Last week, a writer by the name 'Abdi Mohamud' launched into a long diatribe against myself and my campaign. This was perhaps the third or fourth time that I was at the receiving end of his venom. The first one came in the form of an article trying to dissuade me (and others) from writing about politics on the pretext that politics in Somalia is already overmanned and so we should try to focus on other equally important issues that need to be addressed. He speicifcally cited education as an area where I could perhaps more usefully contribute to than politics. Fair point, well made, you might say!
Then on the 1st of Dec. 2020 came a long rambling email, entitled "Dr Mohamud M. Uluso, Dr Aweys Omar Mohamoud, and Mr Faisal Roble: please think of better ways to serve". He took an angry tone with us, accusing each one of us of wrongdoing and being (in his narrow worldview) 'unpatriotic'. The subject of his accusation was along the same lines as the article above, essentially haranguing us furiously about not writing what we should be writing as regards the government of Mr Farmaajo. In essence, according to 'Abdi Mohamud', we have unfairly treated Mr Farmaajo and his government who are doing wondeful things. Instead of writing critical accounts, we should be singing Farmaaja's praises for all eternity.
I emailed him back and so did Faisal and Dr Uluso. Mine was brief, asking him: "What caused you to write this drivel, Abdi Mohamud (if that's your real name!)? What are your motives?" A few days later, his response to my email came: "Please do not be upset with me. This is all about accountability. People have the right to question and scrutinize your behavior, actions, and accomplishments because you have made the decision to serve. So my motive is to hold you to account. Period. Regarding my piece, actually, readers kind of have liked it. The piece has received many likes, sharings on top of pleasant, written feedback sent to me [sic]. In comparison, readers' reaction to your essays is the opposite. It seems they have found them gibberish. Thanks. Abdi Mohamud. And that is my real name."
Next came an email with a furious tirade of abuse, entitled "WILL SOMALIS NOT BUY YOUR PROPAGANDA". This one was addressed to me and Faisal. Again, I emailed him back a few days later, this time with a conciliatory tone:
Thanks for your email.
Whilst we differ in our current political views regarding Somalia and its outgoing President, Mr. Farmaajo, there is (and will always be) a continuing sympathy, understanding and fellow feeling between ourselves as one Somali people united by a common culture, shared history and experiences of faith, language, and national identity. All of us (You, Me, Faisal, ... and all Somali people) share love and affection for our country and our people, but we differ in our political world view and how best we can get there! There is the destination that the country has to get to: a place much better for the living than where it currently is!
I therefore appreciate your feedback and thank you again for the effort you made to write to myself and to Faisal.
The famous Churchillian quote "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile-hoping it will eat him last" was completely lost to me in my above response, you might say! And that's certainly true.
Readers will decide which of us, 'Abdi Mohamud' or myself, proffers good ideas or good writing, but my view is that 'Abdi Mohamud' has no understanding of the concept of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, enshrined in the Constitution of the FGS as well as in various international and regional human rights instruments. The Gold standard is Article 19 of the Universal Human Rights Declaration (1948): "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
Who is 'Abdi Mohamud' to tell us what to write and what not to write? We have our own human agency, the capacity (if you like) to act of our own volition. We are using our agency 'to seek, receive and impart information and ideas' through the internet. Our values and guiding principles are, and I believe I speak for both Faisal and Dr Uluso in this context, to see freedom, justice, democracy, and human rights prevail in Somalia.
'Abdi Mohamud' is trying to shield Farmaajo from criticism. We see it as part of our moral commitments and our obligations to criticize Farmaajo for undermining the consensus among political groups and citizens on democracy as the basis of Somalia's political system. We also criticize him for his endless attempts to institute a new dictatorship in Somalia. Again, I believe I'm speaking for both Faisal and Dr Uluso when I say this.
The government of Mr Farmaajo (1) failed to deliver credible leadership to foster a sense of common national purpose; (2) endlessly violated the Provisional Constitution of the FRS; (3) emasculated parliament through incorporation, bribery, corruption, and intimidation; (4) there were no checks and balances on power-holders and no one held the government to account for decisions made and actions taken; (5) it failed to come up with actions and initiatives that signal new beginnings to build trust in society; (6) it failed to build legitimacy by connecting the government and the governed, and by exercising political power to enforce the rule of law, in the pursuit of justice; and (7) it completely undermined the obligations that form the basis of state-society relations, such as human rights and protections, and human freedoms and justice. Moreover, Mr Farmaajo attempted a naked power grab by using an extra-constitutional ploy back in April this year, a move that has abjectly backfired on him.
As a candidate for President, I have the right to publicly and legitimately debunk these policies and actions of Mr Farmaajo whose four-year term ended more than 9 months ago. 'Abdi Mohamud' can try his luck to stop me from criticizing Farmaajo but that ain't going to work. His grumbling above - "So my motive is to hold you to account" - must surely be arising from either a confused thinking or an authoritarian mindset or both, like Farmaajo himself.
Who is 'Abdi Mohamud'? I don't know. Is 'Abdi Mohamud' a pen name? Possibly! But it may also be a true name. There's no bio and no details of his professional life. Not that they'd proof much to me but there're no letters after his name. We do not have his voice, but we have his philosophy, his mission statement, if you like. Your philosophy tells people "Why do you do what you do?". It tells them something about where you get your ethical compass, and what matters most to you.
I will attempt to answer what I think motivates 'Abdi Mohamud' and his psychology of self-righteous indignation in my next article, Part II. Stay tuned.