An open letter to Professor Kapteijns: A rejoinder

An open letter to Professor Kapteijns: A rejoinder

by Abdulkadir Osman “Aroma”
Thursday, March 28, 2013



Recently I have read and gave cursory look at your book entitled “Clan cleansing in Somalia”, published 2013. As you said you had travelled and visited places like: Addis Ababa, Jigjig, Djibouti, Yemen, Nairobi, Netherlands as well as Rome & London, but never travelled to Somalia. Really you have done extensive research, an important and valuable work. Your book will be part of Somali history good or bad, true or untrue, biased or fair, partial or impartial. As writer who likes history books as well as literature and arts, I appreciated some parts of your book, but disagreed on some inaccurate reports reflected in it.

It is common habit for a singer, or poet, writer or artist to follow in the footsteps of his favourite fellow. It seems that you have followed as role model ‘I.M.Lewis’ who wrote several books about Somalia, but many Somalis dislike his distorted books and they nicknamed him “clan spokesman or pay as you go cell phone scholar”. Whether you did it deliberately or just because of poor knowledge of the root causes of Somalia debacle, you seem to saying little about the mentioning in your writing about the worst disasters that have ever happened in Somalia. This serious flaw makes your book incomplete. The below enumerated disasters are well-documented to be ignored:

v  The military campaign against Isaaq 1988-90 was the worst brutal act of genocide.

v  The Man-made famine with the massacre against Rahanweyn civilians 1991-92 was the second brutal act of genocide.

v  Unarmed minorities (Banaadiri, Jareer & Galgalo) were victims of major clan confrontations and suffered substantial loss of lives and properties.

v  The internecine warfare between USC-Aideed and USC-Mahdi 1991-92 was another disaster which affected the entire inhabitants of Banaadir Region.

v  The occupation of Ethiopian troops which inflicted incalculable huge damage to Southern Regions 2007/9.

v  The on-going Shabaab atrocities 2009-13 which caused chaos and instability in Southern Somalia is another disaster.

In the 308 pages of your detailed book, you have dedicated less than twenty pages to these six worst disasters that ever happened in Somali soil, whilst you emphasised in more than 200 pages what you called “Clan Cleansing against Daarood”. In covering the above six catastrophe, you narrated them like cameraman reporting tiger chasing gazelle in animal zoo, not as human tragedy. If you had in mind those who fled the civil war 1991-92, it is natural that every war causes refuges, for instance defeated groups and minorities fled from their homes and that is sort of clan cleansing.


It seems that, over 80% of the bibliographies and individuals who are your primary source of information or supported your research, are from one Somali clan whilst you ignored other clans, who may be useful for your research. This should be a clear indication of your biased work and lack of objectivity on your part. As I understand from your book you obtained most oral accounts related to the Manifesto Group from General Abdullahi Hoolif, but you never contacted Dr Ahmed Darman (former Ambassador to China, not Iran) who was one of the senior founders of the movement who had lived in Virginia before he passed away in December 2012. You referred to many books written by one particular Somali clannish persons, but ignoring other books written by other Somali clans, like: “Gelbiskii Geerida” written by General Ahmed Jilicow, with long experience in Intelligence Service. Myself I wrote 5 books printed in Malaysia (Sababihii Burburka Somaaliya, Tiirka Colaadda, Hadimadii Gumeysiga, Sooyaal Somaaliya & Taangiga Tigreega. Please visit all available in every continent and in every major library. In North America, interested readers can buy at Somali shops in Minnesota, Washington-Seattle, Virginia, North Caroline, Toronto & Ottawa.


