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Beenbeene: The Model Opposition and Hopefully The Model Minister

by Abdisamad Nur Bidar
Sunday August 14, 2022

Today, I am breaking a cardinal rule of mine: Never to discuss publicly, showcase or flaunt my relationships with politicians. I keep that private. Perhaps, some would show up in future formal publications. Of course, rigidity may sometimes defeat a good purpose, so one should leave room for an exception. The new Minister of Planning, my good friend, The Hon Mohamud Abdirahman Beenebeene, is the first politician I will discuss publicly. He also happens to be the only Somali politician with whom I attended an event held in his honor during all my years in Minneapolis, reflecting my regard for him


Before I talk about the estimable Beenebeene, let me preface that I abhor the premature Somali celebrations of new political officeholders before a record to judge and celebrate. Let us hold off the applause, waving of the flags, and the cringy songs until there is enough evidence and a cause for celebration.


The new government's slogan is "Soomaali heshiis ah\Somalis at peace with one another." I thought whoever coined that term must have had Mr. Beenebeene in mind when conjuring the memorable phrase. Mr. Beenebeene is a true personification of the concept. A quick sample of his friends in Minnesota and their view of him would validate that in a hurry. Somalis from East and West, North and South, universally like him and respect him. I have yet to meet anyone with substantial interactions with him speaking negatively of him. He is a gentleman of the highest order.


He and I met eight years ago when he moved to Minnesota from Tennessee. We instantly connected, much like many with whom he crossed paths in Minnesota. I found him to be polite, respectful, and generous to the core. A good listener, aware, comfortable, and confident, he constantly searched for new knowledge and challenges. He respects you for who you are, your expertise and experience, an admirable character trait missing from many Somali politicians. Never "I know everything type," he understands what to improve on and seeks advice and directions from the right resources. He and I would meet for extended discussions. A voracious reader, he was always on the lookout for a good read—a learned man in the truest sense of the word. Away and removed from Somalia for so many years, my view of the struggle, especially in the redevelopment of the education sector during the civil war, was primarily negative or incomplete at best. Through Mr. Beenebeene, I learned and developed a healthy outlook and appreciation of the substantial progress in the education sector in the most trying times for Somalia and the leading lights of the movements.


My view of him as a gracious gentleman with a calm demeanor but stern beliefs and principles was cemented even more during his last five years as a well-known political opposition member of the parliament. Never a bomb thrower, unnecessarily flaming an already fragile and divided environment, and never bringing non-germane topics to the debate, he was all about the issues based on the existing rules, procedures, and the constitution. In other words, he often made his case without raising his voice or diluting his messages with careless language and unwarranted hyperbole — a sign of a mature, seasoned politician.

During his returns to Minnesota, he and I would meet for dinners. He would give me an unfiltered analysis of the situation in Somalia. Never would he ever utter an insult or a derogatory tone or speak ill-will on anyone; it was all about policy, its ramifications, or structural deficiencies, with options and opposing ideas presented in a balanced method. In other words, he was the "model opposition" for a country recovering from years of civil war and mayhem.

Hon. Abdirahman Beenebeene is the type of person you are glad they are in your orbit. He would return your phone calls regardless of his location, in Mogadishu, Turkey, Kenya, or anywhere else.

In general, Somalis are not solicitous of feedback and are never receptive to negative or constructive feedback intended for improvements. Mr. Beenebeene is open to feedback and suggestions, a rare quality in today's politicians. I implore my good friend never to lose sight of that excellent quality now that he has been entrusted with the solemn responsibility of leading a significant and influential ministry.

Being an amiable gentleman is not a prerequisite for being a competent, effective, and influential minister. Still, it is a helpful quality that paves the way to effectively govern and achieve one's goals and objectives. I hope and pray that my good friend becomes a wildly successful minister. And who knows, he might one day become another President from Hiiraan, much like our first President!

And now, let me conclude by sharing my private message to Xildhibaan Mohamud Abdirahman Beenebeene upon learning his appointment as a Minister of Planning. It is indicative of the type of relationship we share, strictly professional and learning from one another:

Abdisamad Nur Bidar


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