Published On: Tue, May 29th, 2012

Somaliland: Our version of events

OPINION | MAY 29, 2012

I write this article because I have scoured the internet for Somaliland related opinion pieces and to my surprise I have found that there lacks a genuine viewpoint from young Somalilanders in Somaliland and those in the diaspora. With myself being from the diaspora and London to be precise I felt that I could offer a fresh perspective on Somaliland and our hopes and aspiration for Somaliland.

Being a Somali person in the West and part of the wider Somali diaspora one always comes across the topic of allegiance. Should our allegiance be to Somaliland or to Somalia? To put it frankly my allegiance is to the Somali people first and foremost and then Somaliland as my mother country. Some would argue that this is contradictory so here I shall elaborate.

The whole concept of nation states is a new phenomenon in human history and more so in African history. Somaliland became the first Somali territory to gain de jure independence and international recognition on 26th June 1960 and followed by Somlia (then Italian Somaliland) on 1st July 1960.

As Somaliland chose to unilaterally join Somalia on 1st July, therefore, the first genuine notion of nationhood for Somali peoples existed then and the blue and white flag became the flag of the Somali Republic (as it was officially known then).

Therefore, those who argue that supporting Somaliland is wrong and that your allegiance should be to Somalia as a whole use only 31 years of nationhood (1960-1991) as a standard bearer (subtracting the 21 years in which Somaliland declared its re-independence). Whereas Somaliland as an entity existed for 80 years previously (although a protectorate).

The whole notion of colonialism is indeed a dirty chapter in the history of Africa, however, before the British, French and Italians colonised Somali speaking peoples was there ever a united nation of Somalis? Although I wish there was, sadly the facts remain that as Somalis we have always been disconnected and concentrated into distinct entities, whether they be the Awdal sultanate, Majeerteen sultanate, warsangali sultanate, Sultanate of hobyo, dervish state the list goes on. So according to the facts of Somali history there has never truly been a united Somali nation and the closest was witnessed during the union of 1960 and the formation of the Somali republic. Needless to say this ill fated union proved to be disastrous and destructive (due to the nature of Siad Barre’s rule).

Going back to my topic at hand I am not arguing for the piecemeal division of Somali territories, rather what I am asking is why do some consider it so sacrilegious when people choose to have an allegiance to Somaliland considering that it existed as an entity first (albeit briefly) and that a united Somalia only really ever existed for 31 years and even then political, economic and cultural power were all concentrated in Mogadishu unevenly, meaning that sadly Northern citizens barely got to taste the fruits of union within this 31 year period due to the centralization of power in Mogadishu.

Therefore, people have to understand that when one supports Somaliland it does not mean that they forfeit their allegiance to the Somali people in general whether they be in Ogaden, Djibouti, Somaliland or Somalia. I genuinely believe that one can be a Somali nationalist and still have allegiance to Somaliland.

What surprises me so much is that there is a genuine hate for Somaliland among some Somalis despite the fact that when it declared its re-independence in 1991 it did not step on anyone rather all it did was reconcile the various clans and elements within society to bring about state-building and empowerment, surely this is a noble venture.

When one says they are a Somalilander a common misconception is that the person is claiming not to be Somali and therefore a traitor of some sort. However, this misconception is very easy to banish, an individual from Somaliland is a Somali by ethnicity and Somalilander by nationality.

An example can be found in that of a Moroccon person, they are Arab by ethnicity and Moroccon by nationality so whenever they refer to themselves as Moroccon they have not necessarily forfeited their Arab heritage. An example closer to home can be found in that of Djiboutians who are of course Somalia yet referred to as Djiboutians freely with little controversy and likewise Somalilanders should be able to encounter little controversy, because despite nationality we all share our common heritage, being Somalis and although it would be ideal to all share a country (a Greater Somalia if you will) in reality this is far from feasible as history has shown.

Arguments often state how because Somalis are one of the most homogenous peoples in the world then they should have a united country, however countries such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia are equally homogenous and to such an extent that the people who rule both are from the Hashemite kingdoms and are actual cousins, yet this does not entail a shared state. People have to understand the difference between idealism and realism, every Somali would like a united state just the same way as every Muslim would like a united Ummah, however conditions at the current time do not favour the former or latter occurring. For this reason Somaliland is within its rights to pursue its statehood free from rebuttel and demonization.

