David Runciman posed the question “Has the age of political giants passed?” in an article titled the same. He went ahead to claim that “today’s politicians start and exit politics younger; they lack heft, stature and outside interests; they are bred into an evernarrower political class; and they preside over tame and depleted political parties”.

If I am to paraphrase this in the Somali context, I would say that today’s Somali politician starts and exit politics confused, rudderless; they generally lack vision, motivated by rent seeking, bereft of ideology; they are bred into an ever-narrow clan group and they preside over clans with shifting sizes and alliances.

If this is the general characteristic of the modern Somali politician, where does the late Professor Khalif Galayr falls? Was he a giant whose passing we will greatly miss? Or was he the political dwarfs currently presiding over the stagnation of the Somali body politic?

We normally have the tendency to gloss over the shortcomings of our departed. In fact this is the sunnah of our faith as we are told good witness for the fallen is great departing gift you can give to those who precede us.

Today I would like to offer my own eulogy of the late academic cum politician who passed on few days ago. I would not belabour his political curriculum vitae, as that is a public record.

Prof Khalif Galayr search for common ground amongst the Somalis has no equal. True to his academic credentials, he never stuck to or ignored any possible solution to the quagmire that is Somalia today. He tried to revive the fallen republic emphasising our common denominator but in vain; he tried the moribund federal option but came back disillusioned. His last major pragmatic drive after a loosing hope with the federal idea was to start afresh. Start local.

His meetings with the former president of Somaliland Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, which culminated in the signing of an agreement between his group and Somaliland, was a major breakthrough in the constitutional development of Somaliland. He was a man who, despite facing bitter opposition and doubts on both sides went on to make a move that was politically and personally sincere on his part.

My admiration of the late professor was cemented by his national tour of Somaliland under the Tablighi Political Forums where he took his views together with the other stellar academic Prof Samatar, directly to the people of Somaliland. He not only projected his academic prowess but also his statesmanship. His candid exposition of the need for a constitutional revision of Somaliland was spot on and beyond argument. Sadly the very same administration of KULMIYE that signed the agreement opted to shelve this onerous opportunity to resolve the lasting constitutional problem of Somaliland.

Professor Khalif seat in the history of Somalis is secure. The time when his immediate people in Sool, Cayn, and Sanaag in particular, his immediate cousins in Puntland, the proponents of the Federal option and lastly the larger population of Somaliland come to appreciate the efforts of Professor Galayr is yet to come. What I am sure is that those who will come to record the history of our times will be very generous to the late professor.

May Allah SW grant him jannah and accept his humble efforts to establish normalcy amongst his people in their various layers across the complex clan and national identities. May Allah SW give those he left behind patience.

May Allah SW raise political giants for the Somalis wherever they are.

Ahmed Aideed

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