Saturday, August 24, 2013

Somalia: The Plight of Wagosha People in Jubba Land


News headlines from Somaliland, Somalia and the world



Since the end of 18th century, there has been a contest for resources and economic control in southern Somalia’s Jubba Regions. The race for resources in these Regions is between various groups with competing economic interests in the area and it is has been increasingly difficult for the original inhabitants to deter these groups from grabbing their land.
Competition for resources in these areas is frankly based on excessive greed and wild imaginations a lot worse than the one on the book “Animal farm” by George Orwell in 1994 in which it emerged that all humans are equal but some are more equal than others.
Foreigners that write about the conflict in the country believe Jubba regions are the central pillar in the conflict in southern Somalia Region and the only part in the country where hostilities will linger on long after the conflict is over in the rest of the country. These areas are particularly of interests due to its richness in mineral resources which every group is trying to get its hands on; “pure gold” as some would say.
Catherine Besteman and Lee V. Cassanelli who are both Anthropologists wrote a book about title ‘The struggle for Land in Southern Somalia. The War behind the War” in which they said a solution to the fighting in Somalia will never be found as long as the issue in Kismaayo [Lower Jubba, southern Somalia] and the wider Jubba Region is not addressed.
The History of Jubba regions
History books indicate that the earliest explorers found Bajuni and Jareer [Bantu clans including Wazigua, Wamakua, Wanyasa, Wangindo, Wayao, Wasambaa, Wapokomo, Mijikenda and other Bantu clans] clans residing along the [Jubba Region] coastal lines. It is also believed that the Gaaljecel clans, Sheekhal and Cowramaleh were also among those in the area.
There has been a long running dispute over the ownership of these regions since then. After Somalia attained independence, clans from other parts of the country who were getting support from the government of the day flocked into these areas (look at Bestman’s research in 1994].
The first migrants of Jubba regions are believed to be nomadic communities from western Somalia regions in search of pasture and settled there around 1880 (research by Turton 1970, Dalleo and Little 1992) and settled in Afmadow. There has also been large scale migration from others in North Eastern Somalia regions since 1940′s through to 1960′s.
According to Peter D. Little, an Anthropologist in University of Kentucky, families from North Eastern Somalia regions migrated to Kismaayo around mid 1940′s. The inhabitants then opposed the arrival of these new families but the immigrants got support from the British colonials that ruled these areas in the period between 1940 and 1950 and ended up working for them as domestic servants.
Peter Little believes the clans that migrated into these regions shared a determination to oust the inhabitants (According to research by Rural Herders and Urban Merchants. The Cattle Trade in Southern Somalia). Jubba regions were then named Alabama because there was a conflict similar to the one in United States of America’s Alabama between the white and black races.
Goshaland or Jubbaland
If two different groups of people get into a dispute over the ownership of particular land, Archaeologists are always called in to study the architecture in the land and they try to establish whether there is any known link between the current residents and its original inhabitants. They start their investigations with the ground itself, graves, old buildings and history books written about the earlier inhabitants.
Jubba regions used to be known as Gosha. Its residents were called Reer Gosha [people from Gosha] Shambara and Mushunguli [Wazigua] (look at Menkhaus). Immigrants into these regions have in later years renamed these areas in order to legitimise their presence. Names such as Reer Wamo emerged. The original inhabitants refer the new arrivals as “Koyto”[which means the strangers or the immigrants] and “Galti” [the uncivilized people].
Clans that inhabited Jubba regions before the large scale immigration had a Suldan [a chief] named Nasib Bundo as the leader of Jubba regions back in the days when it was still referred to as Gosha. During the last century, these clans from Gosha united all their might in order to stop the large scale migration into their region.
In the 1950′s when Somali was still fighting for independence from the colonialists, traditional elders who were leaders of Reer Gosha contacted the United Nations and asked to have Jubba Regions added to Kenya (look at Menkhaus).
They were concerned that the new Somali government that was to come to into existence at some point in the near future might legitimise the ownership of their land to the new immigrants and that was exactly what happened in later years.
The people of Gosha have been subjected to a lot of suffering by successive governments in Somalia whether civilian or military. They were overshadowed by groups in power whose strategy was positioning of themselves to access of international aid. (Professor Abdi Samatar).
