By Yusuf Abudi
Each year around the world, we celebrate a day of unity on July 1st to mark the formation of the Republic of Somalia after the south and north Somalia united. This day also marks when south Somalia got its independence. However, for most of us it is a day of celebrating unity but are we really united after the celebrations end? Should we change this day to a day we seek unity among us? Or we just want to accept and remain the status quo?
This day we hold thousands of events around the world to display the true meaning of being united Somalis. For these events we wear the blue and white color of our flag, perform traditional arts and even make promises that we will work together and stay united. But sadly, this is good only for the hour of the event. Almost everyone goes home and starts the same old stuff we’ve been doing for the past two decades- how my clan or region would dominate the current politics in Somalia, how my clan would benefit most of the resources, or like most of us living in the abroad we wait some miracles to happen, so that peace will be establish and only then we can go back home. All of these show that we are not ready to do anything.
In fact, many Somali intellectuals argue that at the moment there is no “Peoplehood” among us, thus we must admit that we have failed as a state and we’re also failing as a society. But when will we decide to stop ignoring the big elephant in the room? Like the great Somali poet, Tima ade, said “Dadka waxaan ogaysiinayaa dowgu suu yahayee, Soomaalidoy dayaay wanaag idinka doorsoonye” (…look Somalis, there is no good left in you). Now, nearly half a century later when the poet said those touching words, we’re still behaving the same or may be even worse. Nonetheless, this should not encourage us to lose hope. Almost every nation in this world has once experienced a tough time in their lifetime. Instead this should help us open our eyes and realize that we are heading to a direction of destruction and we need to do something before we disappear from the face of this earth.
The reality is that we need to start everything from the beginning. Now not only must we seek ways to unite our people, but in order to do this we must reconcile our differences and overcome the power of ignorance over us. One of the ways we can start right now, today, is to begin with ourselves. Let’s start one person at a time. If one person can change how he views his personal interest or his tribe over a united Somalia, then may be that person can change someone else’s mind. And if the number of the people changing their mind goes up, then we may see a united Somalia in the near feature. Some progresses have already been made. Now we have more educated people and young activists who are setting good examples for the younger generation that will be our leaders in the future. This is what every one of us should be doing.
In conclusion, coming together to celebrate a unity day is good but we should also seek unity itself as there is no such a thing at the moment. It is very important that we make commitments and set goals. These commitments can be like, avoiding to ask the question “maxaa layiri maantey” (what is the latest news?) and instead ask ourselves what can we do today to change the status quo? How do we come together? And how can we overcome our past? Similarly, for those of us who are still dreaming that unity will come some day; should stop waiting that to happen, and start seeking a unity and make it happen. There is an old saying that says “a society develops as long as there are good people in that society who strive to change its conditions”. Now, the good people can be you, me or someone else but we should step up and inspire others to do the same.
Yusuf Abudi is a mentor/tutor at the Somali Community Services Coalition in SeaTac, WA. Yusuf also volunteers as a community outreach associate for CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations), WA chapter.