Somali Inter-State Football Tournament 2020: Lessons learned from player Mohamed Mahmoud

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This is Mohamed Mahmoud. Born and raised in the Barri region of Puntland state of Somalia, he saw an opportunity in Galmudug, followed his soccer dream, and made history as a Puntlander family-wise, as a Galmudug player regionally, and as a dream-following young Somali man.

This triple identity of Mohamed is a blow to those who always argued that federalism is a tribal concoction. It is not. Mohamed did not need any papers or legal opinion to play for his other region of Galmudug. All he needed was the coach of Galmudug to see his skills and take the risk in him. It was a worthwhile risk!

This is my understanding of Somalia's federalism. No walls to block one from seeking opportunities, no local residence papers, or no regional administration stopping one from following one's dream.

I debated in 2014 that "if I have money, education or material, no one will stop me from living in Mogadishu..." that is what Mohamed did. He took his skills to another Somali region. Mohamed's story tells a typical American story where people move around seeking opportunities.

Only power-sharing and administration is what has been federated. Somali people are not federated. They are one regardless of the region they were born. Politicians are the ones who seek seats on clan and on the concoction of 4.5.

Congrats to Mohamed, his teammates, Galmudug, and those who gave him a chance to excel. Postscript: this story takes place when Somalia's leadership is conferring in Garowe - a topic of conversation at the launches.


Faisal is a widely read essayist, student of social change, and a Principal City Planner for Los Angeles, and a member of the Horn of Africa Journal Editorial Board.

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