The famous “I came from Burao’ (Burcaan ka imi) acacia tree at Togdheer Boulevard, opposite the Tima’addeh Basketball court, Hargeisa, needlessly fell under the ruthless axe of Daryeel construction company, a leading firm in the industry, in full view of the government, the public, and the security forces.
The renowned, 100-year old tree, that since 1993-94 served as a shade for a teashop by the same name run by Aisha Khuuriye, was axed out of life less than a kilometre away from the HQ of the Somaliland Ministry for Environment Protection.
Ironically, it is the Somaliland Chamber of Commerce which contracted the construction company to build offices for it some metres away from the victimized tree.
It is not clear, either, why a ministry, headed by a veteran environmentalist and an avowed activist for the conservation of Somaliland fauna and vegetation, Her Excellency Shukri Ismail Bandare, permitted such a heinous crime to be committed right under its nose.Several facts and considerations make the incident more hurtful. One, Hargeisa is as denuded of tall, shade trees as a fifty-year baldie, needing so much more attention to grow more – and more. Two, similarly useful old acacia trees lining the main road, and leading to the main hospital, had been previously so unceremoniously cut down by local council bulldozers without the least cause. The incident raised some public indignation and media furore that neither lasted long nor ended with any tangible sense knocked into nitwits with axes or driving bulldozers looking for plant lives to snuff out.
Three, the ministry of environment, had of late been shedding crocodile tears over similarly abused and vegetationally downgraded areas in the pastoralist interior. If it were sincere, no axes would have been falling on silently agonized patriarch trees lining the Somaliland capital’s main streets.
The painful loss cannot be missed from either the ground level or from an aerial view: Hargeisa is doomed to fall under the harsh, blistering hot rays of an uninterrupted tropical sun, egged on by the fast changing climate if fast, rectifying, drastic measures are not undertaken immediately.
The loss of the ‘I-came-from-Burao’ tree reminds me of a short, 23-minute documentary film a group of young film-makers made in Mogadishu in 1988. The film was about a young axe-happy nomad cutting down the tree of life accidentally, which act precipitated and speeded an unspeakable environmental doom that turned the whole land into one massive dune – an endless sea of aridity and death.