Somalis’ built up frustrations at risk of erupting

The recent protests in the capital Mogadishu were, perhaps, the first expression of years of built up frustration by the public.

The Somali people, especially those in Mogadishu, are tired of closed roads, widespread unemployment, regular abuses by government security forces – including almost daily killings of Bajaj (rickshaw) drivers in the city – as well as the sending of young men to foreign countries for military training without the knowledge or consent of their parents.

Somalis are tired, because seventy per cent of their income, which used to come in the form of money sent by relatives abroad, has dried up, the result of job loss suffered by those relatives because of coronavirus.

The curfew imposed on the people of Mogadishu also does not make sense to many. Markets, mosques, hotels and other public places are open during day. Closing down the city at night may have little or no impact on the spread of Covid-19.

Worse, politicians and other government officials are free to go about their businesses, with curfew affecting only the average people. Young men who eat at their relatives’ are the ones suffering the impact of the curfew.

The Somali public is also deeply conservative, so closing mosques, and doing so during Ramadan, might be viewed as grave violation of faith.
The government did not even sensitise the public on such a fundamental issue.

Another factor compounding this frustration is three years of antagonism between federal government leaders and the political elites of Mogadishu.

There are indications that perhaps, Mogadishu residents have started taking to heart their elites’ narrative that the Farmajo administration poses a danger to them.

This in turn gives the Mogadishu politicians the chance to dial up their efforts of turning the people and government against each other.

Adding fuel to these fires are President Farmajo and other government leaders’ determination to pretend the challenges listed above do not exist, a folly that may lead to an eruption of chaos in the country.

There have been few times the people of Somalia needed hope and change more, which may come in the form of a peaceful and smooth political transition in the country.

The federal government, other political stakeholders and Somalia’s friends in the international community must all step up and ensure that it comes to pass.