In its relationship with Somalia; Somaliland follows the political/economic mantra “whatever is yours belongs to you and whatever is mine belongs to me”, compare this to the political/economic mantra Puntland adopts in its relationships with Somalia, “whatever is yours is mine and whatever is mine belongs to me”. It is plain to see which relationship is more exploitative and yet it is Somaliland that is demonized amongst some so called diaspora intellectuals from Somalia who always try to downplay every little achievement Somaliland undergoes.

In fact of all the Somali administrations, Somaliland is the one of the few to actually offer refugees fleeing from the Mogadishu war safe settlement in Hargeisa and its other cities, as evidenced by the recent creation of homes for 300 families displaced by war in Burao, Somaliland. Compare this with the actions of the Puntland administration which has been criticized by Human rights watch for dispelling and violating the rights of fleeing refugees from Mogadishu and South Central Somalia.

Often I hear other Somalis say the past is the past and we should move forward together and yes this is a noble idea but in the next instance you will hear these same people praise Siad barre as a patriot, when this is the same man who actively tried to commit a genocide against the Northern citizens (see objective publications such as Human rights watch 1990). Furthermore, the recent mobilization in the US of Somali unionists defending the indicted war criminal General samatar also show this fallacy along with the fact that General Morgan (aka the butcher of Hargeisa) still holds influence in Somalia’s politics.

Granted Siad Barre also committed atrocities against all tribes and Somali citizens bar his own, however none of this was in comparison to the active, genocide driven aims that his administration pursued in the North. If one truly wants to look at the reason for the failure of the Somali republic then one has to look no further than Siad Barre whose ruthless divide and rule policies still leave a toxic legacy for Somalis today in the Horn of Africa.

Even when one leaves the recent, gory history behind, the fact of the matter is that people have the right of self-determination and for this reason Somaliland has every moral right to want to pursue its statehood as proven by its constitution and referendum of 2001 in which over 95% of Somalilanders voted for this (as verified by independent institutions). However, at the same time Somaliland has to genuinely address the aspirations of those residing in the Eastern regions of Somaliland as they too deserve their own choices.

Nevertheless it is a known fact that all of these clans were present in 1991 and at that time they chose the path of reconciliation and state-building. In modern times they have pursued different aims and to be honest in the Eastern regions it does seem that there is genuine confusion amongst its participants on what they want, some call for union (and pledge allegiance to Khatuumo state) and others genuinely want to be integrated into Somaliland’s development projects and plans.

In the case of Awdal, my home region this is a complete different story as the diaspora driven Awdal state has been just that a diaspora driven project which has influence in social media circles (such as youtube, facebook etc) but very little reality on the ground as the inhabitants of Boorama and other towns within the Awdal region are genuinely immersed in the Somaliland project as evidenced by the nickname of Boorama “the mother of Somaliland” considering it was here that the most important decisions about Somaliland’s futures were discussed.

The fact of the matter is that Somaliland has chosen its path towards democracy and prosperity and the wishes of its people will be respected whether international recognition comes or not.

Naysayers fail to comprehend that Somalilanders are genuinely loyal to their state whether recognition comes or not, the reason being the people have chosen their path and consolidated it, so for Somaliland there really is no turning back now as it has chosen its path and moved forwards. In regards to the Somalia political scene, there is little Somaliland can offer but its best wishes to Somalia. The case of Taiwan can be used to parallel that with Somaliland.

Although seen internationally as a country, Taiwan is not actually a country and not even a member of the UN, instead it is considered a renegade province of China (due to China’s hostility to its independence). Yet despite these setbacks Taiwan has pursued its economic and political development in a frighteningly efficient manner as proven by its rapid economic growth and democratisation, it is a wonder that Taiwan is considered an Asian superpower despite not actually being a fully fledged recognized country.

Obviously it is a stretch for Somaliland (a poor East African nation) to achieve those same successes, but Somaliland could do alot worse than adopt Taiwan as a good example to aspire to considering their shared issues of lack of genuine international recognition.

