The event was held at the London headquarters of Initiatives of Change (IofC) UK on 17 May and was organised by Guled Osman a Somali Youth Leader and his team. The forum was chaired by Don de Silva, Head of Programme Administration at IofC UK.
Mr Osman Jama Ali urged the young Somalis to fight against tribalism and to revive Somali nationalism, so that the unity of the Somali people could be restored again. He encouraged them to organise themselves. He urged the young not to follow past mistakes – many government decisions, which were based on clan-based politics. He expressed his willingness to guide the youth and give them the benefit of this experience.
Ambassador Sharif reminded the youth they were the future of Somalia and would determine the course of history. He gave the example of the Somali Youth League, which mobilised trade unions, led the fight against Italian colonialists, and fought and won independence.
Ambassador Sharif stated that youth have the power and education to change history. They need only believe in themselves, challenge tribalism and believe in their country. Somalia has oil, minerals, agriculture, eight million hectares to cultivate, two rivers and is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of natural resources. It boasts one of the longest coasts in the world with the most expensive fish which are plundered. The coast of Somalia is rich in oil. Somalia only lacks an enlightened government who cares about the people. Ambassador Sharif encouraged the youth to think, plan and be positive about the future.
One participant asked what the youth could do about tribalism dividing the country.
Mr Osman Jama Ali commented that Somalis shared a common language, culture and religion. 'Pioneers are needed to facilitate national activities, with support from the international community and Somali diaspora through the transfer of knowledge', he added.
Another young speaker questioned how Somalis could create a one government, one nation, and one country.
Concluding the event, Don de Silva said: 'History shows that mountains can be moved when small groups of people mobilise, work together and take positive action. We need changes in attitude to enable people to move beyond race, class and creed. We have many case studies of members of the Somali community who are making a difference, both in the UK and abroad. Each person here can make a difference. Individuals can initiate projects with their colleagues to make a common vision a reality.'
By Anita Amendra, Project Manager, IofC UK
Photos by Donna Noel