"It's a dangerous business, going out your door.
You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet,
there's no knowing where you might be swept off to..."
--J.R.R. Tolkein

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Somaliland Independence Day

Last weekend, Somaliland celebrated the 20th anniversary of its separation from Somalia. Though the official date was 18 May, celebrations took place for a length of at least three days.

This is a strange country. Though still unrecognized by the international community, people here staunchly maintain that they are different from Mogadishu and the rest of Somalia. After a civil war in the late 1980s, carried out by former president Siad Barre against a rebellion in Hargeisa, Somaliland declared independence in 1991. Twenty years later, Somaliland has maintained peace and stability, while the south has descended into chaos.

Despite differing views on whether this little state 'deserves' independence, it has been clear from Day One that people here are dying for recognition. Even children in Hargeisa will tell you in English 'we want recognition,' which, considering the state of the public schools here, is remarkable. The 'country' has its own flag, its own currency, and its own rule of law.

And, it's own three-day Independence Day.

I had the honor of being one of the few foreigners to attend this celebration. I have done my best to capture the complete outpouring of joy on the streets of Hargeisa, but somehow I think I fell short. Imagine a normally austere, conservative Muslim country in Africa transformed into a countrywide party.

Did I mention that everyone had dressed up in their national colors?

Even an umbrella in the red, white and green.

A member of the female police force.

An Egyptian teacher in downtown Hargeisa, making a pro-Somaliland speech in Arabic. He said that as a member of the 'new Egypt,' he felt that Somaliland deserved recognition.

Happy 20th, Somaliland!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Cool! I love the pictures! It would be great if you write about the story behind the independence day more detail..As a person who is not familiar with Somalia (or Somaliland), I want to know more about the place..

  3. Thanks Sophia this is a good blog with good pictures, very glad to see the beautiful colors of our flag wrapped around smiling happy Somalilanders.

    I wrote a long comment but it's gone as I tried to click post comment:( but anyways I was just going to say we went very very far to this stage. I remember back in 1993 when as little kids we would take our hand painted white cloths to the Kheyria square marching like music miltary band (again with home made Coast Milk cans wraped around our knecks and sticks!), almost half of the city were mined with anti human mines, we would dodge them as we went to school and it took several students lives every week as they tried to take the Coast Milk cans from he rubbish which we used to sit under roofless class in Biyodhacay school (all schools were roofless) or under the shade of the trees compared with the current nice furniture and laptops! Alxamdulillaah.

    I am one of your regular readers and I enjoy it very much so again thank you and keep up the good work.