You highlighted a fabricated story ‘Daarood dominated other clans for one century’. In the line of Somali history no clan ever dominated other clans and also Somali clans never had central administration or powerful kingdom like Buganda of Uganda or Axum Empire of Ethiopia. Historically, every tribe was independent from each other and had their own mini state. Ugaas acted as head of state; nabaddoons acted as ministers, youth acted as military and women acted as production and child teaching institution for posterity. Ralph Brockman the author of “The British Somaliland” published by Hurst & Blacket 1912 in London, said “Somalis are independent by nurture and everyone is his own sultan”. Late 19th century from North to South, 13 tribal chiefs signed protectorate agreement with British and Italian colonial officers, see ‘Tiirka Colaadda’ page 18. There was no clan dominance, but from 1950s betrayal, tribalism, nepotism, corruption & maladministration was unleashed by the successive administrations. All these malpractices have generated the collapse of Somali State. Among Somali community there are irrational persons who suffer from severe clan schizophrenia and are specialist in how to sell to foreigners their clan legends. They claim shamefully their clan enjoys God-given leadership, that they are former rulers, freedom fighters and founders of Somali state. This is plain clannish lie contrary to Somali culture as well as the reality on the ground and Somali history in the archives of colonial era.


After the First World War, the European Colonial Powers adopted new policy in Somalia which led to two contrasting results:  “disadvantage & advantage”. Looking from the disadvantage angle, they dismembered homogeneous Somali people into five portions. The advantage was that, they introduced a system of unitary government. For example, Governor De Vecchi, who ruled Southern Somalia for 5 years, arrested all notorious local Chiefs ‘similar to today’s warlords’ and set up the first central administration with capital city Mogadishu. From this evidence, I belief that Governor De Vecchi was father and founder of the Somali State, “see his book “Orizzanti d’ Impero, Cinque Anni in Somalia”. Similarly, Sir Geoffrey Archer, Governor of British Protectorate of Somaliland crashed the Dervish movement and arrested arrogant chiefs and created what is called Somaliland today. Again the European Powers inspired the Somali mind in pursuing the scheme of “Greater Somalia”. Again, General Rodolfo Graziani was a strong supporter of what he called “La Grande Somalia”.  General Graziani commander of southern front of Italian army, after occupying Addis Ababa in 1936, he sent a telegraphic message to his boss Benito Mussolini proposing the creation of united Somalia, (see the book entitled “Mussolini raped Ethiopia” and Grazian’s book “Il Fronti Sud”). Again on 6th June 1946 Ernst Bevin British Foreign Secretary proposed unification of Somali people, but his dream fell in vain. Hence sane person can see here the creation of the Somali state was a colonial work, not folk tale tellers lie.

Too much inaccurate reports:


You wrote General Mohamed Noor Galaal was deputy commander of General Mohamed Ali Samantar. This is not correct; General Abdalla Mohamed Fadil was deputy commander of General Samantar. Again you wrote General Samantar with his subordinate General Galaal killed in Jigjiga 82 officers. At the beginning of the 1977 war, General Galaal was commander of Dirirdhabe Front. Due to differences between Samantar and Galaal, the latter was sacked and immediately was appointed Minster of Housing and general service. General Samantar along with Colonel Osman Maye, chairman of the Military Tribunal, on 02/03/1978 at a place named ‘Buurta Garabcase’ outskirt of Jigjiga, ordered the execution of 84 military personnel of different ranks. Again after 10 days, top 15 officers (included: Ahmed Mohamed Anshuur ‘Habarjeclo’ & Yaasiin Noor Gurhan ‘Majeerteen’ & Abdi Farah Ali ‘Habargidir’ were executed in Hargeysa. Eye witness persons are still alive include General Mohamed Warsame Arre, the commander of Jigjiga Front, currently residing in London. That awful day I was in Hargeysa as civil-servant working northern region. (more details see, Sababihii Burburka Somaaliya pages 65-68) 


You wrote early February 1991 General M.F. Aideed raided and dislodged Colonel M. Omar Jees from Afgooye. This is not correct; in October 1990 (Aideed of USC, Abdirahman Tuur of SNM & Jees of SPM) signed a common military and political agreement in Mustahil, Ethiopia. After that agreement, USC split into 2 wings (USC Mujaahid under Aideed, and USC Manifesto under Bood/Mahdi). It was the USC militias under command of the Manifesto Group who attacked on 10/02/1991 Colonel Jees’s militias based in Afgooye, not Aideed.  General Aideed never planned any sinister plan against Jees, because Jees was sincere ally and right hand of Aideed up-to last hour.


