The Somali culture has always being a lesson passed from generations to generations, instilling the sense of Somali identity. It is a culture that was based on respect for human dignity, and the practice of a justice system that was successful even without the help of modern legal system. In the past 100-years, our great-grandfathers kept their cultural practice strong while at the same time fighting for the freedom of dream country they would call, Somalia. At the time of their struggle against colonialist, they envisioned a country behind one single identity, a Somali. They fulfilled their duty to preserve and protect the Somali identity; they somehow put together a Somali nation free from colonialist, tribalism, and those driven by self-interest.
There comes perhaps, a generation born prior to 1960s or immediately after the independency that were the hopes to instill the Somali pride that our grandfathers worked upon. Unfortunately, these generations did not live up to the expectations of their fathers, but rather began a Somalia divided along tribal lines, one that promoted self- interest rather than self -governance. This Somalia represented a distorted side of our culture, a culture that is solely based on tribalism, corruption, hatred, and many other social ills. These generations catalyzed a recipe that ultimately became the perfect storm that destroyed Somalia.
Few weeks ago, in Phoenix Arizona, I met an old Somali man who was talking to a group of young Somali soccer players who at the time were getting ready for a practice session. Although I did not pay attention to the subject matter the old man was talking about, but I could hear his story full of tribal names and asking the young boys the tribes they belonged to. In the faces of these young boys, I could see signs of worry, hate for what this man is talking about. They could not answer what this guy was asking them, they either did not know what he was talking about, or were confused with the bad timing. To them, Somalia is one nation, one tribe, and one identity. They only know that Somalia is failed State, but what caused that destruction is probably their major concern. They do not know that what destroyed Somalia is still trying to divide them, the old Somali guy preaching tribalism to them is the leader of that post 1960s gang, and most importantly, answer their quest of who to blame for Somalia’s downfall.
These are the daily struggle of Somali youth in Diaspora; they are vulnerable to terrorist groups, warlords, and yes, spoiled generations of our fathers who are spreading the disease of tribalism and old form governance that failed in Somalia. It is the right time to acknowledge this issue as a Somali youth problem, and it is also the right time to tell the good Somali fathers out there to counter their bad colleagues who are trickling down the ideologies that divides the Somali youth, and that kills their Somali identity.
And for Somali youth, we are the future of a Somali identity in crisis, and if we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything.
Peace and love for all Somali youth.