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Published On: Mon, Nov 30th, 2015

‘The repercussions of media, offensive languages, tribalism and traditional leaders in Somaliland Politics ’

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By: Mohamed Ubo

The misinformation, disinformation, disbelieve, scandal, hypocrisy, and misleading  of the Somaliland media outlets, along with growing clan discourses, and the increasing influences of traditional leaders in politics and governance has adversely affected the establishment of strong and proper public institutions. These factors would be a game changing road from state building to state demise if not guided by an imperative philosophy; clarifying their rights and responsibilities, and attaching their rights with bigger and better responsibilities. Within all human rights and freedoms of speeches there should be greater or equal responsibilities attached. If your words or actions infringe on the rights of other human being that could not be considered human rights.  In Africa and some other parts of the wider world, media along with tribalism and ethnicity engineered and exacerbated a lot of conflicts as was the case of 1994 Rwanda genocide, the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chat, South Sudan, Libya, Burundi, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the crisis in the Central African Republic, the crises in the middle East, the Balkan war, the Cambodia war, the Kenya post election violence and the straight 24 years conflict in Somalia. Despite media`s potential positive and negative powers, media along with tribalism and ethnicity triggered most of the modern conflicts and it could be said that media has become a weapon of mass destruction in modern era. It elicited the failures of many governments and states in Africa and elsewhere when they report propaganda, fake and forged stories instead of doing ample investigations. Some of them report inaccurate information intentionally to champion the interest of the funding entities.

Despite media have two opposed forms; a face that alleviates the conflict and promote peace and a face that exacerbates conflicts, most modern media intensified conflicts in many societies all across the world as was the case of 1994 Rwanda genocide which 800,000 mostly Tutsi civilians died and the 1990s Balkan crisis which 140,000 died and 4,000,000 people were displaced according to International Center for Transitional Justice. It also exacerbated the 2007 Kenyan post election violence which more than 1000 people were killed. Similarly, media under reported the Cambodia genocide in 1975 to 1979 led by Pol Pot which 1.67 million Cambodians died following the implementations of Agrarian socialism from Stalinism and Maoism ideology . In every country there are special groups and elites who take the lead of the media corporations which keep the facts in dark and shed light on fictions. In Somaliland the media is one of the worst threats that endanger its peace as they mostly broadcast invalid, void, illogical, rumor, propaganda, sensitive and allergic news which jeopardize the state.

Different forms of Media itself mislead one another; Social media misleads the mass media, and mass media misleads the social media. The televisions, Radios, websites, and Facebook and Twitter mislead one another. In Somaliland every one misleads the other for instance individual Facebook accounts misleads the websites, and the websites mislead the televisions, journals and radios. And televisions, radios and journals mislead grass root ordinary citizens in both rural and urban areas. That misleading of one another influences the decisions and beliefs of the community that ultimately shape and influence the actions of the citizens. According to many sociologists, even watching short dramas, entertainments, films affect our minds unconsciously and then influence our thoughts and the way we think and the way we act. So if a child watches his clan accusing other clan or government, this influences the belief of the child and then the way the child thinks and acts. But we should know the fact that everyone who spreads news is doing his her own benefits to earn money or interest.

In all conflicts, language is also main source of conflicts and the language we use in our homes, streets, businesses; public institutions, parliament, cafeterias, etc affect the media and the citizens. And if we trace back most disagreements in Somaliland, whether the parliament, police and civilian or clan conflicts, it was the offensive languages the opposed parties used. Prophet Mohamed PBUH says: ‘Speak a good word or remain silent’ Therefore if not used appropriate languages base on delicate and delightful terms and tones we are more likely to disagree as Somalis say: ‘ Afbaa bilaawe baxsha’ meaning “ Language we use bring forth to fight’ Likewise we must confirm and verify every bit of information disseminated  as Quran says: (Suratul Hujrat): “O you, who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.”  Similarly Somalis say: ‘Afxumo nabad na way kaa kaxaysaa colaadna wax kaagama tarto’ meaning: ‘Dirty-language takes you from peace and could not stop you a conflict’

In the colonial period, the colonials used and relied on traditional leaders to facilitate their rules for 500 years as chiefs used to catch the Africans as slaves then transfer to colonials to export. And similarly Somaliland government uses chiefs to hold the tribes for the elections and Ministry of Interior pays them similar to colonial powers. All political parties use tribes to get into power affecting the evolvement and progress of national governance structures and hinder to have mature, strong and proper public institutions and this is the case in Somaliland, Kenya, Ghana, Ivory Coast and many other African elections. Our traditional leaders are cultural leaders, not political leaders and the government and people must know that the current influence of the cultural leaders would reach in a point that the government would not access in some regions in the future using their soft powers. And this will put Somaliland democracy and the growing governance at risk. The most current traditional leaders in Somaliland are bad political partners who adversely affected all institutions and are not partners in social and economic development.


As a final point, as a wake-up call,  let us expand our horizons; think beyond the media and beyond the aged tribal mentality, kick useless traditions that hold us back, use media positively, use excellent words, promote nationalism and come up with novel and innovative paradigms. In the past Europe had dark ages, droughts and tribes but they passed and civilized. So let us prepare current and future leaders as those we have now are not leaders but followers who follow their interest and tribes. In this century only animals follow, eat and walk with their same species and animals. For example donkey walk with donkeys, camels walk with camels but we human being have minds and moralities which make us to pursue brilliant ideas, not the clans we belong to as animals do. Now those in our politics, businesses, media and etc are not a kind of people we would like to see in the 21st century and being only in front of the queue will not make them authentic leaders going forward. Thus what we need are  constitutional supremacy, enduring democratic structure, responsible media, good governance, proper institutions and genuine political parties that compete on the bases of ideas, dreams, integrities, innovations, impartialities, united vision and nationalism not on the bases of tribal politics and tribalism.

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