Somalia:“Buffer zone” or suppression and massacre zone
It’s obvious that the independence of Somalia in 1960 created instability and chaos in Horn of Africa and whole East African region, because of the rough and arrogant policies adopted by the Somali leaders.
Having problems at home including clan worshipping, high rate of illiteracy, racial discrimination and backwardness, the first Somali government instead chose to pursue a dream known as “greater Somalia”, in which it had claimed territories in the neighbouring countries, Kenya and Somalia.
The dirty policies and the crazy dream plunged the country into brutal civil war and endless political turmoil.
Somali leadership in 1960
Soon after the independence clan-based power struggle erupted among the so-called Somali leaders on how to share country’s political posts. The dispute ended with some clans awarding themselves high portfolios without considering education background, experience or skills, but just because they belonged to certain clans. This formula gave an opportunity to several illiterate Somalis who served as Italian houseboys to became ministers or high ranking officials in the government.
Apartheid policy and discrimination
In line with the “greater Somalia” policy the government of Somalia had in 1960 adopted a secret policy of persecuting people of Bantu origins in Somalia. But the ultimate target was the Swahili speaking Bantus in Jubba regions, who were seen as a threat by the government, just because they speak the language of the “enemy” and have blood relationship with Kenya and other African countries. Somalis refer everyone with kinky hair and big nose as slave or “addoon” in Somali language. Almost every Somali still use this word “addoon” to refer Kenyans, Tanzanians, Burundians, Ugandans, Ethiopians and others.
The government has never allowed the international community to visit the areas inhabited by Wagosha people. A former Tanzania minister, Hasan Dyamwale was among the foreign officials who got into trouble by asking the condition of the Bantu people in southern Somalia. Dyamwale was in the Tanzanian delegation that visited Somalia in 1970ties to attend African youths games in Mogadishu and he received harsh response from Somali officials, when he asked a permission to visit the Swahili speakers’ areas in southern Somalia.
The government also ensured that the history of Goshaland is falsified with the intention of removing any sign of Swahili history in Somalia.
Resettlement of refugees
By nature Somalis are not law-abiding people, one of the major factor that caused the country to remain unstable and in chaos. Despite the Organization of African Unity treaty of recognizing the borders left by the colonial powers in the continent, Somalia ignored and refused to sign the deal. The government carried a mass campaign of calling Somalis in Kenya and Ethiopia to come to Somalia and resettle, since they are under what the Somali government called as slave powers, referring Ethiopia and Kenya.
Government funds were used to bring these people to Somalia and settle them in different Somali regions, such as Hargeysa, Hiiraan, Jubba regions and others, while the genuine Somali citizens were suffering. These refugees were also allowed to join Somali politics and served as ministers and military commanders as well. Notable figures in this group are:
Adan Abdulahi Nur (Gabyow) , who defected from Kenyan forces and joined Somali Armed Forces. He became Somalia’s defence minister in 1980ties and later formed clan rebellion against Mohamed Siad Barre.
Mohamed Omar Jes, from Ethiopia who served as minister in 1970ties till he died in 1987.
Col Ahmad Omar Jes, from Ethiopia, military commander who later on joined rebel groups that ousted Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Jes was among the most notorious warlords in southern Somalia, and is currently serving as a parliamentarian in Somalia’s TFG.
Mohamed Omar Osman, from Ethiopia who served as Somalia’s Navy Forces Commander. After the collapse of Somali state he went to Ethiopia to form Ogaden National Liberation Front, that is currently fighting against Addis Ababa administration and causing instability in the whole region.
Others include, General Adan Abdi Duale (former police chief) several ministers and parliamentarians in current Somali Transitional Government, and Mohamed Abdi Gandi, who claims to be the head of self proclaimed regional administration of Jubba regions in southern Somalia. He has never set a foot in Jubba regions, but intends to go there for the first time with the title of a president.
Massacre in Jubba Regions
While the international community and media highlighted the humanitarian disaster of Bay region, the worst disaster ever witnessed in the Horn of African region was ignored. That disaster hit Jubba regions in southern Somalia and it was against the Wagosha people.
Apart from the previous governments systematic discrimination, harassment and other types of mistreatment against Wagosha people (Bantu and Swahili speakers) in Jubba regions, the Darod clan warlords, who took control of Jubba regions announced along term plan of massacre against the Wagosha people. Brutal and blood-thirsty leaders, like General Mohamed Said Morgan, Adan Abdullahi Nur (Gabyow), Mohamed Abshir Muse, Bashir Bililiqo, Ahmad Omar Jes, Omar Haji Mohamed and several NGO officials who belong to Darod clan orchestrated and implemented the massacre of thousands of Bantu people in Jubba regions. Among the tactics used were to starve people to death, poisoning their crops, using weapons, forcing them to jump into Jubba river and many other brutal actions.
Some of genocide survivors in Jubba region say they saw Kenyan army members of Somali origin taking part in the mass killing and burning villages in Jamaame, Jilib and other areas in Jubba regions. According to the survivors, the Kenyan army were speaking Swahili and English languages, with their vehicles bearing Kenyan plate numbers.
