The defunct Republic of Somalia reached its apex between the years 1970 to 1976. It is no coincidence that during this period, quite a number of talented Somalilanders, were present in all major government post, from cabinet level down to department directors.
Among those who excelled were Foreign Minister, Omar Arteh Qalib, who evenhandedly persuaded the then influential Arab League to admit the Somali Republic into its organisation. There was also the Planning Minister, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud “Silaanyo”, the current Somaliland president who created the self-help program “Iskaa Wax U Qabso”, and too many others to mention.
However, as the then Somali President, Siyad Barre, descended into delusions of grandeur and paranoia, coupled with odious cult of the personality, these knowledgeable and educated men and women were replaced by cronies and close family relations of the dictator.
The most egregious appointment was that of Abdirahman Jama Barre, the dictator’s cousin, as the new Foreign Minister. This was without a shadow of a doubt the nadir of the Somali Republic’s existence. The new minister had neither the talent, knowledge or the most rudimentary skill to hold the post. His disastrous tenure led to the isolation of the defunct Somali Republic and played a key role in the descent into civil war.
As, the late dictator, Siyad Barre, plunged into a political abyss of his own making, close confidants began to whisper in his ear about non existent political machinations by those not of his clan including, but not exclusively, Somalilanders.
So, with one svelte move all technocrats from cabinet level on down were purged. The competency of these former employees were demonstrated by the incompetence of their replacement, who neither had the skill nor knowledge to ascend to the lofty position they found themselves. For you see, these Somalilanders were honest, capable and disciplined technocrats who were to willing to work with any leader whatever his clan affiliation.
After the purge, the majority of them took their skills to the Arabian peninsula, where they flourished and eventually formed the organisation that led Somaliland’s reclamation of sovereignty in 1991.
The primary goal of the Somali National Movement (SNM) was remove the defunct Somali Republic from the clutches of the late dictator, Siyad Barre and his cronies. After, the long and bloody civil war which culminated in the ouster of the Barre regime, the hopes of the SNM and its supporters were dashed when a new puppet in Mogadishu “appointed ” himself the new president. Suffice to say, that was final straw the broke the camel’s back and the rest is history.
There are those who argue that the SNM’s only goal was a military victory to purge the “faqash” from the land; but they ignore the fact, that after the inequities of the 1960 union and the betrayal of 1991, there was no turning back. This writer was fortunate to be in London in 1981 when the political wing of the SNM was founded and is of the opinion, that there was always a niggling doubt in the back of the Somalilanders mind, that once again, Somalia would seek to gobble up all the instruments of power. And, so these doubts were proved to be well founded.
I would like to think that all those years ago they might have envisaged what we have today.
By Hassan Mohamed Abokor