Somalia is one of the places where clan affiliation is considered one of the most important bonds that tie people together.
The food and agriculture organization of the United Nations or known as FAO estimated that more than Sixty percent of the Somalis are nomads or semi-pastoralists. Traditionally, Somalis are nomadic pastoralists whose their history is full of inter-clan conflict over the control of water wells and grazing lands.
They are structured into clan groupings, which are important for social units as clan membership plays a crucial role in Somali culture and politics. This nomadic community has never seen the development of human invention and how the world is changing in a swift and dynamic way.
They live together to protect their livestock from wild animals and other predators and the rule of “the survival of the fittest” is widely applied. In that sense, it’s rarely uncommon to see herders that dwell in the same place are from different clans.
The culture of clan affiliation had also been brought to towns and cities. Intellectuals and community leaders are still connected in the same way as their ancestors (animal herders) used to be. Most of the Somali organizations, institutions, business people, media, and forums are based on clan ideology.
When the country fell into the hands of vindictive warlords, the professional military personnel who had been trained to work for and safeguard the interest of the country had split into clan basis and found themselves leading destructive clan inter-fightings.
The educated people who received free education and other incentives on the account of taxpayers to learn and lead the country in the right direction had sided with arrogant and cruel warlords without questioning what the consequences will be. Businessmen spent millions to the inter-clan fightings without considering the future of their children, their people, and their nation.
Decades of fighting; hunger, starvation, displacement, humiliation, loss of elite people, fragmentation of the country, loss of dignity, dilute of culture and tradition, the appearance of conflicting ideology, power abuse, and mistrust among the community and others were the result of what we planted in 1991.
The role of the intellectuals in the society
The role of intellectuals in the society is very important and their contribution in all aspects of social life is inevitable particularly in today’s dynamic and rapidly changing environment. Intellectuals are those who are full of wisdom and source of intellect for community awareness.
German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein said: “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” An intellectual person who has the knowledge and the capabilities must take some kind of responsibility for the wellbeing of his or her nation.
In Somalia, most of the intellectuals are just like ordinary people and they don’t feel any kind of responsibilities towards the development of their society unless it’s due to their personal interests. The educated, elite and scholars’ role in inspiring the public is overwhelmed by a deeply rooted culture of clan based politics.
The marginalization of the Intellectuals and elite people in most of the decision-making hierarchies in Somalia is self-imposed and changing that situation will need rumination, commitment, and courage to think outside the box and transcend personal and kinfolk interests.
I believe that intellectuals are the change makers and role models of the people and in their own ways; they make effective contributions to the development of societies.
Let’s stand for the salvation of our nation, our children and the future generation. Let’s shape the future of Somalia, protect the history of this nation and leave behind a sensible legacy for the interest of our younger generations.
Mohamed A. Hared