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Moving forward while standing still

king diaspora women in public service have left their positions after having their work devalued and undermined.

king diaspora women in public service have left their positions after having their work devalued and undermined.

Fouzia recalls a memorable lecture by Professor George Dei, her mentor at the University of Toronto. In the wake of Barack Obama’s election as the first black President of the United States in 2008, Dei cautioned against the rhetoric of a “post-racial society” given the lived realities of racial exclusion in the West. Fouzia remembers Dei saying, “the work you do in anti-racism often feels like you’re moving forward while standing still.” She similarly likens the discourse of a “post-conflict society” in Somalia to the post-racial rhetoric in the West at that time. There is a complacency of sorts in these “posts” as people of African descent, whether on the continent or in the diaspora, still live in an all too real present of marginalization driven by the forces of neocolonialism, racism, patriarchy, and neoliberal capitalism. In Somalia, there is a deepening returnee-stayee divide at all levels of society. She laments that “the problem in Somalia is one of discord. What we need now is dialogue.”

At the end of our conversation, I asked Fouzia, “where do we go from here?” She explained, “this critical juncture of the 60th anniversary is an opportune time for us to abandon uninformed approaches to political disagreements that have not moved us out of this quagmire.” I could not agree with her more. Somalia stands at a crossroads. Next year marks 30 years since the collapse of the pre-war government and the subsequent fragmentation. There is an urgent need for an inclusive process of national reconstruction to enable deep social transformation. However, women, often relegated to “back-stage” roles, suffer one of two fates when attempting to meaningfully participate in this process: either they are completely omitted, or when they are able or “allowed” to take part, are usually undermined and pushed out.


Mohamed Duale
PhD Candidate| Faculty of Education, York University
Mohamed_Duale@edu.yorku.ca

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