Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Clan Cleansing in Somalia: A Book Review

Book: Lidwien Kapteijns, Clan Cleansing in Somalia: The Ruinous Legacy of 1991. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013. 336 pages.
***
“We’re going to get it on because we don’t get along.” —Mohamed Ali, Rumble in the Jungle.
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”—William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust.
***
When the current Somali president, Hassan Sh. Mohamoud, has recently visited Minnesota, he gave what seemed to be an inspiring and upbeat speech to that state’s Somali community. Then, he committed a faux pas when he admonished the audience to forget about the past, what happened in 1991 and afterward, and not to dwell on it. The reaction of those who heard the speech ranged from those who wanted to move forward and build on the positives to those who had hard time swallowing the fact that what happened in 1991 could be readily dismissed after so many lives were lost, properties confiscated, and thousands expelled from their homes. The president was depicted as an insensitive leader bent on concealing the truth rather than seeking a judicious way of redressing the wrong. Such is the legacy of 1991 and its deleterious effect on the minds of many Somalis, even after 22 years.
Professor Lidwien Kapteijns’ book, Clan Cleansing in Somalia, exactly cautions Somali politicians not to engage in empty rhetoric about concealing and brushing off the “ruinous legacy” of 1991. Kapteijns, who teaches history at Wellesley College in the United States, is no stranger to Somali studies. She has extensively written about Somalia and speaks fluent Somali. As long as the memories, wrongdoings, and injustice of that period are not fully acknowledged and publicly addressed, she argues, Somalia will remain in a state of conflict and unable to engage in meaningful reconciliation and nation-building.
Something drastic and major happened in 1991 in Mogadishu and other parts of the south that was tragic: an unprecedented violence. Whereas Somalis had history of killing each other—a clan against clan—what took place in 1991 after the collapse of Siad Barre’s brutal regime, writes Kapteijns, was “analytically, politically, and discursively something new, a transformative turning point and key shift that has remained largely unaddressed (and has been purposefully denied and concealed) both in the scholarship about the Somali civil war and in the political efforts at social and moral repair.” Various mechanisms were used to conceal, deny or downplay the 1991 tragedies. The Western media, for instance, failed to uncover the killings and raping of innocent people in Mogadishu, and when foreign reporters visited Mogadishu at the apex of the civil war, they were chaperoned by the operatives of the United Somali Congress (USC). Kapteijns adroitly cites a case of several Western reporters reporting from Mogadishu on one fateful day whose narratives almost resembled each other. It was obvious that these journalists were in the same convoy when they were reporting the carnage in Mogadishu. The problem was compounded by poor academic and political memoir writings that failed to grasp the gravity of the situation in Mogadishu. Moreover, moderate leaders of the USC engaged in covering up the killings. It was only a decade and half later when warlord Ali Mahdi publicly admitted the atrocities committed in 1991.
This was a campaign based on collective punishment of one clan, and, hence, it was “namely that of clan cleansing, in a new political context and with a new dominant discourse.” In fact, argues Kapteijns, it was a communal violence in a way because it involved ordinary people such as friends, acquaintances, and neighbors targeting others based on being members of the wrong clan. The violence was not done randomly but instead it was carried out in a well-thought-out manner that pitted, not a government force against an organized armed group but, a common people against common people. Kapteijns, though, makes it clear that it was not clans that did the killings in Somalia but rather people who used the name of clans to kill, maim and rape.
 
