Senator Abdi Ismail Samatar is a Professor of Geography at the University of Minnesota. One expects that precision and accuracy would mark out his choice of words. Yesterday, Professor Samatar accused Mohamed Hussein Roble, the Prime Minister of Somalia, of the intention “to rape”. Samatar expressed in Somali his disappointment at the electoral modalities for Somaliland MPs before reverting to English to convey a message for “the diplomatic corps”.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines rape thus: “unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against a person’s will or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent because of mental illness, mental deficiency, intoxication, unconsciousness, or deception.”
Commentators have remarked on the Professor’s previous interventions in Somali language in which he used the word kufsi (rape) to characterize the actions of the Federal Government of Somalia. It was not easy for the Senator to take liberty with an English word to deliver an impassioned political message. He simply translated the Somali word into English. English-speaking Somalis, who were used to the Professor’s unguarded remarks, were taken aback. He also accused the Prime Minister of gerrymandering. Roble did not change district borders to give one group a political advantage over another group.
Somaliland political leaders in Mogadishu belong to two opposing factions lead separately by the Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Guled and the Chairman of the Upper House Abdi Hashi. Mr Hashi was alongside Samatar when the latter was accusing Roble of the intention “to rape”.
In February 2021, Samatar called on “people of Mogadishu to kick out UNSOM if it doesn’t change its way.” Why does Senator Samatar find it difficult to speak calmly about political controversies? His anger gets the better of him. If Roble decides to lodge a complaint against Senator Samatar, dictionary definitions of rape and its Somali equivalent — kufsi — could jeopardize the Senator’s political career. Senator Samatar must clarify what he meant by rape while speaking harshly about Roble.
Adan M. Dawad