these questions in the hopes that we may start a dialogue that leads to a lasting peace and understanding.

I am not contending that Issa does not live in Awdal. They do and there should be no argument about it. But the questions I asked are indicative that their population in Zeila had never been enough to warrant the Issa to drive the historical occurrences in and around Zeila. That was always the case just as it is case now. Only two out of the seven councillors elected in Zeila are true residents of Zeila. The other five hail from Djibouti.


Nur Bahal

Toronto, Canada

4 October 2013