What independent day are we celebrating?

By Dr. Mohamed Hassan Tifow

In 1960, our country became independent. After the era of colonisation, the age of self-government followed.

Somali nationalists have always believed that taking over the formal powers from the foreigners would automatically liberate the country from foreign meddling. Still, it is becoming increasingly clear that liberation is not so easy. No one thinks that Somalia as a whole has fulfilled its potential in the over the half-century that passed after the colonials left, and the country becomes independent and sovereign states.

Somalia became independent 60 years ago, but things are not going well. We’ll have independent day festivities, and it’s a swirling show, dance in traditional attire and midnight fireworks as the clock ticks from June 30th to July 1st. But what is independence, when the country is not getting any better; there is no security, economic growth, unemployment is very high, and poverty high—plagued by civil war, famine and terrorism. Somalia’s failure is extraordinary. And we celebrate our misery as if it is what we expect from independence.

We’re a divided nation and with foreign soldiers protecting our nominal governments from their people. The international community pays governments budget and its costs. There is no functioning economy; we don’t even produce our food. And not to mention, widespread corruption and bribery that hold back progress and stability.

In my opinion, roughly, there are two common explanations of why things did not go as planned. One view is that Somalia’s progress has been hampered by poor leadership, especially the failure of the political elite. In another perspective, Somalia has been stunted in its development by outside imperialists and profiteers. The underlying question is: are the Somalis mainly to blame for not realising the potential of their country, or is it because of the outsiders?

Both of these explanations are true; however, mostly, we have to blame ourselves for our predicament as foreign intervention cannot happen without people accepting and accommodating these foreign interventions.

We have in the South shortly before independently some forms of gradual self-government introduced under auspicious of Italy. In the North, little guidance given to independence. Nevertheless, the omens were unfavourable for the development of the country. The top layer was wafer-thin; only a few people had secondary education, and a few if any had an academic knowledge. Indeed, with this circumstance, true independence is an illusion.

After independence, there was a period when we nominally were a democratic state; however, elections serve more as a formal confirmation of elite agreements than as a fair test of public opinion. After a decade under a democratic rule is followed by a military putsch that remains for over two decades.

However, after the fall of the dictator as more independent regions emerge, more national divisions and personal rivalries emerge, which have a divisive effect. Furthermore, these regions binding to the clans act as a brake on nationalism, which has the ideal of the formation of a unitary state. Northern areas are striving for secession and are opposed by those in South trying for regional cooperation, federation and even unification. Pan-Somali movement found to resonate, not as a concrete political ideal but, above all, as an expression of solidarity in opposition to colonialism is and as a means of strengthening the demand for independence of all Somali people is lost.

Now 60 years later we have a dysfunctional government unable to provide the public services expected of them under international law. We’re experiencing a tremendous setback on our path to progress. The road to prosperity is lost, and it’s clear for us that history takes place in un-predictable phases.


Sadly the West’s involvement remained more potent than ever before, with the introduction of federalism often a condition for breaking up of  Somalia. First, I thought it was a joke, but in the meantime, I had noticed something else. Whenever I think about the recent political situation in Somalia, not only was there an explanation of post-independence history, but also an account of how the West especially the United States and recently the United Kingdom continues to determine everything in Somalia. If you want to know the situation, you should listen to the Ambassadors of these two states commentary. The USA is behind all the misery in Somalia.  The intervention from the United States starting from the creation of opposition to Siyad Bare’s regime, followed by “operation restore hope”  and later the Ethiopian invasion organised, led and supported by the Bush administration on the pretext of fighting against terrorism has one aim; to dismantle the Somali state. But does Somalis figure that out?

The great dissatisfaction of Halane centre is real.

I am insufficiently able to judge whether the USA and the UK continue to exercise a neo-colonial influence. What became clear to me is that these two countries and some Arab states have a large and above all adverse impact on Somalia and its sovereignty.  The social, economic and political intervention on Somalia is not easy to understand.

The West (including the UN) has a neocolonial repertoire of pressure resources to dissuade any reluctant Somali leaders; diplomatic sanctions, suspension of arms transfers, withholding of development funds or even military intervention. What became clear to me is that there is dissatisfaction with European, Arabs and the United States’s politics towards Somalia.

Will they change course? I don’t know. From now on, our situation teaches us to look more carefully at the foreign intervention on our land. And then maybe will we celebrate a real independent day.

Oh yeah last but not least

The current president mandate is coming to an end in early 2021. but there has been a lot of violence against any opposition since his election. Under his regime, things were not going well socially and economically, but people are already afraid of the presidential elections in 2021. Would it lead to bloodshed or even civil war again? This uncertainty is more pressing than the independent day celebration.

Dr. Mohamed Hassan Tifow can be reached at mxtifow@yahoo.co.uk 

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