Professors Ahmed Ismail Samatar and Ali Khalif Galaydh have been crisscrossing Somaliland holding lectures and forums from Las Anod to Borama. The lectures and the subsequent debates, question and answer sessions, have been dubbed by the two academics as “tabliiq siyaasadeed”, a political round table.
The lectures and debates have been interesting, stimulating, controversial, at times full of humour, at times cutting close to the bone. But, that is good. In a free society, the truth cannot be muzzled, and we Somalilanders, in spite of our many faults, we posses one unique trait, east to west, north to south; we cannot abide lies. It is just not in our DNA.
Quite a few Somalianders see these debates as being detrimental to the country, it’s security and stability. Some of them have expressed to me that given the previous stands of both professors in regard to Somaliland, “they are continuing their opposition from within, fermenting divisions, supported by funds from Mogadishu” etc. etc. Which in my opinion, is just nonsensical.
First all both men were born and bred in Somaliland, and have every right to be here and express their opinions. Secondly, both men are pragmatist, they have been to Mogadishu and points beyond and have seen the reality on the ground. Thirdly, Professor Ali Khalif was there at the rebirth of Somaliland, “willingly or not”, as the case may be. Fourthly, neither man has any desire to use his position to feather his bed. They both can and have made a good life for themselves outside of Somaliland and the region.
So, the question is what is reasoning behind this tour and political round table? Most of the points made in these lectures are true, and some are not. Somaliland belongs to all Somalilanders, those born here, those with ancestral ties here and those who have chosen to make Somaliland their home. This last point is true, amazing, but true. People have actually migrated to Somaliland, from Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Ethiopia for a better and safer life.
The main arguments made by the two professor are, ” Is Somaliland inclusive enough? Is the “central community” the Isaaq community, dominating? Does every Somalilander feel like a stakeholder?”.
All of the above are valid points and everyone has their opinions on the matter. What do we need to change. Is the 18th of May too “Isaaq centric”? No, because the liberation of Somaliland was not fought only by Isaaqs. Should we make the 26th of June as the national Independence Day? Why not. I have always celebrated the 26th of June. Should the constitution be amended? Definitely. The constitution belongs to all Somalilanders, and can be reviewed, amended, corrected and expanded. Should the parliament and Guurti be reformed? Absolutely. Should the branches of the government be diversified in location and staffing? Most assuredly. If you concentrate everything in one place, say Hargeisa, then the rest of the country is neglected. Should the minority communities be given more rights? Yes. Not just minority communities, but all minorities.
One may support or agree to any of the above points, and one may not. That is democracy. But, the fact that such debates are taking place between Somalilanders is a healthy thing. We need to discuss such matters and not bury them in the sand. It will make us stronger, more confident of who we are and what we stand for. The truth is often painful, but it always sets one free. And as, Professor Ahmed Abdi always says ” we are facing a new challenge in the region, politically, socially and economically and we need to be ready for these challenges”.
Whatever the outcome of these lectures, debates and political round tables, they have proven that Somaliland’s unique formula of dialogue, discussion and consensus is still working.
After all, we can always say, as we have a habit of often saying” Waar yahee, waar u kaadi sidaa ma ahee”
Wa Bilaahi Towfiiq