Baidoa: A Call of Duty “Professor Mohamed Haji Mukhtar (Taariikh Xanbaarsan Dhacdooyin Lama Ilaabaan Ah)

WAAJIDPRESS – 20 JAN 2017:

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Dr. Mohamed Haji Mukhtar, Once an unquiet humanist warned wisely that those who cannot remember the past are destined to relive it. To this outrageous and joyfully ignored truth, an anonymous saying goes like this: “wise people learn from other people’s errors; intelligent people learn from their own; fools never learn.”
It seems that Somalis are NOT learning from lessons of their own history because as an anonymous said also: “they were listening the first time.” It is beyond comprehension to see government sponsored violence on the people and the city of Baidoa. It is outrageous to see AMISOM troops firing live ammunition to innocent people. It is unbelievable to hear that Somali government ordered its national and international troops to shut down the very venue that Baidoans have been debating in a peaceful manner on the fate of their people in particular and that of Somalia in general.
This is not the first time that Baidoa was raped, the dignity of its people humiliated; and it will not be the last time that they defy against all odds. In the early 20th century, Baidoa was invaded by Menelik of Ethiopia, but they defeated Menelik. In 1950, Baidoa under the leadership of Hizbiya Digil Mirifle HDM defeated the AFIS/SYL alliances and cleared the non Digil and Mirifle cronies brought to the city and region by the British Military Administration BMA 1940-1950. Baidoa remained in defiance against taxes imposed by Governo della Somalia GS (Somali Government) in 1957. The year was nicknamed as Ashuur Diidki (the taxes refusal year).
Baidoa fought against the Hawiyazation and the Darodazation of the 1960s and 1970s respectively. Baidoa survived from the man-made famine of post-Barre era of the 1990s when the city was trapped between Aideed and Barre’s militias. Nearly 500,000 Baidoans died from starvation. None of the warlords allowed food into Baidoa. The city suffered from bililaqo (looting and banditry). One relief official in Baidoa in 1992 said: “these people look like they are from Auschwitz, comparing to the Nazi crimes against Jews during World War II.”
Baidoa, though it came to be known in the 1990s as “the city of walking dead” was traditionally known as Baydhowa Jinnay (the heavenly Baidhowa). It has been the center of power of the inter-riverine regions. It is also called Il baydhowa (the spring of Baydhowa), located at the edge of the Magniyafulka (main central upland), from which flows of the Il, or springs, which are the source of the stream and the grazing land along which the city was founded.
A legend credits the discovery of the Il to a bird that opened the springs with its beak and then led the people to settle in this place blessed with fresh water and abundant pasture. Also, according to the oral tradition, the shrine of the patron saint Obo Esherow has been visited in Baidoa for more than 400 years.
On March 25, 1995, Baidoa created a regional authority known as the Supreme Governing Council or Authority SGC, a bicameral organ as an interim legislative body of an autonomous state for the inter-riverine people. This experiment was the second to the Somaliland one, with a difference that the SGC did not betray the Somali nationhood as Somaliland did and led Somalia a new form of governance that the nation could still be saved, a regional autonomy. This means leading by example.
This authority covered the Southwestern regions of Somalia including: Bay, Bakool, Gedo, Middle Juba, Lower Juba, Lower Shabelle, Banadir and parts of Middle Shabelle. This is due to the historical experiences and cultural affinities the above regions share. However, this experiment was aborted and SGC was overthrown by the invasion Aideed’s Militia to Baidoa on 17 of September, 1995 under the pretext that the Baidoans are dismembering the unity of the nation! You may wonder why General Aideed did not invade Hargeisa who proclaimed independent and indeed non-Somali entity! Baidoa again and as always fought back. The RRA movement emerged immediately in October 1995 and liberated Baidoa in 1999 and continued to fight against Aideed forces in the Shabelle and coastal regions.
One would wonder why Baidoans and people of the south-central regions are always in this predicament. From a field research I have conducted between 1992-1994, a poet I have interviewed assessed the cause of the suffering as follow: “the main cause of the Somali conflict is not a direct conflict between Darood and Hawiya per se, but a competition among them to occupy the riverine land and eliminate its people.” Also several elders in Baidoa have quoted Omar Jess, the leader of SPM addressing his militia, after a brief occupation of Baidoa: Dhul baan idiin qabaney, haddii aad dhacsanweydaan waa idinka iyo nacasnimadiina, meaning (we have conquered a fertile land for you; it is you and your folly that could not keep it.)
From 2004 until now Baidoa is leaving under the reign of al-Shabab terror. In the meantime, a new form of terror is in the making, a government sponsored terror, the SomalimFederal Government. Although Baidoans love peace and long for a government when they say: Dawlad laang dawlad hugna dhaanta (a bad government is better than without a government); it is indeed from governments that they suffered the most.
From 1956 until today, under the banner of nationalism, or the umbrella of socialism or pseudo Islamism; they lost their land, resources and their culture. Baidoa needs to fight for a fair government. Baidoa, stand on your ground firmly as your history showcased. Peoples of South-central regions are expecting from you to meet these challenges with rigor and let our name prevails as always, Ay tiryngney magaageng.
Mohamed Haji Mukhtar (Ph.D.)
Professor of African and Middle Eastern History
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences
Savannah State University
Savannah, Georgia, U.S.A.

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