Book: Lidwien Kapteijns, Clan Cleansing in Somalia: The Ruinous Legacy of 1991. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013. 336 pages.
***
“We’re going to get it on because we don’t get along.” —Mohamed Ali, Rumble in the Jungle.
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”—William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust.
***
When the current Somali president, Hassan Sh. Mohamoud, has recently visited Minnesota, he gave what seemed to be an inspiring and upbeat speech to that state’s Somali community. Then, he committed a faux pas when he admonished the audience to forget about the past, what happened in 1991 and afterward, and not to dwell on it. The reaction of those who heard the speech ranged from those who wanted to move forward and build on the positives to those who had hard time swallowing the fact that what happened in 1991 could be readily dismissed after so many lives were lost, properties confiscated, and thousands expelled from their homes. The president was depicted as an insensitive leader bent on concealing the truth rather than seeking a judicious way of redressing the wrong. Such is the legacy of 1991 and its deleterious effect on the minds of many Somalis, even after 22 years.
Professor Lidwien Kapteijns’ book, Clan Cleansing in Somalia, exactly cautions Somali politicians not to engage in empty rhetoric about concealing and brushing off the “ruinous legacy” of 1991. Kapteijns, who teaches history at Wellesley College in the United States, is no stranger to Somali studies. She has extensively written about Somalia and speaks fluent Somali. As long as the memories, wrongdoings, and injustice of that period are not fully acknowledged and publicly addressed, she argues, Somalia will remain in a state of conflict and unable to engage in meaningful reconciliation and nation-building.
Something drastic and major happened in 1991 in Mogadishu and other parts of the south that was tragic: an unprecedented violence. Whereas Somalis had history of killing each other—a clan against clan—what took place in 1991 after the collapse of Siad Barre’s brutal regime, writes Kapteijns, was “analytically, politically, and discursively something new, a transformative turning point and key shift that has remained largely unaddressed (and has been purposefully denied and concealed) both in the scholarship about the Somali civil war and in the political efforts at social and moral repair.” Various mechanisms were used to conceal, deny or downplay the 1991 tragedies. The Western media, for instance, failed to uncover the killings and raping of innocent people in Mogadishu, and when foreign reporters visited Mogadishu at the apex of the civil war, they were chaperoned by the operatives of the United Somali Congress (USC). Kapteijns adroitly cites a case of several Western reporters reporting from Mogadishu on one fateful day whose narratives almost resembled each other. It was obvious that these journalists were in the same convoy when they were reporting the carnage in Mogadishu. The problem was compounded by poor academic and political memoir writings that failed to grasp the gravity of the situation in Mogadishu. Moreover, moderate leaders of the USC engaged in covering up the killings. It was only a decade and half later when warlord Ali Mahdi publicly admitted the atrocities committed in 1991.
This was a campaign based on collective punishment of one clan, and, hence, it was “namely that of clan cleansing, in a new political context and with a new dominant discourse.” In fact, argues Kapteijns, it was a communal violence in a way because it involved ordinary people such as friends, acquaintances, and neighbors targeting others based on being members of the wrong clan. The violence was not done randomly but instead it was carried out in a well-thought-out manner that pitted, not a government force against an organized armed group but, a common people against common people. Kapteijns, though, makes it clear that it was not clans that did the killings in Somalia but rather people who used the name of clans to kill, maim and rape.
The 1991 violence was not created out of vacuum. It was Barre who started using political violence to punish entire clans. The government’s policy was “using clan sentiment to exacerbate competition, conflict and grudge among Somalis.” Two incidents stand out. First, it happened in 1978-1982 in the Mudug, northeast, and Nugaal regions. Barre’s forces killed innocent people in those regions, poisoned wells, and starved thousands of people. There is also the incident that involved the killings of 82 high- ranking military officers in Jigjiga during the Ethiopian War, an act overseen by Barre’s minions; General Mohamed Ali Samantar and General Mohamed Nur Galaal. This happened after a failed military coup, aptly called “the Majertein coup,” which led to the execution of 17 officers. Oddly, 16 of the 17 killed were Majertein. The other non-Majertein conspirators, interestingly, had their sentences commuted to prison terms.
Second, it was the well-written and widely-covered violence of 1988-1989 in the northwest and Togdheer regions when the regime bombed cities, killing and dislocating thousands of Isaac people.
When Barre was overthrown, the USC, according to Kapteijns, adopted a policy that “defined as mortal enemy of all Somalis encompassed by the genealogical construct of Daarood, which also included the president.” Many of those targeted by the USC and its allies (the SNM and the Rahanwein-based SDM), argues Kapteijns, had nothing to do with the Barre regime, but their crime was they shared the president the same clan. On the other side of the coin, the 1991 violence also had another dimension: some high-ranking officials in Barre’s regime were spared after the defeat of the dictator. Kapteijns mentions individuals such as Hussein Kulmiye Afrah (vice president), Abdiqassim Salad Hassan (interior minister), General Jilicow (head of security in the Benadir region) Mohamed Shaikh (finance minister), Abdullahi Adow (minister of presidency and former Somali Ambassador to the United States) who had largely benefited from their long association with Barre, found themselves unharmed and, in fact, were embraced by the leaders of the USC, whereas persons who belonged to Barre’s clan but never benefited from his regime got killed, robbed, or expelled because they were from the wrong clan.
Kapteijns chronicles the atrocities committed against minority groups such as, for instance, the Bravanese, that had suffered tremendously in the hands of both the USC and the Daarood-based SNF. A resident of Brava, a coastal town in the south, complained about how the rule in his hometown had changed hands on numerous occasions. “One group leaves then the next group comes,” he lamented. “They loot and take away your possessions. I can’t tell one from the other; they are like ants of the same color.”
Lidwien Kapteijns’ book is an important addition to Somali studies. She uses popular poems, radio broadcasts, and extensive oral interviews to analyze the genesis, fomenting, and perpetuation of hate speech, and the employment of code words. The book is at its strongest when Kapteijns delves into the use of poetry and oral recordings to explain the violence that had engulfed Somalia in early 1990s. This is a-must-read book for every Somali who wants to know what happened in 1991. It is especially important for Somali leaders who want to bring a lasting change to Somalia because the process of uncovering the truth and dealing with it is only the beginning of the healing process.
Hassan M. Abukar

