When Ismail Ali Ismail started writing his newly published book that synchronously details the history of
and the Somali people, he had one thing in mind: the delivery of a sequence of
events that is free from preconceived notions, preferential treatments, tribal
inclinations, and irrelevant gossip. The book, Governance: The Scourge and
Hope of Somalia, is a comprehensive history of Somalia and the Somali people and
traces the root causes of the miasma and mendacity that have become the
hallmarks of the ongoing irremediable Somali intransigence that is like a
malignant cancer consuming the very core of Somali political fabric to this
day. The book was published by Trafford Publishing in 2010 with the assigned
International Standard Book Numbers being ISBN 978-1-4269-1980-0 for its soft
cover and ISBN 978-1-4269-2099-0 for the hard cover. An academic, a public
servant of previous Somali governments, and a long time diplomat assigned to
various official responsibilities, Ismail’s knowledge of the Somali people and
their political ideals may be described as unrivalled and as well unparalleled.
Unlike litigious historical chronicles penned down by past and present opinionated foreign or Somali writers, Ismail’s penmanship will remain evident in its nature of journalism and scholarly research for quite some time. His energy to write has been fuelled by a passion to expose the truth about a people and a nation whose history has become negligible.
What makes the book most attractive is the magnificence and eloquence of language and its cheerfulness and eagerness to marvelously calibrate undiagnosed historical phantasms. Like a camel herder traversing a desert storm in search of sustenance, the author perilously struggled to scramble through bookshelves and internet sites with the sole aim of unearthing and putting together a historical exegesis of profound importance to anyone interested in deciphering the circumstances surrounding
political entanglement. Voluminous and over four-hundred pages, Governance:
The Scourge and Hope of Somalia, has a lot to tell the reader from the
beginning chapter to the end. It is a
well researched book that has been written with good intentions. Almost every
chapter begins with an ayah (verse) from the Holy Qur’an followed by
eye-catching remarks by distinguished historical figures espousing unblemished
character, dignity, and great wisdom. In giving a broader meaning to the term clash
of civilizations, the author explains how the struggle between Islam and
Christianity affected the people of the Horn of Africa.
The might of Somali pastoral democracy and Somali past history stretch back several millenniums as opposed to the unfounded and untested lexicon of exaggerations that populate imperial libraries. The author illuminates the might of former sultans whose tutelage, according to territorial and ethnographic location, varied in the manner of their sovereignty and hierarchical applications across the expansive Somali peninsula.
The author uses numerous scholarly references to disentangle causes of past Somali obduracy and other malevolent historical dynamics that accelerated the rupturing of the once homogeneous Somali pastoral society. It is quite painful and mind-blowing for modern Somalis to experience the worst form of divisions, tribalism, and shocking forms of slaughter using all avenues of destruction including the application of modern war machinery while during the Somali Youth League (SYL) era there was little or no resistance among the few concerned nationalists whose unity rested on getting rid of the shackles of colonialism. Somalis are volatile, violent, and virulent when fighting among themselves and peaceful, graceful, and generous, when dealing with foreigners sharing equal thoughts and processes.
Somali volatility preceded the colonial administrations of
Britain and Italy respectively. For centuries,
tribal animosity and blood feuds have been the hallmarks of the unmarked
greater Somali tribal territories where violence triggered by flimsy
altercations led to unstoppable virulence spreading like wildfire and consequently
consuming inhabitants of homesteads and kraals scattered countrywide. Periods
of peace and prosperity allowed peripatetic nomads in search of pasture to
traverse extensive territories and open a path for European explorers dedicated
to charting avenues for future jingoistic imperialism followed by malevolent
colonization. News of Somali valor and perseverance against European colonialism
pilfered through Somalia’s
southern neighbors Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania resulting in the
historical events that became known as Mau Mau, Maji Maji, and Hehe rebellions.
To the Arabs of South Arabia, the message was simple and clear: “if Somalis are
free, why not us”.
The first chapter of the book scrutinizes the near century of colonial governance where
was divided along colonial powers England
and Italy leading to the
pitiless British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland
mandates that resulted in the partition of Somali territories the same time
leaders of the mighty African continent were engaged in struggles for
self-determination. In making comparative investigations of the two distinct
administrations, the author pinpoints the lugubrious nature of the Italian
colonial administration and the noninterference of the British in the Somali
social makeup. The Italians callously manipulated Somali sovereignty by imposing
a variety of restrictions that were meant to dismantle existing Somali social
Thus, the very authoritarian fabrics of
Rome transcended the borders of Italy finally
arriving as anarchical condiments in areas of the mighty African continent
where Italian totalitarianism reigned supreme. Italy’s
loss of Libya and Eritrea culminated in Italian ersatz imperialism
to grab the agriculturally fertile southern Somalia
territories straddling the meandering Juba and Shebelle
rivers. Despite pilfering Somali natural and human resources for close to a century,
colonial powers Britain and Italy did
little to diffuse to the Somalis the virtues of democratic organization,
authority and control, and the principle and conduct of governance. Naturally,
Somalis are an egalitarian society and it is incomprehensible for the British
and Italians to abandon Somalia
without injecting an iota of reliable governance.
Perhaps, what southern Somalis inherited from the Italians is nothing but pasta di semola di grano duro and pasta di soia. And as for the northern Somalis, what they inherited from the British is nothing but the leaves of Camellia sinensis, otherwise known as tea that was introduced in East Africa by British barons who oversaw the cultivation of vast tracts of land around the White Highlands-land that straddles the lush green Rift Valley in
Kenya. The Rift Valley originates
in Jordan and ends in the
lower Zambezi Valley Mozambique
in southern Africa.
Somali stiff resistance to colonialism paved the way for self-determination and complete independence for the northern British Somaliland and the southern
Italian Somaliland territories
that had been separated for quite some time. The proclamation of independence
on the 1st of July, 1960 heralded an era of unification a
nd the intermingling of two homogeneously related communities but ideologically clothed in contorted English and Italian administrative styles. The sudden separation from British and Italian apathy led the two Somalis to chart a new avenue for a honeymoon that would last less than a decade. Unfortunately, Africa’s first democratic government headquartered in Mogadishu-“the seat of the Shah”-crumbled after a coup d’état orchestrated by a group of military officers took the nation by surprise at a time when military leadership was a political fashion in Africa and some parts of Asia.
There is a lot to learn from Ismail’s penmanship. The book is comprehensive in context as it dwells into the historical aspects of the collapse of the military junta in 1991 consequently plunging Somalia into myriads of problems that include foreign interference in the form of humanitarian missions, warlord supremacy, extremism and religious anarchy, tribal hostilities, maritime depletion, armed insurrections, prolonged droughts and environmental degradation, political obscurantism in almost every conceivable canton, piracy, assassinations, and the meteoric rise of Islamists.
If you are writing a paper for your college on
Somalia or if you are in the process of
preparing a thesis or dissertation that is exclusive to Somalia, the book, Governance:
The Scourge and Hope of Somalia, is one important document you would want
to consult and reference before embarking on your erudite and scholarly journey
to academic success. Adding it to your exotic library for future use could be
an added advantage.