SYL: A Catalyst for Positive Change
”Almost everything that is great has been done by youth”. Benjamin Disraeli
On May 15, 1943, a group of Somali youth, armed with a spirit of nationalism and Somaliweyn, established a Somali Youth Club. (later Somali Youth League, SYL) and struggled to break free from the shackles of colonialism. The group united under the banner of a common goal and a national interest that played a vital role in the long years of struggle for independence. I salute all those youths of the past who made a historic change to make a difference. The question I ask every Somali youth including me is can Somali youth of today, by learning from the past, unite under the banner of a common interest of Somalia, putting behind mistrust, suspicion, personal and narrow clannish interests, and be a catalyst of a positive change to break the shackles of selfish incompetent politicians who deliberately exploiting us and committing brutal atrocities against our people?
Youth constitute the most dynamic force in any society. They are full of energy and responsive to any new challenges and not afraid of anything in the struggle to realize their noble dreams and ambitions. They can make brilliant achievements if they unite their efforts, keep the national interest supreme and have unfailing loyalty and sacrifice to their country.
A good example of this is our grandfathers of SYL who waged an arduous yet worthwhile struggle in an enthusiastic manner that they made great contribution to the building of our nation. For that reason it is important to display our youthful talent and courage by carrying forward the glorious deeds established by our grandfathers.
Unfortunately after 69 years instead of living the aspirations of our forefathers and completing the unfinished task they began, we, Somali youth, are divided, falling deeper and deeper into dark abyss that power-hungry politicians saw internal rivalries to divide the nation and exploit for their own personal gains .When should we unite and stand for change to save our beloved country? Or should we wait until a solution falls down from the sky.
No doubt that these politicians benefit from our division and that they are deliberately exploiting us and using as a source of political instrument for their private pursuit. It is our choice, we Somali youth, to stand idly by and blame the older generation for being power-hunger selfish politicians and thus let them continue committing atrocities against the nation or to unite and take action. I think the latter would be a better choice to continue the struggle that our grandfathers set forth and leave imprint to the next generation.
Yes we have external factors from colonial and cold war legacies, down to the recent proxy wars and conflict interests of regional and international actors but mostly our problem lies in our faults and our weakness and we must remove, by using nonviolent means, the yoke of incompetent and power-hungry politicians – give them any name you wish: dictators, warlords, or religious extremists – who have torn apart our beloved country, perhaps the only nation in Africa that is truly homogenous- ethically, culturally and linguistically. It is our time to unite toward a common goal of rebuilding our country. We want a positive change from within not from outside. Yes it is a daunting task yet inevitable if we want to make change but we should know that our grandfathers faced the same, may be even more arduous and formidable than what we are confronting today yet they overcame the challenges through unity, willpower and patience. We pay gratitude to our forefathers.
It is very tragic to see a number of Somali youth both inside and outside of the country involving in armed conflicts instigated by power hungry politicians for personal gains. We must be aware of the games and avoid such destructive acts and instead work in unity and contribute positively to both homeland and hosted countries.
First of all we should break the negative attitude of separation that has become so entrenched in our psyche that we even doubt the possibility of restoring unity among Somali people generally and Somali youth in particular by fostering strong sense of common values and common interests to revive our forefathers’ dreams of national unity to overcome ethnic divisions and rivalries that have plagued our beloved country if we in fact want real and permanent change. One may see this as utopia but the history tells us that change is possible — even in the most difficult circumstance and SYL has proved that. Our forefathers struggled against oppression despite being subject to murders and violent repression. They established struggle that overcame the oppressors, broke tribal boundaries and set examples for others. Now the responsibility lies on our shoulder to continue the work by fostering national identity.
It is very clear that the struggle for true and total independence from all forms of oppression and repression is still ongoing and let us all re-double our efforts to save our nation. We cannot allow the will of the majority people to be thwarted by few. We must express our ambitions and interests as a nation in one language as to be comprehensible to all parts of our society — it is the key to a collective effort that can lead us to enormous achievements by forming unity and solidarity characterized by responsibility and commitment for the future of our country.
We need to restore the national cohesion that we lack today by loving and respecting one another and coming together to discuss our sharing values and our common interests. Durable solution only comes from within Somalis, patriotic Somalis. who love and respect each other and work in unity and put the national interest ahead. By coming and working together we can be a catalyst of positive change; As Henry Ford stated “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
Finally, with great humility I call upon my fellow Somalis to stand united, work together to be a catalyst for positive change that is what we so desperately need today and only then will be able to better resolve all our outstanding issues. Oh my brothers and sisters let us understand that our strength lies in unity of the nation.