About bantu discrimination in somalia Essay

There are numerous factors that cause underdevelopment in a country, some of these factors include; war poverty, natural disasters, unemployment, high illiteracy rate, environmental degradation, poor governance, corruption, inequality and prejudice. However, one of the major factors I believe causes underdevelopment in most African countries and is often overlooked is tribalism amongst different ethnicities. Tribalism is the root of disunity which hinders progress among people in a given country, in this case, Somalia. When disunity occurs due to tribalism, it amounts to civil war, this, in turn, leads to political instability in a country. (Hettne (1993):120) When inequality and biases are displayed in the guise of ethnicity it amounts to tribalism, in most cases, the minor tribe is always prejudiced, discriminated and face inequality. This means that the minority ethnic groups can have the education and criteria it takes to govern a nation but due to tribalism, their accomplishments are hindered immensely preventing them to participate in the educational, economic and political advancement of a country as they end up having woeful occupations. The major tribes have a superiority complex and are at an advantage in the political, cultural and social aspects of a country. (Hettne (1993):120) Aside from Cushites and Nilotes, the Bantus in Africa make up the bulk of the population from the Nyakyusa-Ngonde of Tanzania to the Tswana of Botswana, Bantus make up a total number of hundreds of different ethnicities in Africa. I will specifically write about the Bantus in Somalia who are also known as Mushunguli, “Jareer”(Africans with coiled hair) or Gosha, why they are discriminated, how it has played a role in affecting Somalia as a whole, how it contributes to instability, tribalism and issues revolving autochthony in Somalia. (Hettne (1993):121) Although race and ethnicity have interwoven roots ethnicity is different from race it also widely differs from what we have come to describe as the meaning of ethnicity. Ethnicity can be difficult to pin down since it started by a number of scientists in the 1920’s in places like the University of Chicago where they sought to study and define social groups outside racial distinction. It was around that time that ethnicity began to appear in many discussions. Ethnicity is understanding that a group of certain people have a shared cultural origin and heritage. This could mean national origin or a narrower lense of viewing people who share a common interest of life even if it means a narrower ethnic group. For instance, a person can identify as an Angolan but their ethnicity can be Lunda-Chokwe in Angola. (Hettne (1993):121) Autochthony, on the other hand, was first obtained from the French word “autochthone” which is translated to primarily from the soil, autochthony means a person or group of people who have the right to a territory of land and were there first. Autochthony can also mean a group of people or an individual sharing the same culture and territory through ancestral ties making them indigenous to a particular land. (Zenker(2011)61) The Khoi-Sans of South Africa are indigenous to South Africa although South Africa is made up of other ethnicities such as; Indians, whites, Chinese, coloured and blacks. This is due to the fact that Khoi-Sans have inhabited South Africa for approximately 2",000 years which makes them autochthones since their ancestors have inhabited South African soil for thousands of years. (Zenker(2011)61) In African countries, such; as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Eretria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana and Ivory Coast, they share common tribes based on a geographical landscape. Example the Mende, Fulani and Mandingo can be found in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia which are all neighbouring countries. (Zenker(2011)61) Autochthony became a major issue between different ethnic tribes such as the Kongo ethnic group of Angola and D.R.Congo after colonization, this was because before colonizers mainly (the French, English, German, Belgium and Portuguese) left African soil they created artificial borders which made these countries share common tribes but were divided by artificial borders that resulted in conflict amongst the same people separated by artificial borders over access to land ownership.(Zenker(2011)61) However, in the case of Somalia autochthony became an issue after the Arab slave trade when Arabs took tribes such as; the Zigua, Makua, Yao, Zaramo, Nyasa, Ngindo, from mainly Mozambique and Tanzania and few parts of Malawi in the 18th century. These Bantu tribes were considered “unpure’ and ”ignoble” due to their physical features and were enslaved causing Somali Bantus to be treated like second class citizens in Somalia. (Lehman(2003):211) However this does not mean that all Bantus are originally from Mozambique and Tanzania or Malawi in Somalia, some Bantus like the Shidle and Makanne have been autochthones to Somalia by living in the southern coast of Somalia for roughly 2 centuries.(Lehman(2003):211) It is a myth to assume that Somalia is a homogenous society when it is indeed a distinct society that practices different traditions and cultures, also it is crucial to emphasize that different ethnicities come from different genealogies and have a different geography when it comes to being an autochthone in order to understand why autochthony and ethnicity matters in Somalia.