Somaliland is far from perfect, however it is genuinely a marvel considering the fact that Somaliland has achieved state-building and reconciliation for 21 years with little outside influence. In contrast the US have pursued state building in countries as far flung as Vietnam (in the 70s) and Iraq and Afghanistan in modern times and despite plowing millions into these countries the outcomes have been modest at best.

In contrast Somaliland achieved something which is a rarity in modern African politics, which is the armed movement (in this case SNM) voluntarily choosing to disarm itself in favor of a civilian government (in this case the administration of Egal AUN). Often we all know that in African politics if the armed movement gains control of a territory or a country then it dominates the political sphere and dictates the path of the country.

Granted that there do remain SNM veterans in the Somaliland administration (principally President Silano), they have gained these positions because of their own efforts and it was truly amazing statecraft from President Egal to demobilize the SNM and reintegrate them into the Somaliland national army. For this reason Somalilanders everywhere should truly be grateful to President Egal for his foresighted vision of statehood of Somaliland which has laid the fondations and prevailed today.

Furthermore, when touching on democracy it genuinely surprises me how Somaliland is demonized considering the fact that it is a genuine and fledgling democracy.

Critics of Somaliland often use the recycled argument that it is a one clan establishment. However, the emergence of President Dahir Riyale Kahin following Egal’s death and the even more significant event of Dahir Riyale Kahin winning elections (in 2003) to serve a full 8 year term is testament that Somaliland is a democracy as one does not need to be from the main clan to secure victory in a genuine democratic elections. This was proven by the fact that Somaliland’s first elected President (Kahin) was not from the majority clan in Somaliland.

Instead in Somaliland all one needs to do is to pledge allegiance to the state and its sovereignty which is perfectly rational considering that a country has to always aims to protect its independence. Granted Somaliland’s democratic pedigree is still in its early stages, however, it is still a beacon of hope in an otherwise blighted horn of Africa region.

To conclude, it is important for the young diaspora of Somaliland to continue to support their burgeoning country and thankfully I always come across increasingly well educated and motivated young Somalilanders from all hues of political thought and from both genders. Indeed it is equally important for us Somalilanders to always be proud of our country and to try and avoid the ills that have afflicted so many before us, namely tribalism and greed.

Jawse MN
BSc Economics Student

Displaying 32 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. Omer Hussein Dualeh says:

    A beautiful article from a true Somalilander. The caravan will reach it's destination my brother, while wallers cry loud in vain. Thank you very much author for being true to your citizenship. Those who live in diasporas and FADHI KU DIRIRs. as they are called often, will not do harm to our Somaliland, and will remain wallowers until exhausted.
    People of Awdal have shown their maturity, when those who claim, the giant clan in Somaliland, could not agree of anythng and they are the ones who safed Somaliland from God-forbid, the in-fight and distruction. Those 5 long months of reconciliation in Borame was the remedy, and they are know more Somalilander than most of the Somalilanders.
    The other side of the equation, these people will always hate Somaliland and its progress, as they were not honest from the day we gave our state in a silver plate to them. The only reason that they are against Somaliland is because, without Somaliland they believe they cannot be entity that stands alone, and the reason is plenty.

  2. cimraan says:

    Well Said. They say truth has an ugly head. In this article it comes out beautiful. well done.

  3. Ali Baba says:

    It is my understanding the SNM is still armed rebel group but I guess its supporters want us to believe otherwise. Look at the conflict in Sool and you will know the SNM are still active. The people in Sanaag, Sool and Cayn do not want to be part of this project and they have made it clear. Please keep the development projects to Ceel Afweyn, hargeisa and Burco

  4. Omer Hussein Dualeh says:

    Ali Baba, you are not even a Somali, but MUSIIBADA HAYSATA DADKA SOMALIYEED.

    Why you cannot read and understand the article give its credit, before you jump to hate that is eating your heart? If you are a real Somali you should have appreciated what the author said. People like you will only die for their ills.

  5. A Abdi says:

    Beautifully put. Well done to the writer.

  6. Gobaad says:

    Thank you Jawse. Well put, interesting, and inspiring indeed, hankering the needs and aspirations of our young generation.

  7. Kayse says:

    You forgot to mention Silaanyo who committed the most atrocities in modern Somalia for example in Kalshaale, Buhoodle, Dilla, Erigavo and most recently in New Hargeisa.

