2017 Somaliland Presidential Election Fever
“Higher Profits in Frontier Markets”
Sites and Sounds
Welcome to the vibrant capital city of Somaliland. This is Hargeysa city and the fourth presidential elections are under way. The atmosphere is electric with lively debates in the cafes, on buses and at the bazaars. Soaked in a mist of diesel exhaust, dust, hayl, qorofol and filfil tea spices, topped with the scent of beautiful women everywhere. Consider this your daily dose of aroma therapy.
Everyone votes here, young, old, male, female and the discussions are borderline poetry, only disrupted by the call to prayer from the minarets, much needed relief from the affairs of this world. Enter the nation of poets, as Margret Laurence the Canadian novelist and short story writer noted for Somalis. Indulge yourself in the power of the spoken word, this is the spot, bring a translator if you don’t speak af Somali. Be weary of khat sessions lest you become a victim of verbal diarrhea that never ends. The boys can talk when in trance and some see things!
The outcome of presidential elections is based on demographics or shared characteristics of members of society such as race, age, gender, believes and income to name a few. The Somali version is based on clan affiliations no matter how it is dressed. Your background or the “clan connection” even forms part of your soft employment and business reference.
Waar ninka miyaa la garanayaa? We don’t like to admit but it is there.
In-fact some of the best money we raised for Boodhari Mills had some part of clan reference for the team, it is how the game is played and investors wanted to know. You can visit www.boodharimills.com to learn more , LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/start-up-disrupting-food-insecurity-drought-stricken-somalia-abdi-nur I digressed.
Governance is a hybrid form of customs fused with universal democratic values. The object is get a functioning system that is agreed upon, and Somaliland likes its version of democracy and fulfills the rule of thump if we define functionality to be a spectrum. Fourth presidential elections may I add?
The heart and soul of the election is Somaliland’s electoral commission. They have the daunting task of ensuring an orderly efficient and transparent election takes place by verifying, registering, and ensuring a representative voter turn out takes place. The commission as it is known, mobilized a fleet of vans with gigantic microphones blasting around the clock in every neighbourhood reminding the population to register. Even the cats and dogs at the waste landfills are aware that something is up. I reckon they too are discussing how the outcome of the election will affect their lives.
At the café there is commotion one table away from us with a bunch of bearded men, and further away some cool cats from the 80ties judging by their attire. As I lean in from a distance one of the fellas says:
“ anigu uma codaynayo cidna laakiin waan
ducayn inuu ka khayrka badan helo guusha”
Translation: “I will not vote in this election; however, I will pray and hope the candidate that is best for the people wins.”
a bearded man replies with
“Ducadu waa halkeeda ee camalka raaci
Kaadhka codaynta soo qaado,
saaka komishankii wuu heesayee babuurta miyaanad maqal?”
Translation: “That is a great idea but is not enough on it’s own. You must follow the prayer with action. Register yourself to vote. Did you not hear the electoral commission vehicles notifying everyone to register?”
At another occasion at a different made shift café next to the main road , a server puts down items a the table of customers and joins the conversation abruptly. You just join conversations here, talking to one another is a sign of a healthy society. The diaspora with all their privacy and uppity behaviour does not stand a chance here, off course we do talk about the weather “Maanta waa baraf, qaboobaa” it is snowy and cold today, masked by a low tone sheepish voice is usually the furthest engagement you will get. If you come to Somaliland mingle with locals and avoid vacationer (non-local Somalis) gatherings, the privacy thing creeps in immediately.
“waar doorkan waa Mujaahidka, Muuse wuxuu keenayaa Kulmiye cusub iyo dhaqaale” – exclaims the server
Translation: “Victory is for the veteran this time, Muuse is going inject new life into the party and develop Somaliland economically”
Muuse Biixi is a veteran war hero and a prominent statesman. He was one of the leading generals who dislodged the Dictator Siad Barre’s Regime in 1988. Muuse is running for president and is the current Chairman of Kulmiye, the present ruling party of Somaliland. The party is credited with the largest foreign investment capital flow the country has ever seen such as DP world, Berbera Cement Factory and others in the pipeline. The resume/cv is very strong. Kulmiye supporters believe a decent voter turnout will put them over the top.
…….One of the guys looks up at the server and replies with
“maya maya mustaqbalku waa wadani taa waa la wada ogyahay, Ciro na waa siyaasi asala”
Translation: “No No, the future is wadani and everyone knows that, Ciro is a cunning politician”
Wadani party headed by Abdirahman Ciro is widely considered a formidable opponent based on population consensus, the two parties are in neck and neck as the political rhetoric heats up. Wadani became a contender at the main event in just few years from founding the party to where it is today, they are looking for a knock out punch. Wadani is the young upstart and the upside is limitless. The third party is UCID which has been around longer than the other two parties, and could certainly surprise everyone with their passionate leader Mr. Faisal Cali Waraabe at the helm. Faisal is well liked by many patriots as he often responds to any political jabs at Somaliland from it’s sister Somalia.
The election is one story out of thousands in Somaliland, been there done that attitude, people wanna get it over with so life resumes normalcy. You sense the election is more of a nuisance than a celebration of democracy, which is a great position to be in. Not too far away from Somaliland, many regional neighbouring countries would pay their weight in liquid gold to achieve the confidence the people of Somaliland have in their electoral process. Somalilanders believe they can vote in and vote out any leader. An they have in the past. This one is no different.
Hargeysa city is a combination of modernity with elegant Mediterranean/Western and Arab inspired architecture and yes the Somali square houses. In the latter my conspiracy theorist friend would say aliens built them just the like pyramids, social media scrambled many promising minds. I am told western style is in especially in the masala plateau area, is the west side really the best side?- Tupac Shakur.
You gotta be fit to take the beating from the bad roads, potholes and boulders the size of a mini cooper are everywhere. All this was built in under 20 years minus the roads off course, I really hate the roads here, they gotta do something about them.
The city is home to more than 1.5 million people and in 1988 Old Hargeisa was pulverized to rubble by the former Dictator Siyad barre from southern Somalia, I know cause I was there. The northern (Somaliland) response to this incident was one befitting of the occasion or as the locals put it “Howl gal ku haboon”, the rest is for history to judge. Shortly after, northern Somalia dissolves the union to become Somaliland and strikes out on it’s own for international recognition as a country. Whatever the outcome, landers can proudly sing their national anthem.
Somaliland, land of the free and home of the brave…..no no that is U.S.
Oh Somaliland we stand on guard for thee……. nope that is my other half, Canada.
God save the Silaanyo?…. No way that is god save the queen- U.K.
Yes I remember now….
“Samo ku waar, samo ku waar, saamo ku waar
Sarreeye calanka sudhan bilay dhulkiisaa
…..” Wakaa! that is the stuff, music for the soul.
By Abdi Nur