July 10, 2012 ·29 Comments
MOUNA ESSE MOHAMED
To all Somali speaking population in the peninsula or abroad, Djibouti has always been a home away from home. The tiny republic has sailed its way through turbulent times and weather the danger of a chaotic neighborhood and often offered shelter to scores of refugees. During the 1977-78 Ethio-Somali conflict, thousands of ethnic Somali from Ethiopia fled Mengistu Haile Mariam persecution following the Somali army defeat.
Djibouti was equally welcoming for those who fled the Siad Barre persecution following the SNM led guerrilla war. To lesser extent, Djibouti was a major hub for those heading abroad when all hell broke loose in Mogadishu in 1991. For all those reasons, Djibouti always has a special place in our collective hearts, reminiscence of the hard refugee life.
How many of us now comfortably living in the West remember these days spent waiting for a foreign visa and these night spent sleeping on the beach because our Djiboutian guests could only shelter so much.
I recently went back to Djibouti on my way to Mogadishu and find the little welcoming place submerged by a vitriolic tribal hatred. Some Djiboutian politicians outmaneuvered by president Guelleh and frustrated by his iron grip on power are playing the dangerous tribal card that led to Somali downfall. President Guelleh has many shortcomings and generally speaking political criticism is fair game and healthy in a democracy.
But for some odd reasons, in Djibouti, opponent attacks are solely concentrated on the first lady and her family while president Guelleh and his numerous siblings are largely unscathed. I was to be honest intrigued by this fact because Somali culture dictates that leaders wives are left alone because ultimately the political power rest with their husbands. I went for help among my Djiboutian friend and was given these details. Let me tell them for those unfamiliar with Djibouti political intrigue, president Guelleh hails from the Issa triba while the first lady is Issaq. It seems the latter get the blame for everything that goes wrong in Djibouti.
If a Issa businessman seem to be doing exceptionally well, no problem. If a Issaq one is getting lucking with his business ventures, he should be getting help from the first lady. If a civil servant get a promotion, no problem. If a Issaq one move upwards, he should have gotten help from the first lady. If a Issa businessman invest in Somaliland (and scores have done precisely that , the most famous being Borreh), no problem. If a Issaq one does the same, he is stealing the money from the hungry Djiboutians to feed the Somalilanders (sic).
Some politicians have the wicked view that the first lady (the daughter of Djibouti-born father and mother) is not a “real Djiboutian”. And that is rich coming from those who to tolerate the fact that former president Hassan Gouled was born in Somaliland while president Guelleh was born in Ethiopia. Not counting the horde of ministers and power brokers all born abroad. And that is especially rich when the one putting forwards these insane arguments are not Djiboutian by birth.
The most prominent “real Djiboutian” advocate is Daher Ahmed Farah whose daily tribal tirades against the first lady are found on lavoixdedjibouti.net. Guess what, Daher was not born in Djibouti, he came there as a preteen. The very same guy who is contesting the citizenship of the first lady was born himself on a foreign soil. Think about that.
When my Djiboutian friends told me that this mind boggling incongruity boiled down to the “waa loo dhashaa laakin laguma dhasho,” shivers went down my spine. That was exactly what destroyed my country. Double standard blame can only get you so far. But it will for sure annihilate your country.
Mouna Esse Mohamed
July 10, 2012
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