VISION BEYOND POLITICS
10 September 2003
By Yohannes Gebresellasie (Ph.D) Canada

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Next door, there is a country. The people look exactly like us, and have similar way of living like us. Most importantly, they are fighting poverty, disease and illiteracy, a common enemy like us. For that, they want to live in peace and harmony, they want to cooperate in trade and commerce and generally, they want to do business with their neighbors like Ethiopia-a nation they call their friend. That country is called Republic of Somaliland and its people-the people of Somaliland. This Republic of Somaliland after more than seven decades as a British protectorate, got its independence in June 1960 and soon after five days of its independence, it united with Italian Somalia. Following the collapse of the Somali government in 1991, Somaliland announced the dissolution of the 1960 union and declared its independence from Somalia on May 18, 1991.

Somaliland covers an area of 137,600 square kilometers or roughly 22 percent of the territory of Somali Republic (637,540 square kilometers). The population of Somaliland is currently estimated at between two and three million. Somaliland has a big potential-its people, its natural resources and its port-The Berbera Port. What a country and what a people. Generally generous, the Somaliland people welcome everyone with open arms and with no restrictions what so ever. They provide a true African hospitality where one from this part of the world is not reminded where he/she came from and where one feels at home. The people are business and entrepreneurial minded and are frequently struggling to make a living against all odds. Despite the prevalence of peace and stability, the country is yet to be recognized as a nation by the international community. The country has no one to depend on except its own resilient, risk taking and outward looking people. The port of Berbera-a vast port with wide and beautiful beaches is blessed with clean natural water. Berbera used to be the largest and main port for Livestock trade (the main economic base of the people) but even that is lost because of politics.

Somaliland receives no bilateral or multilateral support from governments or non-governments alike. There is no material support from anywhere. There is no IMF or World Bank support. There is only moral support with no commitment from anywhere. However, simple moral support will take nobody anywhere and moral support alone is not enough because it is so artificial and more so when that comes particularly from the African nations. There is a Somali saying "AMA BUUR AHOW AMA BUUR KU TIIRSAHOW" meaning be a mountain or lean to be a mountain. Unfortunately, Somaliland is simply not a mountain and did not yet have the opportunity to lean to be a mountain. Therefore, it s time that the international community in general and African nations in particular assist this peaceful, stable and visionary nation. Somaliland suffered enormously under the brutal Said Bare's dictatorship, its people flee as refugees everywhere, every infrastructure-school, hospitals, roads, telecommunication, etc. were destroyed and devastated to the core and the remnants are there for exhibit. However, the people did not give up. They are renovating and rebuilding their country from scratch. They want sustainable growth and shared prosperity.

 

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