By Noah Ark
Humans are blessed with a creative mind that is far superior to that of all other creatures. That
is why, today, there are Billions of Wonders thanks to man’s creative mind that made them
happen! And so life here on earth had improved significantly and continues to do so thanks
again to that creative and wonderful God given gift!
Moreover, so today, more than ever before, man’s superb creativity brings forth new inventions
and discoveries which had unusually taken our lives and living to unprecedented level of
comfort thanks to man’s super intelligence that had given the chance to enjoy things that were
once only a dream!
For instance, one can fly from East Africa today, and land in North America the same day
covering thousands of kilometers in hours comfortably seated all the way! And man can fly from
mother earth into the outer space staying there for weeks or even months. And with technology,
it has become possible to make machines that can replace man in many activities. And it is out
of the current technological breakthroughs that an ailing heart in one’s body can be diagnosed
and treated without doctors even giving surgery to the patient but only utilizing technologies that
have the power to pierce through his/her body hitting the right target without even touching let
alone hurting, the cell next! Thus destroying or removing the cause of the ailment.
Despite these man’s enormous achievements, it is sad that Africans had contributed nothing of
value and substance to science and technology. And accordingly, one may ask:
1. Is it because Africans are naturally of low breed when it comes to intelligence, and
hence cannot come up with anything of value?
2. Or is it because of culture or environment induced problem that discourages the African
from thinking intelligently to face challenges?
3. Or, is it because Africa was closed to the rest of the world and the African therefore had
no access to information sharing with the rest of the world to progress?
The answer to questions one is, Africans are no less intelligent because many had proven
otherwise by excelling in some of the best universities in the world graduating with top honors.
So, that question is irrelevant and the true answers may lie in the others.
In case one, Africans had little outside influence. And since humans learn from one another,
other than within their few isolated tribal small kingdoms scattered across the continent, the
African masses had little or no room to interact with the outside world. So, that means literally,
every community was by itself. In fact, even the most homogeneous society in the continent
including Somalis, had little information sharing. And that could be one of the reasons why
Africans could not contribute much to human achievements!
In the second case, weather in Africa is always comfortable that one could literally sleep in the
open air never worried of frost bite or of any other abrupt catastrophes. Additionally, the daily
demand of the average African was until recently little because one’s daily bread, drink or a cup
of milk or a plate of local nutritious food was easily at his disposal. And additionally, the
occasional feast that he needed was equally within reach as he could just slaughter a cow, a
camel or a lamp all of which were equally abundant. And that could be the reason.
So, under those backgrounds, today’s African was brought up and accepted to be a consumer
and eventually ended up all Africa becoming only a market for world’s produce including toxic
wastes for which no one had a place and no room to keep for they are too costly. That is why
our seashores and our lands are inundated with toxic wastes whether we know it not. And
hence today, the African imports everything he needs including his basic food supplies and his
once booming subsistence farming systems ceased to exist or really died permanently because
they could not compete with today’s global agri-business giants.
Consequently, the African is now only a hostage in his own place of birth and the only other
option open to him is to go to concentrations camps in his homeland or else embark on a
journey to Europe a Europe that is already inundated with those from Asia and Eastern Europe.
My dear friends, Somalia cannot be different nor was it before. For instance, I was born and
brought up in the traditional agro-pastoral community in Western Somalia. And in the olden
days, the staple food of my community used to be corn/millet, their products and of course milk.
Canjeero (a flat think bread) made fresh daily, coupled with butter and flavored muqmad (dry-
fried pieces of meat preserved in butter), was often our family morning breakfast. And likewise,
our other meals used to be from the same (corn and millet).
Additionally, having a cup of milk, xasid, aale, etc. were only considered as supplements and/or
snacks. And only in rare occasions like the Eid holidays, our parents would worry to go to town
to buy rice to make a feast of rice coupled with meat from fresh slaughter, soup and meat
sauce. And of course spaghetti and macaroni were totally unknown.
And though Somalis are considered a homogeneous society, like the rest of Africa, due to little
interactions between communities here too, there was always some heterogeneity. And I
realized that that during my school days when, a great teacher of ours one day gave us
(students) a test and one question was, “What is the staple food of this country?” And my
spontaneous answer was of course “millet/corn, their products and milk.” But to my surprise,
everyone else in the class answered “rice, meat and milk.” And the reason was, apart from
another friend who was from my place and gave the same answer as mine, all others were from
the Eastern part of Somaliland. So, caught off guard but of course calm, our teacher realized
that there was a problem and privately said to himself that we were equally right and gave credit
to both answers!
