Somalia's arduous twenty-year odyssey is fast
approaching a defining moment. The long running national nightmare will
soon reach a clearly marked fork in the road. Contrary to the witty
Yogi Berra's line, however, you can't just "take it"; one has to make a
conscious choice as to which way to proceed.
The choices before Somalis, in
this regards, are two and their differences are easy to recognize: one
way is the continuation of the perilous passage to nowhere that the
nation has been on since the fall of the central government in 1991.
It is a particularly circuitous road that is full of hazardous twists
and turns; a virtual dead-end leading to no destination that the
long-suffering Somali people would want to go. Its journey has been and
remains to be strewn with the ill-effects of all manner of destructive
and anti-social behavior that rendered the Somali Republic the failed
state by which all others are judged.
The resultant dysfunctional
system gave us brutality of warlordism, blinkered religious
fanaticism, pirate activities, and political corruption; the kind of
pathologies that, if not checked, could in due course spell certain doom
for any nation. As a result, Somalia has, during the last two
decades, been to the edge of an abyss a couple of times precisely
because of that kind of systemic failure.
The guides of this hellish
road were bad political leaders lacking in knowledge and devoid of the
kind of wisdom without which human society is lost. Typically, these
are unethical folks given to power trips and are unabashedly
narcissistic. They are the kind of individuals that are incapable of
learning lessons from their mistakes.
So this dangerous side road
is not new to the Somali people. They have been forced to traverse it
by those same corrupt politicians, longer than they would care to
The corrupt politicians,
who are still very much with us, are folks who seem to know next to
nothing about how to help restore hope and dignity to Somalis and who
in all probability care even less. Consider their callous behavior
during past 20 years--years of utter disorder and Confucian, much of it
their own making. To this day, many of these politicians are unfazed
by all the mass killings of innocent lives, the destruction of much of
the nation's property, including things that were fastened to the
ground. Equally, odious is their continuous rejection of all efforts
that could possibly lead to veritable reconciliation and national
As those politicians' world
view is marked by endless despair, the other branch of the road heads
towards the diametrical opposite direction--of hope. With minor
tweaking, the Road Map can, Allah willing, be an arterial road charted
to put Somalia on the path to restoration of full national sovereignty,
reconciliation and redevelopment. It can also serve as an access road
to the long subdued Somali national aspirations. And it can
potentially become a thoroughfare to self-rule for communities and
regions as well as to full citizenship rights for individuals.
The Road Map has other
pieces of good fortune associated with it. It has the full backing of
the regional states, the AU, the UN and the International community.
This has not happened before. And so it behooves Somalis not waste
this unique opportunity but rather capitalize on the universal support
and the commitments of all the various, important players.
The Road Map will end the
unworkable, eight-year transition period that functioned as black hole
of available meager resources without corresponding achievements in
security or social development to show for. The only growth industry
during the anguished transition period has been escalating corruption
and runaway sectarianism. Somalia can ill-afford the continuation of
this unhappy process. It needs to end abruptly come August, 2012.
Finally, the claim that the
process that led to the Road Map was not perfect is not entirely
without merit. But it is overplayed for sinister purposes. And that is
In the initial stages the
process, this writer, like many other Somalis had certain misgivings
about the process and raised questions accordingly. As the process
went on it became clear to most that the stakes were too high, the
nation was too exhausted and the opposition was unnecessarily
dismissive of the entire course of action; it became imperative
therefore that the Road Map had to reach its destination by the
The nation cannot continue
to engage in the usual, incessant didactic arguments and endless debates
that always end with certain politicians opposing change. Such a
practice is a luxury that the country cannot afford at this critical
Somalis should not have the
perfect be the enemy of the good. Rather people of goodwill from
throughout the country should support the Road Map and the Draft
Constitution. There will, insha Allah, be plenty of time to tweak the
draft constitution towards a more perfect system of governance that
would make all Somalis proud.
The alternative to the Road Map is bust! And that is, quite frankly, unconscionable.
Ali A. Fatah