General Yusuf Talan, a Shining Somali Star (Eulogy written by Hamid Masheye on October 20, 2000)

General Yusuf Talan

A Shining Somali Star

General Yusuf Talan’s life was cut short by the bullets of two cold-blooded, hired assassins, one armed with a pistol and the other AK-47, on October 18, 2000, in Mogadishu, Somali Republic. An eyewitness who was walking few steps behind him told me by telephone, “ At first they grabbed his hands and tried to kidnap him. When he refused to go with them, the assassin with the pistol started shooting him but the General didn’t fall. At that moment the other hired killer joined in and cut him down with a hail of bullets”. It is a tragic loss to his family, his friends and the Somali nation and is also a criminal act against the Somali civil society who for six months tried to reconcile their difference and beating against all odds finally succeeded in doing so. It is a tragic loss to every peace-loving individual on earth. This heinous act is a reminder that the merchants of death (the drug magnates, the thugs, and the criminal warlords) who brought the Somali state to its knees and have committed all kinds of war crimes against the Somali people, will go to any length to keep the flames of hatred alive. After all they are the ones who profit from the misery and the abject poverty of the Somali people. To these criminals, a beacon of hope and a flicker of light for the civilian population are troublesome hurdles obstructing their path to a chimerical kingdom. To these thugs, an honest person with conviction is nothing more than a stumbling block frustrating their unshackled greed and blind ambitions. As a leading member of the demobilization Committee, General Talan was the hope of the Somali nation and a threat to the grandiose delusions of the immoral warlords. A native of the Awdal province of the Somali Republic and a distinguished member of the Gadaboursi clan, General Talan was a career soldier who loved his profession. Trained at Sandhurst, Britain, he returned to the Somali Republic in the early sixties. Henceforth, his life went hand in glove with the fledgling Somali State and he served it with dignity, dedication and selflessness. He went through the ranks of the military till he reached the highest echelon of the military hierarchy. A Somali military officer once told me that when Mr. Yusuf Talan was promoted to the rank of General, a ceremony was held at the Center of the Military officers in Mogadishu to formalize it. He said,” The military officers at there welcomed him with a five minute standing ovation, a sharp contrast to the blatant disdain and scorn that was meted out to the rest who were also promoted ”. In a country were nepotism was common and were anybody without a guardian angel would be left behind and bypassed by more junior officers, General Talan’s appointment was meritorious. The standing ovation was a clear recognition of his long service to the nation and an open protest against the military institution that for years ignored him and denied him his rightful rung in the military hierarchy. General Talan was an upright man who never abused his power or misused it. No body ever accused him of any wrongdoing, a rare thing in a country where accusations and counter accusations abound. In the early nineties, he was in the Somali Republic and wherever he went, he was welcomed. While in Canada, with a clear conscious, he mingled with the Somalis and everybody respected him. Indeed, he was a man of the people and a humble gentleman who loved everybody and was loved by all.
On May 2nd, 2000, when the Somali national peace conference started at Arta, Djibouti, Engineer Abdikarim-Karim Egeh and I were privileged and honored to be his roommates. We had plenty of time to chat and argue about politics and the future of our country. But most of the time we listened to him. He had plenty of information to tell and planned to write his autobiography in the near future. General Talan was a man imbuing with optimism and his soul was not tainted by the brutal civil war in the Somali Republic. He never dwelled on the ugly and gruesome events of the past and never talked of revenge. His words were always laden with wisdom and responsibility and his cogent arguments often persuaded his opponents. General Talan’s lofty ideals were in sharp contrast to the degraded goals of the short-sighted warlords who dismembered the Somali Republic into hobbesian fiefdoms where life is short, brutish and nasty. In fact, he understood clearly that clannish wars benefited no one and that today’s apparent victors are tomorrow’s vanquished and that tomorrow’s vanquished are after-tomorrow’s victors and so on. By joining the National demobilization Committee and later heading it, the General was trying to break the cycle of the senseless nightmare in which the Somali people are trapped. The political assassination of General Talan puts into question the hasty decision to move the parliament and government from Arta, Djibouti to Mogadshu in place of moving it to Baidaba, Bay. The fact remains that Mogadishu, as most delegates stated while in Arta, is a dangerous place where criminal warlords with a vested interest in the present anarchy mushroom and kill at will. In contrast, Baidaba is peaceful and the Digil and Mirifleh were the only Somali group who wholeheartedly supported the Somali National Peace Conference. Leaders such as Shaati Guduud, Soobi, Deerow and all their chiefs were present at the conference. Baidaba would have been the ideal place to stay, while at the same time restoring law and order in Mogadishu. The plain truth is that the warlords have nothing to lose and will capitalize on the mistakes of the present government. President Salaad Qaasim should know that respecting the will of the Somali civil society is the only thing that can guarantee the revival of the Somali State and facilitate the nation building process. Unilateral decisions that contradict the spirit and letter of the tenuous peace agreements at Arta will eventually derail it and we will be back to where we started. The failure of the peace process will be a disservice to the distinguished people, like general Talan, who sacrificed their lives for the welfare of their people, and the millions of the other Somalis who attached their hope to it. Saving the Somali people from the quagmire of the civil strife and the grips of the warlords will be the best tribute to the General. And that is what he liked best. A beautiful, civilized State that competes and cooperates with the rest of the world and the neighboring countries is what he wished most. Realizing that wish will be the best tribute to the general. A peaceful nation that is the crown jewel of the family of nations is what he envisioned. Making concrete that vision will be the best tribute to the General. A Somali State with a legitimate government is what he sacrificed
his life for. Keeping alive the spirit of reconciliation that was rekindled at Arta will be the best tribute to the General. And we condemn the perpetrators of the repugnant act and the evil cowards who planned and executed it. We hope that one day they will be brought to justice. Finally, I would like to extend my deepest sympathy and condolence to his wife, Khadra Abdi, and children. Goodbye brother Yusuf. Goodbye General. We salute you .We admire your exemplary behavior and you will forever live in our hearts and memory. Truly, you are a star that outshines all other stars. May God’s Peace and Compassion be upon you.

By Hamid Masheye hmas…

Dallas, USA. 10/20/2000