The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually slaves of some defunct economist. John Maynard Keynes, the renowned British economist.
In the context of the Somali society, economists have no say in how the country is run, for the country is too chaotic to give a chance to economic theories and policies. Leaving the religious figures aside, the two other influential groups are the journalist and politicians. And Amin Amir is far more influential than politicians and journalists put together. There is no single person, be it a politician or a journalist that comes even close to the influence this cartoonist wields among Somalis.
And the question becomes why or what made Amin Amir attain such unparalleled influence in the Somali society? There are several reasons for that:
1. He is talented and very objective
2. He takes on the powerful
3. He gives voice to the voiceless, the oppressed, and the marginalized
4. He is associated with no particular clan, region, or group
5. He is in the pocket of no one, and can take on any and every Somali politician no matter how powerful, wealthy or well connected.
6. He misses no opportunity to excoriate Somali politicians for being lab-dogs for Ethiopia, the Somali people’s historic enemy.
7. He is a Pan-Somali activist who comments and tackles the affairs of every and all Somali Regions.
Amin’s talent and other commendable attributes and his unwavering pan-Somali activism made the Somali people open their hearts for him. It is no exaggeration to say he is admired by millions.
When Amin Amir gets on your case, it is over for you. No Somali politician could withstand the devastating blows of Amin’s mighty pen. Remember the long list of the corrupt Somali politicians including Abdirahman Faroole, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, Sharif Sakiin, and so many others that he buried their careers for good.
For about two decades, Amin Amir used his pen to advance Somali interests, commending and encouraging anyone who was doing any useful work for the Somali people, and at the same criticizing the corrupt, and incompetent Somali politicians. Amin Amir was able to do all of that because he was credible and had the trust of the Somali people. Trust and credibility are precious commodities that are very difficult to establish, but very easy to lose. If one is not careful, a credibility that took years and decades to build, could go down the drain overnight. When you lose your credibility, you would lose the trust of your people. And when you lose the trust of your people, it is nearly impossible to regain it.
Therefore it was truly shocking to see Amin Amir, the uncompromising Somali patriot making 180 degree turn, and singing the praises of Abdi Omer Iley, the butcher of Somali Galbeed, claiming in his cartoon that Abdi Iley is developing the region. What development is Amin talking about here? There may be few roads in and around Jigjiga, but look at the rest of the region. Besides, if Somali-galbeed is so peaceful and stable, why has Abdi Iley banned the international media, and international charitable organizations such as the Red Cross and the Doctors Without-Borders from setting a foot in the region? If you have a peaceful and stable region, wouldn’t you want the international media and the rest of humanity to see your successes? Naturally, you would. However the truth of the matter is that Abdi Iley knows that Somali-galbeed is a horror house, and that is the only reason he doesn’t want the rest of the humanity to see his awful crimes.
The closest major town to Jigjiga is Dhagahbour, and it is a ghost town in spirit and development. There isn’t a single family in Dhagahbour that a member of it isn’t either killed, tortured, raped, or rotting in Abdi Iley’s horrific dungeons in Jigjiga. What goes for Dhagahbour goes for the rest of the towns and villages, where scorched policy is the norm, not the exception.
This Abdi Iley fellow is not an unknown quantity that Amin Amir isn’t familiar with. On the contrary, he knows Abdi Iley’s crimes and cruelty better than most Somalis. Before he started changing his tunes, as the second cartoon illustrates, Amin, the conscious of the Somali people, depicted Abdi Iley as blood thirsty, dim witted, and shameless that is devoid of noble human characteristics. And now all of a sudden, Amin started singing the praises of the very butcher he was blasting not so long ago.
Now the question is, what is going on? And what happened to Amin Amir?
It is no secret that Abdi Iley has been pursuing Amin Amir for a long time, and every time Abdi Iley travelled to Australia, Thailand, Europe and America, he and his cronies have been courting, cajoling and attempting to buy of the loyalty and the services of the renowned cartoonist. But time and again Amin Amir rebuffed those advances from Abdi Iley and his cronies. But at long last, Abdi Iley and his cronies apparently made a breakthrough. I am not saying this. It is this peculiar cartoon singing the praises of Abdi Iley that is saying that.
Accepting favours from corrupt politicians is a slippery slope. Your will quickly transform from one that speaks for justice, for the oppressed, and for the patriotic causes, to a tool used by the highest bidder. In addition when you accept favours from the corrupt and cruel politicians, your integrity will be compromised. When your integrity is compromised, you will lose your inner strength, and you will no longer be in a position to criticize others, because he whose house is made of glass, cannot afford throwing stones. Even if you close your eyes and brave all criticism, and start denouncing Somali politicians, as you used to do in the past, your words would mean nothing because they lost credibility, the essence that gave them the power and influence they carried for years. Besides, anyone who praises Abdi Iley cannot say any negative thing about Somali politicians such as Ahmed Silaanyo, Abdiwali Gass, Hassan Sh. Mohamud, and Ahmed Madoobe and others will be accused of hypocrisy, because with all their imperfections, the above noted men come across as honourable and true statesmen when compared with Abdi Iley, the butcher of Somali Galbeed. Therefore this new phenomenon of having ties with Abdi Iley poses the biggest threat to Amin Amir’s brand of integrity, influence and patriotism.
When you get into that habit, like a declined empire pulled down by gravity and internal ills, you will lose your balance. It would be impossible for you to go back to the mountain top or to the better days of yesteryears.
Criticising Amin Amir even when he is wrong is not really fun. This is so because since the demise of the Somali government, no Somali person defended, supported and advanced the cause of the oppressed and marginalized Somalis including those in Somali-Galbeed as did Amin Amir, year after year. When the country disintegrated, and Somali regional leader,s especially those in Somaliland and Puntland, made terrorizing the refugees from Somali-galbeed their favoured sport, and rounded up ONLF fighters and handed them to Ethiopia, it was Amin Amir who fought tooth and nail and exposed the treachery of those regional leaders to the Somali people and to the world at large.
In conclusion, to err is human, and mistakes do happen. Each and every one of us, on occasion, does something that we wish to take it back. And if anyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, in my book, it is Amin Amir that deserves that better than anyone else. My hope is that Amin would recognize that showering praises on Abdi Iley and protecting Amin Amir’s brand of integrity and patriotism cannot be combined. It is impossible. It is one or the other. Thus I urge Amin to give this matter a careful consideration, and avoid repeating that mistake for his own good, and for the good of all Somalis.