The mainstream populations of the city’s residents are generally supportive and more than sympathetic to the government’s cause of eliminating youth hooliganism in Hargeisa’s streets and backyard lanes in its residential estates.
However what we can herein reveal is that the state is fantastically nipping by the bud what would have in the near future become deadly organized crimes syndicates.
While walking with a colleague around the areas the recent skirmishes of youth battling security personnel a day after, we noticed several clusters of three to four people in close tete-a-tetes.
Closing near to eavesdrop or ‘join in the conversation’, a norm usually embraced, we found that they supported the crackdown whole heartedly.
“The hooligans tried to light a fire under my table and set it ablaze”, exclaimed a lady chat dealer, Rahma Abdillahi. My colleague, probed for more and was told, “As they fled arrests they not only pelted the police but everything they trampled along”.
Then a fired of his who is a vehicle spare-parts dealer told us of youth paying his premise visits and harasses him for money.
He hands us a note (pictured) given to him by the youth. It is unsigned, undated and un-addressed.
It is seemingly harmless with its beseeching tone for a token.
On another probe, the spare-parts dealer says, in an angry high pitched tone, “No they don’t ask for, they demand,” and added, “This is not the first one they visited me with”.
He said that it is not only business premises that are targeted but also lavish homes.
What dawns to our minds is that perhaps the situation at hand is not only a mere youthful hooliganism but a dangerous trend to have an organized crime in the making.
Just as scholar Diego Gambett the tagged such harassment for racketeering protection money extortion, or in his own Latino language, the “Pizzo” for the Mafiosi (extorters). He classiffied criminal organization in protection racketeering a mafiosi.
In the same fashion, the “warrior castes” do the tormenting muscle works, be it arson or anything extremely thuggish.
Whatever the case, just the knowledge that such thing goes on in our own backyard in this millennium, sent chills down our spines.
It is thus, we profoundly think, that the residents are supportive of the crackdown, because they may have felt the pinch. None have told us whether they have been praying the pizzos (baad in our local Somali language).
When the interior minister announced the new heavy penalties in dealing with the menace, he warned that parents (in cahoots) would face the music too.
A spate of high incidences of thuggery and hooliganism has ripped the city in the recent weeks.
Every arrest has been short-circuited by parents (thus community) being a thorn in the security’s flesh and leave no stones unturned to set the youthful culprits free.
The same minister, Hon. Waran-adde, lamented last year that the courts were abetting hence undermining their efforts.
With the pizzo issue in the light now, we wonder whether there is more than meets the eyes and that perhaps its not just rowdy peerage crises that is exacerbated by joblessness.
The hope of all Somalilanders is that the state well dig deeper and nips the vice in the buds before it grows out of hand.
The momentum of the efforts should be maintained for a while until there is no more hell to break loose.
By M.A. Egge