Few things fire me up like injustice. I’ve been subjected to it all my life in different ways; being bullied in school, being a black Muslim hijabi in Sweden, being mocked and excluded by my Somali elders ( before I kicked in the door with my personal research into Somalia and its language in tow 😛 ), being stigmatized for my mental health issues; I can go on. I’ve been an outsider all my life. I guess the upside to this is that I’m an independent freethinker as I’ve never been a part of a crowd and I do not shy away from speaking my mind. The phrases most used by my parents and extended family in addressing me were; ‘ Alla, madax adkidaa!’ and ‘ Muran baa ka soo haray!’ [ you’re so stubborn, and, you’re so argumentative]
But I say it’s not madax adeyg, it’s determination. It’s not muran, it’s standing up for what I believe and value.
If you’re Somali, I’m sure the recent cadaanstudies campaign hasn’t escaped your attention.
Even after having read the thread that instigated the letter and Markus Hoehne’s op-ed in Sahan journal, I’m not going to pose as some expert. It’s just way over my head.Nor am I taking sides in this.
However, I find the witch hunt that ensued was totally uncalled for. Markus Hoehne said stuff that was prejudiced at worst, but the public bullying and shaming that followed was sickening. I don’t understand the double standards. I don’t understand how things must be black or white. Things were taken out of context and it seemed to me that he was paying a price for all the racists and neo-trio-colonialist wachamacallit that ever existed.
What’s worse is that no other view was allowed to stand without being invalidated and rebuked for being eurocentric and individuals were accused of being self-hating apologists for defending Hoehne.
Such dogmatic stance breeds nothing but hatred. We should be able to hold differing views without there having to be a wrong or right. For healthy and secure adults, a differing view does not entail an attack on their own. Two differing views are not mutually exclusive!
When people flock to either extreme of the spectrum, it’s a sign of lack of original and independent thinking, and that people are swayed by emotions and rhetoric rather than hard facts, and this creates a disconnect in our common humanity that transcends everything else.
Racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, misogyny- all kinds of oppression and attempts at subduing another human being have one common root: fear and hate.
OK, that’s two, but you catch my drift.
The names may change, but the reality is the same. When we can’t step back and look at another human objectively without jumping to conclusion or assuming stuff, then we perpetuate the same hurt and pain that we underwent. All we’re doing is recycling evil and hatred and creating the same world we wish to change.
It’s like the mythical bird Phoenix that is reborn from the ashes of its predecessor. We’re carrying the ashes of cremated pain and hatred. I mean, when we feel threatened by uncertainties, we like to create some sense of control. So we flock to those who are most like us and create an echo chamber, while creating a common enemy, the ‘other’. Fear, then, is the glue that keeps us huddled together.This is why we, as Somalis, are plagued by qabyaalad; we feel safer to stick to ‘our own’ and keep ‘the other’ at bay in the event of another civil war.
This might seem far-fetched, but as long as we fail to investigate patterns and peer behind facades, we’re doomed to continue in a vicious cycle of disconnect and conflict.
That is why I personally sent a message of apology to Hoehne; not for his atrocities for which he received his fair share of rebuke, but because of the undue bullying and slander he received.
Having said that, I am in no way endorsing anything he did, but the reason why I’m speaking about this and not what caused this is because I want to tone down this extremism by representing a different view.
I’m not invalidating or bashing any of the campaigners or those undersigned in the open letter. I don’t have much knowledge about the discussion and it would be highly patronizing for me to speak on an issue that I know very little about, especially when there are people more knowledgeable and qualified to speak on this issue.
This is about being objective in one’s criticism and not let others ignorance or hatred turn us into hateful people.
” Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed – but hate these things in yourself, not in another.”
Please, let’s keep a civil tongue in our heads. ❤