    I have already forwarded my letter to the International Criminal Court and they plan to carry an investigation into these events via UK Mission in Addis Ababa.

    Very soon the UK embassy will send a team to Hargeisa.

    Silaanyo also looted UN Food aid and accused the governor of Maroodi Jeeh on the mismanagement but in reality it was Silaanyo, Amina Weris, Hersi Gaab, Nor Duur and Duurane, who took the money.

    Today the Court in Hargeisa announced the verdict but its not true, they were paid in person by Amina Weris. I have all the files and I plan to forward it to Somalilandpress and other Somaliland media so they can expose Silaanyo and his HJ mafia.

    Silaanyo is well known qabiliste and during SNM days he only used to treat HJ fighters during his leadership, thats why SNM walked out on him and left him. He fled from Ethiopia and to this day Ethiopia has no respect for him and can't wait to remove him from Somaliland.

    The Liyuu Police, Garhajis and Essa Mosa fighters, Khaatumo and Awdal state militia might soon remove him by force with Ethiopia and Mogadishu support.

    Stay tuned I am inside and I know exactly what is going on…I will have all the information you need.

  8. cimraan says:

    ciyaal suuq gaboobey. guess what we got your number and will and send your info to Hirsi gaab. And you will be with your uncle silaanyo who will be happy to meet you.

  9. ali jama says:

    sometimes it is not worth to defend our cause..they hate us…all they want to see is our destruction..thanks for the well written is educative for the young somalilanders..we can forgive but never forget their deeds!!!!!!!

  10. The Kid Carlito says:

    A wonderful article that offers an objective view with historical facts.

    The author here has spoken truth and it offers hope amongst young Somalilanders.


  11. GeezerFrmPuntland says:

    somaliland blah, somaliland blah, somaliland blah, somaliland blah blah blah.
    absolutely ridiculous, this woman is making a fool of herself, we are not stopping YOU If you want Independence, just take your three small village & form ur own tribal state.
    Ps take Gobaad with You!!!

  12. Mohamed A. says:

    This has been a well thought out and meticulous article. I am glad a part of Somalia is doing well. Now I have chosen my words carefully because Somaliland is a part of Somalia regardless of a self declared independence in the 90's, so far as to say legally.

    Arabs and Somali's are different cases to be even remotely considered the same. Primarily the Arabs came to be through the break up of the Ottoman Empire.

    It wasn't a question of keeping united the same people, but rather how the victors will divide the spoils. It wasn't the Arabs running the Ottoman Empire, and when it was divided it was divided among Kings who to this day would not want to share bread with each other regardless of what their people want.

    Also the Civil War of Somalia had many participatory actors including those of the North. It is dishonest when those in the SNM and Somaliland government took part in the Civil War, then go North and claim Independence when the wider Somalia is burning due to the match they help light.

    The fog of history is quite the issue. Truth and reconciliation must be reached, and the future should be the focus. I didn't like Siad Barre or any dictator for that matter. I always get into heated debates with those who do say stuff like he was a "Patriot". With that said, I don't let what someone says getting in the way of developing a path to unity; nobody said it would be easy. Also one can't be closed minded of someone else's perspective. You must explore why they said that, explore the validity of the statement, and factually reach a consensus. These war crimes/ genocide allegations and issues of that matter need a honest debate and justice while those who can remember the events first hand are still alive. I want to find the truth, I want to have a society that will fight ignorance, and I want to see Somali people trusting each other again.

    I have read the following before, but it is actually is a synopsis of what was happening in Somalia at the time. Mind you it was a war started in the North by the SNM, the way it was handled is atrocious. In the West I have the luxury of knowing freedoms and liberties so I can safely say I want those people brought to justice as well. The response of the military was provoked, but the action is completely that of a undisciplined army and a disgusting vile dictatorship. It was not the action of the whole of Somalia, just a few power brokers.,,HRW,ANNUAL…

    What is sad is how many other Clans were singled out during the Civil War? How many people did small Clans lose while this two decade strife existed. It is not a Somaliland only issue when it comes to death and suffering from the Somalia syndrome, that I believe we can all agree on. What our role is to fight ignorance, abolish clans, and spread prosperity to everyone. The truth is Somaliland as a concept does not fight ignorance but deeply entrenches it, carves up Somalia to a clan, and the prosperity from the peace afforded these last two decades becomes opportunity squandered for anyone who calls themselves a Somali.

