Speaker of Somali Parliament, H.E. Mohamed Osman Jawari, launches groundbreaking social reconciliation programme to ‘reknit the social fabric of Somalia’

Report
from Government of Somalia
Published on 13 Dec 2013

His Excellency Mohamed Osman Jawari today launched a new initative, Quraca Nabadda, aiming to achieve grassroots social reconciliation through arts, culture and media, in front of an audience of Ambassadors and senior Somali politicians.

His Excellency Jawari said:

“Somalia has had enough. And that is why reconciliation is at the heart of the government’s agenda. We recognize - daily- that without reconciliation there can be no legitimate political process, no sustainable development and ultimately, no hope for a secure future for Somalia.”(1)

The event was sponsored by the Somali Ambassador in Embassy in Kenya, H.E. Mohamed Ali Nur (Americo). Who emphasised that one of the ways to revive Somalia is to engage the youth in Somali culture and arts.

Quraca Nabadda (the tree of peace in Somali) is the tree under which Somalis traditionally come together to solve their problems, as well as to celebrate.

The Quraca Nabadda is a partnership between the Federal Government and a coalition of Somali civil society organizations. As part of the project they will deliver over 3000 intensive 3-month reconciliation sessions in villages across Somalia, establish regional cultural centres to nurture the arts and unleash a wave of financial and technical support for the media.(2)

Osman Moallim, Chief Executive of Soyden, one of the Somali NGOs delivering the project said:

“Quraca Nabadda is a totally unique in Somalia. ‘Reconciliation’ usually means big conferences with ‘big men’ but Quraca Nabadda is about giving ordinary people the chance to come to terms with the past and be part of the peace process. It’s about reknitting the social fabric of Somalia. ” (3)

Jawari continued:

“Somalia is largely still an oral culture, with a rich tradition and high regard for art in all its forms: music, theatre, painting, poetry and literature…but the arts have been dismantled and artists targeted- terrorising many into never leaving their homes. …Quraca Nabadda harnesses the power of Somali culture and the Somali love of arts: music, stories, poetry and art- to bring people together in safe spaces to share their stories and discover that what divides people is less than what should unite them.”

The launch took place at an exhibition of Somali paintings done by artists in the Mogadishu studio set up by the Centre fir Research and Development. The paintings will be on display to the public later this year in both Mogadishu and Nairobi. (4)

RELEASE ENDS

Notes to editors:

(1) Full transcript of the speech available below and more information available from the Office of the Speaker at media@parliament.gov.so

(2) More details on the initiative available on request from quracanabadda@gmail.com or call Louis Brooke on +254 717 637 525

(3) For further information about Soyden visit http://soyden.net

(4) For images of the paintings visit http://www.pinterest.com/quracanabbada/

Transcript

OPENING REMARKS H.E. Mohamed Osman Jawari Speaker of the Parliament of the Federal Republic of Somalia at the launch of the Quraca Nabadda Exhibition

Nairobi, Friday 13 December

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen- It is my pleasure to welcome you today to the launch of Quraca Nabadda and this wonderful display of Somali art.

For many people this is an extremely busy time of year, so I am honoured that you have joined us today. I hope that the power and vitality of these paintings transfers a little energy to you!

Many of us are looking forward to being able to take a short break soon, and join our families to celebrate the end of one year and welcome in another. At this time it is good to be reminded of what is precious to us.

In Somali, ‘Quraca Nabadda’ means ‘tree of peace’. The tree is part of our culture. It is the tree under which, for hundreds of years, we Somalis have come together to solve our problems, to talk, laugh, cry and celebrate.

To me, the image of the tree is symbolic of finding solutions together. Many of us here today are working towards the same goals in different countries: peace, stability and a future of hope for our children.

Some people here are blessed to have grown up in countries where peace, opportunity and equality are normal. Some of us have grown up in countries where these human rights are things we are still fighting for.

I am very proud to present Quraca Nabadda to you today. It is a Somali-developed and led initiative that aims to bring social reconciliation to Somalia: nation-wide.

Its goal is to destroy the cycle of violence that divides people into victims and aggressors and destroys trust. It aims to destroy the pattern of conflict that forces a disconnect between communities, and contributes to the attractiveness of radicalism.