Civilians in Buulo Nasib spoke to Professor Menkhaus about the way the government led by Muhammad Siyad Barre used to rob them. The way they took over their land.
“A man that works for the military government came to us with documents claiming ownership of our land and we disputed it. We took our case to the officials at regional level who told us claims had no official documentation to back it up and our farms were handed over to the man with the documents who claimed to own our land,” said residents of Buulo Nasib while talking to the professor in 1986.
Others who tried to challenge and appeal against the military government’s decision to grab their land were subjected to intimidation and arrests. Some of them were even killed. Their land was used as reward for supporters of the government whose popularity was at the time dwindling. An example of this is the appointment of General Abdi Muhammad Sahardiid from Sool Region [North Eastern Somalia] as head of the Jubba Sugar Project.
Because the original inhabitants of Jubba regions were handy men, herders and farmers, they found it difficult to challenge the “nationalisation” campaign in which the government was grabbing their land. They become squatters in their own land and worked in their farms which had new owners. This gross injustice was the curse that led to the collapse of Somalia.
Reer Gosha were fleeing from Jubba regions and to Mogadishu and other part of the country at a time when there was an influx of new arrivals in their land. There were major programmes being undertaken in Jubba regions at the time among them Faanoole Rice Project, Mobambo Irrigation Project and Jubba Sugar Project.
The farms where these projects were being run belonged to the indigenous people of Jubba regions, who were not compensated for their loss. In the run up to the war, children in Jubba regions were used as labourers and prisoners were not brought before any court.
The civil war in Somalia was pleasant news for Reer Gosha because they then got the opportunity to regain control of their land until a government of national unity was formed in the country (look at Menkhaus]. Because they were not armed, it proved difficult to repossess the land and warring groups who were drooling over the resources in Jubba regions fought and continue fighting over resources.
The conflict over control of Jubba regions has become synonymous with the history of Somalia and the conflict in the country.
People from Gosha were then displaced from their homes and have had to leave the land where they lived for generations. They were badly affected by a conflict they had no role in. The rebel groups led by General Aideed, Colonel Jees, General Morgan, Colonel Goobanle and Colonel Barre Hiraale fought over control of Jubba regions which then redoubled the uncertainty and suffering of the indigenous people.
There have been reports of starvation in these areas every couple of years. Wild animals in the regions have also fled from the constant gunfire. Rotating seasons of planting and harvest which the indigenous people used such as Laba Maalisley and Laba Maylinley have been done away with. The drastic effect of the conflict has turned the region to a near desert.
Land belongs to its own people
Having lived through many years of conflict and continued chaos, the people of Gosha whose land has been grabbed are now seeking to save themselves. Whether it out of gross injustice or not, the geographical conditions in Jubba regions have now changed and the amount of rainfall in these areas has been minimal (look at the map NOAA and CRES Australia).
The United Nations concerned about the conflict in these regions organized a reconciliation conference in 1994 in which it brought together clans that are in dispute over the ownership of Jubba whether the indigenous people or those that emigrated in later years. The conference was chaired by General Muhammad Ibrahim Ahmad alias Liiqliqaato.
Whatever the outcome of these talks might have been, it was blocked by the renewed fighting which erupted while the conference was still ongoing.
It is now a calamity that some of the groups that came to attack Jubba regions are now fighting over its ownership while the rest of Somalis just watch. The only solution to the long running conflict in these regions is to have it as a land that belongs to all Somali which no particular group is allowed to claim rights of ownership given that original inhabitants do not have any power or authority over it and are termed “the land of the living dead”.
The solution to this disputed land is also a just government that rules the country in a fair manner. The unfortunate circumstance in which the government in Mbagathi allowed two clans led by Colonel Fartaag [Marehan] and Colonel Afgudud [Majerteen from Puntland] to agree among themselves over the control of Kismaayo, each terming the other as terrorists, is something I will not discuss here.
This conflict adds petrol to the fire that is already raging in these areas. When will the issue of Jubba regions which is a fundamental basis for the conflict in Somalia be resolved?
Source: Wagosha Somalia

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