Does Somaliland have political parties or clan parties? Honestly, it doesn’t have political parties. But it has clan parties. Let’s not kid ourselves. Every party is owned by one major clan and other secondary clan(s) that associate with the major clan. We all know which clan owns Kulmiye Party and which clan owns WADDANI Party (Ucid cannot be currently considered a party). Kulmiye is simply a euphemism of Habar Awal and WADDANI is also a euphemism of Habar Yonis. In our private meetings or teleconferences, we call it: “Our Habar Awal Party” or “Our Habar Yonis Party.” But we do not have the courage to say it publicly. It is too embarrassing, unpleasant and prejudice. That is why we use substitute names like “Kulmiye” and “WADDANI” to deceive ourselves.
The majority, if not all, of Habar Awal members support Kulmiye Party and the majority, if not all, of Habar Yonis members support WADDANI Party. Even some of those who claim to be “educated,” “seasoned politicians” or “Sheikhs” join their chosen party based on clan affiliation. Jamal Ali Hussein—who repeatedly brags about being a “Harvard-educated”—has publicly and shamefully announced that he joined Kulmiye Party because “Waxaan ogaadey in geelu isugu-kaaya jiro Muuse Biixi” which means, “I have realized that Muse Bihi and I belong to the same clan [Habar Awal].” Similarly, Ismail Buuba—a “seasoned politician” —has publicly arranged a meeting between his clan—Eda Gale—and Habar Yonis in the hopes to unite the two clans and therefore compete with Habar Awal clan. Likewise, Abdiaziz Samale—one of the leaders of Al-Islah Movement, the Somali branch of the Muslim Brotherhood—also joined Kulmiye Party simply because his clan, Habar Awal, owns the party, as his father—Mr. Samale—publically announced: “I promise the candidate [Muse Bihi] that Abdiaziz Samale would never join any other party accept Kulmiye [a.k.a Habar Awal Party].”
This doesn’t mean that either Kulmiye or WADDANI represents the interests of all its clan members, far from it. The clan members do not have the same interests: they have students, workers, businesspeople, Diasporas, poor, farmers, nomads, etc. Still all of them support and defend “their” party without question or thought. This is irrational, destructive, and primitive.
Why, for example, would a student support a party that is not going to lower college/university tuition or doesn’t provide student aid? Why would an unemployed person support a party that is not going to create jobs? These questions, and many others, show that clan members join their chosen party not because of their own personal interest, the interest of the clan, or national interest. So, why do each clan members support for “their” particular party?
Each clan wants their “son” to win the presidency in order to prove their clan superiority. That is it. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. They don’t think about their economic wellbeing, health, justice, education, infrastructure, etc. They simply want to show other clans (especially the clan that competes with them) that they are superior to them. It is purely a delusion of clan superiority. And winning the presidency is the ultimate prove of their honor and delusion of their superiority. Therefore, the presidency is a screen on which clan members project their delusion of clan superiority and securing subjective satisfaction.
The clan that wins the presidency feels victorious, vindicated, and secure while the majority of its members are poor, unemployed, illiterate, hopeless, etc. On the other hand, the clan that fails to win the presidency feels vulnerable, offended, and insecure because their delusion of their clan superiority is disproved and crushed. Not only that, the clan that wins the presidency defends the government at any cost. They believe that anyone who criticizes or opposes the government is an opponent or an enemy of their clan. In contrast, the clan that looses the presidency or the election makes sure to sabotage the government because they feel it is not their government since the “other” clan is controlling the government. That is why Somaliland suffers from shortage of patriots and is burdened with surplus of clanists.
This dog-eat-dog mentality is a safe haven for the predatory political elite. They intensify this delusion of clan superiority to rally their respective clan member in pursuit of personal power and wealth. It allows them to divide people into clans, sub-clans, and sub-sub-clans. It makes easy for them to win presidential, parliamentary, city councils, or appointed positions without any credentials. It gives them the green light to steal taxpayers’ money with impunity. And it allows them to be unaccountable to anyone. They enjoy this kind of clash between clans.
This zero-sum clan competition, the delusion of clan superiority, and the predatory political elite keep Somalilanders confused and busy in outmaneuvering, undercutting, or threatening one another. This is why we remain one of the poorest and underdeveloped countries in the world; this is why we are called “a beggar nation”; this is why 50.3% of our adult males and 74.2% of adult females are illiterate; this is why injustices are the norm; this is why corruption is rampant; this is why unemployment is over 80%; this is why our per capita income is roughly US$284 per person in 2012; this is why 1 out of 3 of all our adults suffer some kind of mental disorder; this is why we rank 123 out of 130 countries in the world in Human Development Index; this is why our youth leave the country by taking the dangerous sea voyages. Look at this. What a shame!
So, what are we proud of? How can any clan—be it Habar Awal, Habar Yonis, or any other clan, or even a reasonable person—be proud of this kind of awful existence? Where is the clan superiority in this horrible condition of life?
Shame on us!
Abdi Hussein Daud
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org