Written by 7:05 am Opinion

Opinion: The Clan or The Nation State.

By Shabelle Abdi

Since time immemorial society was built on clan and tribal lineages. Small communities that worked similar to corporations do today, with a hierarchical structure, own customs, shared values and objectives – not just for survival purposes but for prosperity. It had a say on deciding who should marry who as a way to obtain power (or to be in the good graces of those in proximity to it) or who to trade with, build cairns as a way to mark the territory of their ancestors. Every man was free to walk wherever he pleases in barren plains, mountains and grassy hill tops with his house to find pasture for his cattle and if any man was to disrupt this and wished to transgress the ways of the tribe he would be killed or banished and left to fend for himself and be without the security of the tribe. This is another very important aspect and probably the most important of all and why we yearn for a communal spirit. Security; every man wishes to live to eat, work, sleep, visit his kin, marry and raise his children, buy and sell in peace but without the security of his people he has to rely on the goodwill of others who are not his kin in order to live a life of dignity.

For a while this worked with success but then came a looming figure – the nation state. It was too slick, too fast for the ever roaming nomad by the time he had become aware he had no time to comprehend it such that enemies from far and wide had already stepped foot onto his land. He does what he does best whenever foreign adversaries reach his shores – he repels them. He must now take this new reality head on. The old world has passed. It is not enough for him to rely on immediate kin as he will have to form an entirely new power structure encompassing all clans. The tribe will now have to work together again but for good this time and leave the old ways that served them well but blights them. The integrity of now defunct tribal structures had been tested and it failed miserably. Other nations have united and turned their gaze towards what he holds dear.

It always was a dog eat dog world and the nomad has always pushed back against his enemies but this is a matter on a scale unprecedented. The very survival of the tribe is at stake. It should not be of no concern to him the clan or sub clan of the man who asks his daughters hand in marriage, nor should he enquire about the clan of the man who wishes to break bread with him for his enemies are at the gates! They are in the halls, they are amongst his people. His House is in ruin and burning to the ground. Why does he concern himself with the minutiae of a time long past? When does he take notice? Does he wait until they enter his House? Does he believe he will be spared? No! He will share the same fate and he will no longer be at peace because there will be no home to return to. Others will be left uprooted and wandering the cold bitterness of foreign lands only for their descendants to speak in a foreign tongue.

This is the reality of the contemporary world. While Somalia enjoys a deep slumber the world feasts on her. When you look at Somalia compared not just to its neighbours but those of the entire continent: Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon etc. Somalia is the only one whose people have the ingredients needed for a successful modern state. Such commonality is unrivalled. What keeps most African nations from succeeding are various competing ethnicities each vying for power, prestige and greener pastures. Take Cameroon as one example, as a colonial remnant Cameroonian Anglophones are marginalized by the French speaking authorities. This ultimately parted the way for a secessionist movement that lead to government crackdowns. Somalia does not have to contend with these problems that mar the progress of multi ethnic nation states. Having a shared history and a common tongue should make it easier to iron out deep-seated issues, yet for a homogeneous nation clan rivalries are at the root of our problem.

There is no time for clan exclusivity which only brought bloodshed and humiliation upon us. There is no honor in this in fact that honor is lost as a result. It’s time to elevate the discourse, learn from your past, come look at the world as it is and work towards a new future. Isku tashada!

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