Much has been said about the difference between the internationally recognized but very troubled Somalia and the unrecognized but wonderful, Democratic Republic of Somaliland, but, not so surprisingly what has not been articulated in words proves more lasting, more impressive in the minds of newcomers to Somaliland than all the words said or written about it combined.
Somaliland has, of late, been playing host to, first, a trickle of tourists, tentatively stepping into the ‘unknown’, then an increasing number of teams coming to discover delightful, uncharted surprises around every nook and corner.
Word – a good word, certainly, spiralling outwards from this little known, 370000-sqm budding democracy, an oasis of peace and stability, too.
It was only last week, that a group of new visiting guests expressed what they felt here to a Somaliland National Television crew who met at Hargeisa city centre – a motley of happy tourists from the UAE, United Kingdom, United States, New Zealand, and the like.
“I love Somaliland, This is my third time here. Inshaa Allah, I will come back here again and again. We are happy to be here. I love you Somaliland!” one of them said.
“I had a very nice time here. Everybody is so friendly, and the countryside is beautiful. The cave paintings are amazing,” another said.
“I really enjoyed my time here,” a woman wearing the traditional, Muslim shalmah said. “very nice people. I really had a very nice experience,” she added.
“It’s been so wonderful. The people made us so welcome. We went to Berbera and we swam in the ocean and it was so beautiful,” another lady teammate said.
“It is a wonderful country. The landscape is beautiful. I look forward to coming back as soon as possible checking on the development and all the goods that are happening here,” yet another stated.
The Laas Geel cave paintings, Berbera beach, rich-in-fauna-and-vegetation Ga’an Libah mountain, the sparse but so beautiful landscape, thousands of heads of grazing livestock, the undulating plains..are only a tip of what Somaliland can offer to the world. Regions such as Awdal, Sanaag, Sool and Togdheer are still untapped, as it is.
People coming from the hustle and bustle of developed countries are taken by surprise by the simplicity, the friendliness, the virginity and the sincerity beaming out of both people and land. Their ‘foreignness’ is not rubbed on them adversely but rather used as a ticket for instant friendship, good-natured banter and offer of unreserved assistance.
Hospitality, in Somaliland, is a culture.
Somaliland, indeed, is a unique experience the world should showcase as a multi-faceted model.