Qaran Ku Nool (Living with Statehood)

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Qaran Ku Nool (Living with Statehood)

  • August 24, 2023
  • By Admin: Osman
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By Abdulkadir Osman Farah

Recently, some members of the struggling marginalized Somali communities staged a public demonstration protesting social and structural injustices. Through diverse media outlets, profiles of the community described their constituents as comparatively “honest and hardworking people” who traditionally been and often long for “Qaran ku nool”- meaning people seeking and living with legitimate state authorities and its protection. Though the concerned community understandably and rightly express specific grievances, the issue of people organizing themselves in the search of living under some form of qaran (state) is rather larger and universal. The alternative of not been part of some form of organized society, under some form of leadership and statehood, seems rather anarchic and therefore unacceptable for most modern people. Under such chaotic situation, everybody might seem to confront/clash against everybody under conditions of the absence of unifying authority and sort of cohesive system.

Nonetheless, in studying the process of “limited statehood”, Thomas Risse and colleagues (2014) find that, so far, no state, both in the past or in the present, can fully claim to be in control of its territory and society. Meaning that no state, or a society, whether strong or weak, can fully exercise a comprehensive sovereignty (without recurring internal and external disturbances and even disorders). Most societies, however, insist on pursuing a balanced statehood while avoiding and preventing a shift towards anarchy, meaning the absence of state authorities, government institutions, ethics, and rules. State and society formation, regardless of where in the world and how strong, therefore, remains an” unfinished/able project”, meaning always “work under process.”

Somalis, as an exceptional case, belong among societies in recent decades, that, willingly, experimented in living with extremely limited statehood. Depending on where people live and how, they seek linking to nations and statehood in multiple ways. For instance, Somalis within the country mainly seek to live under the combination of some form of fragile national, regional, or provincial authorities/protection. Under such circumstances, distorted kinship dynamics with no obvious formal hierarchical institutions and laws often heavily mediate such unstable structures. At the same time such informal socio-political interactions and relationships neither qualify as fully anarchic (all against all) nor a reasonably functioning normal predictable statehood.

Meanwhile, Somalis abroad, or in diaspora, also seek adjustment into some form of state authorities, also often mediated by members of the dominant host society. This is a form of prevailing distorted kinship relations that often divides people into natives (people who historically belong to the nation- the “folk”) versus (people with roots as strangers, migrants, refugees, exilic or diasporic). While the prevailing Somali “qaran ku nool” transnational quest seems unorganized, fragmented and scattered across multiple societies/nations, other societies such as the Chinese, the Indians, the Turks, the Scandinavians, and many others seek to strengthen their national core with the consolidation of own statehood that then they collectively and individually expand not just within the different regions of that particular society and nation, but also across the world and beyond in multiple transnational forms.

In explaining the intrigues of what might particularly prevent Somalis from becoming people with “Qaran ku Nool”, the recently departed renown Somali poet, thinker and traditional leader, Jama kadiye (aun) left us with the following well-thought idea/proposition “Haddaad aragto duul wada dhashay oo diirka ka collooba, iyagoo iswada diiran baa laga daneystaaye”. If you see a nation intensely engaged in superficial/avoidable internal hostilities, their self-inflicted destruction eventually enables determined adversaries prevailing over them.