Two weeks ago, a fundraising campaign to thank the previous president Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” and build him a residence in Mogadishu was set in motion.
Sheikh Abdi Hersy, a Canadian Somali imam and a widely followed social media commentator, said he launched the campaign after many Farmajo’s supporters approached him.
These supporters shared their discomfort hearing the former president temporarily moved to a house rented by one of his friends, Abdi Karie Qoorqoor, the Galmudug region president.
So the idea came up to build him a permanent residence in Mogadishu, the city where he grew up, studied, became a prime minister and a president.
The Thank You campaign is in full swing
The president’s thank you campaign immediately gained momentum right after the imam said the former president had accepted the people’s wish to recognize his legacy.
In the first two days, Somalis from all walks of life, from the Diaspora as well as locals, contributed and reportedly raised nearly $1.5 million. The fundraising is still underway and is expected to end on July 2.
Sheikh Hersy said he was literally overwhelmed with solicitations to contribute from every corner of this planet.
The campaign has since been coordinated by former Farmajo communications director Abdirashid M. Hashi and a team of volunteers he leads.
Some local bank accounts were hastily opened to allow people to transfer money from abroad and within Somalia. Various ways to securely transfer money were later added to accommodate donors.
Every region and every worker, especially the soldiers who did not miss a single salary during Farmajo’s presidency, wanted to be part of the tsunami of gratitude.
We couldn’t reach the campaigners but the campaign seems to be close to reaching its goal of 3 million dollars and its outcome surprised everyone, including those who initiated it.
Taken aback by the success of President Farmajo’s thank you campaign, the former opposition and President Hassan Sheikh Mahamoud’s supporters were strangely offended by this patriotic outburst.
Reason behind the people generosity
People saw in Farmajo a man who personified their expectations of the people for good governance, leadership free from corruption and nepotism, and who genuinely cares about his country and its people.
He is the only known Somali president who has not used his position to enrich himself by embezzling state assets or auctioning off the country’s natural resources.
Relying on like-minded and professional ministers and senior civil servants, he established financial discipline to stem endemic corruption, give soldiers and civil servants a decent salary on time and set Somalia on the path to a debt-free country.
The culture of transparency he instilled in his administration and the deterrence of corrupt practices made him many enemies however.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has also made the Somali nation proud by restoring landmark buildings destroyed by civil war, revamping and expanding the security system and public service.
Farmajo has also worked hard to liberate Somalia from foreign interference and invasive UN control, defend the Somali sea illegally claimed by Kenya, and repatriate young Somalis trapped in the migration nightmare.
An example for the world
He was defeated in what many believe was a “soft coup” orchestrated by the United States, European nations and some regional enemies who disliked his nationalist agenda.
The Somali nation, feeling violated and its freedom to choose its leader stolen, found an original way to show its free will.
They decided to vote with their hearts and their hard-earned money, and provide a decent retirement for a leader they valued for his unquestionable integrity and patriotism.
By supporting him, they also want to send a strong message to all those corrupt legislators who shame the nation and the Somali president that the sovereign people are not fooled and reward good leadership.
Already Hassan Sheikh Mahamoud and his friends, who usually look down on their own people and seek charity from foreign nations and NGOs, are beginning to realize that their own people are a source of wealth.
In a nutshell, President Farmajo’s integrity is an oddity in a country plagued by endemic corruption, but the Somali nation itself has set a good example in Africa and the world by showing a rare ingenuity.