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CLAN and STATE: Somali Context

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In function, organization, development, ambition, goals, aims, attainment, philosophy and growth, state and clan are in a state of clear antitheses but since state originates from clan or say since clan is the mother of states or again say since state is the offshoot of clan ,they are related and belong to each other in terms of social provenance.

What I mean here is that clans were primitive, divided and disintegrated people without singular leadership, but in the course of time after they become conscious of their weak disharmonious state, they stand up to organize themselves, build institutions, elect singular leadership and go on in pursue of hoped-for development. To be clear with what we are discussing, it is appropriate that we look for a source of written and researched document to help us understand the difference between a clan and a state. The Collins Co-build English Dictionary puts the difference of the two terms as follows: Clan: Group of families that are related to each other because they are all descended from the same ancestor. State: A country, usually when it is considered in terms of political organization and structure. Here, the outstanding variance is epitomized by two terms: Organized and Structured. Infect, a clannish environ is in a chaotic, lawlessness, divided and always in a situation of clangor and clamor, because the forceful job description, functioning discipline, documented law and order are totally absent, and the chief who claims to control the situation lacks institutions to keep situation under control such as security forces, courts, laws to be followed and socially binding and other acknowledged bylaws.

Out of this lawless milieu, the chief uses his charisma, astuteness and sometimes resorts to his hidden and mystic power of being a saint and may call down God’s anger on the opponent, a claim of concealed extraordinary power.

In contrast people normally give heeding to visible power and physical authority that the concerned is aware that if he does not comply with the established discipline, actions may be taken against him. That is how to keep harmonious social order, which is not known at the chief and his surroundings. A clan usually remains a zero level of social development and organization where total transformation is inevitable to be launched if real leadership is to be used as a tool for change. An outstanding example of total social transformation can be taken what Prophet Mohamed(Peace be Upon) found in the Arabian Dark days, Jaahiliya, where it was normal that a father would bury his daughter alive because she was simply a female, to just mention one instance in addition to the myopic worshipping of idols. The horrible situation was a clan killing another clan because they were they and we were us. This was the highest mark of depiction of ignorance, shedding human blood for no good reason and always remaining in such a treacherous and malignant environ and senseless hatred. But by the virtue of an ideal and single-minded leadership, with the help of Allah, and with the aid of the loyal men trained and oriented according to the teaching of Qur’an and Hadith, in two decades time, there appeared in the place of ignorance real men, worshippers in the night and mujahidin in the day time.

The Prophet and his men did not use a single bullet to cower people. Instead they resorted to the purest method of teaching human, the way of Allah, and in a very short period of time they succeed to launch a total social transformation in Arabia and other target area. This amazing achievement had never been attained through threat or violence, but through good will, good language, tolerance, mutual understanding and real portrayal cooperation and brotherhood in the path of Allah and removing people from the darkness of ignorance to the shining light of knowledge and the way of Allah, this complete transformation had been realized, with everlasting way of building ceaseless inspiration and aspiration. This simple account is in depiction of how human being can make change, if they want to and act seriously. And this is an example of how to build a state, regardless of its methodology and means and depending on the aim and purpose behind the action to be taken. Anyway let’s say a social service and delivery of message, each one’s message is the goal. Clannish countries like Somalia suffer a kind of confusion of leadership, because the clannish chieftain puts claim to power and another one in the title of political leader also asserts the legitimacy of his position as statesman.

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About the author


Ahmed nur Sheikh Ali, Writer, Poet, academic with long years of teaching experience; Holds M.A. in English and is PhD candidate at Aligarh Muslim University, India. Presently he teaches English at the National University of Somalia. He also taught Somali language at Dictyon language School, Virginia, USA. Laasoole30@gmail.com

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