I visited Somaliland in the summer of 2011 after I was away for many years. I have been a staunch supporter of the re-birth of Somaliland Republic even before it was born again. I also criticized a lot before I saw everything with my eyes. I lived in Mogadisho during past governments and wondered why Somalilanders had moved from their homeland and did business with people who considered them as aliens. Some of my friends witnessed my arguments in those days and reminded me recently. My argument has come to light after the mass exodus of refugees arrived in Somaliland. It was witnessed that those who lived lavishly in Mogadisho could not find shelter in Somaliland.
I could not believe my eyes to see the progress Somaliland has made. The cities have grown and got larger. Every institution of a government is working. Businesses have returned in a large scale. Educational institutions are flourishing. Building infrastructure is taking momentum. Somaliland has never reached where it is today thanks to the wisdom of our elders, the politicians, and the people in general who struggled to maintain peace and democracy. Somaliland is now close in securing its rightful place in the world. The trust among people has never been absolute before. Today’s Somaliland is different from any other country in the world in terms of peace and trust. Even in the developed world, it is very hard to have Gold and money on a table in a broad day light in the streets and be safe at same time from robberies and gangs.
All the democracy, peace, and trust have come without recognition and insignificant support from the international communities. The people of Somaliland have proved that democracy is not just about voting and assuming power but is also about the duty of every citizen to accept responsibility for her/his own society. Without enough resources and international recognition, we surpassed the model of western democracy within a short period of time. We brought back our dignity, peace, unity, harmony, justice, and tolerance. Somaliland people have chosen to go forward and repossess their country and show the world that we can survive and at same time harvest the fruits of our struggle.
The Diaspora has experienced what our people at home have endured and survived. We have to give our people including the government, the President, the political parties the credit they deserve. Let us reject the pressures from inside and outside which threaten to derail or even reverse this progress. We have to understand that the life in Somaliland is just a survival and without Diaspora support many of our people would have been perished. It is a miracle to survive where employment, source of income, and social services are scarce. Some Somalilanders are still dreaming of staying within Somalia where the warlords in the south have each made Governments within Governments. Those people have not yet get the truth of ambitions of the Southern regions.
The intellectuals and educators from Somaliland who are dispersed around the world and in Somalia are now needed the most. Their expertise and experiences would benefit Somaliland. The Somaliland Diaspora has accumulated a variety of experiences from democracy to entrepreneurial sensibilities. The development potential of Somaliland Diaspora is more than remittances. The Government should views its Diaspora as untapped resources and human capital of knowledge and expertise gained while working abroad. The Diaspora is already investing in real estate, entrepreneurial businesses, and capital markets. The Government has to recognize that many Diaspora members left Somalia in the first place because of instability and poor governance and the memory of those problems still looms large as a counterweight to any feelings of patriotism.
In order to reverse the Brain Drain, the Government has to recognize that the Diaspora has the potential to contribute more than funding. There is also a human capital, which can begin with knowledge transfer from the Diaspora back to the country through collaboration. The Government has to send an appeal to the Diaspora, stating that their good will and emotional ties to the country are really needed. The Government and the politicians have to show the Diaspora that democracy, inclusion, and fair power-sharing are in place. Now, Somaliland needs its Government and politicians to work towards unity based on a balanced power-sharing in the Government, Legislative Houses, and in Political Parties. Following this route would benefit all Somalilanders and would strengthen our democracy and nationalism.
By: Mohammed Ali Muuse ( Canada )