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When Radio Station Lose Integrity: The Case of the BBC Somali Service

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Established in 1957 by the British to speak to the Somali-speaking region in the Horn of Africa, the BBC Somali Service was one of the most trusted Somali radio in history. Being neutral was the custom of the radio, which attracted the hearts and minds of the most Somali community both in the region and beyond.

Raphael Cohen-Almagor (2001) in his book “Speech, Media and Ethics, the Limits of Free Expression: Critical Studies on Freedom of Expression, Freedom of the Press and the Public’s Right to Know” argues that freedom of the press and media lies at the heart of the liberal doctrine and is formulated in all democratic constitutions. The freedom granted to the media is widely believed to mean to allow the expression of society’s various sub-cultures and classes, to voice public opinion, and to serve as a means of transmitting messages between the public and their elected representatives. Basically, some might think that democracy should tolerate all forms and types of speech. But, and interestingly, democracy itself places careful limitations upon freedom of action and freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is a guiding principle, and one of the foundations of democracy, but at the same time, freedom does not necessarily imply anarchy, and the right to exercise free expression does not include the right to do unjustified harm to others.

The BBC is one of the institutions founded by a liberal country to advocate freedom of speech and expression in which objectivity or objective reporting is one of its principles. Unfortunately, the BBC Somali Service regarded by many as the only neutral radio station within the Somalis seems missing objective reporting. This isn’t an easy criticism, but, established to provide news services to all Somalis without biasing; the BBC Somali Service is usually seen servicing to the Somalia fledging government, its allies and its interests, and on the other hand exaggerating any negative news against Somaliland to damage its reputation.

Some may argue that Somaliland is a democratic state and democracy should tolerate all forms and types of speech. But, this argument isn’t necessarily valid; harming the hard won peace and stability for the sake of foreign actors is unacceptable. The BBC Somali Service isn’t objective in their reporting because it failed to avoid selecting the negative news against Somaliland and interpret it the way it want and it wishes.

This radio was the house of the most respected Somali journalists and reporters who served both the Somalia’s civil administrations and the military government (1960–1991). Those journalists by respecting the ethics of the media distanced their emotion and impression from their profession. Not only the objectivity they adhered to, but also, they were introducing Somali vocabularies equivalent to the other world vocabularies in meaning. This effort was important to the radio and contributing the improvement of the Somali language and literature as well.

This is contrary to the current BBC Somali Service staff in which most of them if not all can’t convince their audiences due to their poor Somali language let alone introduce new vocabulary. For this reason, it is valid to raise this question which could seem critical: why the nature of the BBC Somali Service is changing in terms of quality staff and objectivity. This could be linked to a number of factors include, a) lack of proper employment, and, b) widespread nepotism and favoritism, to name but a few. These two factors are the major factors which hamper the quality and neutrality of the BBC Somali Service in the recent years.

Giving the emphasis on this argument, one of the major challenges facing the current Somali Service of the BBC is lack of professional journalists and reporters, and indeed, such an institution should have responsible journalists as it has before. Missing the professional ethics led the BBC reports to bias and go against Somaliland interest. There are wealthy of examples to mention in regards to BBC’s conspiracy not only against Somaliland statehood, but also clearly demonstrate how the BBC is destabilizing the peace and stability of Somaliland and lacking objectivity in their reporting.

One of the most negative and intentionally aired news was the one transmitted in September, 2017; when the Somalis in the Somali region in Ethiopia and their neighbor, the Oromos, have had a conflict. The BBC knowingly stated that killing two Oromo person by Somaliland Police in Hargeisa prompted the Somali–Oromo conflict in Ethiopia. This was absolutely an unprofessional lying.

