Somaliland: My ordeal in the hands of a ‘misery seller’


For someone who was not raised in his father’s homeland – his for keeps, too, I was obsessively in love with a land I imagined was mine by default.

At 19, I, at long last, grabbed an opportunity to visit the land of my dreams – Somaliland.

On that first – and last – visit to my cherished ‘Somaliland’ which, to me, was an epitome of gallantry, resilience, righteousness, bravery & courage, democracy, zest for life and hospitality. My Somaliland.

For the first five to six months, I reveled in the sounds, scents and what was to me an exotic approach to life alien to someone who grew up in western adopted culture.

For those months, I lived with my parents who looked forward to introducing me to the land of my forefathers. Hargeisa, naturally, was a choice that none of the other cities could out best at the time. That is where we stayed.

My honeymoon with the country came to an abrupt end one afternoon soon after my parents left me to continue living in Hargeisa, where I started exploring for business start-up opportunities.

That afternoon, I woke up from a short siesta to load banging on the front gate of the small villa I was living in. Groggy and a little annoyed, I found three belligerent uniformed police officers banging at the door with bakoorado – walking sticks they were using as batons. There was an elderly woman with them. As soon as I opened the door, she started accusing me of all crimes in her book but kept coming back to me being ‘dhaqancelis‘ – an accultured, uncouth, degenerate who had been thrown back from a foreign country for rehabilitation.

The police and the lady did not ask me anything or take my permission. They just stormed past me shoving me aside into the house.

They kicked every room in, looking for God knows what. They even peeked into wardrobes and under the bed. I was living alone and they soon finished with the looking as there was not much furniture or hiding places to hinder them. The villa was only a three-bedroom affair.

They started throwing questions at me, asking where I have hidden the ‘girl’. I asked them what girl. That when two of them started slapping and spitting at me.

Curious neighbors soon crowded the small courtyard and a melee of shouting and shoving started. The uniforms won, and they dragged me out half-clothed into a dilapidated police care they called while they were searching the rooms.

I was taken to a place they called the CID – Criminal Investigation Department. I now call it in my mind, whenever the nightmares return: the Criminally Inhumane Dungeons (CID).

The so-called investigators (detectives) there kept dragging me out day in, day out – and often ion the evenings – to make me admit to illegally keeping a girl in my house out of wedlock, introducing her to drugs and Marijuana, and to turning the neighborhood into a red light district. I had no idea what they were talking about. Some of them, it became obvious, were going through the motions for a reason I only realized much later to my expense.

I came to know this was all an age-perfected technique to make the accused keep coughing up more and more money. The longer the stay, the graver the accusations the more likely it was for inmates to keep the supply of Qat money going.

I was beaten with padded sticks on occasion. On others, I was made to sit out in the cold in my under clothes in order to make me bend to their will, to cower and cringe at the first voice of authority demanding answers I did not have.

I was distressed and disoriented at first. Talking to the other inmates and discovering their plight, later, turned my dismay into anger.

And, of course, there were these others who played the role of ‘soft’ cops asking you to give them money so you can get food and other little ‘favors’ from outside.

And this all happened – and through the instigation of – I was told the head ‘taker’ there: the department director, a man called Colonel Abrar.

He and his butcher ‘officers’ know fully well that they cannot pay for their habits if their cells are not filled to capacity at all times.

The place is an abscess on Somaliland integrity. It is a malignant outgrowth on decency. It is nothing but a dingy, flea market which trades on human misery. It is accountable to nobody – not to the Police command, not to the Department of Justice, not to Human rights organizations, nor to the general public. The Somaliland media has long since been subjugated to look the other way.

Even now, more than a year since I bought my way out of that hell hole, I am plagued by the trauma of knowing that such places still exist – and in the heart of a ‘capital’ city.

I call on His Excellency the President, the Ministry of Justice, the police Command, the national and independent human rights organizations to investigate. I am sure you will find there a good number of people who are being kept there without the benefit of defending themselves in a court of law for months and months – if not years – on end.

The place is nothing but a misery depot commanded by a free-wheeling misery-seller. Period.

Ahmed D Hussein





  1. I have read your so called Somaliland: my ordeal balabala article, although it is on face it looks like a heart breaking event but I really don’t believe a word of it. Except that you were probably up to no good in that little villa on your own. No police force esp like the ones in Somaliland will ever behaviour like that I just don’t believe your story Mr Bucharest ….

  2. Sorry to hear your bad experience about the motherland. I have read your article and really felt the pain. I really enjoyed your writing style and you should keep writing about the situation till you win.

    I remember visiting that hellhole as you called bailing out my body. It does not look pretty or civilized.

    Keep writing. One day someone will pay attention.

    Keep hope alive and we are all the same.


    Faisal Hashi

    Hargeisa, Somaliland

  3. I just woke up today, made my coffee, and went about my usual habit of going online to search anything and everything that is new about Somaliland.

    I am honestly very disturbed but yet not surprised when I read the contents of your article.

    I am almost twice your age, but yet, just like you grew up in the west, and before that the middle east, and knew nothing about Somaliland, the birthplace of our forefathers.

    Many Somalis reading this article or even those in Hargeisa who witnessed the oppression that you suffered, will likely blame you, the victim, by statements like “Maxaa iskii meesha dhigay” (What on earth was he doing there alone), as if that is a crime in of itself. One thing though I’ve learned about being in a backward place, whether you’re in Texas or Hargeisa – is to never be alone – as you will targeted by wolves with no conscience.

    I initially thought you were going to be accused of a terror plot as our people are always weary, but I realized very quickly that it was a classic case of evil people taking advantage of good people. We bought land back home and very quickly realized it was all a scam, we lost money and lost the land, and sadly had to learn the hard way, that the crooks, the police, and the courts, were all in cahoots to steal our money. As foreigners, we were simply out of place. That clan affiliation protection garbage you learn to expect, doesn’t apply if you’re an outsider.

    I’d like to commend you for your bravery young man, for not only sharing your experiencing, but for also wanting to make change in your homeland. Inshallah our people will become more civilized as a good Muslim naturally would be. Our people will one day break from their cycle of addition to Qaat, as soon as we get better leadership at the top.

    All the best to you brother.


    Toronto Canada


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