ONA – Sunday, September 16, 2012

A much awaited conference of Ogaden elders and intellectuals in North America was convened today in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The participants of the conference – who included Ogaden intellectuals, academics, students, elders, traditional leaders, businessmen, etcetera –  traveled from different parts of North America to take part in this important gathering.

As is customary, Sheikh Ahmed-nur Suggule opened the conference by reciting Ayahs (verses) from the holly Qoran. He was followed by former judge, Hussien Mataan, who welcomed the delegates and summarized the main agenda of the conference. Hussien Mataan spoke about the importance of unity, consultation and cooperation, which were the theme of the conference.

The speech by traditional leaders

Several notable traditional leaders spoke in the conference. One of them was Ugas Mohamud Anshur, a respected traditional leader, who after sending a congratulatory message to the newly elected president of Somalia, Hassan Shiekh Mohamud, welcomed the preliminary peace talks between ONLF and the Ethiopian government which was held in Kenya recently. Ugas Anshur appealed to Somalis in Ogaden to show unity and self-reliance in these critical times.

Suldan Khadar Ali Saafi also spoke about the issue of the peace talks and said: “We want the ONLF to deliver in these talks something that will be beneficial to our future generation.”

The role of academics and intellectuals

Hamse Warfa of the Institute of Horn of Africa Studies and Affairs (IHASA) spoke about the importance of consulting intellectuals and elders and said he was happy their role was returned to them. Speaking about the peace talks, Hamse said there are three ways in which peace can be attained or enforced:

1)    Peace achieved by force

2)    Peace based on justice

3)    And a fake peace

Hamse explained the pros and cons of the different types of peace treaties and gave his suggestions on this issue.

Two others intellectuals, Ahmed Nur Hiirey and Mohamed Rashid, gave valuable speeches which touched on the history of the struggle for freedon in Ogaden and how we arrived where we are now. They underscored on the importance of unity in achieving the goals of the struggle and the sanctity of safeguarding our common principles.

The head of ONLF Centre for Research and Policy Studies, HE Mohamud Nur, who is part of the ONLF negotiating team with Ethiopia, spoke about the recent preliminary peace talks he had participated in Nairobi, Kenya and how the process started. Mohamud Nur said the talks came about as a result of the heroic sacrifices of the struggle waged by the people of Ogaden.

The first day of the conference came to close successfully. The conference will proceed tomorrow in the same venue, Eliot Park Hall.



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