This type of news from one of the most trusted Somali radio station has shocked the hearts and minds of those who had a little sympathy and trust to the BBC. This isn’t the only war of the BBC against Somaliland, but, before a month, they deliberately translated an interview from the Emirates State Minister for Foreign Affairs, which rocked the Somaliland citizens and created mistrust between the citizens and the state. This interview, which instigated the debate within Somaliland, was aired by the BBC Arabic Service a year before. This is a valid question: why the BBC Somali Service has translated this interview and aired it after a year.

The current BBC Somali Service staff is lacking two essential elements: a) critical thinking, and, b) sense of objectivity. Absence of a critical thinking with intellectual depth and the necessary tools to think independently, to question and criticize, engage in collaborative work and be open-minded about alternative points of view in the media is their major problem if not the sole factor. This could be linked to the argument that the BBC Somali Service staff has been employed by the Somali Service without following the proper procedure and channel. Thus, fail to present the public neutral and constructive ideas. Another fundamental factor is lacking an objective reporting which is a necessary component of media ethics to narrate an unbiased reporting and cover a given story in a fair and accurate manner. These are the fundamental elements of the media ethics which the current staff is entirely missing.

Therefore, the BBC is expected to address those challenges and bring back the trust it has had within the Somalis once upon the time as many Somali citizens are nostalgic about the old days of the BBC. In doing so, it should generate responsive and responsible journalists to serve the Somali people without bias. This is what the old BBC reporters and journalists have managed to do and had won the hearts and minds of the Somali people in the entire region and beyond.

It is clear that the BBC has its own weaknesses and challenges; however, one can never downplay the role of the BBC in the war against Somaliland and being one of the tools of the Somalia’s fledgling government to destabilize the peace and stability of Somaliland.

To overcome this challenge and discourage such those institutions, the Somaliland Ministry of Information mandated to preserve the national security and interest through the media should:

  1. Establish a monitoring Office. This Office should closely monitor the coverage of the radios and the TVs, including the BBC Somali Service and the VOA. If this Office does exist, it should allocate a budget and increase its staff to monitor those radios and privately-owned TVs.
  2. The Somaliland Ministry of Information should give ultimatum to any institution that is against the peace and stability of Somaliland and its political interest, including the BBC, the VOA, and the privately-owned TVs.
  3. The Somaliland Diaspora whose role has been positive since the 1980s, 1990s, and until today should also take their role in challenging this dying radio station, the BBC Somali Service, and any other radio station or TV which is against the interest of Somaliland.

 

 

N.B.

The opinion expressed here does not necessarily reflect to any institution rather it is my personal view and impression

 

Nasir M. Ali

Hargeisa, Somaliland

 

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OpEd: Recall Of Berbera Oil Storage Facilities – A Major Milestone

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Written by: Abdirahman Aideed

 

Majority of the public in Somaliland welcomed and aired their congratulations for the president of Somaliland (H.E. President Muse Behi) for his remarkable decision, August 2018, to recall the national oil storage facilities in Berbera from the hands of the currently run private company(ies) to remain under the management of the government.

The former president Silanyo government tabled a resolution/motion to the parliament in August 2015 to approve the privatization of the Oil Storage Facilities to private companies. The parliament objected the motion with majority ruling vote. However the government has overruled and implemented the decision with presidential degree by October 2015. A period of about three years of being run the property by the private companies, there were number of arguments in the public domain, as such arrangement tempted a number of risks to the public interest including slack quality control of the petroleum coming into the country and national security as well.  This debate heated up in April 2018 when a sub-standard petrol offloaded into the storage facility that has affected many vehicles as owners suffered heavy unaccounted financial loss for repairing the damaged machines by that poor quality fuel, and that is why the public are clapping for the action of the president. In socio-economic perspective we can mark it as “the SECOND MILESTONE” for President Behi, since he come into power.