    The truth is Somaliland can tell itself it isn't Somalia, maybe one day it can be legally done as well. But today the opportunity to be influential power brokers in Somalia is slowly slipping away. A stable and more prosperous South will undermine the aspirations of the North through an expansive economy. Businessmen in Hargeisa are loyal to profits rather than borders, also if peace and stability comes to the South; people who want to leave Somaliland will have a stronger argument to do so. I believe Somaliland gains more from being in a larger Somalia because it can have better political clout then under a dictatorship control which the SNM originally fought for. We can start a new page of dialogue, and rebuild a nation to become a great one … that must appeal to a Somalilander as well.

    Somaliland has a responsibility and an obligation to be a force for good in Somalia. If Somali's truly come first, I can point to millions on the map who are suffering from Shabaab, endless corruption, outside meddling, drought, famine, and disease. Somali's from all over the world have work to do so lets not start by separating the country in half.

    • The Kid Carlito says:

      I respect your opinion and what you have said regarding the article. However, you have raised some points which have clearly shown your bias views that exist.

      For one thing you stated that the SNM started the war in North when in fact it was due to Siad Barre's ruthless hunting of Northern Citizens in the North and in Mogadishu, my friend objective publications such as human rights watch have proven this: please take a read: Somalia: A Government at War with Its Own People: Testimonies about the Killings and the Conflict in the North by Africa Watch.

      The SNM although not perfect did what any self respecting force would do which was to defend the people of those Northern cities at the time, it is a known fact that the government indiscriminately bombed Hargeisa night and day.

      You made the second fallacious argument that Somaliland's business and economic potential is linked to Mogadishu and you even made the absurd claim that "a more prosperous South will undermine Somaliland" You fail to understand that it is exactly because of these views and claims that Somalilanders will never ever rejoin the union; because whatever happens Somalia assumes that it can undermine Somaliland (the North as you stated it). So what is actually funny is your argument has actually backfired on you because it shows your true worth of the North (as you put it) if it ever rejoined the Union. In effect it seems many from Somalia just want to turn the clock back to 1960 and commit the same political and economic ills of the union.

      Finally you made the absurd claim of saying that Somaliland is under an SNM dictatorship. This is the most laughable of all your claims because Somaliland is a bonafide democracy as is well understood by all within the IC and Somalilanders themselves. This argument can be destroyed in an instant by the fact that Dahir Riyale Kahin was a former employee of the NSS (the arch enemy of the SNM during the 1988-1991 War). The fact is in Somaliland no matter your past or tribe affiliation if you have a genuine loyalty to the sovereignty of Somaliland then you can fulfil your aspirations via democratic elections.

      Somaliland may not be an internationally recognized country yet, however we have our Sovereignty and recognition from our citizens which means more to us than anything.

      My friend Somaliland is long gone do not worry about us, we will keep doing us and you keep doing you.

      Somaliland does not want to be a powerful broker in Somalia it wants to be a good brother country to Somalia, nothing more and nothing less.

      Even if you leave out the Civil war in all these arguments the people have spoken and democracy and Somaliland is their answer.

      Keep dreaming my friend, you say you want unity and prosperity yet you try and discredit our history and achievements.


      • amal says:

        @ The Kid Carlito

        Well said, I have nothing else to add. I really thought this so-called union was possible but anyone who understands the real Somali issue at heart will know that separation is the only way other wise it will trigger a war because the trust is completely dead and buried. It's sad really, but at least I hope we can live side by side. Even that seems hard considering how much Somaliland and Somalia hate each-other. If we could not rise together as one I hope we can rise together as two and partners instead of puppets of Ethiopia who are on eachother's throats.

    • jamal ahmed says:

      @Mohamed A.
      well said your comment makes more sense Than Those who wrote sometimes articals on This website,today s/land region clearly become more like one clan state no real development recognition out of question so on.first s/land region should sort out problems in The north reconciliation tribes in The north.

  13. osman5 says:

    Superb article indeed! Two thumbs up to Jawse MN…this should be an educational session for the naysayers..

