by Muuse Yuusuf
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
Ahmed Silaanyo shakes hands with President Sheikh Shariif Sheikh Ahmed
Again it is that day: 1stof July when many Somalis feel confused and do not know what to make of it. Do they have to feel proud and celebrate for achieving their independence from colonial powers which divided their nation? Or do they have to feel sad because there is nothing to celebrate about as their country is being divided into fiefdoms? And anyway who has the right to tell them what to feel when it seems the whole world fromKenya,EthiopiatoAmericais conspiring against them? Hardly a day passes by without some foreign troops invading their country, or some foreign ships violating their territorial sea waters by fishing illegally or dumping some toxic materials?
As an ordinary Somali, I do not know how and what to feel right now although I tend to be on the optimism side, and I do celebrate the Independence Days. Perhaps by impersonating one of the well-known current Somali leaders and entering in his heart to examine his raw and true emotions is the best way to capture the mood of millions of ordinary Somalis today.
Here it goes.
My name isAhmed Mahamoud Silanyo. I am the current president of theSomalilandRepublic, which seceded from theRepublicofSomaliain 1991. I am proud to be head of my county and have the honour of serving its people who elected me. But before I became president of my country, which has not been recognised by the international community, I had previous lives and a personal story that I would like to share with you.
I was born and bred in Burco town in the north-west region of theRepublicofSomaliain 1936. I am from Isaaq, one of the major clans inSomalia. In early 1940s, I was one of those few lucky young men who went to boarding schools in Sheikh and Amud where I finished my secondary school studies. I then moved toEnglandwhere I completed my higher education and achieved degree in economics in 1960s.
During the struggle for independence, I was an active young man, and I must say I was very happy to see the end of the British Colonial Administration on 26 June 1960 and the subsequent reunion with theItalian Somalilandon 1 July 1960. I grew up with the young and proudRepublicofSomalia, and I actually became minister of planning and coordination (1969–1973), minister of commerce (1973–1978 and 1980–1982), and chairman of the national economic board (1978–1980).
However, in early 1980s my life had changed. I had personal and political fallout with the late President Siyad Barre. Political because I hated the virulent clanism and brutal dictatorship and the way my clan was treated by the regime. Personal because the late president demoted me and made me feel inferior to his cronies and clansmen! I then fled the country and joined the Somali National Movement (SNM) to oppose the dictatorship. I immediately shined thorough SNM’s ranks and became its long serving chairman, leading its struggle against the regime. My hatred and dislike of the regime grew stronger after I had witnessed the aerial bombardment of my home town Burco and Hargeisa by the regime’s forces as thousands of people were killed, while others fled toEthiopia. I was glad to have participated in the final military show-downs with the regime’s forces which led to the liberation of my country from the regime.
Although seceding from theRepublicofSomaliawas not on SNM’s official charter, by 1991 I supported the declaration of the north-west regions ofSomaliaas the independentRepublicofSomalilandwithin the borders of the formerBritish Somalilandprotectorate. I must say after the liberation of country from the regime, the political and security situation of my country was not easy at all. We had political conflicts in which major clans fought against each other in bitter civil wars in 1990s. Thousands of people were killed as hundreds of thousands fled the country again. Indeed, the late president Egal led his forces to bombard and destroy the towns of those opposing his administration exactly as the late president Siyad Barre’s forces had done to this region!
Quite recently and even well before I became president, I have been working very hard to get international recognition for the new state, but so far and after 21 years, no single country has volunteered to do so. It is obvious the world wants us to be part of a united/federalSomalia.
If you ask me: do I have regrets in life? Yes I do have some.
I feel sad for having led SNM forces taking the war with the regime to the populated towns and cities. This is because by this action we gave the regime the excuse to unleash its brutal and lethal force on my people. I now understand that governments or regimes no matter how dictatorship or democratic they are, will NOT and will NEVER allow rebel or opposition groups to dismember their country. In history, there are plenty of examples of governments taking on rebel groups and destroying entire towns and cities to dislodge rebel forces. And this is exactly what the late regime was doing: it was protecting and defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity ofSomaliafrom what is perceived as secessionist movement.
Furthermore, I do feel sad to see the sad state of the once proudRepublicofSomalia, the state I grew up with, loved, served, and indeed was one of the very few lucky people who had personally benefited from it in career wise. I do regret to have taken part in the dismemberment of the Republic, especially when the whole world has rejected my country’s plea for international recognition. Doors have been shut against us, and as I said earlier it is obvious the international community wants us to be part of a united and federalSomalia. Well they do have a point here! Because many countries that I admire, e.g. theUnited Kingdom, theUnited States of Americaand theUnited Arab Emirates, are all based on the federalism model and this is working for them. Perhaps this is the best solution/model for a tribal society likeSomalia.
For the above reasons, I came to the conclusion that the only way forward is a unity with my brothers and sisters, and this is why I came toDubaito shake hands with and embrace my brother, President Sheikh Shariif Sheikh Ahmed. Perhaps 28thof June 2012 should be declared as the new unity date for all Somalis.
Long live a prosperous and unitedSomalia