Dear reader, let me remind you also the FIRST MILESTONE for President Muse Behi Abdi, which has happen in March 2018, , when a presidential letter/order released by the Minister of Public Works, Mr. Qambi, in a press conference. The minister explained in detail the message from the president, informing all government respected offices about the suspension of any tenure awarded for the natural seaway land in Berbera (aka Raasiga). This land of about 3.5 Km into the sea waters is a natural inland that remain untouched for centuries and safeguarded as national property by all subsequent administrations that ruled Berbera in history. The Raasiga is believed to be the comparative advantage that gave Berbera to have the importance of being a strategic sea port for centuries. The Behi’s predecessor of Mr. Silanyo government awarded property ownership deeds of Raasiga to business people and individuals that had an influence in the ruling regime. President’s decision of retaining the rights of Raasiga was also commended by the public and termed as the FIRST MILESTONE for President Muse Behi accomplishments of recollecting the national properties that has been privatized by those in power, before him, to themselves as beneficiaries and their respective closer friends, relatives and bogus political allies that later vanished.

Terminating buddy based contracts in Egal International airport and ensuring such diverted incomes go directly to the national income box was also another key THIRD MILESTONE for MBA. Though there are still some government duties that are franchised to private hands to, for instance, print various national tax stamps and logos etc., the majority of the public regarded this third milestone as the beginning of empowering tax collecting departments and upholding the government reputation.

Recovering the national properties and income sources is not an easy task and there are number of reasons for making the task challenging, these will include: First, prominent figures from the former ruling executive power under H.E. Silanyo are believed to have vested interests in those privatized projects. Secondly, such finger-pointed de-facto officers conserve deep-rooted support to a major constituencies that was among Behi’s voting centers, which has contributed President Behi’ s landslide victory to come to the Power House and hence touching below the belt of those individuals will implicate Behi’s political support and jeopardize for his intentions in next term elections. Thirdly, the opposition sustained a continuous pressure, which sometimes seems embedded with number of spicy ingredients on the President to weaken his political support status.  All these and plus are putting the president in a situation with least options to take drastic corrective actions in the system, and he may even sometimes opt sitting on the burning pans, despite being fiery and heatening.

 

Back to the topic, the Nationalised Oil Storage Complex in Berbera, implications are not easy either. This Presidential decision is coming in a situation where already other private companies are given permits and allowed to establish and construct their own oil/Fuel storages in the fuel port quarters by former Silanyo government. Envisaging such a trend it is understandable that privatised oil storage facilities constructions would ignite uneasy market competition with government owned facilities. The current allied company that was recently running the government facilities, could also demand to establish their own private Oil Storage facilities, because that path is already open, they can also use to store their imported supplies to privately owned storage facilities. This cites the scenario of the unchanged status quo of the national banks of the government in compare to the fast developed private banks., which could mean government oil storage facilities will same be only used by the government, should they not become dynamic and competitive in the market.  In that regard the re-nationalized government Oil Storage facilities perhaps can only commercially survive if the government retains the right of becoming the sole proprietor of such giant facilities in the country, like the norm and practice are in the region, especially in the port of Berbera, while oil importers will only be users of the facilities. See more on this in an earlier article on the same subject http://hadhwanaag.ca/detail.aspx?id=221181

 

However, there are number of awaited milestones, from the new president to accomplish:

  1. To recall the reserve lands for the port and free zone expansion, aka Noobiyadda area, as was the plan in history.
  2. To implement the issued order regarding the Raasiga area
  3. To initiate a law, or issue presidential degree of making clear demarcation of the state properties that only the government can own, run and manage vs. what properties the public or private sector can be engaged and to what level. For instance, can an individual or private company retain the ownership of (a) a sea port? (b) An airport? (c) An Oil well? (d) A mineral well/cave? (e) City water supply? (f) Fuel Storage complex at import/export hubs? (g)Export livestock health check quarantines/Mahjars? …….just to mention few.

 

In my view, I think such resources and facilities can only be run by a government on behalf of the ownership of the state.

