by Ali Ahmed Jama Jangeli
” May Allah shower him with his mercy“ Aamin.
by Ali Ahmed Jama Jangeli
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Former Somali President Abdullahi Y. Ahmed
It is not easy to write about one of the principal political actors of the last 30 years of Somalia’s difficult recent past history but I shall attempt to do so knowing full well that any writing short or long will not do justice to the departed political giant. I must also confess at the very outset my bias when writing about the Late President as I belonged to one of his many admirers although we had our share of differences.
Late Abdillahi Yusuf Ahmed was as controversial historical figure as all men of substance were during their times. This controversy could be partly attributed to his strong defined conviction and self-belief rare in many of our compatriots today. Somalis throughout history had been known as proud, stubborn and self- confident people. Unfortunately these sterling qualities that we had as a nation have gradually eroded. But Abdillahi Yusuf was one of the exceptions. I have rarely seen a person -Somali or foreigner- with more self-belief than the late President. Love or loathe him, no one could deny that extraordinary quality he had as a person. That self-belief which was so radiant served the late President well at times of great personal peril and at times of great national crisis but it also created a chasm between him and many Somalis who did not share his vision of Somalia. That is why one sees often many admirers and critics of him in equal measure.
Let me now touch one of his many qualities as a leader. Abdillahi had a good foresight and realized well before many Somalis that our nation was in the grip of a radical group of fanatics who have a foreign agenda that is totally un-Islamic and contrary to all the norms and values of our nation. He was adamant on the need to confront this vicious group before they could take root in our country. Many of his critics refused to listen to his warnings and termed it as acts against Islam. Those dire warnings had nothing to do with acts against Islam but had everything to do with the cruel prevailing reality of fanatics-cum-murderers masquerading as Islamists in Somalia.
All great men usually possess some form of intuitive powers and Abdillahi was no exception in this regard. However intuition alone could not only be ascribed to his foresight on these issues as Abdillahi also had phenomenal understanding of Somalia and Somalis in general. I personally believe that the profound knowledge he had on Somalis gave him that extra edge when it comes to judging the Somali situation.
Let me give another example of his foresight of one the key issues in Somalia – AMISOM. The late President went to the African Union immediately after his inauguration to ask for 20,000-strong force to stabilize the country. The African Union leadership was perturbed about the request. Former Chairperson H.E. Alpha Konare conveyed his anguish over the request to us when Hon. Abdillahi Sheikh and I attended the Executive Council (Ministerial) meeting in Addis Ababa at the end of 2004. He described it as military logic. But seven years later the same African Union was asking the United Nations Security Council to approve almost 20,000-strong force to stabilize Somalia when they refused to consider the substantial force that could have made the difference in 2004/2005. An important aspect of leadership is analyzing current trends to foresee what is to come and plan accordingly. No one in the African Union did that and they devised their strategy on the go albeit with disastrous results for all concerned. Had they heeded President Yusuf’s calls for a strategic assessment of the situation and acted accordingly, many Somali lives would have been saved and Somalia could have been stabilized much earlier without all the pain and suffering.
Abdillahi was a true patriot who loved his country and had the intelligence and the courage to manage any strategic relationship for the benefit of his country. Take the example of Ethiopia and other neighbors in the region. He knew that Somalia’s path to peace and stability is interlinked in a profound manner to that of the Horn region. Having realized that it was in the strategic long-term interest of Somalia to have a mutually beneficial relationship with the States neighboring Somalia, he managed it in manner worthy of a proud Somali patriot. Those of us who had the distinct privilege of witnessing it first hand could attest to that. Abdillahi also deeply believed that the Horn region is so inter-dependent that it could only realize its true potential if there is a paradigm shift in its people’s thinking and approach. To the skeptics that is far off and futile but to those of us who share Abdillahi’s vision of stable, peaceful and prosperous Horn region believe it is a cause worth fighting for.
Finally Abdillahi’s perceived strongman image was in complete contrast to the real congenial one that we had known and worked with. The complexity of his personality was beyond any measure of doubt. But he was loved and admired because of the many admirable traits that anyone would want in his leader or colleague such as truthfulness, kindness, generosity, humility, boldness and decisiveness.
Somalia has truly lost one of his finest sons and patriots. May the Almighty bestow His Mercy on him? AMEN.