Now that the political campaign season is well under way, what kind of political leadership does Somaliland need?
In order to determine what kind of political leadership the nation requires, lets first establish how leadership is defined. The term ‘leadership’ was first coined in the early nineteenth century, and refers to ‘the dignity, office, or position of a leader, especially of a political party’s ability to lead’. To delve more into what political leadership entails we must refer to the renowned Greek Philosopher Aristotle, one of the most authoritative scholars on Political Philosophy, and teacher of Alexander the Great amongst others.
The quest to identify who would make the best and most effective leader is as old as civilsation itself. As such to determine which of the three Presidential candidates has the best qualities of a political leader, we ought to refer to Aristotle three artistic proofs. According to Aristotle we must all first become good followers before we become good leaders. A leader must intimately understand the needs, struggles and aspirations of his society, and once in office a leader must keep abreast of the same plight, concerns and development of the people he serves.
In order to become a political leader, one needs certain modes of persuasion to convince audiences. For Aristotle there were three: ethos, pathos, and logos. The ethos is the ability of the individual to convince others of his moral character and credibility; the pathos is the ability to connect and move people emotionally; the logos is the ability to give solid reasons for particular actions and, therefore, to move people intellectually. In our modern times by this definition, Gandhi (Asian), Winston Churchill (European), Abraham Lincoln (American), Nelson Mandela (African) and our very own Mohamed Ibrahim Egal were all great leaders who possessed all of the above.
In today’s political climate, we have three presidential candidates who all have their own distinct qualities. Whether we agree or believe that they are worthy of these descriptions of themselves or not, in the eyes of the Somaliland public, they are played out as followed. Mr Muse B. Abdi, the ‘Mujahid’ who has fought for the liberation of the Nation and has gone through all the trials and tribulations since Somaliland re-gained its independence, with deep roots in Somaliland’s fabrics. Mr Abdirahman A. Cirro, the ‘Diplomate’, a level headed former Speaker of Parliament who campaigns for change. And Mr Faisal A. Waraabe, the ‘Unconventional’, seasoned opposition leader who understands the needs of the people, with his ultra-Socialist Scandinavian vision for Somaliland.
From what we have seen so far in the election campaign, who do we think has employed the leadership modes of persuasion in line with Aristotle’s Ethos, Pathos and Logos artistic proofs? Although the official campaign period is very young, I think it’s very safe to assume the direction of the last couple of weeks has been anything but persuasion politics – but rather alienation and tarnishing opposition leaders’ standing and image, or all out right ‘negative campaigning’. It seems that the leaders and parties have learned nothing from the recently conducted historic Presidential Debates, that showed a country desperately wanting – to be moving forward, where the young, driven and ambitious youth of the nation are hungry and yearning for progressive politics, based on ideals and visions. The desperation was abundantly clear, give us your party-political programme, your vision for the country and what makes you different from Party X, other than the name and the colour of the crest it carries. The questions kept coming back, again and again, give us your vision and show us your intellect to implement that vision.
Yet as soon as the official campaign started, the old-guard went with what they only know. An emotionally charged roadshow with the usual well-known traditional leaders and political bigwigs skilled in the craft of tribalism performing their familiar speeches such as ‘hebel is a traitor and hebel is a warmonger’. The three candidates vying for the highest office of the land, went along with the usual status-quo, no courage of leadership there. It’s a shame. It’s a shame that our leaders and politician have no other tricks in their books, it’s a shame that they are getting away with taking our young nation backwards, when we so desperately yearn for a more positive, brighter future.
The young generation of today, have moved passed the clannism, the same old politicians being recycled with a different party hat, the old ‘gadhcas’ traditional leaders spewing hate against one-another’s clans.
We can see an enormous disconnect between the old politics of yesteryears Somaliland, and the youthful reality of Presidential Debate Somaliland, looking for a leader with Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. A leader who can persuade the electorate, that he has a compelling vision and a programme for the whole country, a leader who has charisma, honest enough to admit that he may not have all the answers but will surround himself with sound advice. If we look at today’s pictures of the parties’ political rallies and the same election campaign rallies in 2003, you won’t see much difference apart from the higher definition video quality. Can we afford to be stuck as a nation, in the same place as 14 years ago?
Somaliland is desperate, Somaliland is desperate for a new type of leadership. Alexander the Great, who was tutored by Aristotle was 160cm in height, short in stature by Roman standards but was able to command an army and people who believed in his vision and mode of persuasion to conquer an empire stretching from Macedonia and the Mediterranean Sea, to Egypt, Persia and the borders of India. We too need a leadership with a vision to get our country out of limbo statehood, abject poverty and victimhood mentality. We can no longer afford to remain idle, while the world moves ahead all around us. We only get opportunities like this to elect our leaders, once every 7 years with luck. Right now, Somaliland demands leadership, someone who can persuade and bring the country along with him on his vision. Someone that shows us that vision and then says ‘follow me, follow me, we are going to climb that mountain, reach for the peak and move forward as a nation’.
To the three candidates we say “If you want people to follow you, show them your map”.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Horndiplomat editorial policy.