The so-called shifta war during 1963-67 in the 20th century which had caused the loss of lives of thousands of innocent but defenseless people and confiscations of hundreds of thousands of livestock was far from over, yet it has merely taken a new but deceitful scale of modern skullduggery. Let’s glance back at the history, ethnic Somalis in the Northern Frontier District (NFD) were axed from the Jubaland region in the southern Somalia in 1925 by the British colonials as they had concur this fertile territory with the immense gift of nature and resources. The British ceded the north as a hard pay-cheque to the Italian in return to what presumably had been the price they had paid in lining up with the British in the World War One. What was left behind, “the southern part of the said region had been rebranded as NFD (todays Northeastern Province) and annexed to Kenya by the British Colonial Administration”. It is Kenya’s third largest region borders Somalia in the north, exclusively and sparsely domiciled by ethnic Somalis.
In 1960s as the Somali nationalistic waves engulfed across the horn of Africa to form a ban Somali government (inclusive of all five Somalis viz; the present Somaliland, Somalia (south), NFD, Somali people in the eastern state of Ethiopia and the Republic of Djibouti). Such patriotism driven force with the anticipative dream to breath in the breeze of freedom in their own lands had shortly been faded away after the Somali right-of-self-determination was deceptively taken by their oppressor (The British). Just try to shed some more light on this; we are talking about the Somali people prior to quarters of a century, who almost had no professional doctor, no professor, no engineer, no charismatic political leader and in toto no civilization rather than tribal war tactics. In contrast, they lived with dignity and pride fostered by a well-founded culture, which would prohibit them became jackals for their enemy and smear themselves with such stigmas on the faces of many Somali politicians of all walks today. They accompanied with such strong culture that breaches to prefer death over slavery, straggle over humiliation and hunger over handouts. In a nut shell, a noble culture that would prohibit them did much of our today’s business as usual.
As the history narrates, the real focus of the British policy on the region was about to bring all Somali territories under one administrative roof belongs to Somalis at large, but this has drastically taken a U-turn shortly after when Somaliland was granted its full-fledged independence by the British on 26 June 1960. The NFD was granted to Kenya far beyond a formal plebiscite expressly depicting the collective choice of the ethnic people in the region. The faith of the Somalis in NFD had further doomed when Kenya was too granted its independence roughly three years after Somalia on August 1963. This is because; Kenya had apparently refused to give up this land to the Somalis and their common oppressor had had the biggest hand in glove with this plot against Somalis.
It was neither adoration nor naturalization based temptations, but a trial to legitimize the annexation of such lands to the territory in their jurisdictions to enjoy with the wealth and promise that this land held in a store. In the same year infamous uprising forged by the Kenya-Somalis had inevitably begun using anything that could amount to be a weapon. To accomplish their job; Kenya had engaged in a disproportionate force with the people, massacred unrecorded number, turned their ancestral lands into concentration camps, deprived them from the very basics of livelihood, death from starvation, torture of every scale, rampant rapes and confiscation of enormous number of Somali livestock. That gloomy era was sealed off with a deal between Somalia (the backbone of the revolt) and Kenya brokered by the government in Darussalam (Tanzania) in the year 1967. A delegation led by the prime minister of Somalia Mr. Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal was sent to sign the ceasefire accord. This deal had undermined the armed revolt, helped Kenya retained the firm control over the region and transformed the long standing primary pastoralist transhumant-lifestyle into more static secondary Villagizations, impoverishing the people by killing and taking their only wealth in hand (the livestock). Despite a sporadic banditry the faith of that straggle had no choice but ended up to surrender. This had dropped a no choice sense of stability across the NFD region, and dressed up both the physical and psychological scars. The question is, thought the wounds were dressed up__ are they really healed?
Right from the late 1970 till early 1980s_ different atrocities were unfolded that prompted the occurrence of the one of the worst collective punishment in the region’s history, “the Wallaga pogroms” in which thousands more ethnic-Somalis were systematically killed and raped in response to what Kenyan government mentioned the execution of four Kenyan officers by unknown armed bandits. A heinous crime against humanity which Kenya still enjoys not apprehended in the eyes of the contemporary world, whereas today many Kenyan top officials are under the world’s microscope for the crimes they have committed during the postelection bloody violence in 2007-08.
