Prof. Sarmaan Ramses
Saturday, November 28, 2020
The last time I experienced true Somalinimo was during the good old days of Israaca in the early 2000. When like-minded Somali intellectuals from all walks of life and geography, although predominantly from North America formed the Israaca. An online community forum created to discuss and lead a way out of the predicament the country fell into. Unfortunately, Israaca didn’t live up to its full potential mostly due to its loose virtual organizational setup, but it was no lack of trying or deficiency of Somalinimo. I met in that forum some truly magnificent people including my sponsor to the forum at that time the late honorable Avvocato Abdihosh.
To my utter delight I found true Somalinimo thriving again and its most prideful aspects in Wenzhou – China. I was teaching in that region for three years as a professor of operations management at Kean University. It was by accident that I met Somali students there, in fact, I wasn’t expecting that so many Somali students were studying in China. One of the many unexpected surprises among many that I encountered while working in China, a country which is the very opposite to the many stereotypes prescribed to them, as an underdeveloped country stealing jobs and producing only shoddy products with a much YouTube circulated racist depictions – which is far from the truth.
The Somali students I met in Wenzhou were studying in the Chinese universities in that city and all over the country with a diverse educational focus from medicine to business and engineering and at all levels of university degrees from the bachelor’s to the PhD level while studying both in English and Mandarin.
I had the distinct honor to be invited as a keynote speaker to their annual celebration, perhaps as the only Somali professor in China for their get together event of the Somali Students Association in Wenzhou. Once every year, they come together to celebrate and recognize the Somali students’ achievements in China, both academically and extracurricular activities. At the annual events, they also strengthen their student organization body by adding new blood to the board memberships. As the keynote speaker it was a great pride indeed to share with them a few words of wisdom and encouragement in the academic sense and heap a lot of praise on their well-organized student association with the unity of purpose I witnessed, they actually serve as an example to the whole Somali community everywhere –these students are the future.
Despite decades of despondency and fragmentation among the Somali people, these students in China despite hailing from diverse regions in Somalia proper usually at conflict with each other and even from Kenyan and Ethiopian Somalis were truly well organized and celebrated as a very cohesive Somali Student Association (See the pics). With this strong organizational foundation and efficacy, they even won the student country soccer championship at their university in that year. One of the most unforgettable moment for me at the gathering, was handing out the certificates of acknowledgement to the champion team and their coach, who hailed from Kenya and spoke no words of Somali, but he was the most inspiring and forceful personalities I met at the event – no wonder they won the soccer country championship.
Another notable moment was the smooth transfer of power from the previous student leadership to the totally newly elected leadership of the Somali Student Association, heck even Trump can learn a lesson from this . The association celebrated students who achieved an academic distinction for winning full scholarships by presenting them a beautifully well-designed certificates of encouragement and recognition for which I handed to them beaming with pride.
The Chinese higher education system encourages educational excellency by not giving direct full term scholarships without merit, but every year if students achieve certain grade distinction, they’re bestowed with a full scholarship for that year which encourages competitiveness and fairness throughout the academic degree – this was even the case for the Chinese students at the American University where I was teaching. No wonder there were so many foreign students in all over China, which is now boasting top universities that teach in English with high rankings and affordable living expenses.
If a Somali student association in China can be this vanguard in organizational capacity and promotion of the true ideals of a nation when in a faraway foreign land, surely the leadership of all the (Somali – fiefdoms) can find it in themselves to uphold certain principles of decency and high morals to serve the nation.
Prof. Sarmaan Ramses PhD. MBA, PMP