Somalia: A Nation without a State

31 Oct 2007

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This report summarises four seminars in a series entitled “Somalia – a nation without a state”. These took place in October and November 2007. The title of the seminar series refers to the fact that although Somalis share a common culture, language and religion – qualities that are widely referred to as defining a nation – they remain deeply divided. The clan system, though it is a primary divisive force, is not the only factor behind this heterogeneity. Economic differences, land rights and the struggle for resources also play an important role. Nuruddin Farah lectured on the history of Somalia and the causes of conflict from the perspective of a Somali-born novelist who has lived outside his country for more than 30 years. He put the question “to whom does the land belong” at the centre of his considerations. Roland Marchal, elaborated on the role of religion in Somalia and more specifically on the phenomenon of political Islam. Asha Hagi, described the role of Somali women in building peace based on her personal experiences as a women’s activist. The concluding seminar, a panel discussion, involved discussants from various backgrounds. The panel focused on the question of what steps are needed in order to achieve the vision of a peaceful Somalia.