Ibrahim Farah: Letter to Nelson Mandela
My name is Ibrahim Farah; I am a Nairobi-based Somali academic working both as a development practitioner with Sida Sweden and as a part-time lecturer at the University of Nairobi's Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies (IDIS). This letter is to salute you and ask for a meeting with you as soon as possible in order to see you, discuss with you on Somalia and the Horn of Africa region and at the same time ask for your advice, guidance, and assistance in helping my home country- Somalia.
In early 1991, soon after the Somali civil war broke out, I have had the opportunity to meet with the late Somali President Siyad Barre who told me about you and how greatly he admired you. Discussing about Somalia's great friends who might have come to its aid he singled you out almost all the time and since then I have been watching you closely but from afar: from Somalia and from Kenya's Nairobi. I know you from there.
As you are also aware, Somalia has been at war for the past nineteen years. There have been massive displacement and refugee influx into the Horn of Africa region and beyond including Europe and into northern America. There is daily violence, human rights violations, killings, rape, and all kinds of brutal acts committed against the unarmed civilians, a majority of them women and children. Many of us believe that the Somali crisis is no longer a Somali problem but a problem for all. The country has been turned into a breeding ground for criminals including non-Somali actors both states and non-state actors. The Somali conflict, as I understand, is part and parcel of a Greater Horn of Africa conflict system with competing and contradicting national interests, concerns and issues brining in the Africa and the Arab/Muslim worlds together pitting them against each other.
The whole Somali issue, and more so the situation of the Somali crisis, was worsened soon after 9/11 basically because of the United States counter-terrorism policies and operations in the Horn of Africa which somehow justified non-UN sanctioned regional military incursions and other international interventions into Somalia with no coherent or concrete plans to help with the country's much needed lasting peace and reconciliation. Transitional governments and other arrangements changed hands in Somalia one after the other and the Somali people, especially those who matter most (the women, children, the elderly), are yet to be given any chance nor was peace and genuine mediation given a chance.
I know you are old. But I also know that you are wise and you have a lot to tell us, a lot to tell the Horn of Africa region, and a lot to tell Africa and the world at large. You will agree with me, Mr. President, that it is age that matters in Africa and that it is age and its wisdom that countries like Somalia need today. With your wisdom, advice, guidance, moral support and timely intervention for Somalia and its people among them the many, many innocent millions, we will be able to benefit especially at this critical time of our home country's history.
While I thank you very much in advance for your help, I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
A Nairobi-based Somali academic.
Nairobi, July 9th 2009