For more than two decades, Somalia was in a state of anarchy, lawlessness, terrorism, and a situation where the strongest survived at the expense of the weaker ones. This bundle of problems did not happen over night, but rather evolved through a period of time. The source of Somalia’s problems stems from tribalism, and the use of tribal affiliation to judge people’s lives. The generations of my father may argue that the use tribe may help us identify each other and possibly relate to one another. Although it hard to win such a debate against our fathers because of age and ideological differences, but I also believe that the Somali youth in Diaspora can achieve different Somali identity than that which is based on tribalism. I would also like to present my theory on how tribalism paves the way for being a terrorist.
After the horrible September 11 attack on the World Trade Centre, fear and mistrust seemed to have prospered among community of nations, this forced citizens of the world to face a new reality in life. The need to find the cause and possibly the solution to the problem of radicalization soon became a priority for international community. Every option and recommendation on the table was thoroughly analyzed, but the Somalis themselves and the international community have long overlooked the Somali youth problems. What the international community came to understand is that terrorist groups operating in Somalia recruit the Somali youths in Diasporas, but what they failed to understand is the process and what led to the radicalization? What the Somalis failed to understand is how some of our fathers are trying to build our loyalty to a certain tribe and not a Somali identity. These two theories are interwoven and one leads to the other, while both of these issues can be addressed in various ways, their urgency seems to be underestimated.
The Somali youths in Diaspora face new realities in their lives, our fathers who still want to be our leaders today are horning us to pay our loyalties to tribalism. And if the tribe we are preached to pay loyalty to supports a terrorist group in Somalia, then the process of radicalization begins from here. They kill our identity as one Somali youths who are hopeful of a future for Somalia where one is valued for the content of their character and not the clan they belong to. I am reminded of the famous Somali poet, Cabdillaahi Suldaan Maxamed (Timacadde), who once said, “Dugsi malaha qabyaaladi waxay dumiso mooyaane” which literally translates to “ Tribalism provides no shelter, but rather destroys it”. The poet was telling us that we should find a Somali identity that is not based on tribalism, terrorism, and leaders that want to be there forever.
Here in Phoenix Arizona, the Somali youth struggle with these daily realities. A reality where the so-called old generation community leaders are preaching the words of tribalism on the youth, and a manipulated Somali norm that says youths are troublemakers.
We the youths have to stand in the way our fathers and politely remind them that this is not Somalia, and Somalis need a new model of leadership that the youths should spearhead. This is the only way we can be successful both in Somalia and in the Diasporas.
Our fathers need to take the backstage and allow the Somali youth to shape their identity with out the use of tribalism. It is always the human thing to retire or take aback stage and give others whose time has arrived to flourish. I am not being rude, but I will try to be truthful because if I say our fathers did good job in Somalia, I will be lying to the entire Somali youth and to myself. Tribalism and terrorism have a connection, and this seems to have blessing from our fathers. Let us save our identity as Somali youth, as citizens of a peaceful world that we all can contribute. It is my hope that we will rise above the ashes of tribalism and realize a 21st century Somali dream of being one. It is this dream that will live longer and give those to come a new start.
Mohamud Ibrahim Ali is a freelance journalist based in Phoenix, AZ. He can be reached email@example.com