Monday, October 13, 2008

Views on Somalia annexation have been misinterpreted

Citizens by birth or choice… that country has a right to concentrate your affections.— George Washington, first US President (1789-1797)


When I called for Somali’s division last week, I expected the vitriolic reaction I have received from the war-weary country’s refugees in the US, Britain, Denmark, Eritrea and Mogadishu. But what shocked me most was the reaction of Somalis with passports of Kenya, America, the UK, Denmark and Canada.

Websites and blogs have been set up that have deliberately misinterpreted my views on Somalia’s annexation. My article was not based on religious considerations — far from it. I stand by my position that Southern Sudan is our strategic ally and not the Khartoum government. The Khartoum administration has aligned itself with the Middle East Arab countries, whose world view is different from Kenya’s. Somalis who have reacted angrily to my thoughts have the mistaken view that they are Arabs, and that Kenyans are blacks. Some even called me a monkey and nigger, saying that blacks are predestined to serve them.

Somalis and Oromos of Ethiopia are Cushitic in race, while Arabs are Semitic. Somalis’ future thus lies in being one with their cousins in either Kenya or Ethiopia, and not on creating an Arab caliphate in East Africa. Kenya and Ethiopia have a duty as the brother’s keeper to impose peace on Somalia — and annexation is one of the options.

In denouncing my thoughts and supporting the pirates and the Islamic Courts Union in their country, and even calling them patriots, Somalis carrying passports of other countries other than theirs have crossed the line of treason. One cannot carry a country’s passport and owe allegiance to another. This split loyalty brings to the fore the issues of tribalism, nationalism and patriotism. Tribe is the least denominator of nationhood. In it people share a language as well as culture and cultural beliefs. Richard Hendler, a highly regarded anthology professor at the University of Virginia, USA, says that nations have “…boundedness, continuity and homogeneity…”

When the European imperial powers divided Africa among themselves in the mid-19th Century, artificial state boundaries were imposed on us. Within these borders we have striven to cobble up nation-states, but with varying degrees of success. However, due to the boundaries, our loyalty is now to the state, and not the tribe, when the two conflict. My ethno-nationalist beliefs do not in any way undermine my loyalty to Kenya despite its imperfections. Nationalism is our spiritual consciousness. However, a state is not nothingness; it is limited in space and time. It has clearly defined boundaries and a common language, principles, flag and national ethos and strategy.

Kenya, by all standards, is a state, while Somalia is a state in name only as it does not even have one flag. Ethical nationalism principles demand that when the interests of one’s state conflict with those of another, all citizens must come together. Patriotism, the higher ideal that calls for the love of one’s country above all else is not synonymous with sycophancy or blind subservience to the state. Roman Catholics’ allegiance is to the pope in Rome and Muslims to the ummah, but the fealty is ecclesiastical and does not supplant the temporal authorities.

Thus, thinking of setting up a Catholic holy state or an Islamic caliphate in Kenya amounts to treason.

Treason and sedition laws in Kenya and many other countries are aimed at preventing the people from undermining national interests. It is in the strategic interest of our country that a caliphate is not set up in East Africa. And this converges with the strategic interests of many other countries, including most, if not all, Islamic ones. Thus, when people carrying passports of Kenya, Canada, the UK, Britain and Denmark e-mail or publish articles supporting an Islamic caliphate’s actions, they cross their nationalism and patriotism lines.

How can one justify the Somali pirates’ actions? How can one turn a blind eye to the country’s failed status? And how dare one claim that Somalia is better off than Kenya?

Kenya cannot make much progress as long as Somalia remains the sick man of eastern Africa, and Ethiopia cannot export or import goods as long as Somalia remains a failed state. History places the onerous duty on Kenya and Ethiopia to resolve the Somalia problem. Somalis in Kenya and those ensconced in the luxury and freedoms of Europe and the US must hold their peace. Somalis in the diaspora must choose what passport they wish to carry; one cannot enjoy the citizenship and privileges of a peaceful country and want Kenya to live next to one that gives sanctuary and succour to its enemies.

Kenyans have a patriotic duty to safeguard national interests, irrespective of tribal, religious and political persuasions.

1 comment:

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