After I watched the Youtube video of professor Ahmed I. Samatar’s response of the community meeting that he was accused storming out… titled ‘Prof. Ahmed I Samatar Muxuu kaga jawaabey Dhacdadii fagaaraha?’ this is the link of the video ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=12&v=ZoxUjxfJIFY‘, the professor expressed the poor process… in which there could be a poor planning and procedures (rules and regulation), the professor mentioned the setting … in which could be the shabby venue that the event took place was not the right place to conduct such high level meeting with a sensitive topic, and finally the professor claimed that he was one of the two founders of the ‘Fagaaraha FORUM’… in which could relate his generosity of creating the such FORUM and handing to the active community members.
Before getting deeper in to my testimonial peice, let me share with you that I am from KISMAAYO – Southern part of Somalia while the professor Ahmed Samatar is from GABILEY – Northern part of Somalia. That indicates that we have no tribal relation that one may suspect that my findings could be based on defending him because of a tribal lineage. I remember that he used to advocate UNITED Somalia, but later on I heard that he decided to advocate the SOMALILAND cause. This is a BIG change, but the differences of viewpoint should not be a factor that makes me or anyone else to overlook the issue and avoid to correct what happened. Therefore, if the organizers turned a blind eye what happened, that will not happen without being noticed – and that is all about my testimonial to express my concern of the poorly mistreatment he received at meeting.
Technicality issue: poor rules and regulation of the community meetings
Our community can’t deny that the professor is someone who values Somali-nimo, someone who prefers all Somalis to be educated, and someone who encourages Somalis to be fair and to be morally conscious. I did not attend the meeting he was accused abandoning, and the only information that I am relaying on is the videos posted on Youtube or Facebook by the organizers and non organizers (attendees). Having said that, I am not here taking away the organizers credit, but I am here trying to reflecting with what I have witnessed and what I have seen in some of the many community meetings that I attended in the past. So, I agree with the professor that the issue of poor planning is real since most of the community meeting organizers have poor organizational skills.
I have seen some of them exhibited confused-behavior when it comes to dealing with people. Most of the time the infighting is about who should be at Podium .. such as who should speak at the meeting and who should not. Therefore, based on my observation and what the professor said, it appears to me that he has a point. Again, this goes back to my observation when I met with him and after, the news articles about him, and the academic articles that he wrote. Simply what people miss is that the professor is someone who is respectful and someone who prefers to deal people with dignity, but also expects the same in return.
In his own words “the setting” and the shabby community room
The professor is absulutly right that the setting was poor. It was obvious that there was some sort of desperation that forced to have a such meeting in a such a place. It appears to me there is a lack of funding since meeting rooms cost a lot of money. Apparently, as the professor indicated, someone failed to do his ‘home work’. Based on his video response, the meeting was proposed and finalized two months before the day this event took place. Therefore, organizers should have a better venue than shabby, poor maintained South Minneapolis, MN, Philips Community Hall. Also, the discussion of Somaliland and inviting such a place to a highly regarded community members was historic mistake that should never be repeated.
The need of change and the loss of appetite of meetings
I had a friend who asked me “why were’t you lately attending most of the community meetings?” What she sensed about me is right since I do not attend every meeting as professor Ahmed Samatar advised me when I met with him 6 years ago. One of his sugestions was to be selective the type of the community meeting that I should attend or should not attend since my priority should, MaashaaALLAH, be on my six children’s livelihood, their educational journey, and fulfilling the required fatherly duty since they need me today. Having said that, professor Ahmed Samatar’s emphasis of the South Somalis lack of attendance of the FORUM may not be right. So, could this be an indication that the majority of the Somali community in MN lost appetite for such meetings where the morality is in question.
I would agree with the professor that Somalis should be interested in the Somaliland Topics. However, based on what I heard from the community members, simply the people are no longer interested such unorganized community meetings or FORUMS. I am sure that community members would like to participate another high standard Somaliland program with high standard FORUM with high standard rules and regulations. Never the less, the community is tired with a show run by one person, but prefer a show run by a strong highly ethical team. If loss of appetite is the cause … does that mean … there is a need to create high standard ‘Fagaaraha alike FORUM’?
Meeting with professor Ahmed Warsame in St. Paul, MN
Around 6 years ago, I called the professor Ahmed I. Samatar’s office to set up an appointment, he accepted my request and agreed to meet with him in his office at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN-USA. One thing that I will not forget about that meeting was the advice he gave me. He was a generous man who shared with me a lot of wisdom, personal and family success story and Somali politics in general. It was the first time that I met with him and the last time that I saw him even though I spoke with him one time over the phone after that meeting. The phone conversation was organized by Professor Ahmed Warsame of Calgary who was one of the panel members of event that caused the current uproar.
The second and the last contact with the professor was that I was inquiring an issue that he was accused by members of an online FORUM that I am part of. It was about an insulting and dehumanizing statement towards the people of Mogadisho and the city. After I spoke with him, he clarified to me that his statement was misinterpreted. I told him that I will share the findings with the FORUM without adding or changing of the information that I gathered. I did it.
Finally, the professor has a point that relates with the poor quality of the venue and the way it was organized. Therefore, the professor deserves an apology … only if we have an open mind and eyes that can sense and see what is right or wrong. Otherwise, we will lose a good friend, a member of the learned group and a genuine Somali-nimo oriented professor that like to deal with all Somalis – educated and non educated the same. We can’t afford that, so I decided to ask our brilliant professor, on behalf of our community, to accept my sincere apology. All of us should do that if we want to be fair and learn from our mistakes.
Written by: Mohamed Barre – Junlay ‘BULUF’ an independent writer that writes issue about Somali community that lives in Minneapolis, MN – email@example.com
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