(Lehman(2003):211) The common factor that differentiates Somali Bantus or Jareer from other Somali ethnicities like the Jileec is their hair textures, which are tight curls for Jareers compared to the Jileecs in Somalia, although Somali Bantus lost their main languages from Tanzania and Mozambique where they were kidnapped during the Arab slave trade some communities still maintained their Bantu culture like burial ceremonies. Some Somali Bantus were bought to Somalia after Arab merchants had deceived them to bring them to greener pastures when they faced famine in Tanzania. (Eno(2008):399) Oral history has it that an Arab foreigner named Sheikh Ismail Jaberti arrived in the northern shore of Somalia where his boat wrecked, he was then welcomed warmly by the autochthones of Somali and married Donbira a black African until his descendants outnumbered the autotunes of the Somali community like the Shidle and Makanne ",this has been the Arab origin of many Somali ethnicities other than the Bantu Somalis but linguistic and archaeological evidence proves that some Bantus like the Shidle and Makanne have been inhabiting the coast of Shabelli and Jubba from the 13th century.(Eno(2008):400) The ethnic division between Somali Bantus and other ethnic Somalis like Jilleecs was rooted by Italians and Britain but before the Italian presence, Somali ethnicities like the Jileec participated in selling Somali Bantus from the Tanzanian seashore to Arabs who castrated Somali Bantus, this earned the Jilleecs a booming business. (Eno(2008):420) During colonization, the Jilleec Somalis were not treated like the Bantus who were punished harshly and considered “physically fit for work”, though the majority of Somali Bantus lived under enslavement in a slave-based plantation known as Shabelle, the Watoro also known as freed Somali Bantu had established themselves in the center of Juba by creating small communities where they managed to attack predators over their crops and animals since they were a pastoral and agrarian community.(Eno(2008):420) While Somali Bantus were regarded as industrial workers by the Italians the Jileec and other Somali ethnicities were seen as excellent fighters and more than 30",000 Jileec were recruited in the Italian conquest for Ethiopia in 1936, this enforced the stereotype that Somali Bantus were excellent for enslavement and were satisfied with their status quo. (Eno(2008):420) During colonization, Italians and Swedish missionaries were able to give access to education within the Somali Bantus communities although this was an uneven opportunity compared to other Somali ethnicities. In the 20th century, Italians were aware of the slave trade but were lenient under the government of Cecchi and Filonardi.(Ahad(2014): 40) When they finally attempted to abolish the enslavement of the Bantus in Somalia, it did not go well with the Sheikh at the time known as Hassan Barsane who misinterpreted the Quran by resisting slave abolishment, ironically Hassan Barsane is still hailed as one of Somali’s greatest hero for revolting against Italian colonization but was against the freedom of Bantus in Somalia.(Ahad(2014): 40 In the early 1990s, Somali Bantus faced more hardship such as lawlessness, poor living conditions, armed robbery, criminality, ethnic clash and famine than any other ethnic Somali group which devasted them when hunger hit the Bantu community in the Shabelle coast. Somali Bantus had little protection from militias and clan elders because the militias looted over their properties instead of protecting them by carrying their treasured goods such as crops to give to other ethnicities whom they considered “noble’.Even when most Bantu Somalis converted to Islam they were still discriminated and segregated against.(Ahad(2014): 51 Due to the following attributes, the biggest fear Somali Bantus faced was ownership to land since they were treated like second class citizens. In the 1970s when Somali Bantus could have access to land it was taken away from them by major foreign aid projects, who employed ethnic Somalis to work on farmlands populated by Somali Bantus a form of internal imperialism, more than 10",000 hectors of land was seized from Somali Bantus in the process by heavily taxing them by both Italian colonists and ethnic Somalis.(Ahad(2014): 51) It made Somali Bantus unarmed and powerless due to the fact that they became impoverished more than any era in Somali history. Jileec Somalis were covetous of the advanced living conditions of Somali Bantus and looted then attacked them as land grabs took place, in the eyes of ethnic Somalis the Bantus were “others”. (Ahad(2014): 51) In 1960 under the government of Osman, other ethnic Somalis like Jillecs benefited from the luxurious living that the Italians left behind after colonization bound with years of wealth increase and corruption. This made it clear that in Somali being a Bantu made you fall into a matter of life and death even after colonization was over.(Ahad(2014): 51) Somali ethnicities like the Jillec viewed themselves as supreme Arab descents and bought completely into the notion of Arab cultural superiority which allowed themselves to be brainwashed by the belief that to be somebody, they have to look, speak, dress, behave, act and think like Arabs. This is a simple admission that not only has Somali Jileec been conquered but many have allowed themselves to be co-opted into white supremacists and the Arab imperialism way of doing things by these they saw Somalis Bantus as “less Somali” due to their prominent African features and tight curls.