Somaliland: A silent success story, a lighthouse for Africa


When it comes to the development of Africa’s capacity, negative examples are quickly at hand. A country that hardly anyone knows, does meanwhile remarkable things in civil society building.

“The country is like a white canvas. Perhaps comparable to the post-colonial period in the 1960s, “says Joe Addo, a Ghanaian architect who co-founded the Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles. “In Ghana, each operating in its niche, here everything is open.” Joe Addo has come to Somaliland in the Horn of Africa in order to discuss with young local architect on urban and regional development.

Heading into the Modern

It is not to be overlooked: In the capital Hargeisa atmosphere of departure. At every corner there are construction sites. It creates new office and residential buildings with cantilevered roof terraces and balconies. The public transport system is well organized. There are buses through the city that hold on a show of hands and take passengers. The buses are old, but their payment system is more modern than elsewhere. The ticket is paid for using a micropayment app on the smartphone in dollars, the remaining money is the conductor, courier in Somaliland Shilling out. This innovation brings the Diaspora. She has left the country after the outbreak of the civil war and is now distributed throughout the world. And since communication is the alpha and omega, you hardly anywhere phoned in Somaliland as cheap as otherwise well: A balance of two dollar enough for a week telephone calls at home and two long-distance calls in the US and Germany.In the nearby inland capital Hargeisa atmosphere of departure - and of course the dream of the sea can not be missing. (Image: Robin Hammond / Panos)...In the nearby inland capital Hargeisa atmosphere of departure – and of course the dream of the sea can not be missing. (Image: Robin Hammond / Panos)…


The birth of the Somaliland nation date the inhabitants to 1884, when the territory was a British protectorate. 1960 British Somaliland was granted independence – to become five days later united with Italian Somalia in the south of the state of Somalia.

In the 1980s suggested relying increasingly Somaliland opposition to discrimination against the region by the Siad Barre regime in Mogadishu. The dictator sent unceremoniously government soldiers, leaving hundreds of thousands of men, women and children on the outskirts of Hargeisa shoot. In 1988, he ordered to raze the city with air strikes the ground. Few thought it did, that most fled or died.

A quarter of a century later, people will return slowly. Because of the homecoming of the Diaspora there is at the moment much in society to discuss: How much influence does the Religion? How much the clans? What rights do women? Just worried young unmarried men stir. Since a wedding and the equipment of the Bride according to local tradition are still a costly affair, which prevent some marriage, they posed with placards, one could read that read: “Still I am single” – I’m still single.

A so unusual as an important forum for the discussion of such socio-political issues is the Book Fair – the Hargeisa International Book Fair, which already took place in August for the eighth time. Authors, scientists, architects, filmmakers and photographers from around the world to travel. Those who take part for the first time, is particularly impressed. How about the Nigerian poet Niyi Osundare, which acts as a professor of literature in New Orleans: “They have internalized the importance of history, culture and literature of a nation and set these values for their destination to be finally recognized.”

Because Somaliland has a problem: Officially the country does not exist. That there is a difference between Somalia and Somaliland in the south to the north, is little known. 1991 declared its independence from Somalia Somaliland. First, the government could collect all the weapons that had been left behind in the country of civil war. Then shut the borders with Somalia and controlled it since strict. “Safety comes first, then comes the development of the infrastructure,” says Suleiman Jama Dirie, Secretary of the Treasury. $ 250 million was the state budget last year. That’s not much for a country with an estimated population of three million.

The international community has not recognized Somaliland until today, although the young nation since then proves that it is possible to perform with limited resources and little help from the outside a polity. Best diplomatic relations to care for the time being to the neighbors Ethiopia and Djibouti and the former colonial power Great Britain, explained the Minister of Industry Shucayb Maxamed Muuse. As he returned from abroad, the majority of the staff in the ministries. Conflicts remain there but not out. Locals complain that the returnees come back with colonial settings and what has already grown since the nation was founded, not to respect.

The country is still young. But what brings people together for centuries, their culture, which is the foundation of the nation. Many stories and poems, which are presented as new publications at the Book Fair, the readers are already known. They were handed down orally for generations, such as about the substance of Cilmi Boodharis “Caashaqisii”, a love story from the port city of Berbera.

The Book Fair as a platform

The six-day Book Fair is the biggest event of the year. Your organizers, Ayaan Mahamoud Jama Musse Jama and, rather stay in the background, saying that they only want to create a platform to connect the right people. But the priorities of recent years seem intimately connected with the development of the country. They denominated far about freedom, censorship, citizenship or collective memory. This year’s theme is called “rooms”.

On one side of the hall in Guleed hotel where takes place the Book Fair, the British documentary photographer Alison Baskerville pictures of the salvage of the dead from mass graves on the outskirts of Hargeisa from. Baskerville has held, as the human remains were stored in cardboard boxes. At the bookstalls will be read and purchased, however.

Then lift in the hall suddenly a murmur, and a few seconds later the audience breaks into singing. A frail-looking old man is led forward: Hadraawi. His poems everyone knows in Somalia and Somaliland. They deal with the legacy of the nomadic life, of war and the desire for peace. For the distribution of two of dissident poetry Hadraawi sass 1973-1978 in prison. Still committed to the now 72-year-old for peace: In the summer of 2003, he organized a peace march through the two countries, which should contribute to a better understanding.

Marriage as a partnership

On this Book Fair the poet speaks following an illness not, but Edna Adan Ismail, the unofficial First Lady of Somaliland. The 78-year-old was the first Minister of Foreign Affairs, founded in Hargeisa hospital and a university. She talks about women’s rights, and what she has to say, makes it clear that women in Somaliland are anything but equal for the time being. “A marriage is a partnership and no property available,” she says, for example, or “Why do I always see women who dress in these Khomeini tents?”. In particular, the number of rapes has increased dramatically in recent years, white Adan to report on their work.

“Everyone needs space,” Edna Adan Ismail says and then get away with it back on the thematic focus of the Book Fair. «Emotional, cultural, political or personal space. We have to admit it to the other. Only in this way, individuals and our country can continue to develop. ”


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