EDITORIAL: On Independence Day Somalia should aspire to a rebirth
EDITORIAL | Somalia turns 61 on Thursday and it’s no wonder its people from all walks of life are celebrating.
July 1 has always been Somalia’s most memorable day, as it laid the groundwork for what should be Somalia today. On that day, when members of the Trust Territory of Somalia, originally known as Italian Somaliland, and the State of Somaliland, which was a British colony, united to form the Republic; The seed of Somalia’s prosperity had been sown.
Our ancestors, including Aden Abdulle, who became president of the new Somali Republic, imagined a country freed from the yoke of colonialism and which could determine its destiny. As stated in the constitution passed by popular referendum last July, Somalia was not only new to the African bloc but eagerly awaiting its fate rather than in the hands of the rulers.
We could imagine a literate population, a wealthy population, a free people, and yet a nation that was bound by unity, common goals, and that should have taken advantage of its diverse groups of people.
On the eve of the celebrations, outgoing President Farmajo and his Prime Minister Roble were both enthusiastic about the 61st anniversary, reflecting that the day reminds the people of Somalia’s unity and dedication.
Sadly, if our ancestors woke up today, they might be horrified at what their dream has become. Somewhere along the way, the Somali Republic project derailed, becoming a slave to the personal interests of politicians.
Its people have endured episodes of civil war, calls for secession, merchants of terror and a horrific cycle of poverty. Once a country with beaming optimism, a professional army and entrepreneurial citizenship, Somalia has for the past 30 years been a hopeless case for a republic.
A third of its population has been internally displaced, and hundreds of thousands more have dispersed across the world as refugees or asylum seekers fleeing terror. It depended almost entirely on foreign aid and remittances, its institutions collapsed and corruption became the order of the day.
On Independence Day, Somalis should not worry about their safety or where their next meal is coming from. Average Somalis are expected to be among the most optimistic people on the continent, educated, lifted out of extreme poverty and eagerly awaiting a government that serves them, does not hide information about the whereabouts of their sons who are volunteered to serve in the military.
On Independence Day, Somalis are expected to haggle over the delayed elections. It should be a celebration of a mature nation where institutions, not individuals, run the country. It should be a system where overambitious politicians are furiously berated by the limits of the law. In other words, Somalia should celebrate an occasion when every Somali is served by the law, not oppressed by it.
When the story of Somalia’s collapse is written, Siad Barre and his Supreme Revolutionary Council will have the most stick for staging a coup that toppled a democratically elected government of assassinated Abdirashid Ali Shermarke. . But that was a long time ago, in 1969.
Barre was certainly the straw that broke the camel’s back after plunging the country into darkness. His iron fist certainly sparked calls for secession as the country fell among warlords.
But he was not alone. Maybe more will come in the future. The current government has attempted maneuvers that have ringed the bells of chaos. Things like trying to delay elections by extending the president’s term, interfering with a federal structure, and running a government based on secrecy are dangerous and the government should know that.
However, it is not necessary to cry over spilled milk. Like potato vines, Somalis and their country have shown great resilience for regeneration. That is why on July 1, we are calling on the country’s leaders to get back to basics. Let us choose the lessons and advice of our ancestors. Their vision was so good that it drew a united front from the southern and northern regions of Somalia, which had endured eight decades under separate colonial masters.
Somalis love their country. It would be better for all of us if the politicians did too.