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The Horn of Africa States Where the Elites Have Failed (Part II)

February 24, 2023

By Dr. Suleiman Walhad
February 24th, 2023

Democracy is not only one of numbers, where a majority, rules. It is also putting the right person in the right place of leadership and installing a system of justice and fairness among the general populace, a system that not only serves the majority, but which also serves the weak and the strong, the poor and the rich, the political foe and political friend, all equally, and a nation or a region, as a whole.

In the Horn of Africa States, it would appear the nation states are now built under the tribes or clans who seem to hate each other, and when a nation is built on hatred, it is bound to fail, for construction of a state on domination and hatred of the neighboring tribe or clan does not lead to successful nations or regions. A hegemon always fails. The region shares this with many African countries, and it is where the elites have failed, and failed again and again over the past seven decades, when they have turned hatred for the colonialism to hatred among fellow tribes and clans in the same country or region. It is how they have put forward the wrong leadership on the forefront to lead nations or even themselves through the assistance of those who wanted the nations or the region to fail anyway.

The choices are very narrow. It is either choosing the wrong tribal chieftain or the right chieftain, and when the first is put in place either locally or by outsiders, it throws out of the window the art of patience, construction, tolerance, justice, and healing processes. It is perhaps time that the elites who help the election processes, swerved away from putting the wrong candidates into the positions of power and put the right chieftains in their place. It is perhaps time the elites started to think of themselves as individuals and abandoned the idea of the tribe and clan and buried away the hatchet of tribal/clan hatred.

The general population of the region has become victims of circumstances, for none has chosen the tribe or clan into which one is born. But tribal loyalty should also be accompanied by loyalty to the nation state and the region. It would appear that the Horn African has pushed away the creative roles an individual would have played in advancing the cause of the region or its nation states and in the end, even one’s individual aspirations.

It is perhaps time that the Horn African recognized himself or herself as an individual and see the opportunities that one can avail oneself as individuals. The idea of nation states was, indeed, imported into the region, but maintaining them, and making them cooperate and collaborate for the betterment of the general population of the region is the responsibility of the elite and not just the tribal/clan collective, which has so far failed and not taken the region anywhere.

Each country, in the eyes of the world today, is just a small state and the collectivizations around the region should awaken the region’s elites to the dangers lurking around. One country’s problems, indeed, are also the problems of the neighboring countries and the four SEED countries who today are located in this particularly important geostrategic position is in the sights of many other regional groupings who envy it.

Every construction has both weaknesses and strengths, for there is no perfection in life. That would be utopian. It is perhaps time that the  elites of the Horn African States, understood that even dark nights are followed by bright days and the dilemma of the region, is only in the minds and the hands of the elite of the region. They can change the tribal mindset to national and regional mindsets and understand that they truly need each other.

A chief executive officer of a large corporation was once asked about the secret of his success and he said, “Starve the problems and feed the opportunities.” It is time that the Horn African starved the problems and fed the opportunities through starving the tribe and feeding the individual dreams and hence the nation and the region. History is full of nations who have risen from the ashes of their dead selves to become great nations and regions. Just look at Europe today. Seventy or eighty years ago, they were at each others’ throats and killing each other and look at them today. They are at the peak of nations, simply because they started to work together and collaborate with each other and live together in peace.

The world is always about survival and hence competition. Others have been taking advantage of this region, creating INTRACTABLE PROBLEMS of the tribe instead of the region and its member states. One should stand back, in these circumstances, and take a deep breath, and think hard of how one can contribute to changing the circumstances in which the region finds itself. We know some of the elites of the region are pulling the region apart such as pushing each country separately to join other groups of countries such as the East or Central Africa Community. It would be a truly better idea to be organized first as a group and collectively determine together the future of the region. Strength is always in numbers. Rather than negotiating as individual countries, it would be better to negotiate as a group. Joining other existing groups means that there are already set rules and one cannot change them. These rules could be to the DETRIMENT of the joining party.

No region or even country has ever advanced without having had some murky and messy past. The United States of  America did not become great until it went through the wars of independence or the civil wars and Europe did not become the Europe of today in an easy way. They all went through some of the bloodiest wars, the world has ever seen. The wars of the region be they civil or between the countries of the region in the past, is no comparison to what the United States or Europe went through. We do not have to follow the old and past deeds of previous and past politicians. A new route can be designed by present leadership to improve the lot of the people. It is perhaps time, the region learned from its past and not wasted energies on matters that proved to be unworkable in the past. Admitting defeat does not necessarily mean the region is doomed. The old ways of nation states have failed, and perhaps, it is time to create the regional bloc of the Horn of Africa States to survive the world of today.


The Horn of Africa States Where the Elites Have Failed


  1. I repeat what I said in another comment on a different topic as a compliment.

    I strong,y believe that we should all exercise moderation in our discourse but hit hard exposing bigoted elements. We should learn from the fate and experiences of other African states that had governments composed of the same people or same party for several years. In such cases opposition parties were non existent or so divided that they were rendered worthless. In all those countries with such powerful unitary governments it was not easy to see a change of leadership and when it happened it was after catastrophic chaos. Somalia, Libya, DR of Congo, Guinea, Mali, Liberia and you name it. Yemen just a stone throw away from Djibouti is a nearby example. Our old country has the same ingredients. There is a strong united government that has been ruling the country for quite some time now. The opposition is so tdivided it is not worth to be an alternative. So that country has all the attributes to go belly up and all it needs is some one making the wrong and disastrous move. It desperately need a wise crew of experts that will diffuse the ticking bomb from within.

    • I quite agree on the issue of moderation, but sometimes, and I say sometimes, it is always good to hit the nail on the head. The elite is divided and the elite is loyal to the tribe in our region. We are not different from many other Africa or Asian countries or even Latin American. It is how the resources are exploited by countries from beyond the region. At the end of the day, it is competition for survival and it is better that the elites collaborate to help the survival of the region. There are always time bombs, and many of them in this region and cooperation is the only way out.
      Thanks brother.

      • Well said and agree all the way. Moderation should be the style of communication by those in the positions of power and those in leadership of the opposition when talking/dealing with ethnic/tribal matters. For better or worse tribal politics has been in those countries for centuries. Outsiders used that to get they wanted methodically. During the scramble for Africa every colonial power was able to set foot on the shores of those nations after securing agreements with certain tribal leaders. Those tribal had been in constant conflict with other tribal groups for years before foreign powers arrived and needed protection. Therefore the emergence of what were called protectorates. Assab, Tadjoura, Djibouti, Coasts of Somalia and even Aden on the other side of Bab-el-Mandeb are examples to mention a few. So to various degrees the hostilities between tribes goes on to this day. That is why I urge those in the position of power and leadership of opposition groups to watch their language and observe the utmost moderation when dealing with tribal matters/relationships. Scholars should never refrain from pointing out the ills and destructive sides of tribal politics.

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