By Dr. Suleiman walhad
January 28th, 2023
The world only sees a Horn of Africa region devasted by famines, droughts and civil strives and all the paraphernalia that generally describe failed states, hopelessness, tribal and clan pseudo competitions over nothing. No one discusses or sees the Horn of Africa States and its possible impact on world issues and most particularly great power competitions. The poor Horn African is presented as being busy on how to take revenge on his neighbor or the other clan/tribe nearby or those who claim to preside over nations, when they preside over literally nothing, not even their palaces. The picture provided to the world is truly and gargantuanly horrible so much so that the Horn of African is literally frozen dead and is unable to move in any direction. The Horn African, across the globe, knows that there is a problem but is yet unable to pinpoint the trouble and the source of the trouble. Is the region as described, really or is there a different picture that is not reported, deliberately, because it would irk some others?
The Horn of Africa States is, indeed, in trouble, they say, on a daily basis and graphically. A child with a big belly and flies around his/her eyes, a mother almost reduced to bones with hollow cheeks and barely covered and yet carrying a skeletal baby on her hips and looking at the camera taking the picture with those hollowed sunken eyes dull and weary, a dead carcass of an animal, a camel perhaps or a cow and bones sticking out. The message is repeated and repeated, and it ultimately becomes the truth. That is the “truth” of the Horn of Africa States as presented to the world daily.
Even those who live in the region and know otherwise begin to believe this falsehood and fake news. It is true that there are problems and hunger in some parts of the region from time to time, but it is far more different than those horrible messages that have become the narrative on the Horn of Africa States. There are a hundred and sixty million people in the Horn of Africa States and they produce food for themselves and others.
The region provides health care services and education for its youthful population. The region owns and enjoys major ports and other means of world class transportation services such as air transportation. It enjoys and maintains efficient telecommunications systems that are much cheaper, affordable, and better than many countries of the world. The region also enjoys a banking and financial management system that is almost cashless, where people are on the digital landscape far ahead of many so-called developed countries. Of course, one has to define what a developed nation is. It is not really only the buildings and roads and perhaps the clothes one wears.
We read regular reports on insecurities and dangers to life in the Horn of Africa States, but it is more peaceful than many countries where mass shootings occur on a daily basis. Indeed, there are bombs in some cities like those of Mogadishu, but does that represent the whole of the Horn of Africa States, an area of some two million square kilometres. One should go to Hargeisa, where money changers maintain large stocks of currencies in the street and no one bothers them or Djibouti, where many women are sitting near big buildings also providing exchange services and hence carrying lots of money in their big bags and no one robs them. And, of course, there is Addis Ababa, one of the most peaceful capital cities in the world, and Asmara. We never hear of mass shootings, burglaries, and other mauvaise issues in the region in the region, but it is presented by the international media in an unacceptably horrible manor. And it is, time that the region, started to work on reversing the process. The leader class of the region, do play a major role in the continuing propagation of absolute propaganda in the region, but they are only shooting themselves in the feet.
Should the region present itself in the media through movies and films or paid articles and sometimes paid tourism for major travel shows? There are many things the region can do, but it is up to the leaders and the those responsible for tourism and image of the region to revisit their tools and oil them and resharpen them.
The Foreign ministers of the region have not done their jobs either. Are they waiting for their presidents and prime ministers only to guide them on what to do? It is their job and not the job of the presidents or prime ministers to repaint the region on its truly peaceful nature and that it is a place to live in, visit and enjoy, as much as it was in the cradle of humankind when they found that the region was endowed with all the atouts of life-giving facilities – good weather, plenty of food, seas and oceans and mountains and rivers and beautiful valleys and plains.
The world does not know the region. It is on the onus of the region to sell itself to the world and correct the great misunderstanding that the region is truly a horrible place to be. That is far from the truth. The region is full of good people, some of them highly educated and world class and others that constitute the majority as normal as any society anywhere can be.
The Horn of Africa States and The World Today – Part I