Somalis in Search of Acres of Diamonds

Oct. 23,2012 -Many years ago I read a story under the title: Acres of Diamonds. I believe it was one of the stories by Russell H. Conwell, a Yale College student in the 18th century. This is the summary of that story as I recollect what I read at that time since different people tell different versions of the same story. Once upon a time there was a rich man somewhere in the Indian subcontinent. He had a lot of properties including huge agricultural lands, cattle and many workers to attend his wealth. One day, a man (perhaps a devil) came to visit him and told him: “Sir, I see you are too tired because of the hard work you are doing day in and day out to manage your businesses. I want to help you out by giving you a piece of useful advice: a small piece of precious stone called “diamond” so small that you can hold it in your palm and is worth many times your entire net worth. Besides, there is no work to do except to sit back, relax and wait for its price to increase everyday and for ever”.

Following this advice, the story tells us, the rich man sold everything he had and started looking for that elusive diamond he could not find in his own homeland. He traveled to far off places across continents in search of the magic wealth and finally ended up in the land ofYuugga and Yamaayuugga (China) where, after miserable existence, lost his life in Yangtze River, feeding his own corps to the hungry crocodiles.

While attending his work one day, the new owner of the farms saw something glittering on a plot of the land to discover surprisingly an acre of diamonds. Yes, acres of diamonds in his own backyard!

Somalia 's fractious leaders take an oath: They bear direct responsibility for their country's plight
Somalia ‘s fractious leaders taking an oath.

The moral lesson of the story is that Somalis were blessed with a wonderful, strategic, prosperous spot of the globe where they could be better off than any other peoples on the planet if they were fortunate enough to realize only that fact to live in peace and harmony among themselves and their environment. Instead, they were destroying not only their own entire historical endeavor and achievements, but also themselves as well, creating a massive human exodus of refugees in the process, an uphill that destroyed families, hopes and future of many generations- the pain and deprivations that can never be adequately described, a dark and shameful stain in the history of a nation known for her poetic pride and unrivalled culture of brotherhood and kinship.

Because of poor political leadership and bad governance, Somalis should not be perishing in the high seas of the globe and the Libyan Desert in search of diamonds while the Almighty has provided them at home with all the possible blessings of life for their comfort (acres of diamonds and more in their backyards). Think of the children, the elderly and women in depriving refugee camps. Think of disintegration of families and lost kids to gangs’ war of drugs or languishing in repeat-offender prisons in the West. Think of the Somali beauty models thrown to the wolf. Think of the Somali educated and experienced elite that do not fit into the work environment of Western countries. Think of the personal echo preventing Somalia’s yesterday ministers, director-generals of department, police and military generals and other high ranking civil servants and Somali government officials in Europe and North America to accept and take low-paying jobs to support themselves and their families. Think about the tragedy of losing one’s pension after a lifetime of hard labor. And think of the old saying: “East or West, home is the best” (“Dhul Shisheeyee dheef Male  Habeen Dhixid Mooyaane”,Somali poem on Nuur Cali Qonof as he returned, after a long absence, to his native town of Qardho, Bari region of Puntland State).

Somalis must create tools for survival and prosperity to remain in their homeland. Tested, responsible and accountable leadership in all fields of public service and peace within their communities is the sole key to all other aspirations and future plans of the nation. Stay and remain in your homeland. You are better off there.

Needless to repeat what is obvious to all of us; the world community is watching and evaluating us as people and as a country every day. I vividly remember the speech President Museveni of Uganda gave at the Opening Ceremony of the Somali Reconciliation Conference in the Kenyan City of Eldoret in 2002. He said, and I quote, “Somalia is the best country in Africa by negative example”. Japan, he said, was a country with no natural resources. “Because she invested in her own citizens, Japan is one of the richest countries in the world today. And you, Somalis? What have you been doing to your own people? Killing each other”? President Museveni’s speech was remarkable among those given by some IGAD Heads of State and Government attending the gathering that included the late Meles Zenawi and Daniel Arab Moi.

Somali faction leaders Hussein Mohamed Aidid, Musa Sudi Yalhow and the Prime Minister of Transitional National Government Hassan Abshir in Eldoret 31 October 2002.
Somali faction leaders Hussein Mohamed Aidid, Musa Sudi Yalhow and the Prime Minister of the Transitional National Government Hassan Abshir in Eldoret 31 October 2002 for the Somali Reconciliation Conference before it was moved to Mbagathi. (Photo: AFP).

Listening to that speech, I looked around the big hall and noticed no emotions from the faces of the many Somali warlords comfortably seated in that Opening Session of the Conference in our effort to create the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). It is unfathomable to many that shortly after that auspicious, if not, historical meeting, a group of mostly Mogadishu Warlords led by Muse Suudi Yalaxow, Mohamed Afrax Qanyare, Osman Ali Aato, Omar Jess, Jama Ali Jama .. Etc. formed a Warlord Faction Club, calling themselves the G-8, an euphemism for their growing power and influence in Somali clan politics (which also explains again why the New Technical Committee for the screening of the new members of Somalia’s Federal Parliament had difficulties with Mogadishu Warlords recently).  The G-8 demanded more delegate seats than the 4.5 Clan Power-sharing Formula could provide them and aggressively challenged the Technical Committee that was set up for the implementation of the formula and technical management of the Mbagathi Conference of 2002-2004. The Head of that Committee was the late veteran Kenyan diplomat-politician, Mr. Mwangele, before he was replaced by another career diplomat called Mr. Kiplagat as Kenya elected Mwai Kibaki President at the time. While the Conference was still in the Rift Valley city of Eldoret, the G-8 organized a protest demonstration against the Technical Committee’s handling of the allocation of clan representation. Demonstration participants were mostly Mogadishu women delegates of the NGOs and other civil societies’ members. Painfully as it is, Somali women were chanting slogans like, “Macna darada Mwangele, madfacca Suudi Yalaxow baa nooga roon” (the mass and indiscriminate shelling by Suudi Yalaxxow’s militia at Mogadishu residents is better for us than the meaningless Technical Committee’s Procedures by Mr. Mwangele). This clearly demonstrates how all of us failed as a society and this is what went wrong in Somalia.

One may recall that the G-8 finally succeeded in persuading half of that newly formed members of the Transitional Federal Parliament including its Speaker, Sharif Hassan, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Information, Mohamoud Sifir, to break away from the main stream TFG institutions and dug in in Mogadishu in order to prevent peace and governance restored to that unfortunate city, in particular and Somalia, in general. They were finally beaten off badly and chased out from Mogadishu by the Union of the Islamic Courts (The UIC), kicking off and leading to dramatic security developments of major foreign military intervention in Somalia’s Civil War for the first time after UNISOM. “Ciilow ba’ay talo xumaan cudur ka roonayne”-Sayid Maxammed Cabdulle Xasan, on the dangerous consequences of bad advice and lack of wisdom.

This hell of our situation has created the madness called Fadhi-Ku-Dirir or the Somali losing devil’s workshops in teashops around the world as nothing else is left in life for these once decent men to do. This is another huge dimension of the tasks waiting for Somalia’s new leaders to address urgently if they were willing to make a difference.

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Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own.Prof.Ibrahim

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