A Milestone Gesture
A V I S I T S E E N
A M I L E S T O N E G E ST U R E
A Luncheon Reception Seen as
a Milestone Gesture
December 10, 2006
Toronto (Biyokulule Online): In the midst of his long tour to North America, Garaad Jama Garaad Ali made a special visit to Toronto. The Garaad arrived in Toronto last Friday, on the 8th of December, for a few days visit.
On his second day in Toronto, the Garaad was a host at a special luncheon. A warm, well-orchestrated reception for the Garaad was held yesterday afternoon at Sangeet Banquet Hall in Greater Toronto Area.
The Somali Canadians in Toronto, who are constantly extending their feelings with Somalia, welcomed Garaad Jama’s arrival and expressed their hope that Garaad’s tour will give an impetus to Diaspora-Somalia relations and could probably serve as the cure for healing community-tensions and strengthening stability. These goodwill feelings were also pronounced in every speech at the luncheon reception. “We hope that the Garaad’s visit would open a new chapter to the Diaspora-Somalia relations,” said Mohamed Jibril Aateeye, a prominent Somali elder in Toronto.
So far, as a Somali observer who has been involved in many community activities, this luncheon reception was the first of its kind and attracted more than 200 Somalis. As soon as I came into the reception floor, organizer Abdulqadir Ahmed (Abdi Landi) received me as his guest and placed me at VIP seat in the Hall.
The luncheon reception in which Somali Canadians gave in honour of Garaad Jama Garaad Ali began at about 3pm. We all stood up and applauded while the Garaad entered and slowly dominated the floor, trying to wave us off since he knew that we were doing it for respect.
With regard to the host of the event, organizers and leaders, Mohamed Jibril Aateeye and Abdirahman Haji Nur (Shagaxle), launched an opening of a well rehearsed speeches, followed by short speeches and inquiries from nine community leaders.
Against the backdrop of cheerful Somali faces and to the strains of dazzling luncheon, the Garaad skillfully demonstrated his stately presence. In Somali tradition, it is a customary habit for a traditional leader (also known as ism) to receive the attributes and virtues of a statesman, although the nature of his authority and influence radically differ from that of a politician. Therefore, since Garaad Jama is not a politician, criticism towards his influence or leadership could not be addressed in front of such a large crowd.
Feeling that he can communicate better with live audience, the Garaad chose to listen and deliver his speech without notes. He was well prepared to deliver his messages and seemed to know that his audience will raise relevant issues that need to be answered. He showed his audience that he is a great communicator who has the ability to win the hearts as well as the minds of the people in face-to-face gatherings. During his speech, members of the audience often interrupted Garaad’s speech with applause.
The Garaad, however, had a reservation with respect to some inquiries from the podium, particularly those on the Somali contemporary politics; nevertheless, he answered others with unusual frankness.
In response to request from the audience, the Garaad anticipated that his visitation will become a routine task and emphasized that he was delighted to be asked to be a guest for such a thriving Somali Diaspora community.
Nearly everywhere in North America that he went this month -- from Boston to a combined meetings and luncheon receptions in Columbus, OH, to the dazzling luxury of the Sangeet Hall here – Garaad Jama Garaad Ali was received cordially by a large crowd of Somalis, who considered their reception as the continuation of an ancient Somali tradition. Garaad Jama’s receptions have all been warm and also enthusiastic. For instance, at yesterday’s Sangeet Hall reception, the crowd has been heavily multi-clan and pro-unity, representing all Somali clan groupings.
The organizers of the reception increasingly portrayed their young Garaad as the right person to heir their community’s unifying Garaad. It seems that this young Garaad has more appeal to a broad spectrum of SSC community support than any other traditional leader since his great grandfather, Garaad Mohamed Ali Garaad.
Since 1991, when the Somali government collapsed, traditional leaders re-emerged and secured a greater measure of authority in some parts of the country – culminated in the form of de facto rulers under such titles: Garaad, Sultan, Ugaas, Malaaq, Islaan, Boqor, Beldaajiye etc. Under their rule, peace and stability thrived in some parts of the country.
Therefore, to bring back law and order into the entire regions of Somalia, it requires strengthening the role of the traditional leaders. By supporting their influence and prestigious authority, they will be able to reduce the widening gap between the Somalis. In the case of the visiting Garaad, if he as a symbol of traditional authority is supported in such a way that his role and responsibility are stressed and be made significant to his public appearance, he will surely contribute enormously to the peace upon which Somalia as a whole awaits.
At the end of his speech, Garaad Jama appealed to all Somali Canadians to develop in their families and community organizations a sense of cohesion and moral/religious values.
After the luncheon, The Garaad carried on an impromptu interaction with the community in which many people at the luncheon reception patiently lined up just to shake the hand of Garaad Jama, who had something to say to everyone.