SOPRI – Somaliland Conference in Metro-Washington DC Confirmed Speakers

Somaliland Policy and Reconstruction Institute (SOPRI) will host the 2006 Somaliland Conference, in conjunction with the Somaliland Communities of North America, on September 8-10, 2006 at Metro-Washington DC.

Capacity Building while holding hands: The Convention, which builds on last year’s successful Los Angeles convention, aims to focus on the twin objectives of governance and development. After nurturing peace and stability for fifteen years and have successfully transitioned to a democratic system of governance, the focus will be on capacity building of te nascent democratic institutions and economic development to improve the lives of the people of Somaliland. Our objective is engaging the international community, and highlighting the need for the Diaspora community to organize and pool their economic and intellectual resources globally to give back to their people.

The conference will feature prominent speakers who will share their experiences by addressing some of the critical issues that are facing Somaliland today. The following is the list of speakers, panelists and discussants confirmed thus far. .

From inside Somaliland
Somaliland Administration representatives. 1-2 senior Ministers, (including the Foreign Minister) and possibly even the President, to attend.
The Heads of both Houses of the Legislature (the Speaker and Vice-Chair of Parliament and the Chairman of the Guurti (Council of Elders).
Heads of Opposition Parties: Chairpersons of KULMIYE and UCID.
Chairman of Somaliland Election Commission
Representatives of Civil Society, Women�s Groups and Academia
Representatives of the Business Community (among them: Chief Executive Officers of Daallo Airlines and Telsom (Telephone) Company.

From the Diaspora:
Prominent members of the Somaliland community in th US, Canada, Europe and the Middle East, from academia, the private sector, and community organizations). University professors.

Friends of Somaliland Communities – keynote speakers invited include:

Ambassador David Shinn, Adjunct Professor, The Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University
Prof. Iqbal Jhazbhay, Lecturer, University of South Africa
Stephanie Blanton Director of Africa Program (International Republican Institute)
Dave Peterson Director of Africa Program (National Endowment for Democracy)
Matt Bryden Director of Africa Program (International Crisis Group)
Prof. William Reno Program of African Studies, North Western University
Dr. J. Peter Pham Director of the Nelson Institute, James Madison University
Ambassador, Princeton Lyman Director, Africa Policy Studies, Council of Foreign Relation
Dr. Jeffrey Herbst Vice president-Provost-Academic Affairs, Miami University, Ohio
Prof.Mitsugi Endo, Waka University, Tokyo Japan.

For Convention logistics, including details about the conference agenda, conference registration, registration fee payment types, and hotel reservations; please visit the web site

Ahmed Mahdi,
Director, Media and Communications
2006 Somaliland Conference


Somaliland Focus (UK)

Somaliland Focus (UK) was established in London in 2005 by a group of individuals with an interest in Somaliland. Founding members included a number who had worked as International Election Observers at the Parliamentary Elections held on 29 September, 2005, as well as members of the Somaliland diaspora in the UK, and others with an interest in the territory.

Check out their website!

Meeting Kaunda

( Justin Mucheri, ICD’s HIV/AIDS development worker in Somaliland writes his account in a rare encounter with Kenneth Kaunda)


I was shaking a bit as I stretched my hand to greet one of the prominent African Statesman the former president of Zambia Dr Kenneth Kaunda on a rare occasion at The Ambassador Hotel in Hargeisa.

The great man retired from active politics is now a voice to reckon with in HIV/AIDS issues and Africa�s development. He, like his colleague the world renowned symbol of peace and humanity Nelson Mandela has taken a stance to tirelessly fight the scourge of the HIV virus.
Read the rest of this entry »

Kenneth Kaunda in Somaliland

Yes, it is true one of Africa’s great statesmen Kenneth Kaunda was in Somaliland. One of his top agenda was to meet Somaliland’s HIV/AIDS National Technical Committee. Below are the images:



(Thank you to Justin Mucheri for the photos)

Fred Siwak’s Art in Somaliland

Remember Fred’s Project? Well it’s here in Somaliland. While taking his artwork to places and trying to take a photo of it, I felt like I was with Fred. I had to explain to people about Fred’s project, they eagerly agreed to join in.

Mansoor Hotel’s Hargeisa sign did it, one way to prove that the artwork was really taken here, soma ha? This is Rahma Rage Warsame, a member of a self-help women’s group in Berbera called Muruq iyo Maskax (literally means muscles and mind).

Aniga Hooyada (My mother)


Hoyo is Somali for mother, the eldest woman in the photo is Amina, Nafissa’s mother. I knew her long before this shoot, she calls me Nafissa’s second mother, because I always ask for her permission everytime Nafissa (who works with Heegan Human Rights Network – an all women network of human rights activists) would spend the night in my house, or when meetings last until late evenings. She always agrees, I appreciate the trust. I was told that in Somali culture, when a woman entrust her daughter to a female friend they become sisters. For me, Amina is my hoyo, because she always makes me feel welcome in her home. Her eyes are quite welcoming, her touch always comforting.

