African Academics Mustn’t Promote Ethnic Violence

By Hassan A. Durkun


I have known Dr Rashid Abdi for a long time. It is when he joined the International Crisis Group as an analyst that his attitude to Somalia and Somalis had changed. He peddled disinformation that reduced Somali politics to clan names. As if that was not enough, his incendiary tweets have become an extension of his divisive narrative.

Rashid’s latest tweets promote ethnic violence in Somalia.

“Farmaajo wanted to be first Darood president to finish a term, hand over power without getting killed, overthrown or forced to resign. It looks like he will repeat history. If Badbaado Qaran forces reconstitute and take over city this time they will not stop. They will run Farmaajo out of town.

“Rashid tweeted. Imagine a Somali analyst with a PhD in comparative religion and philosophy expressing a similar view in relation to Kenya during 2008 electoral violence, glorifying violence against citizens on account of their ethnic identity. Rashid could use his expertise in a way that does not promote civil war in Mogadishu.

What interest does Rashid have in seeing Mogadishu returning to its days as warlord dominions bankrolled by foreign embassies in Nairobi?

A virulent form of fascism is rearing its head in Africa. Rashid’s name still appears above reports he had written for the International Crisis Group as “Former Project Director, Horn of Africa”.

In 2020 he co-authored an op-Ed with SOAS Professor Laura Hammond. There is credibility gap between articles Rashid writes on Africa and his tweets. There is no doubt about Rashid’s scholastic achievements. Does his use of the Twitter platform to promote inter-clan violence foreshadow normalzation of academic promotion of ethnic wars in Africa?

In How to be a fascist Michela Murgia wrote that a fascist would call on freedom of speech whenever he is criticized for ‘hateful language’.

In Africa racism and fascism are two pathologies we associate with former European colonial masters. That’s why we tolerate hatred from the pens, mouths and fingers of some academics.

May I hope that Dr Rashid Abdi would come to his senses and rectify his attitude so that his analyst credentials can be taken seriously.

Hassan A. Durkun