My maiden academic and friendly visit to Somaliland was, to say the least, awesome. It was two weeks of learning for me. Learning the culture, values and history of a great people that the world is yet to discover. My main destination was the Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS), University of Hargeisa—the capital city. My host, Nasir M. Ali, had briefed me about the greatness of his country, but my experience on the ground was far more enriching than my expectations were. I learnt so many things in Somaliland, but let me mention just a few: a determined people, a hardworking people, a hospitable people, a peace-loving people and a God-loving people.
A determined people: The rebuilding of Hargeisa in just 27 years (1991-2018) following its complete destruction by Somalia forces, tells the story of a people who are determined to develop their country by themselves. With no international recognition and support, I was marveled at how much Somalilanders have achieved in nation-building. They are determined to be recognized as an independent nation from Somalia and determined to modernize their country and its institutions. The IPCS is a classic example of this determination. From the motto “Knowledge is power” the Institute in particular and the University as a whole, are building minds which are effectively transforming the society.
A hardworking people: I discovered with admiration that Somalilanders wake up very early in the morning to start working and close late at night from work. They have understood that the real secret to success is hard work. They are committed in everything they do: from the security agents, teachers in lecture rooms, farmers rearing cattle, to politicians in offices, all hands are on deck to build the country. The absence of distractions like alcohol and drugs in the entire nation, have helped to maintain the stability of the workers and the country.
A hospitable people: I have travelled quite a bit and have met different kinds of people. But Somalilanders are different. Their hospitality knows no match. They live like a community, so there is hardly a difference between the rich and the poor. They love to share. For two weeks, they made sure I was well taken care of. They took turns in offering me lunch and dinner, taking me around to discover the richness and beauty of the country and ensuring my security. In brief—they are always willing to share.
Peace-loving people: Despite the challenges Somalilanders have faced with Somalia, they constantly preach peace with their neigbours and strangers. They are arguably, the most stable country in a turbulent region (Horn of Africa) surrounded by terrorists-infested and war-stricken nations. Life is good there all the times and security, even in the middle of the night, is guaranteed. Their language is peace!!!
A God-fearing people: They love their religion and they put it into practice. Allah is supreme and they don’t joke with that. Nothing can come in-between them and their God—nothing even education. During my three hours daily lectures, there was always a 15 minute break. Not a coffee break as we see in other parts of the world, but a prayer-break. When it is prayer time, every other thing MUST wait, because Allah is supreme and they don’t share His time with anything else. This is certainly the source of their strength, commitment, blessings and protection.
I have said many things, but let me just summarize that my experience in Somaliland was simply FANTASTIC! And thanks to the Director of IPCS, Nasir M. Ali for making this happen. Today, I am a FRIEND AND GOOD WILL AMSSADOR of Somaliland to the world. And if there is one thing left to say, it is for the world to officially recognize this peace-loving country NOW! Insha Allah.
Kingsley L. Ngange, Ph.D