Qaldaan is Somali word for “the wrong one.” This was how people from this part of the country were referred to before the war.

“Imagine being called such, it just simply made us feel insecure, because it seemed like everything you are, the place where you come from, the tribe you belong to were regarded as second rate and completely incapable” a Somali friend from the diaspora explained.

Seldom do I get the chance to talk to Somalilanders from abroad. I’ve casually bumped into some here in Hargeisa (most of them were spending their holidays). So in the streets, in hotels and in restaurants they would usually say “Ifrah is that you?” then we exchange our iskawarans (how are you) and eventually our barasho wanagsan (nice meeting you) and that’s it.

I’ve met Mohamed in London during my orientation last January 2003, together with another Somali, he oriented my friend Ahmed and I about how Somalis live in that part of the world.

Mohamed has been in UK for almost 14 years now, he came back to Hargeisa last year (that’s when I got the chance to bring him to Boodale and shared a plate of camel meat) after more than a decade of being away. He is on his last few days of his 2 week stay.

“It’s funny when you come to realize that we really do see things differently when we’re outside the country.” he said. “Sometimes it just feels so easy to criticize and put forward what some of us see as the correct and only solution when we don’t have a sense of what is the reality in Somaliland now.” he added.

We talked for hours about Somaliland politics, exchanged analysis and views on Somaliland’s democratic transition. We discussed development, poverty and of course culture and the highs and lows of everyday life.

Like many fortunate Somalilanders from the diaspora who had the chance to come back, Mohamed witnessed the efforts of people to help themselves.

He shared this story about how his small donation was wisely spent in a feeding program in Sanaag. Months after he contributed, he again met with the same people who reported that they were able to mobilize and get contribution from the community to join in the effort to provide food for malnourished children affected by the drought in the east, what surprised him is that they still have some of his money left.

We share the same views about how Somaliland takes pride of its accomplishment as an unrecognized country because of the commitment and persistent spirit of its people to survive and move forward.

It is true that its young government and its leaders have their limitations, it is true that both the modern and traditional system in place have its weaknesses and that it is true that whatever perspective you use on looking at how this young country is being governed is definitely far from being ideal.

“I see things differently now. I have become more understanding as I try to see Somaliland in its present context. Coming home and witnessing Somaliland’s reality taught me to be patient about certain things, yes it made me humble in a certain way.” he added.
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