Today, over half a century later, had the same great teacher given the same test to his class
from all Regions of Somaliland, or had the same question been given to students across the
country, I bet the answer of all would be: “spaghetti, rice, meat and macaroni!” And surprisingly,
the answer would not even include milk.
So, my dear readers let me ask, what had happened since? I left this country in the mid
seventies to the Arabian Peninsula and eventually settled in America and only came back
recently. And despite here for some time, I cannot add up my numbers! For instance, things are
so different here that I do possibly talk and act different without realizing that. I may even
respond different. And what is probably normal with me is possibly strange to most!
The Irreversible Loss
A few months ago, I visited my old farm village and what I saw was unbelievable. First, apart
from a few aging ones, everyone there was born well after I left this country. So, practically, I
knew no one. Second, though farm produce looked great and unusually abundant and in fact
reminded me of the days of abundance and self-sufficiency, surprisingly, I was told that people
now sell their corn, millet and other farm produce including of course milk and trade them with
rice, spaghetti and macaroni on daily basis! That is sad!
On the other hand, in this country, in all cities, towns, villages and farm lands, people loiter and
hallucinate while chewing Qat all the time. And everyone is only busy at the end of the month by
queuing up for remittances from his/her struggling overseas loved ones who unfortunately,
knowingly or unknowingly, made them permanent dependents because here people only wait
for those hand-outs and few if any, do anything else. In fact most are always preoccupied with
when and how to “get the hell out of here!”
In addition, although livestock is a major national resource of this country, the sad and shocking
irony is that everything including milk and meat are imported; chicken and eggs are from Tyson
Foods of USA or from Brazil; canned beans, corn and puddings are from Monsanto or from the
Archer Daniel Midland Company of USA and beef is from Brazil or Argentine, South America;
and of course all manufactured goods, clothes, electronics, shoes, software, hardware, you
name it are imported (mainly from China). And shockingly, even onion is imported from
Yemen or from Ethiopia. And believe it or not, I have seen garlic imported from as far
away as China! And of course, with cash, the monster (killer Qat) is also imported….a
drug that only debilitates your health, devours your wealth, wastes your valuable time
and puts your whole family life in jeopardy!
Friends, there is nothing wrong with importing what you cannot make; but there is everything
wrong with trading your farm-fresh produce or fresh-grass-fed livestock milk and meat with
imported and processed foods in preservatives; preservatives to which your body may never be
able to handle or digest and accordingly can make you sick.
Moreover, I am sure that you agree with me that there is no reason to import frozen foods that
might be years if not decades old! And I am sure that you are equally confused as to why this
country imports and sells foreign foods and throw away its fresh-grass-fed produce! But what
are the solutions? This is sad, but is what is happening in my birth place, your birth place and in
the birth place of everyone else concerned.
1. And who said that this fertile land cannot produce enough to feed?
2. And who said that importing a seasonal produce like garlic that can grow in any soil and
needs only one rain, is NOT pure mindlessness?
3. And who said that there is pride in trading your farm-fresh foods with processed one?
Ironically, everywhere here: all valleys, hills, plains, beaches and even mountain tops are
claimed, fenced and marked as a private property. Paradoxically, no one makes use of his/her
claimed land. Nor does anyone seem to bother him for doing that. So, in the coming few years
and may be only months, one should not be surprised if the price of his/her grave or the grave
of his loved ones grows exponentially!
So today, livestock, the primary and traditional backbone of the economy here is dwindling fast
because its traditionally common reserved public grazing lands are disappearing fast. And the
world’s climate change that is affecting many countries across the globe is exacerbating the
situation. But unless something is done to address and redress that tragedy, the whole
livelihood of the whole people here, in general and that of the rural community which makes
over 60%, in particular is truly at stake!
In short, friends let me say one last thing, over here everything has challenged dramatically, the
society has changed dramatically; its values and ideals have changed dramatically; its priorities
have changed considerably. So, it may be a high time that those of you who care come together
in good faith; sacrifice and support their communities by instilling hope in them so that they may
regain their seemingly lost forever self-confidence. And it is certainly now or never!