On 29 January 1991; the genesis of Somalia showdown
Roughly, ten years old armed rebellion hails from some major clans have collectively succeeded the ultimate derailment of the military government headed by Siad Barre (the hardline dictator). All the armed opposition groups are said to have had a common goal congruence, just to remove the dictator from the helm and proceed to building a stronger and more inclusive government. Soon after Siad Barre was ousted; Somalia had slipped into a vicious circle, unleashed the entire country specially the “South” into an even darker era which still counts its aging years for more than two decades and on (it’s more than the tenure of Siad Barre). Civil wars coupled with starvations, diseases, warlordism, terrorism, regional and international interventions, have collectively undersigned the death certificate of hundreds of thousands of Somali people. This had eventually triggered a huge exodus to the neighboring countries and the other world as well both by land and sea, just seeking shelter to refuge from the conflagration in their homeland. Hundreds of thousands of them made their ways crossed into Kenya. The refugees initially drew a warm welcome and friendly hospitality from the Kenyan government and people with sing boards written a short phrase (Kenya Hakuna Matata) which translates “in Kenya there is no problem”. In turn, Kenya has benefited and booked billions of dollars from the hand it had stretched out to these needy people in terms of employment and investment etc.
Refugee Status permutations
Somali people are said to be very good at making business and this had caused many of them move from the refugee camps to the mega cities in an attempt to grab their share and transform their living conditions. Nairobi one of Africa’s most vibrant capital cities hosted Somalis both the refugees and the citizens in the same corner. Eastleigh neighborhood known as the “little Mogadishu” turned into almost an exclusively Somali inhabitant area of the city; businesses flourished, opportunities blossomed and the sky seemed the potential limit for their success stories. Kenya’s failure in understanding that there are inextricably strong ties of blood and culture between her ethnic Somalis and those from Somalia, has also failed to draw a line between her people and the refugees, all are painted by the same brush and all are heavily paying the price of what their government imported from abroad (Somalia).
Somalis in Nairobi have injected millions of dollars into the country’s economy; created thousands if not hundreds of thousands of employment opportunities for the locals; pay tax with integrity and contribute to the national fiscal-policy. All those revenue flowed out from their pockets had never bounced back from the government’s treasury even to the least percentage to develop health, education and infrastructure for the under privileged shabby corner contained with the Somalis. Despite depraving all these necessities; Eastleigh progressed into a ghetto of great abundance and hope for the Somalis, but for the Kenyans as God’s gift to wait and closely watch with eagerly eyes.
In October 2011 Kenyan forces have crossed into Somalia to fight with Al-shabab in the pretext of protecting their nation. Protection has turned into a severe retribution in which Al-shabab vowed to repatriate the outcome of Kenya’s invasion back to their homes. Kenyan people have largely experienced a wave of attacks including the siege of Nairobi Mall on late of September last year, in which scores of innocent people have lost their lives. Though, many Kenyans similarly believe this as the consequence of their government’s invasion_ again many others do believe that Somalis in their towns are part of the problem. This is why every Somali in Kenya’s big cities senses the heat of an untimely backlash. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s speech on the eve of the West Gate Mall siege has in fact dosed any potential flames of backlash and sent cables of tolerance and co-existence across the nation. It has dropped a positive message into the hearts and minds of many Somalis that they owe the country a lot more beyond they thought. To everyone’s astonishment, the president’s message-tone was different from the script it was written. Early in April last month, Somalis in Nairobi woke up in a different morning; a huge raid on their residents and businesses, detentions without trials and deportations back to the lands they have lost in hostilities in which Kenya had become a part. Much of their wealth has been destroyed, forcefully confiscated and much more disappeared into the best interest of the relentless watchful eyes we have inked above. This crackdown against Somalis is happening every single minute we pass by and still has invited no firm outcry or concern from the international community.
Make no mistakes!!! The amnesty of Somalis in Kenya is growing weaker and weaker in the hands of their own government, the sign boards were eroded and never repainted, the welcome phrase was replaced by a silent abominate. Hate graphs are on the rise amongst the nation, the finger is on the trigger, the hateful hands are reaching out capable weapons of all kinds, simply waiting for a sinister command to do.
But the history would REALLY judge, mark bold and unchanged in the book of modern history.
By: Khadar Hanan