(Eno(2008):400) Due to Bantu discrimination in Somalia, Bantu Somalis were unable to be represented in politics by the Somali government, they were unable to be involved in the private sector, they had fewer educational opportunities and both their wishes and plight were unconsidered while other ethnicities had more advantages and opportunities in Somalia.(Bjork",2016:15) Somali Bantus had to find resettlement by escaping while other Somali Bantus were aided by NGO’s in neighbouring countries like Kenya, where their documents were then processed by the U.N.H.C.R after living in the Kakuma refugee camp so that they could move to developed countries like the United States where they could assimilate.(Bjork",2016:15) The ethnic problem in Somalia was not solved even when Somali Bantus were brought to Kakuma camp in Kenya by NGO's because there, they faced bigotry by other Somali tribes like the Jileec and Somali militias who still wanted absolute control over them in order to divert the food delivered to Bantus for other ethnicities. This caused the red cross and numerous NGOs to intervene when they discovered that the food sent in Kakuma camp was not reaching the ethnicity with black African features known as Somali Bantus.Bjork",2016:15) Ironically other ethnicities in Somalia such as the Jileec resettled in developed countries like the united states and Canada where they are categorized as black together with, African Americans, Caribbeans and those who migrate to America from Africa recently by white America, despite their loose curls, long foreheads and pointed nose. In Somalia, most ethnic Somali continue to prey on Somali Bantus by continuing to prevent most targeted aid to reach them from international organizations like the U.N.H.CR. (Bjork",2016:28) The discrimination of Somali Bantus in Somalia is a political issue that should be taken into consideration on a global platform because although the UNHCR assists Somali Bantus with resettlement processes in Canada, U.S.A and Europan countries, there is very little comprehension about the risks Somali Bantus face in Somalia from ethnic Somalis",this includes immigration officers who have little comprehension as well. Another main issue is that Jileec Somalis have stolen the identity of Somali Bantus when applying for U.N.H.C.R resettlement documents and its easier for ethnic Somalis since Somali Bantus are not represented politically by the Somali government.(Bjork",2016:28) To have a sense of autochthony many Somali Bantus have given up on the Somali government and ethnic Somalis who despise them and view them as outcasts and fewer Somalis, the political, social and economic aspects of Somalia have done nothing to improve their plight and human rights, instead most Somali Bantus are returning to one of their ancestral land which is Tanzania where they were taken from for more than 165 years ago to have a sense of belonging, but even so, they are still gun downed by ethnic Somalis who have access to firearms when they try to escape.(Roxas 2011): 523) Somali Bantus faced discrimination between Somali ethnicities and Italian colonists in the form of local and foreign colonization so when Somalis speak of nationalism it is flawed. Today Somali Bantus are still called derogatory terms such as “Ooji” translated to unable to think beyond the present situation, men of the forest “ Wagosha, and “Adoon” meaning slaves. Jareers were seen as more physically built and so did most of the slave work and experienced what black South Africans experienced during apartheid. (Roxas 2011): 523) Jillec children continuously bully Somali Bantus in school playgrounds because it has been ingrained in them to act this way, making the Jileec feel superior towards Somali Bantus. This, in turn, has even affected Somali Bantus psychological since they experience discrimination from an early age and 99% of Somali Bantu are abused and jobless.(Scharrer",(2018): 501) Despite the Bantu community being a large group in the African continent they make a minority group in Somalia, Somali Jillecs have lumped all Somali Bantus as descendants of slaves. In my opinion, it is wrong for Somali Bantus not to have a sense of belonging in Somalia because of their physical appearance since some are descendants of Tanzanians and Mozambicans slaves while others are descendants of pre-Somali autochthones before the Arabs slave trade or even prior to the arrival of fugitive slaves. (Scharrer",(2018): 501) In conclusion, The Somali Bantus lack a form of citizenship in Somalia because they face the highest form of discrimination among ethnic Somalis, Somali Bantus are left in the state of stateless due to their consistency in the sense of lacking a community , when Somali Bantus resettle in Kakuma camp in Kenya the discrimination still continues they are therefore unable to claim land in Somalia nor their ancestral lands(Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi) which they left more than 160 years ago, I feel that even if Somali Bantus returned back to Mozambique or Tanzania they might not face the same discrimination as they did in Somalia but they will still be treated like foreigners because they have been accustomed to Somali culture ",the Somali Bantu does not have access to land as an autochthone or a “clear” ethnicity because as I mentioned earlier being Bantu is a broader term of an ethnic group ",Somali Bantus are strangers in every land they inhabit",they have to assimilate and reintegrate everywhere they land as asylum seekers with an “puzzling” identity.

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