Columbus is home to many who fled the anarchy into which the African nation of Somalia descended beginning in the early 1990s.

Columbus is home to many who fled the anarchy into which the African nation of Somalia descended beginning in the early 1990s.

Now, in 2012, the city may be home to the beginnings of an end to the violence and bloodshed that continues to wrack the country.

A conference entitled "Somalia at Crossroads: Foreign Intervention, Humanitarian Crisis and Aspirations for Statehood" will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan 27 and 28 in Hagerty Hall, 1755 College Road, and Denney Hall, 164 W. 17th Ave., both on the campus of Ohio State University.

Conference sponsors include the Ohio State University Somali Language Program, Center for African Studies at OSU, Mershon Center for International Security Studies, African Studies Program at Ohio University, Columbus Council on World Affairs, Somali Community Access Network, Somali Education Association and U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.

"Somalia has been in a state of violence and conflict for over two decades now," Jibril Mohamed, president and chief executive officer of the Northland-based Somali Community Access Network, said last week. "Many attempts were made to bring together the sides that were fighting for power in Somalia. So far, almost all of them are not successful."

Approximately 16 conferences have been held in recent years in a variety of countries surrounding Somalia and in the Middle East, Mohamed added.

"All of those resulting in nothing much more than a transitional system that was not functioning," he said.

The local conference seeks to bring together intellectuals, Somali and non-Somali, "who have a deep understanding of what's going on" in the strife-torn nation, he indicated.

"They envision ways to handle that conflict and end it once and for all," Mohamed said.

Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa at the U.S. State Department, was invited to be one of the speakers but will not be able to attend, according to Mohamed. However, he will be represented by a delegation of officials from the State Department.

Confirmed speakers include:

• Professor Ahmed I. Samatar, the James Wallace Professor of International Studies at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn.

• Professor Michael Weinstein, Somalia analyst at Purdue University

• Abdinur Sheikh Mohamed, former minister of education in Somalia

• Abukar Arman, Somalia's special envoy to the United States

• Abdikarim Gole, Somali language lecturer at Ohio State

• Khadra Mohamed of the Center for Somali Women's Advancement

Elected state and local officials have also been invited to address the conference.

The conference has three major goals, according to Mohamed.

The first is to produce a communiqué by the end of the gathering stating the position of conference attendees on the way to move forward after the current transitional government in Somalia ceases in August.

Second will be to bring to the attention of policymakers, including those in the U.S. State Department, the frustration Somali-Americans feel regarding the continued violence in their homeland.

And third, Mohamed said, will be to show that Columbus and its Somali community are "powerful, capable of thinking about our motherland and finding solutions for them, and following them up with actions."

"That's the country that gave us the life that we have," Mohamed said. "That's where we were born. Most Somalis have relatives and friends in Somalia.

"There is a great connection between the Somali-Americans and the Somalis living in Somalia."

Key presentations at the conference, which is free and open to the public, will include:

• Foreign Intervention, Humanitarian Crisis and the Quest for Political Stability in Somalia

• U.S. Engagement in Somalia: Dual Track Policy Aims and Implications

• Debunking the Roadmap: A Tool for Statehood or Death-knell for Disintegration?

• Natural vs. Manmade: The Politics of Famine in the Horn

• Post-Transitional Federal Government Somalia: Political Parties and National Grassroots Movements as Clan Alternatives: Planting the Seeds for Sustainable Social and Political Institutions.