Regarding Rahanweyn’s man-made disaster, unfortunately you wrote that Rahanweyn had massacred Daarood escaping from Mogadishu; this is contrary to what actually had happened and it is obvious that you were manipulated by your one-sided interviewees. Between April 1991 – April 1992, SNF militias loyal to Siyaad Barre harassed Rahanweyn civilians and conquered their regions and vandalised their harvested crops and inevitably disastrous famine ensued which resulted the death of thousands and thousands of civilians. John Drysdale in his book “whatever happened to Somalia page 43, underlined the cause of that disaster”.

Why Daarood fled from Southern Somalia?


It is an actual fact that a physician who treats his patients according to their symptoms without laboratory diagnoses is not good physician. You listed the current problems without tracing back the real root causes. You relied heavily on the testimony of selected persons whom you recognised as victims of civil war. All the responsibility of what happened is squarely on Siyaad Barre’s shoulders and his close colleagues on the top echelon of his tyrannical regime. His responsibility is evidenced by the following examples:


v  In early January 1991 Siyaad Barre assigned to his two son in-laws, General Morgan and General Dafle to arm voluntary Daarood civilians so as to defend his regime. Many Daaroods were armed and grouped in Wadajir Quarter as their head-quarter and they participated fiercely in the war between USC fighters and forces loyal to Siyaad Barre. It was Morgan/Dafle with the full orders from their father-in-law and Daarood dye-hard fighters who changed the nature of the conflict into civil war between two clans.

v   In April 1991 Siyaad Barre mobilised all Daarood forces in southern regions ‘military & civilians’ and planned to recapture Mogadishu. Forces loyal to Siyaad Barre wearing T-shirt with Siyaad’s picture and slogans chanting “Ruugcadaagii soo rogaalceli = the veteran fighters comeback victoriously” reached outskirt of Mogadishu. As a result heavy battle, code-named “Duufaanta Beeraha” on 07/04/91 took place. Victorious USC chanting “Ruugcadaagii raamsadaa helay = veteran’s forces were swallowed by dragons” drove out SPM/SNF militias from Lower Shabeele Region and overwhelmingly defeated the forces loyal to Siyaad. To mark this USC victory, a man by the name Geelle Faruur, USC supporter, composed this poem “Ruugcadaa isku sheegu soo rogaalcelintiisu ma raqdiisa Afgooye tukuhu hayska riftaa = the veteran warriors who dreamed to comeback, their corpses were eaten by scavengers in Afgooye

v  Throughout 1992, forces loyal to Siyaad massacred Rahanweyn people; subsequently they marched towards the capital city with the plan to recapture it. They were stopped at 50 km west of Mogadishu. A big battle, code-named “Xadka iyo Xawaaraha” on 19/04/92 broke out. USC forces again drove out Siyaad’s forces up to Kenya border, as result Siyaad sought asylum in Kenya. Another USC sympathizer, by the name Tabantaabo said “Raggii isxambabooray xoog markii la muquushay, sowd xaduudka Wajeer xowli kuma dhaafin = when the aggressors were defeated by force, they escaped swiftly through Wajeer border. The above three episode indicating that Darood fighters defended and fought for Siyaad Barre were a political mistake which led them, unfortunately, to end up in refugee camps in Kenya. Clan hostility never eased until Siyaad died in Lagos January 1995. Siyaad Barre will be remembered for being the root cause and creator of all disasters related to ‘yesterday’s disintegration, today’s crisis and tomorrow’s problem’ and his legacy will likely last for centuries.


