An open letter to Prime Minester Abdiweli sheikh
Allow me to begin by congratulating you on your recent appointment as prime minister of Somalia. Judging by your educational background and experience, it would appear that this appointment has come at an appropriate time for you. I would expect that your skills, knowledge and professional experience would stand you in good stead for undertaking the role of prime minister, particularly in the light of the immense challenges that our nation continues to face. Now that your appointment has been officially ratified by parliament, the first arduous task you will of course undergo will be to form a government that is expected to be a reflection of Somali society. Of course, placating all sections of society can be a thankless task at the best of times, however, I have every confidence that the forthcoming government will be inclusive of all.
Mr Prime Minister, the fact that this letter is emanating from myself as an anti-khat campaigner will probably lead you to conclude that khat itself is the reason I have decided to contact you. Well you guessed right. I would go as far to say that khat use and abuse in Somalia is one of the biggest problems our country has been facing for generations, with seemingly no end in sight. Unfortunately for the past 20 years not many leaders (past or present) seem to understand this To his credit, however, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has defined khat as a ‘national catastrophe’ but little or no steps have been taken by his administration to combat this problem. I have written countless, similar letters to many influential politicians across the country without so much as an acknowledgement and as a result feel compelled to continue raising awareness on this issue until action is taken by our government.
As is stands, a child as young as six can go and purchase khat without any questions asked which in any rational person’s mind should set alarm bells ringing. At the very least, the young, innocent victims should be protected from this harmful drug, I’m sure you would agree. We need our leaders to stand up for us as citizens in a manner not dissimilar to that of the Kenyan government that stood up in the interests of the khat farmers in Meru county. Of course we should not be surprised that Kenya would act in the best interests of its constituents, especially to the detriment of us as Somalis who continue to act as unsuspecting cannon fodder in the khat trade. However, what is undoubtedly true is the inaction of Somali leaders has emboldened Kenya and Ethiopia to view Somalis as a people effectively inhabiting no-man’s land. Our self-esteem as a people has never been at a lower ebb.
To illustrate, recently the Kenyan deputy president Mr William Ruuto personally funded a court case in Britain that sought to overturn the UK Khat ban on ‘human rights’ grounds as this would apparently hamstring the khat/drug trade in Meru whose key clientele comprises the Somali community in Britain. Now, I’m not suggesting for a moment that you fund a counter-claim against Mr Ruuto out of your own pocket. What would be more appropriate would be for you as prime minister to at the very least attempt to regulate the khat trade if it’s felt that an outright ban is unrealistic at this stage. This would undoubtedly be a positive step in the right direction. Only when we consider the fact that the amount Somalia sends to Kenya annually for khat actually outstrips the entire annual budget of Somalia do we get a clear picture of how much work needs to be done. By way of this letter, I am kindly requesting that you as Prime Minister show some much needed leadership in tackling this devastating scourge on our society.
Abukar Awale ( Qaad-Diid )
The leadhttps anti-khat campaigner
Tweets by Abukarawale