The Quraca Nabadda program is saying ‘Stop! There is an alternative!’ The Quraca Nabadda program will start a national conversation- from the grass roots up- about peace, reconciliation and the future of Somalia.

In many ways, despite our rich cultural heritage, Somalia is a country in infancy. We are a nation of clans and sometimes of competing agendas. These competing agendas have more recently been exploited by the agenda of international terrorist groups.

But Somalia has had enough. And that is why reconciliation is at the heart of the government’s agenda. We recognise- daily- that without reconciliation there can be no legitimate political process, no sustainable development and ultimately, no hope for a secure future for Somalia.

In the first 15 months of this current Government, as the Speaker of the Parliament, I have been proud to see what we have accomplished - despite the odds. We have laid a foundation for democracy and growth. Parliament has been central to maintaining focus on reconciliation as central to building a functioning, secure state.

And this is why, on behalf of the Government, I’m delighted to present Quraca Nabadda to you today, and I look forward to the role that the Parliament’s Dialogue and Reconciliation Committee will play in providing advice to the program team.

In response to the Government’s agenda, Quraca Nabadda is designed to harness the power of Somali culture and the Somali love of arts: music, stories, poetry and art- to bring people together in safe spaces to share their stories and discover that what divides people is less than what should unite them.

In recent months, the international community has made significant funding pledges to Somalia. We welcome their partnership. In order to ensure the international community keep their pledges, the President, H.E. Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, has charged the Government with identifying viable opportunities for investment: in programmes and initiatives that improve Somalia’s living standards, our security and stability and our economic growth.

Quraca Nabadda is evidence of a unique partnership between the Federal Government of Somalia and Somali civil society, backed up with international expertise. It responds to three of our national Peace and State building goals: legitimate politics, security and justice. It provides a concrete opportunity to turn policy into a practical, measurable program on-the-ground. It demonstrates the willingness and ability of the Government to work with civil society transparently.

One of the key challenges facing Somalia is building viable, functioning state institutions.

The Quraca Nabadda program provides an opportunity to develop a new model of project management within the government. We will have many new initiatives to manage as donor programmes scale-up. We will need to demonstrate demonstrate financial accountability, sound reporting and monitoring systems, and efficient and effective program delivery mechanisms.

Quraca Nabadda will establish a pilot model ‘Project Management Unit’ within a key Ministry and will allow donors to assess government effectiveness through regular financial and activity reporting.

Importantly, the program also provides a foundation on which other governance and development initiatives can be built. By establishing a core cadre of trained community mediators in districts, Quraca Nabadda is preparing the ground for other initiatives to take root in. If basic reconciliation priorities are not met, critical local governance initiatives, such as the district administration programme may function for a limited period- they make take root and grow for a year- but they will not be sustainable.

Before I finish, I would just like to make a short comment about the wonderful Somali art you see around us today. It has been painted during a pilot phase of Quraca Nabadda. I am very pleased you will hear from Alif, one of our most prominent artists later this morning.

You are all aware that Somalia is largely still an oral culture, with a rich tradition and high regard for art in all its forms: music, theatre, painting, poetry and literature.

In the past, some national leaders masterfully exploited this national characteristic to unify and rally Somalis. In contrast, Al Shabaab, dismantled arts venues and targeted artists- terrorising many into never leaving their homes.

The Quraca Nabadda program will strategically use arts as both part of the national healing process, but also to help Somalis to develop a common language of peace. The power of this cannot be underestimated in the Somali environment. Art offers a constructive means of expression for individuals and communities- which serves as a basis for on-going dialogue.

Aristotle said, ‘"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance."

And this is what Quraca Nabadda will capture: moving beyond outward expressions of conflict and hostility to find the internal connections that join Somalis in common humanity and desire for peace and prosperity.

Quraca Nabadda will create a meaningful and measurable a national reconciliation dialogue, paving the way for lasting peace, building trust in a legitimate government and creating the foundation for sustainable development in Somalia.

Excellencies…on behalf of the Government of Somalia, I commend Quraca Nabadda to you today. I urge you to consider your support of it.