by Mohamed Keynan
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
The question we really need to answer is this: What kind of leadership do we need now? Do we want a leader that can “solve” our problems? Someone we can look up to? Do we need someone with specific personal characteristics, skills and aptitude? A charismatic leader who can bring us altogether? If we answer yes to these questions, then we are looking for the wrong type of leadership - and neither President Sharif nor a new one will be fit for the job.
I suggest we should instead, pursue a different kind of leadership. Clearly, we will not hire a car mechanic when we are in need of a plumber, thus the answer to the kind of leadership we need and should support for the Presidency must reflect the kind of work we want such a leadership to undertake. Accordingly, we must first define our issues and then look for the “right” leadership, because we want to avoid getting the “right” leadership on the “wrong” role. Conversely, we must not place the “wrong” leadership at the “right” role. In either case, we are unlikely to succeed. In short, the leadership we pursue must be derived from the issues we want resolved.
So, what are the issues? For the purpose of brevity, let’s confine this with the most recent issue lists: on ending the transition, about the roadmap, selection of clan representatives, the sitting of members of future parliament, and on adapting the new constitution. Clearly, we are not likely to find a person who can “solve” these issues for us, but we can hope to find a leadership that can mobilize us to face these issues head on, so that we can solve our problems, ourselves. Because no one person “caused” our troubles, no one person can “cure” it all.
Yet for far too long, we have assigned our failures to “others” - and all but absolved our own responsibilities. Whenever a President or any leader for that matter, does not deliver what we “expect” from him, we looked for a “new person” and we again “expect” that the new person will deliver. Let’s ask ourselves, how did we get President Sharif? What did we expect from him and why did we have such expectations? Based on what? We need not agree on everything here, but in fair consideration, we should appreciate that we expected too much, when we had no good reasons for such expectations.
President Sharif is NOT responsible for our problems and he or whoever comes after him will NOT solved our problems for “us”, if and when we get out of this transition. I am arguing that we should have no expectations? That our leaders should not be accountable for better outcomes? Of course not - we should have expectations and we must hold leadership accountable for better outcomes.
However, we first need to recognize that we are the “principles” here, the “owners” of the Somali Republic, thus we must articulate and agree on a common purpose, before discussing what leaders can or cannot do, as our “agents.” We cannot articulate a commonwealth vision, unless we can resolve our festering issues, and we cannot hope to resolves our rotten issues unless we can engage in deep civil discourse. This is a tall order, but a process we must partake for our own future existence as peoples. There is a serious gap between values we espouse so deeply and our own actions. For instance, most of us claim to want fairness, equality and justice. Most of us claim to have faith in God, and most of us claim that we need a return to “Somaalinimo.” There is a tiny problem, however. Our actions do not square well with our own claims. We are at disequilibrium here and something has to give. Our values and faith are badly disjointed from our own daily habits and behaviors, both at the individual and society level. Think about it - how can our politicians be so corrupt and still espouse so much religious faith? How can we have so little faith with each other and still claim to share so much in common? Similarly, the rate of divorce in our society is simply alarming; fathers abandon their children at will, never look back, and still claim to love and care? Amazingly, we get surprised when our kids join dishonorably social groups. How can all this be? I’m convinced that we will have lots of difficulties so long as our habits and behaviors are so far away from our deeply embraced values and faith. It is hard to accomplish a mission you don’t believe in.
Thus, what we need is a leadership that has the capacity to mobilize us so that we can more clearly see the stark chooses we must make to face realities. Each one of us must also recognize the Somalia of yesterday is gone, forever. There will be new political, social, economic and power structures and this new order will beremarkably different from the past. So, how can we renew our “social contract” in this new phase? Basically, we need new thinking, the old repertoire of tools are not good enough for the job at hand. However, at stake are people’s deeply held values and ways of life. We must be thoughtful and respectful as we work towards a paradigm shift. We must get closer to each other if we are to move forward in unison. Each day, you and I must do something positive, no matter how small, that brings our people together. Sadly, most of us tend to think of “positional” power and individuals with a conferred “authority” when we think about leadership. Hence, we tend to look towards politicians and the occasionalWaddaadwhen we are faced with a leadership crisis. Thus, we easily discount how much more each one of us can do without authority and without positional power. We must lead without being leaders. We must realize the state is simply a reflection of its people, and how they decide to “govern” themselves, therefore you and I, as ordinary man and woman, have a responsibility to lead without positional power or authority. We now have a chance to attain what we have waited for too long, and for which our people have paid so high a price. Let’s not shirk from our own moral and ethical responsibilities in the name of whatever faction we support. It’s time to put aside all parochial interests, and a time to develop a leadership that has the capacity, foresight, skills and ability to mobilize our people for better tomorrow. You and I can and must work to build such a leadership each day, and we must start now.
Mohamed Keynan is a Public Policy Research Analyst. He can be reached at: mo. firstname.lastname@example.org