She doesn’t speak English so I try my broken Somali which always makes her smile. I made her laugh today, as usual we started with Somali women greeting:

(Amina takes my hand and kisses it, I take hers and do the same)

Me: Iskawaran (how are you)
Amina: Nabad (peace)
Me: Adigu ma fiicantahay? (are you alright)
Amina: Ha, Fiicanahay (yes, doing good)
Me: Kawaran ninkagi? (how’s your husband)
Amina: (surprised) wuu fiicanyahay, walaalo (he’s fine sister)
Me: Kawaran shaqadaadi? (how’s work?)
Amina: (surprised) fiican fiican! (fine, fine)

I look at her teashop and see a mental man (how they call the mentally ill) sitting in her shop drinking tea and chewing qat.

Me: kawaran nin waalan? (how’s the mental man)
Amina: (laughing, more surprised because i know nin waalan)

I look at the man and said, halkii (there)
Amina: ha ha, nabad nabad (yes, yes, he’s fine)

She continues to explain in Somali that the man used to be a Somali National Movement fighter,and that because of trauma brought by war he became mentally ill, so he just sits at her shop everyday, she gives her tea and food. Afraid that I will get scared of his presence she comforted me saying that the man is harmless.

Me: Miyu seexda gurigaaga isagu? (does he sleep in your house?)
Amina: Maya maya, sha iyo cunto (no no, only tea and food)

Somalis love tea, some describe Somali tea as hot water with sugar because it’s very sweet, shops should have a sign Only for non-diabetics posted somewhere.

My thanks to Ramha, Nafissa and Amina. This is for you Fred, I hope you like it.

Fred’s Project

This blog is a witness to human bravery and determination of Somalilanders trying to rebuild this country it has also become a witness to the same spirit of its readers.

Meet Fred Siwak, one of Taste of Africa’s visitors.


In 1998, Fred (a New England artist) was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was physically active and enjoyed travelling until ALS got him. He focused on his art, “he carves images into linolieum tiels, which he then uses to create prints. After the prints dry, he colors them in with pastels, making each print unique.” (The ALS Newsletter, Vol 6 No. 5 Oct 2001).

With ALS, he is now confined to his power wheelchair, don’t get the wrong idea, ALS did not stop this one determined man. He’s taking his art to new heights.


Fred’s current project is to take his art to as many countries as possible, it only needs two things, TIME and LITTLE EFFORT. Here’s how it works:

1. Email Fred
2. Fred will send you a JPEG copy of his artwork
3. Print it
4. Go OUTSIDE and photograph his art.
5. Send him back the photo together with the description of the place where the picture was taken.

To date, his art has reached 32 countries, if you have friends or relatives from different parts of the globe who might want to take part or if you’re interested to join in send him an email :

Fred’s Art

Fred’s Art in Iran

Fred’s Artwork in Guatemala

Somalia Peace Process Briefing Organized in South Africa

African Institute of South Africa (AISA) organized a one-day SOMALIA PEACE PROCESS BRIEFING last May 27, 2004 in Pretoria, South Africa.

AISA, in association with the University of South Africa, aimed to brief South Africans and interested activists and policy makers, of the nuances of the Somali Conference in Nairobi, key developments on the geography of conflict in Somalia as well as the key developments in Somaliland.

Chief Kenyan negotiator Ambassador Kiplagat gave his perspective and participants engaged the key questions and came up with new ideas to promote stability and, to ensure that this Nairobi conference does not lead to violence on the ground. Kiplagat stressed the stability, peace and gains of Somaliland should be preseved and nurtured by all means possible. New ideas emerged in this regard to level the playing field between an emerging government in Mogadisho and the government of Somaliland.

Attended by noted personalities like Ambassador Griffiths Memela (East Africa, Department of Foreign Affairs), HE. Dr. Abdella Alzubedi (Libyan Ambassador to South Africa & the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps) Ambassador Bethwell Kiplagat (IGAD Special Envoy and Chief Negotiator: SNRC) Ms. Nomfundo Ngwenya (Department of Foregin Affairs, Pretoria).

Somali Perspectives were presented by Abdulkadir Yahya Ali (Center for Dialogue and Research, Mogadishu, Somalia) Matt Bryden (International Crisis Group, Canada) . National, Regional and International Linkages were explained by Dr. Andre Mbata Mangu (University of South AFrica) Somalilander Farah Ali from the University of Witwatersrand presented “The Sovereignty of Somaliland and its Role in the Conflict Resolution of the Region”.

Presentations will be edited and placed in a book for wider discussion along with an edited video recording. The new ideas in relation to promoting stability will be developed into policy positions for activists and governments. Somaliland’s aspiratrions of self determination will be given particular focus, as well as its stability and development.



Matt Bryden along with Iqbal Jhazbhay, Saeed of the Somaliland community in Johannesburg, Farrah Ali -a Somalilander at the University of Witswatersrand.