Somaliland – Read, Learn: Mogadishu, Ambassador Mathews Set Pace Together


Reading the Ambassador’s tweets alone is more revealing than somebody writing volumes about the same activities in prose and poetry.

It is quite clear right from the beginning that Mogadishu agrees more with the Ambassador than any place else within her geographical scope of responsibilities – including the Republic of Somaliland.

The more recent tweets of UK  Ambassador to Somalia, Harriet Mathews, are like a clean, black slate in the middle of which is written in big, white gothic letters ‘READ & LEARN!’.

That is, read and learn from the ambassador on how to engage  your subjects, sections of the local community for maximum effect without losing a moment on silly functions and listening to bragging local Presidents, neighborhood chiefs.

The Ambassador Tweets her awe of landmarks and architectural remains of old and/or half destroyed buildings  to communicate to Mogadishu that the city can stills hold on to its niche in the coastal histories of Africa.

Tweets such as the samples below cannot fail to pull heart strings that naturally gravitate towards the purveyor. diplomacy at work.

Look at how the Ambassador is being the perfect diplomat by addressing the dreams and ambitions of motivated, enlightened, academic young women.

Look at how the Ambassador has started her assignment in Mogadishu by ‘recognizing’ the talents and critical roles of young people who are good with words: media practitioners, poets, writers. Who else can one find in a volatile place like Mogadishu in order to captivate local imagination, enlist much needed help for execution of duties and for charming the community to swing along with her in order for them to start on a better road to another day.

The  people brought together in this ‘Eat & Tweet’ get together express themselves and what they want to see happen in their ‘homeland’.

Read and learn from local media seasoned by careening deaths, smoking bodies, blown up mothers, smothering homes, dicey fates and Al Shabaab faces behind grinning kid faces –  killer shoeshine boys scrounging for living out of old milk cans serving as carrier bags slung over their scrawny, emaciated shoulders.

Somalia media practitioners build. They sweep what they perceive as a threat to security, nation-building, peace-building, democracy, governance, ‘constitutional’ roadmaps, communal dialogue and rule of law under the carpet.

They build where elsewhere – as in Somaliland – the media often careens off dangerously on collision issues courses with the society and the law.

In Somalia, the media and civil society actors make friends for Somalia. Words used are well chosen to find a soft spot in donors, governments and international organizations. That, perhaps, is another major factor in the international presence, interest in a burning Mogadishu that cannot guarantee a single minute of peace without an AMISOM army personnel car shielding you from the sniper and the suicide bomber.

Read and learn.

Except for the Honorable Chief justice of Somaliland, Adan Haj Ali, we have not seen anybody engaging the Ambassador’s attention and imagination the same way in Somaliland.

The Ambassador, it appears, is not getting the right signals from the Somaliland politicians, media, civil society to come to life as she did in Mogadishu.

Politicians, particularly, must take a realistic, nationalistic stock of their presently caustic activities and understand where it leaves us all – active in that sphere or not.

Perhaps, Somaliland can ‘read and learn’ from the very few Tweets above to correct a 25-year old lethargy that leaves it still grovelling in the dark for a recognition it half-heartedly pursues in fits and starts like an asthmatic engine.

Sovereignty and development will not be delivered on a silver platter. Never.


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