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The Problem Child of Africa Award Goes to…

Problem child of Africa _
Image source : World Data

By Samuel Estefanous

I guess, most of us have a diverging take on the relevance and significance of the Razzie Award (the Golden Raspberry Award). 

On my part, I don’t think the Razzie award is entirely a mean spirited joke in bad taste. If winners are celebrated with the golden statute, at least symbolically losers need to be held accountable for the emotional and financial damage they have inflicted on the trusting audience.

Besides, it looks like Hollywood is increasingly taking the award seriously as high profile stars have begun to make appearances and collect the awards.  

In Africa parallel to Mo Ibrahim’s Award of Excellence, we need to found and constitute an African leadership Razzie Award Board-ingloriously to be called The Reigning Problem Child of Africa. 

1-The title shouldn’t be a static ‘entitlement’ to Somalia. 

I am assuming that most of us are familiar with Professor Mesfin Woldemariam’s book characterizing Somalia as the Problem Child of Africa in the 70s. Recently while reading a book by Somalia’s veteran diplomat and mild Nationalist Mohamed Osman Omar, I was a little taken aback when I read a passage where he endorsed Mesfin’s characterization and projected his fear that his country might actually end up being the Problem Child of the World (Somalia – A Nation Driven to Despair, a Case of Leadership Failure)

As a native of Mogadishu the writer understandably subscribes to the so-called Somalia irredentism and the symbolism of the pentagram. However there was one persisting enigma he would come back to time after time even when the context doesn’t warrant it-with a motley of 80 plus ethnic groups and the admixture of all the religions of the world, the Ethiopians were able to forge a united states after the fall of the Dergue while Somalia, one of the few homogeneous constituencies in the world, was unable to maintain unity.

He was riled by the impossible ‘feat’ Ethiopians were able to pull off even being able to have the wisdom to positively and voluntarily draw in the Ogaden as never before.  He noted that any visitor to Addis Ababa in the early 1990s would find it difficult to understand that a regime change was effected through the roaring brutal and merciless might of guns. He was baffled by the civility of the residents of Addis Ababa in stark contrast to Mogadishu’s.  He ascribed the “peaceful” transition to the maturity, wisdom and farsightedness of the people and its leadership.

By its very nature Nationhood is a higher stage of social development and one can argue that counter to common understanding diversity isn’t actually the end but the means to build a lasting viable Nation. A homogeneous tribe hardly develops into a successful viable Nation as it lacks the supremacy of supra tribal ideals that sustains Nations. 

It isn’t out of kindness that the United State government issues Immigrant Diversity visas to the whole wide world. Russia has also launched its own version of Immigrant Diversity Visa to attract settlers from Africa, the CIS and North America. 

These countries fairly well understand that all major civilizations are made possible by the pool of diversity. The Greek, Byzantine, Roman, Ottoman, Arab, Mongol and Chinese civilizations were made possible by melting pots of Nationalities.  It is when minor viable pockets of diversity ripe that major empires fall and germinate the seeds for multiple Nations to grow on the ruins of the old Empire.  

Bottom line? Tribal society is incapable of viable Nationhood.  Every time it tries, it ends up being a problem child as it has already rocked the traditional foundation and it lacks the maturity of supra clan ideals to sustain a Nation and solely nurtures its existence by constructing a perpetual theory of being at war with a common enemy. That is why whosoever is the occupant of the government of Villa Mogadishu has to construct an enemy theory to rally shallow sentimental rhetoric of unity. 

Coming to think about it, potentially all Nations of Africa are liable to succumb to the factors that distinguish them as Problem Children of Africa. 

2-Gragn of Ethiopia or Gurey of Mogadishu? 

An equestrian statute of a warrior graces one of the central districts of Mogadishu. I have tried to make sure that it was indeed that of the commander of the Futuh al Habash. There is no doubt about it- it is none other than ‘our own Gragn Ahmed’ who happens to be a native of the Adal Sultanate in Harar. It just makes one wonder what in God’s good name is the left handed ‘brute’ of near mythical grandeur doing in Mogadishu?

For better or worse the man had ruled over a united Nationalities of Ethiopia by far bigger and wider than at any time in its recorded history. I will have to research deeper but preliminary reviews reveal nothing of significance and  relevance that associates the exploits of the left handed warrior to Mogadishu (a conclusive account of the campaigns narrated by Arab Faqih is freely available in English translation online courtesy of Tsehay Publishers). Otherwise they wouldn’t have borrowed the nickname assigned to the man in northern Ethiopia. Unless, I mean, unless it is solely on account of the vitiated assumption that whoever had whipped al Habash is a hero to Mogadishu. 

As the Nation reinvents itself, the narratives are liable to change or be revised. Looks like “Futuh” doesn’t even translate as “Conquest” but “Liberation” and Paul Stenhouse might not have done justice to Faqih. What a beautiful Country, we are. I mean in all fairness we were taught about the Emirates and Sultanates of Adal, Dawaro and Ifat but as auxiliary or appendix to the mainstream classical Ethiopian history but those are treasure troves of our collective historical heritage. 

If we have indeed the wisdom and farsightedness Omar had ascribed to us in the immediate demise of the Dergue, we might as well dodge the Raspberry award of leadership failure by tapping into our collective wider and expansive heritages.

God Bless.    

The writer can be reached at : estefanoussamuel@yahoo.com 

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of borkena.com

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