During this massacre the Kenyan forces were under General Mohamud Mohamed, a Kenyan of Somali origin who belongs to Ogaden clan, a sub clan of Darod clan.
Wagosha people in Jubbaland
Since the end of 18th century, there has been a contest for resources and economic control in southern Somalia’s Jubba Regions. The race for resources in these Regions is between various groups with competing economic interests in the area and it is has been increasingly difficult for the original inhabitants to deter these groups from grabbing their land.
History books indicate that the earliest explorers found Wagosha people and Bajuni clans residing along the coastal and the riverine lines of Jubba Regions. As a pure Bantu land with their ancient kingdoms like Shungwaya and Nasib Bundo.
The Wagosha clans that are found in Jubba regions include: Giriama, Sambaa, Digo, Duruma, Wazigua, Rabai, Yao, Nyasa, Makua, Pokomo, Kambe, Chonyi, Jibana, Kauma, Ngindo Ribe and others and all were under the famous and major empire of Shungwaya in Jubbaland, with its headquarters in Kisima-Cha-Juu city, currently known as Kismaayo.
At the turn of 17th century members of these clans faced threat from Arab traders and nomad herders. This forced part of Wagosha people to migrate to Kaya or villages along the ridge behind the Southern Kenya coast.
The last King of Wagosha people was Mfalme Nasib Bundo who was arrested by the Italiand and died in jail in 1918.
Roughly translation of Gosha word is bush and that is why the people in this area are called Wagosha. The Wagosha people who settled in Kenyan coastal towns are known as Nyika, which also means, bush, but later on they chose the name Mijikenda.
The first nomad migrants of Jubba regions are believed to be nomadic communities from western Somalia regions in search of pasture and settled there around 1880 (research by Turton 1970, Dalleo and Little 1992) and settled in Afmadow.
In 1836 hundreds of Bantu families fled from persecution in other parts of Somalia, specially in Lower Shabeelle, Bay and Bakool regions and joined the Wagosha to become members of the large part of Wagosha people or Bantu clan in Jubba regions.
After Somalia attained independence 1960, clans from other parts of the country who were getting support from the government of the day flocked into these areas (look at Bestman’s research in 1994).
According to Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, the country should adopt regional states or administration, with the consent of the people living in the concerned area. But given the official apartheid system in Somalia, Wagosha people are doubting how this will be implemented.
In Jubba regions there are thousands of Ogaden refugees from Ethiopia, who do not want to go back to their country, despite stability and calmness in their region.
As per the law these are refugees, who have no any rights to involve in the country’s political system, while they remain a security threat to the region, specially to Kenya and Ethiopia.
Current threats against Wagosha
Currently there are indications that as the various militias continue to infiltrate the districts in Jubba regions, while influx of refugees of Ogaden clan from Ethiopia continue, the political leaders of Somali nomad clans are attempting to legitimate the takeovers by claiming that rural Bantu peoples are not really Somalis. Thus the threat to the Wagosha is not only physical, it also touches on their identities as Somalis.
As clan play a big role in day to day Somali politics, the neighbouring country, Kenya with the advise of few Ogadeni senior officials in Kenyan government is backing an administration that will be formed in Jubbaland.
Kenya has the right to take any suitable measure to ensure its security, but it has to be vigilant with the hidden agenda of its Somali ethnic politicians.
According to reliable international and Somali sources, Kenyan defence minister,Mohamed Yusuf Haji, with other Ogadeni officials in Kenyan government are backing the move just because, Mohamed Abdi Gandi, who proclaimed to be the leader of Jubba regions belongs to their clan.
Mohamed Abdi Gandi is among the Ogadeni refugees from Ethiopia who are living in Somalia and involved in the country’s politics.
Hidden clan agenda
With the security concern of Kenyan government, some elements took the advantage and called for illegal meeting in Kenya to form so called regional administration for Jubba regions.
Almost 95% of the representatives at this meeting did not hail from Jubba regions. Due to harsh conditions of Somali refugees in Nairobi, it was easy to lure some of them to be taken to Limuru to attend the meeting as Jubbaland residents.
The impostors were locked in Limuru for few days before announcing election of an Ethiopian citizen Mohamed Abdi Gandi, as the leader of Jubbaland.
Why Kenyan government does not want to talk to the genuine representatives of these regions and listen to their views, instead of allowing such shoddy meetings that will not bear any fruit.
The idea of forming a regional administration in Jubbaland and buffer zone still looks good, but few questions are to be answered by Kenyan authorities.
Its not a secret that most of the high ranking officials in Al-Shabab in Jubba regions are from Garisa in North Eastern Province of Kenya. For example the lucrative Kismaayo seaport is under a well known Garisa born figure.
All these Al-Shabab members from North Eastern Province have their families and children in the region. Their children are being served with the Kenyan taxpayers money, while their fathers are “headache” to the national security. Why the Kenyan politicians of Somali origin do not want to address this issue, and are pushing for a state in Somalia ruled by their clan.
Isn’t this a clear evidence that Kenyan government is being pushed in more trouble by few clan politicians, a move that will create more violence in Jubba regions, insecurity in Kenya and the whole region.
Drs Fatuma Lamungu Nur
PHD holder in International politics