Prof. Ahmed Samatar was in the UK touring major cities such as London, Birmingham, and Cardiff where he held various lectures/gatherings to address Somalilanders to give 26 June its celebratory significance it deserves when compared with 18 May commemorations.
Due to whatever vicissitudes, I can only agree that 26 June has been neglected when looking at how 18 May is commemorated and how 1 July is treated by Somalia. If we are serious about Somaliland’s self-determination to become an independent nation then we must uplift the commemorations of 26 June to become ‘the day’ of significance in Somaliland’s history and commemoration. 18 May should have a respectable 2nd position after 26 June as this day is inclusive of all Somalilanders.
The Professor briefly highlighted Somaliland’s achievement such as:
- Political Stability: Constitutional order as manifested by a functioning state;
- Free press: often too free as anyone can defame and too many unscrupulous journalist having disregard for their action(s) tantamount to libellous allegations;
- Democratic and competitive party politics;
- Improvement in material and human infrastructure such as some new roads and universities.
Prof. Ahmed Samatar also briefly highlighted the severe shortcomings that stagnate progress in Somaliland:
- Environmental degradation;
- Pervasive poverty exacerbated by 70% of the population being unemployed;
- Poor education even though students’ intake is at its highest ever but the quality of education is in dire need of reform and careful planning;
- Generalised ignorance;
- Poor success of Somaliland (ers) to sell or promote their quest to independence.
The Prof. briefly stated that most people both in the diaspora and in Somaliland are over-consumed by ‘makhayad politics’ which is based on hearsay and what was yesterday’s news in which everyone seems to be an expert. These experts rarely read and more than often are unable to distinguish fictional events from factual.
For far too long have we – most Somalilanders- been too complacent and have not taken simple matters in our own hands. Although most Somalilanders in the diaspora do a lot of developments be it charity or other activities to stimulate local economies in Somaliland, there is not a concerted effort for example to assist their local Somaliland Missions in their respective host countries. No longer can we rest on our laurels and expect Somaliland’s representatives in our host countries to fight for Somaliland’s case alone. As I witnessed at the Birmingham event on 28 June there was only a handful Somalilanders partaking in this event. As for the Government, they should come up with a clear plan to promote Somaliland that connects and works together with all the Somali’s in the diaspora. For example, here in the UK, as underscored by Prof. Ahmed Samatar, Somaliland Mission in the UK has done great work and seems to be the only mission that he is aware of that executes what you would expect from a Mission. He was in awe of Somaliland’s Mission in the UK. I would even go further and suggest that Somalilander’s in the UK and the Somaliland Government should come up with a concrete action plan. For example, to set up a fund to acquire a state-of-the-art premises to house our Somaliland Mission with a fully-fledged office where events and meetings can be held for a large crowd to commemorate national days like 26 June.