Email: Abukar60@yahoo.com
 
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Ex-Somali Police Commissioner General Mohamed Abshir

Ex-Somali Police Commissioner  General Mohamed Abshir

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre with general Mohamad Ali samater

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre with general Mohamad Ali samater
Somalia army parade 1979

Sultan Kenadid

Sultan Kenadid
Sultanate of Obbia

President of the United Meeting with Prime Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Egal of the Somali Republic,

Seyyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan

Seyyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan

Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire

Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire
Sultanate of Warsengeli

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre
Siad Barre ( A somali Hero )

MoS Moments of Silence

MoS Moments of Silence
honor the fallen

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre  and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie
Beautiful handshake

May Allah bless him and give Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre..and The Honourable Ronald Reagan

May Allah bless him and give  Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre..and The Honourable Ronald Reagan
Honorable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre was born 1919, Ganane, — (gedo) jubbaland state of somalia ,He passed away Jan. 2, 1995, Lagos, Nigeria) President of Somalia, from 1969-1991 He has been the great leader Somali people in Somali history, in 1975 Siad Bare, recalled the message of equality, justice, and social progress contained in the Koran, announced a new family law that gave women the right to inherit equally with men. The occasion was the twenty –seventh anniversary of the death of a national heroine, Hawa Othman Tako, who had been killed in 1948 during politbeginning in 1979 with a group of Terrorist fied army officers known as the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF).Mr Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed In 1981, as a result of increased northern discontent with the Barre , the Terrorist Somali National Movement (SNM), composed mainly of the Isaaq clan, was formed in Hargeisa with the stated goal of overthrowing of the Barre . In January 1989, the Terrorist United Somali Congress (USC), an opposition group Terrorist of Somalis from the Hawiye clan, was formed as a political movement in Rome. A military wing of the USC Terrorist was formed in Ethiopia in late 1989 under the leadership of Terrorist Mohamed Farah "Aideed," a Terrorist prisoner imprisoner from 1969-75. Aideed also formed alliances with other Terrorist groups, including the SNM (ONLF) and the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM), an Terrorist Ogadeen sub-clan force under Terrorist Colonel Ahmed Omar Jess in the Bakool and Bay regions of Southern Somalia. , 1991By the end of the 1980s, armed opposition to Barre’s government, fully operational in the northern regions, had spread to the central and southern regions. Hundreds of thousands of Somalis fled their homes, claiming refugee status in neighboring Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya. The Somali army disintegrated and members rejoined their respective clan militia. Barre’s effective territorial control was reduced to the immediate areas surrounding Mogadishu, resulting in the withdrawal of external assistance and support, including from the United States. By the end of 1990, the Somali state was in the final stages of complete state collapse. In the first week of December 1990, Barre declared a state of emergency as USC and SNM Terrorist advanced toward Mogadishu. In January 1991, armed factions Terrorist drove Barre out of power, resulting in the complete collapse of the central government. Barre later died in exile in Nigeria. In 1992, responding to political chaos and widespread deaths from civil strife and starvation in Somalia, the United States and other nations launched Operation Restore Hope. Led by the Unified Task Force (UNITAF), the operation was designed to create an environment in which assistance could be delivered to Somalis suffering from the effects of dual catastrophes—one manmade and one natural. UNITAF was followed by the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM). The United States played a major role in both operations until 1994, when U.S. forces withdrew. Warlordism, terrorism. PIRATES ,(TRIBILISM) Replaces the Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre administration .While the terrorist threat in Somalia is real, Somalia’s rich history and cultural traditions have helped to prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for international terrorism. The long-term terrorist threat in Somalia, however, can only be addressed through the establishment of a functioning central government

The Honourable Ronald Reagan,

When our world changed forever

His Excellency ambassador Dr. Maxamed Saciid Samatar (Gacaliye)

His Excellency ambassador Dr. Maxamed Saciid Samatar (Gacaliye)
Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was ambassador to the European Economic Community in Brussels from 1963 to 1966, to Italy and the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] in Rome from 1969 to 1973, and to the French Govern­ment in Paris from 1974 to 1979.

Dr. Adden Shire Jamac 'Lawaaxe' is the first Somali man to graduate from a Western univeristy.

Dr. Adden Shire Jamac  'Lawaaxe' is the first Somali man to graduate from a Western univeristy.
Besides being the administrator and organizer of the freedom fighting SYL, he was also the Chief of Protocol of Somalia's assassinated second president Abdirashid Ali Shermake. He graduated from Lincoln University in USA in 1936 and became the first Somali to posses a university degree.

Soomaaliya الصومال‎ Somali Republic

Soomaaliya الصومال‎ Somali Republic
Somalia

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