Clan Cleansing in Somalia by Lidwien Kapteijns

Published in 2013, Kapteijn’s book (available online here) about the period of intense clan conflict in Somalia (1980s to 1993) refreshingly first approaches these bloody events through the lens of poetry and popular culture. She finds a few examples of incitements to violence based on the ‘other’ whose identity is solely defined by clan, but mainly hears voices of Somalis rejecting this mentality, wondering how it suddenly gangrened their culture and destroyed their country.

She then goes on to explore that question through accounts of the clan cleansing, either published or collected by her. Her book has become one of the main English-language documents trying to understand this dark period of Somalia’s history; from the civil war that erupted in the final years of Barre’s reign (1980s), through the collapse of his government in January 1991, until the international intervention in 1993. This subject has received much less coverage than, for example, piracy or Al Shabaab and its international links. The victims could mostly not made themselves heard in this era, before the mobile phone and internet, and most contemporary chroniclers prefer not to dwell on the savage killing, looting and forced displacements.

Somalis I met who read this book (or know about it) seem generally uncomfortable that a foreigner has poked her nose into this painful period. They don’t believe she can grasp what they themselves still struggle to understand. Since all clans and many of today’s political leaders participated in this period of clan cleansing, no-one is scot-free, and any foreign investigation may feel like an ICC-like invasion of Somali sociopolitical space, with potentially negative effects (‘opening a can of worms’). Shame about this period is also still very strong. Continue reading

Homo Deus Part 2: counterproposal

Yes, I agree with Prof. Harari that the human race must seek to become divine (see my previous post, a review of his book). Like him, I also think that the key lies in developing our power. But unlike him, I do not see that happen in this world, with its dangerous imbalances, and I don’t think technology (like increasing the life span of humans) is going to play such an important role.

If the evolution of the human race may be compared to that of an individual, we would now be in the teenager phase. We are in the process of becoming conscious of our individuality, in the process knocking our parents (imaginary: God, Gods or Mother Nature) from their pedestal. As acne-scarred teenagers we care little about the environment and engage in violent schoolyard fights. At times we’re suicidal, at others we’re conceited and over-confident.

Image result for the magician

We must now transition to the adulthood phase, before we utterly destroy our environment and ourselves in the process. We need a new pact to regulate human society, based on the consciousness of being all together on this planet with its finite resources.  Continue reading

Review of Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

Yuval Noah Harari: Homo Deus, 2016

Harari asks important questions about the future of humankind and, for this alone, I’d recommend this book. But he brushes away some important issues that may force today’s world to change – notably, injustice, spirituality and environmental crisis – and bases his vision of the future on an ‘End of History’-like smug belief in liberalism where the only factor of change is technology. Therefore his analysis is flawed and, I believe, his predictions far off the mark. Continue reading