July 7, 2012 ·37 Comments
Berbera International Airport, Berbera, Somaliland (Yusuf Dahir).
SAED A. ELMI
When one believes that one’s own action has no affect what so ever, on changing one’s destiny and therefore, there is no point of even trying to escape from the unpleasant situation, then one is said to be in a state of learned helplessness. In this state, one believes that events and experiences are uncontrollable; therefore, there is no relationship between action and outcome. The concept of learned helplessness is defined as the belief that one’s actions have no influence on the outcome of an event.
When a nation becomes helpless and does nothing to improve the lives of its citizens, its infrastructure, its healthcare system, its education system and its governance, then it is fair to say that it is in a state of learned helplessness. A nation that is helpless and is doing nothing proactive to change its destiny is not independent. History tells us that those who do not learn from their mistakes are destine to repeat those mistakes. If Somaliland wants to be recognized and respected by other nations, then it is paramount that the nation heals its collective psychic first.
Somaliland had the unfortunate history of first been colonized and ruled by the British and second by the brutal dictator Siyaad Bare, who before his iron grip slipped from power, authorized the destruction of every institution in the northern part of the country and the systematic killing of its inhabitants mainly from the Isaaq clan. Both of these events (been colonized for so many years and having a psychopath ruler) are the causes of the Somaliland illness.
Somaliland broke away from the iron grip of Siyad Bare in 1991 and since then has enjoyed a relatively peace and prosperity, but the country has no safety net. The idea of getting recognized and becoming a member of the United Nations is appealing, but we need to be realistic. For the sake of the argument, let us say we get recognition today, then what? If we do not have the safety net, strong institutions such as a defense department that can protect the nation, a healthcare department that is capable of providing the necessary basic health care that other nations take for granted, than recognition is meaningless.
My point here is that we are dependent on charity from others; our leaders, instead of encouraging us to become independent, our leaders are going around looking for charity. We cannot achieve independence unless we first become psychologically independent. We have been thought indirectly that we cannot achieve anything without the help of others; we cannot have fair elections without international observers, in other words we are told indirectly that we are inferior to others and that we need to let others make decisions for us. It is not the lack of resources that is holding us back, what is holding us back is that we gave up a long time ago; it is the lack of motivation that is holding us back. Because we failed so many times we are afraid that we will fail again and as a result of this, we learned helplessness. We want others to build hospitals for us, we want others to come and find oil for us, we want others to come and feed us, we became over relying on foreign aid. When are we ever going to do anything for our country without asking for help from others who do not have our best interest at their hearts?
The key to overcome this helplessness is motivation. We need to motivate our leaders, and remind them that we survived for twenty one years without recognition and without the help of others. We need to stop worrying about recognition and we need to start building institutions that are capable of providing our citizens basic needs like healthcare, security, education, clean water and sewer system . Instead of begging others to recognize us, we need to hold our leaders accountable and demand for better institutions, institutions that are not just names, but are effective in eliminating poverty, providing high quality healthcare, decreasing the high mortality rate and create a sustainable economy.
We need to stop chasing after international donors and start thinking of how we can build the safety net institutions that will help get us on the way to recovery. We cannot change the past but we can influence the future.
Our success depends on the choices we make today. We can continue looking for charity or we can get up and work hard to build a nation that can provide its citizens a decent life. The world will recognize us when we show the world that we can rebuild our country, we can live peacefully with our neighbors and we can manage our resources independently. This is not hard to do, but first we as a nation need to stop looking for free lunch, because there is no free lunch in this world, we either work hard for the things we want or we keep begging for the things we want, the choice is ours.
By Saeed A Elmi
Psychiatric Technician.Follow @somalilandpress
By Hassan Ali