Sylvia Pankhurst who wrote “Ex-Italian Somaliland in 1951” when writing on 1936 Italian invasion of Ethiopia, owing to her ardent support of Ethiopian cause and antagonism towards the Italians, she was nicknamed “Ethiopian advocate”. Similarly your book sounds that you are advocate of certain Somali clan and against other clans. Furthermore, your book seems that there is personal animosity between you and late Halima Khalif Magool. Magool was a well-known singer who devoted all her life to the national cause. She will be remembered as fervent popular nationalist, with sweet voice, strong in her feeling against Abyssinian imperialism, which she displayed especially in 1977 Ogaaden war. Magool was the first female singer who sang beside with male singer on open concert platform stage and was courageous to say ‘man and woman are equal’. A woman hugging male colleague and singing shoulder to shoulder with him was a new phenomenon to Somali culture, thus the concert viewers thought what they were watching was unbelievable, and they chanted a famous slogan “Sida Halima Khaliif qalabada hayska qaadin = don’t be shameless like Halima Khaliif”.  I would like to introduce to you another Somali female activist, well-known hero Mrs. Hawo Yarey


Hawo Yarey was the first Somali female who run as a candidate in the general elections of 1969. She won the seat gaining landslide victory, in Ceelbuur district but male dominated society denied her deserved seat in the Parliament, (electoral fraud, see the Soviet Union in the Horn of Africa by Robert Patman page 97). May Allah have mercy both of them for championing women’s rights. “Hawo Yarey & Magool” were two feminist pioneers who endured long struggle so as to secure women rights. However without evidence of Magool’s image carrying gun or recorded voice, and accusing her only on hearsay, is extremely unfair to tarnish someone’s reputation and good image of someone who is regarded as national hero and it is against the ethics of writing. If you want to find an active female warlord betting civil war drums today there are plenty of them in Somalia. Usual humans have two eyes and two ears, please use both your eyes and ears, and also be fair and impartial. Please take a piece of paper and pen then write short article about notorious old woman like Halima Soofe who daily incites tribal hatred which could lead to a new civil war, please see below links:


You praised whole heartily singer Saada Ali Warsame and believed boosting up rumours saying that Saada is brave singer who sang the famous “Land cruiser song” composed by Abdi Muhumud  Amiin. It is true that in the troubled years of the 90s Saada was courageous and had sung anti regime songs, but she later changed her struggle to become tribal minded. Traditionally, Somalis are ardent supporters to their tribe rightly or wrongly, and Saada was one of them despite her fame, talent, & sweet voice. Saada unfortunately played her role in the civil war and supported her tribe particularly the battle of ‘Kalshaale’ between Dhulbahante and Habarjeclo tribes. Currently she composed new song “dhiigshiil hadhigan = don’t deposit your savings in Dahabshiil in order to destroy Dahbshiil’s reputations as a Company, owned by Habarjeclo businessmen, please see the below link:


Her tireless efforts and her financial injection, through her own NGO “Gurmad”, in favour of her tribe, she secured a seat in the national parliament as a reward from her tribe, without contest. In the political dispute between Somaliland & Puntland, critics say that Saada always supports Puntland purely on tribal grounds. Instead of visiting her native town Las’anod she prefers to stay in Growe, because Las’anod is under administration of Somaliland. This reflects Saada’s true dual personality.


Without deviating further from the main point, it seems that you are highly partisan in your writings about the clan competition in Somalia.  Rumours circulating inside Somalia suggest that Ms Lidwien Kapteijns is roommate partner of a Somali man from Puntland regions and that all her writings are coached in bedroom as stereotype record. Since I am living in Mogadishu I can’t verify whether this rumour is true or fabricated. If these rumours turn out to be genuine story, then dear sister in-law, with all due respect, I request you to use, in the future, when writing, a room with full bright light and be fair among Somali clans, not ‘qaraabo waa qaar dambe = intimacy is affinity. Kindly tell the truth even if it hurts your beloved ones.

Abdulkadir  Osman “Aroma”