The poet Abees deserves the highest Literature Golden Medal, and not being sent to jail for meaningfully criticising the poor status of the Somaliland Police stations
I have listened to the verses narrated by Mr Abees at the event held in Mansor Hotel in Hargiesa on Thursday 10 January 2019. It is obvious that after returning from 15 years refugee life in the UK, the poet was shocked by the poor conditions and inhumane treatment of inmates in Hargiesa police stations. On the one hand, Mr Abees was obviously inadvertently comparing Hargeisa police cadre with the one in London or Birmingham – the two are not comparable outright. We should look at the different background of the policemen in the streets of Hargeisa and London: The civic culture of the two people, the levels of education, the level of training, the income disparity, the levels of job security, pension schemes etc.
On top of that, the shocking stories that the artist has narrated regarding the poor conditions of Hargiesa police stations are reflection of the norms of city life in this part of the world. These are the product of the absence of civility in the vast majority of our population and the accepted norms of abuse and negligence at the police stations and every other public and private institutions – the phenomenon is not confined to the police only. This behaviour is totally inacceptable and should be dealt with without further delay.
In short, the culture of respecting and accepting “The Other” is subsiding in the daily life of most of our city people, and the situation has further deteriorated over the past 30 years or so. On the contrary, the traditional Somali culture has always nurtured good manners and respect of the other. To date, even the collective norms prevailing in our contemporary rural society are still supportive of good manners and respect of all the people.
It is obvious that we all need to look at our faces in the mirror and reassess our attitudes towards one another and the humanity at large. The entire nation needs to go back to some sort of specialized reorientation, where people should be taught the ethics of respect and good manners. Our people should be encouraged to revisit their day-to-day vocabulary which should be repeatedly punctuated with words like Please, thank you, Bardon, May I help you, and the like.
Finally, I am of the opinion that at Mr Abees deserves to be awarded the highest Literary Golden Medals and should not have been sent to jail for meaningfully criticising the poor state of the Somaliland Police stations. The beautiful piece of literature that he composed should have been adopted as part of police training lectures and guidelines on how our police should think vs their people. After all, poems are obviously the best media to communicate with the vast majority of our oral society, and particularly the police who are mostly not adequately educated.
Hassan Abdi Yousuf
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia