Are warlords, pirates, famine and poverty a Somalia of the past?
After years of transitional and ineffective administrations, Somalia’s new federal government has rekindled hope especially for any Somalian from my generation. All we have seen is Somalia in a limbo since 1991, with the world waiting and watching how much worse it could get for us.
In what is a historical event, Somalia’s new federal parliament elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud an academic and activist, to become the country’s next president. The defeat of Sharif Sheikh Ahmed who was leading the transitional government, in what was a tight competition; Somalians see a sign of changing times.
Mohamud’s election as Somalia’s president is what is hopefully a watershed for Somali people. But his task is a daunting one.
Will he be able to put Somalia back on track and help it regain its former glory and reputation?
Many, including myself, would answer that in the affirmative, because we believe that he can lead this desperate nation out of this abyss, understandably not instantaneously but in the years to come. The man lends me conviction, perhaps due to his unquestioned credibility and integrity.
This owes also to his academic background, his celebrated civil activism and his obvious passion to see a prosperous and peaceful Somalia. His election represents an important milestone for the people of Somalia, and a crucial step forward along the path of building a new Somalia after two decades of civil-war and instability.
In my formative years, I grew up seeing my country mentioned globally for all the wrong reasons – extremist militias, pirates, famine, poverty, warlords and to top it all, a series of unstable and weak governments. For once, Somalia makes breaking news for the right reason.
Am I too naïve to hope?
I believe not.
President Mohamud has a background of work in the civil society sector which explains his deep understanding of the problems Somalis face. This new administration, under his leadership, could create a new window of opportunities for the people, compared to the previous administrations.
In particular, I see hope for the youth of Somalia, comprising nearly 43% of my country’s population. Growing up in a conflict-zone, the Somali youth have unique challenges and disadvantages, but with Mohamud at the helm of affairs, the words that come to my mind are opportunities and possibilities.
Here is a man with national vision, known for establishing and running one of Somalia’s most respected higher education institutions in Mogadishu known as ‘Somali institute of Management and Development (Simad)’, which is now a University. A defined and sustained state emphasis on education can help utilise the country’s greatest resource; it’s youth, to the fullest.
I am hoping that happens under Mohamud.
Conflicts have, in the past, sucked out this nation’s ability to rise up. Consequently, the country’s infrastructure suffered. The new government can change all of that in terms of infrastructure, health, education and peace-building. It could strengthen the financial and social institutions that are instrumental in not just a country’s progress but also as agents of peace.
The nation is eagerly awaiting the dawn of an effective and just system that could unify this fractured nation. Somalia may soon experience a rebirth. If nothing else, at least it seems that we are heading in the right direction.
I hope to see a new Somalia – prosperous, strong and more peaceful than ever before.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.