    Osman Qaal

  14. khaatumo citizen says:

    Garhajis and dhuloz are the realist people in north somalia back then they united to get rid of British colonial and am sure they will unite again to remove warlord Sii'lanyo.. but they need to see Sii'lanyo's true colours first hidding behind Issaaaqism and somaliland.

  15. mohamed cheers says:

    Sounds great stuff from one of the ideal sons of Awdal province. Greetings mate and adios.

  16. Kayse says:

    Khaatumo Citizen,

    It's not only Garhajis aka G unit who are in favor of Somaliweyn but the majority of Somalis in north Somalia including Samaroon, Harti, Arab, Essa Muse of HA, Essa people, Gaboye…and that only leaves two subclans of Issak behind in the venue of protest; half of HJ and Saad Muse.

    Not all HJ support seccessionism its only Silanyo's subclan, for example Boqor Burmadow is a champion for Somalia.

    It all has something to do with geography; see Silaanyo's subclan always get beaten up by Hartis and they relate their frustrations towards Hartis with Somalia, sick I know.

    Saad Muses dont really share border with any Somalis, they kind of share with Samarons but Samaroons are small. Half of them support Djibouti, half Ethiopia, half Somalia and the rest is hijacked by Saad Muse. They blackmail them because thats the only reer they can abuse.

    If Garhaajis walks out the Somaliland idea is dead and today they are walking out and Essa Muse is with them. I am inside, I know this.

    I will not reveal everything but just remember Somaliland right now = subclan of Jelo and Saad Muse. They scared of other Somalis so they want to barracked themselves. "Aan ooye albabka ii xidh".

    • jama ali says:

      what you wrote here completely right & accurt.s/land regional addmin They are on dead end or T-junction in many ways becuase every one could see That.jawse has no idea what This person talking about it seems living with The past.

    • Gobaad says:

      The question is, would Garhaajis or any of these you mentioned will leaves and in your twisted mind where would they go? Isn't that laughable and blowing a hot air?

    • khaatumo citizen says:

      LOOL kayse i know right, sii'lanyo's subclan only knows how run away nowedays they hide behind Somaliland banner to kill innocent people, i actually got loads of black Adam friends they obsessed with adeer sii'lanyo is this and that.

  17. Allemagan says:


    If Somaliland's political and economic philosophy is “whatever is yours belongs to you and whatever is mine belongs to me”, why is the Hargeisa adminstration is sending a delegation to participate in the Somali Conference in Istanbul next month and only to talk about receiving its share of any economic development that may be pledged there? If Somaliland is not part of Somalia problem,logic dictates it should not be invited to an international forum that is trying to find a solution for the Somali crisis. I am sure you are familiar with the adage "if you are not part of the problem, you cannot be part of the solution".

    Also, if we follow your reasoning that Somalis never had a central government, why then can't we have Benadirland, Jubaland, Hiiraanland, Easternland and Hobyoland as well. I am sure you understand the difficulty of forming six countries by carving one country and dividing a total population of ten million people with no defined boundaries.

  18. Sade Warrior says:

    blah blah blah H.E PRESIDENT SIYAAD BARE killed my chickens, displaced my grandma never ending excuses. This little girl who wrote this crap article who even cant graduate in time, should be investing her time somewhere else instead of comparing her 3 dusty city enclaves to Taiwan.


  19. Johnny Boy says:

    As ever the wailers and haters on Somaliland come out. I sincerely advise all of you guys to go focus on your country and leave Somaliland out your mouths.

  20. Abdi noor says:

    They are here because all rats leave a sinking ship.

  21. Abraham says:

    This is a great article indeed that should clear up the mind of many confused Somalis. Kudos to the author.

  22. A. Elmi says:

    This is a well written article. Just one fact I would like to add and need clarification. your stated in your article "In contrast Somaliland achieved something which is a rarity in modern African politics, which is the armed movement (in this case SNM) voluntarily choosing to disarm itself in favor of a civilian government (in this case the administration of Egal AUN)." CORRECTION: SNM chose to disarm voluntarily in favor of a civilian government under the Presidency of Abdul Rahman (Toor) Ahmed Ali, the Father of Somaliland, who created the foundation of peace, good governance and democracy. It was not under Egal

    Overall, this is a great article. S/L for peace, democracy and prosperity.

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