February 13, 2011 ·12 Comments
BOSTON — It has been an exciting couple of weeks on the global stage as grassroots movements and social media platforms came together to create CHANGE and PASSION. Savvy use of Internet powerhouses like facebook, youtube and twitter led to and facilitated the ousting of tyrants after decades of injustice.
Youths in Egypt were able employ a handful of social media following on the heels of Tunisian revolution to create a mass gatherings in Tahrir Square and throughout Egypt. Regional and global powers have long turned a blind-eye on the injustice but through perseverance and amplifying their plight globally, they were able to achieve a change.
While Somalilanders are fortunate that their previous administration gracefully allowed for and ceded power in last year’s elections; there is still something more important that is missing in the lives of Somalilanders both at home and abroad. A deep burning – wait- a yearning and a desire in their hearts that can only be met by one thing: international recognition.
It has been long twenty years since Somaliland declared the restoration of its sovergnity and departed from the failed state of Somalia. Equally during that twenty long years, Somaliland stood the test of time and ruled itself peacefully.
While there are many sides to the argument of how Somaliland should seek its recognition and whether or not recognition should be such a high priority. There is a group of volunteers that has been working together for the past few years to make a small contribution to the cause by helping Somalilanders abroad help themselves.
The International Somaliland Awareness Day (ISAD) Committee, was formed in London in early 2008 with a simple goal in mind; to create awareness and rise the profile of Somaliland. The philosophy of the group is to create a voice that comes from many directions and in many mediums for Somaliland’s right to international recognition.
The ISAD chose June 26th, a day that coincides with Somaliland’s independence day from Britain to promote the cause and make a noise.
I had the chance to interview one of the volunteers at the ISAD committee, Mohamoud Hussein, who was able to answer some questions for us.
SOMALILANDPRESS: First of all, thank you for your time Mr. Hussein. Please explain to us what is International Somaliland Awareness Day (ISAD) about?
Mohamoud: My pleasure. International Somaliland Awareness Day is pretty much self-explanatory. It’s a day where we will scream at the top of our lungs, figuratively speaking of course, to let the world know that we are here and that they can not continue to ignore us.
SOMALILANDPRESS: Isn’t that something that the government should be doing?
Mohamoud: Right now, our government needs to focus on bettering the lives of the average citizen in Somaliland. Seeking recognition was a popular excuse the old government used to waste valuable time that could have been used to bring a tangible improvement to the lives of the average Somalilanders. While there is a committee in place by the new administration, they are acting on a political and diplomatic level. We have to take ownership of our plight as citizens of Somaliland and do what is in our power to supplement their efforts and ‘make noise’ so that we cannot be easily ignored and forgotten. Our government and agencies can only knock on certain doors and explore limited options but it is us, as people that can make the most noise.
SOMALILANDPRESS: What inspires you?
Mohamoud: A sign of the times is that our women are much more active than our men when it comes to almost everything in general. While our men are excellent at waving their flags on May 18th events; it was a brave group of young women from London who held our inaugural event in Trafalgar square by dressing up in Somaliland emblazoned shirts and handing out flyers on June 26th in 2008. It may seem like something small and trivial, but just imagine if on that one day everyone everywhere did the same thing. Now multiply that small group by every Somalilander in the Diaspora and multiple cities worldwide. You now get a momentous message being delivered to a very wide audience.
SOMALILANDPRESS: What kind of activities do you have planned for that day?
Mohamoud: We are no different from the Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square, who were able to mobilise and organise themselves individually for a greater cause. We want to get the message out there in anyway possible and will rely on the creativity of individuals to do whatever they can. Some can write letters to their local representatives, others can go canvassing door to door. Others can even hold events and handout flyers. The beauty of it is that this day belongs to everyone and that everyone is free to do what he or she can to promote this message. Take a look at the Tibetan cause.
While some of their tactics are a little extreme at times, Tibet supporters have been so vocal about their cause that it has reached so far and so wide. It was less than a week ago that online coupon site Groupon Inc aired a controversial ad about Tibet during the Super Bowl.
The commercial has since been pulled out after it was considered a bad taste and came under attack social media users. I ask why can’t we have the same effect on a global stage? Can Somalilanders not have a voice and a cause that is commonly shared by the world? I mean, we certainly deserve it.
SOMALILANDPRESS: Okay, but specifically, what can people do?
Mohamoud: Like I had mentioned, hand out flyers, write letters and whatever you can. As a committee, we will try to have predesigned letters that you can be mailed to local representatives in various languages. People can also individually design posters and flyers that can be printed out and distributed. You can even get Somaliland Face paint done for the day, but our point is that this is the people’s message and we are happy with anything that will bring attention to Somaliland. Just, please don’t hijack a plane to get attention whatever you do.
SOMALILANDPRESS: Would you like to add anything else?
Mohamoud: Well I want to thank once more the lovely ladies and patriots who made our first event possible and continue to spend their personal time to further the cause of Somaliland. I also wanted to add that you’d be surprised how many people are aware of Somaliland. I actively promote Somaliland and have 15 minute history lessons wherever I go because I choose to tell people I’m Somalilander when they ask, so they’re forced to ask me about it in return. We can all do our bit even through Facebook statuses, Tweets or bombarding message boards, etc. I have bombarded places such as asmallworld.net and Affluence.org with messages about Somaliland and have received genuine support for our common cause. You do be surprised how much people love us when they hear about us. We are just asking everyone who is either Somalilander or a friend of Somaliland to help us get what we rightfully deserve, recognition for Somaliland. We had a website at one point which we need to re-register but I will provide alternate links where people can support us. Also, we will use the #Jun26 hashtag for all the Tweeps out there. It’s all about social media platforms, so I kindly ask in advance that your readers share this article with all their friends on social networks.
SOMALILANDPRESS: You forgot South Sudan.
Mohamoud: Yes, that’s a whole other situation. Their plight was easier to market because they were
subliminally branded as victims of Islam.
The increased piracy and the al-Shabaab presence in our neighbouring country gives us a platform which I think the government has exploited very well. Personally, though, I want Somaliland to be known as a land of beauty and tranquility –and where peaceful people are opposed to the ‘al-Shabaab and pirates’ in neighboring Somalia. Nevertheless, South Sudan is a good news for Somaliland because it has broken down one of the biggest barriers the African Union has been using to deny us international recognition.
As you can see the determination of this group of volunteers, one can only admire their efforts and drive. This year has been a year where social media platforms played a crucial role in the toppling of 2-3 decades-long dictators; will it be the year that Somaliland receives recognition through better promotion?
Join the Facebook Group for International Somaliland Awareness Day: http://on.fb.me/g9ttZa
Like the International Somaliland Awareness Day Facebook Page: http://on.fb.me/dNT19l
RSVP Your Attendance to International Somaliland Awareness on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/eHCUJt
By Mohamed Guled
Somalilandpress | 13 Feb 2010Follow @somalilandpress
By Hassan Ali