Yesterday clan leaders from around Somalia adopted the first truly national constitution in 40 years. All we need now is an end to the global recession.
There is a lot of trouble in Africa right now, and a lot of it is in Somalia. While the 825 delegates prepared to adopt its historic first constitution in 40 years, two suicide bombers were “detonated” by security forces just outside the building in which the clan leaders were deliberating.
A respected Kenyan journalist quipped, “The Somalia constitutional conference ended with a bang!” His column was a very positive and very optimistic view of the situation in Somalia.
In fact, Onyango-Obbo suggested Somalia may be on a path to a representative democracy far superior to the majority of the soldiers in the African Union’s peace-keeping force in Mogadischu who come mostly from Ethiopia and Uganda:
“History is capricious and has a cynical sense of humour. If the constitution, referendum and subsequent election are pulled off, Somalia might have a freer election than either …Uganda or Ethiopia…”
Africa has a way of fooling us about its future, and Onyango-Obbo might be onto something although I think his characterization of a “cynical sense of humor” might just be plan old irony.
The Somali constitution is strictly Sharia-based, and of course that’s not going to go down well with America’s right. But get this. The constitution also allows abortion and bans female circumcision.
There is nothing specific in the Koran, or the Bible, which forbids either abortion or female circumcision. Clerics over the centuries, and the Catholic Church in particular, have added dogma to the original poetry. It is the interpretation not the literal text that is so contentious, today.
What the Somalis may have demonstrated is that you can take almost any ancient code of behavior and reduce it to is most basic moral principles and still create a modern, contemporary society.
So whether it is a Christian society or one based on Sharia law, it’s quite possible to arrive at similar governments in a modern society.
The reluctance to do this, by Al-Qaeda on the one hand or Christian evangelicals at home on the other, is what causes conflict and belies superficial morality as something usually much simpler like racism.
A peaceful and successful Somali nation has a long list of necessary predicates well beyond just stopping suicide bombers from killing legislators. The Kenyan army has yet to displace the pirate kings of Kismayo. There are nearly a million refugees living just outside the political borders in Kenya. And global warming couldn’t have a more dire effect on the people on planet earth than Somalia.
And this cauldron of political, social and even geological and meteorological turbulence seems these last few months to be spreading across much of the continent, after just a few years of such positive progress.
And that’s why I mention the need for the end of the global recession. Everything it seems in the world is economically based. When economies are improving, so do the politics and societies in general. In fact, with improving economies, strategies to deal with global warming emerge more easily.
So read Onyango-Obbo’s positive take on Somali. Cross your fingers for an European stimulus and re-elect Obama. There are a few other things to do, too.
But then in a few years, Somalia in the lead, Africa will turn better.