Horn Of Africa (HOA)

Conflict In The H.O.A

Most are aware of the recent bombing in Somalia by the Kenyan Air Force; if not, read about it here: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/Your-Questions-Kenyas-Campaign-Against-al-Shabab-133487408.html

The main reason why Kenya initiated the Air Strike is because they wish to fight the extremist group AlShabab who are currently attempting to Govern Somalia. AlShabab isn’t a race or an ethnicity, they don’t look any different then the people who live in the area. They are an idea, and some support this idea while others reject it. It is impossible to distinguish between those who are AlShabab supporters and those who are not. This leads me to believe that an Idea cannot be fought by weapons, but can only be fought by an idea that is better than it. At first, hearing about the air strikes, I wondered why this didn’t take place sooner. Then, after a couple of thoughts, a notion came to mind: If AlShabab can’t be differentiated from a civilian what does this mean? “All Somalis represent AlShabab”… and therefore they are all the enemies.

This is significant to Garris who are largely effected by the conflict due to the fact that they reside in border cities where AlShabab’s influence and rule somehow leaks over (For example, El Wak). As stressed in previous posts, majority of Garris are rigorously fighting to keep AlShabab out of their region (supposedly, at times, with the support of fellow Ethiopians).

This conflict becomes harmful when the identity crisis of the Garris is applied. Some Garri people have been operated to reckon that their identity is in fact Somali, solely based on regional affiliation and a former alliance. This false belief that has been somewhat accepted by Garris without any regard for truth, has caused other’s to recognize Garris as Somalis. Also, some Garris are said to have become more adoptive of Somali cultures/ways after they migrated to Somali refugee camps due to conflict in Ethiopia. After the late 70’s and early 80’s when Garris fought Somalia’s war, their cultural awareness started to shift towards accepting Siad Barres mission to incorporate Garris into Somalia (look up Somali Abbo movement).

To further prove this, I recently watched a video interview of Garri drought victims in the Garri town of Takaba where a man spoke of the situation in the region. As he spoke in Garri, he failed to pronounce “‘ain”, an alphabet that isn’t used in the Garri language but is used in Somali, Arabic etc… When Garris who have lived in Somalia speak the Somali language, it is easy to figure out that they are Garri because they cannot pronounce certain letters; the letter ‘ain is one example. The man speaking in the video immediately corrected himself to pronounce the ‘ain. It’s like some people are programed to alter their ways to fit the Somali way, but luckily there are those who say “wait a minute, what’s going on here”. Lack of acknowledgement of little things like this, where we change the way we are to align with others culture, keep the Garri people in the dark of their own experience.

I know of a Garri individual who speaks the Somali language all the time even though they know Garri. They do not speak Garri and discourage other’s from speaking it, because they believe the Garri language is “afaan bela”… “the language of hunger”. For this reason alone, many Garris have abandoned their mother tongue to adopt the Somali language. They says, “if you speak Somali, the Somali people help you out, but if you speak Garri nobody wants you”. This should be a good enough reason for us to analyze our position, why do you want them if they don’t want you?

Garris are believed to have lived in Kenya (amongst other places in the HOA) before the 1400’s, but they continue to be grouped into the category of Somali. Somalia as nation surely doesn’t have a problem with this because when the HOA is divided by ethnicity, they are credited to a larger region due to the addition of Garri lands. An example of this is the picture below, which credits the Garrilands as regions that are inhabited by Somali people. With this addition Somalia becomes that much bigger, and it fulfills Siad Barre’s Goal of a Greater Somalia. Sadly, this is a result of careless disregard for truth.

In the conflict between Kenya and Somalia, Garris will be placed on the Somali side as always even though that is not where they belong.This thought did not occur to me until a professor began to explain how the “Somalis” on the Kenyan side of the border will revolt against Kenya because of the recent Air Force attack. I wanted to tell that professor, that those people you refer to as “Somalis”are infact Garri, and they’ve been living there forever. They don’t speak the Somali language and have no biological relation to the Somali people, So why will they support the Somalis? Just because they practice Islam and have mixed features does not automatically make them Somali. It is individuals and groups, with careless disregard for truth, who have always assigned Garri people into the category of “Somali”, and I for one, am tired of it.


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