 

Written by:

Abdirahman Aideed

abdiaideed11@gmail.com

 

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Baadigoob: Jawaabta Goobjoogayaasha Caalamiga ah

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Halkan Kala eeg Maqaal uu qoray Mr. Michael Walls, Madaxa Goobjoogayaasha Caalamiga ah ee Doorashadii Madaxtooyada Somaliland ee 2017kii. Farriintan ayuu Michael ku caddaynayaa arrimo muddadan dambeba dhex wareegayay baraha bulshada iyo tuhuno lagu faafiyay muuqaal lagu baahiyay baraha bulshada oo la yidhaahdo “Baadigoob”.

 

Halkan kala deg Maqaalka oo Faahfaahsan:

 

OpEd Somali

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OpEd: The Lost Intellectuals

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They live in a place where the tribalism is the major dream that the leaders in their country kill to hunt what they want to find. They live in a place where the only opportunity they can mostly get is a life that is related to their heredity family prosperity or clan based opportunity that they cannot learn anything more; where an international NGO/INGO’s go after their rights, because there are no more opportunity they can get.  Every new authority promise to develop somewhere  or something but after they get the lead position they tend to spent their time and money many vehicles and new houses  for billions of money. Where none of them is aware about even the name of their country; or the passport of their own country.

In each year they try to improve and support their society just for dream; they defeat their government on  all the social media  for  hope; they support every one promise unity of their community and developing of their countries production because of hope; in each year of election they expect new change and support for  bright future but after another few years of dream and wishes they nearly lost all their dream; and they lost like nothing until their sight  is dark  in every other way of dream.

The youth which are almost finish their first generation in a dream seasons; were there are more politicians but their sense of politician is not rather  of  having  a big houses; cars and eat good food at  homes; where even they do not think about how they find for it; and they are mostly from outside of the country and they send their children to the most popular university and they send their family and wives to the most beautiful countries and they just visit for rest; while they block  the right of the street children.  The mother that don’t sleep because of worry; gets up early in the morning or midnight around 3:am to feed her  an orphan child; or the single mother that her husband lost any opportunity to have a work or don’t even  consider  his children anymore and busy for feeding his self-non-sense grass like goats all the day and night.

The right of the child in 20 years of age who is already lost in African coastal area and the sea animal have hunted him; most beautiful African girls that lost their most important body in the African coastal and their hunger poor mothers faces is unknown because of sadness and worry; which has many of them effected with diseases in the coastal area; all this does not make any sense to our politicians until his children are safe  and in beautiful country that a leader of his age, mind and power to make it a country that everybody likes it; a youth have a leader who campaign to support them and improve their future life but cannot even have any dream to step forward; no more foot print; no real dream; a youth which have a coastal area of more than 360 feet who do not know how to live  for it and have no   power to learn and cannot across where  their families  are from because of tribalism and lack of leadership.

A  youth which cannot learn any more about government because of their heredity leadership tribalism; a youth which are just separate because of where  their families  are from and cannot make a change any more; a youth which their maturity is after 30 years old and death for worry diseases and do not know where to go and what to do even in that age; a youth which their intellectuals got mad after more think and lack of leadership; a youth which have the most powerful mentally and physically but cannot do any more because of leadership situation; a youth which have not any role model; a youth which have no motivation; a youth which cannot realize their dream; a youth which are ready to change their people, country, and mind but have not any support; a youth which have no  power to eliminate to bring new ideas; a youth who live in a country while  the leaders are the business men’s, doctors, telecommunications, and everybody  of their families  have a department of the authority without any humanity.

The question doesn’t the street child is citizen? Why educative citizen cannot do a work that an international citizen take a lot of money in the country? Why the community are separate and not support each other? Isn’t that because of selfish campaign tribalism? Why they teach the others out of their nation where they from I mean which clan they are? Is it the leadership? If it’s not the leading why the religion make equal brotherhood on all the different individuals that become Muslim when the prophet (csw) was spreading the religion? If it is not then why all American people mention that they are just American from that city? Why and why?

 

Written by:

Amran Abdirahman 

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