Somali Politics Can Burn You!

Somali politics is both thorny and explosive. If you write something about anything of the country’s situation, you offend one group of people or another. Everybody is sensitive. And there are clan enclaves all over the place. Don’t step on my toes, they demand.

Somali politics is explosive, but we can’t keep mute because we’ve to voice our concerns and speak up about nagging issues in the country. What you see in a way can indeed be seen differently. Nonetheless, our diverse viewpoints mustn’t cause a rough collision between us.

We’re not used to heated debates, while still keeping our cool. Don’t you think that quality is missing among us? We’re good talkers, but not good listeners. Besides, most of our discussions revolve around clan politics. That’s our obsession. Why every debatable matter is to be between this clan and that one? Can’t we get some other subjects to talk about? Anyhow, we ought to tread carefully while socializing with each other.

Our discussions are fairly touchy. And we’re all experts at every topic, by the way. If you happen to sit in coffee circles by Somalis, you realize what I mean. We all speak equally on any topic at hand. I’m not belittling anyone here, but that’s our reality. 19 years ago, I wrote a piece titled “A Nation of Politicians and Bad Internet Sites”. I argued in that piece what I’m reiterating here today.

Why can’t we have productive debates bout collective issues? Do we’ve limitations regarding the debates? Neither you nor I know everything. We’re humans with limited scopes. So, it’s not good to delve into everything, or claim to know every matter. I was once sitting with friends and acquaintances at a café. We’re all Somalis. Everybody was listening to a young man, who’s eloquent and energetic. He’s fervently talking about Somali issues, demanding everyone’s attention.

His discussion was, however, neither focused nor falling in place, yet he’s committed to pushing for his point of view. Shocked by his unstoppable speech, I asked him: “Where do you get your information?” “I listen to a lot of news before I come here,” he replied. Listening to such news isn’t bad. However, his expertise concerning heavy issues shouldn’t be based on verbal information or debates between individuals on talk shows.

Debating the country’s politics is a perilous matter. Any well-intended discussion can turn into unpleasant arguments. We all read between the lines. “What’re you alluding to?” is a question on our minds. How can we debate our issues, while not triggering one another? We’re a nation of politicians exposed to all sorts of bad news and propaganda. Somalia needs an open debate. The country needs a real reconciliation.