One of the countless thousands upon thousands of able Somalilanders works at our liaison office in Addis Ababa. This able young man has the touch and resourcefulness and dexterity of a true diplomat. He is patient and considerate, and treats all Somalilanders irrespective of their station in life with an assured manner and affection.
Recently, this able young man got a new head of mission. A crusty old colonel, who masquerades as an intellectual. This ex-colonel is from the old school and served as a head of mission in London back in 2000’s with disastrous results. But, he is an old comrade and had a distinguished career in the liberation of Somaliland. Besides, he has many connections in Ethiopia. But, a diplomat he is not.
I presume the thinking behind his appointment was to make use of his connections with the Ethiopian hierarchy, to further co-operation in commerce and security, and to leave the running of the consular matters to this able young man. But, alas old soldiers don’t know how to delegate, and a recent trip through Addis Ababa by former members of the cabinet of President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud “Silaanyo” brought matters to head.
The able young man did his usual great job. Using his connections at the Ethiopian Foreign Office, the Addis International airport, foreign embassies and countless other places, gave the visiting group a smooth welcome. This able young man has done the same for every Somaliland delegation passing through the main hub of Addis Ababa on their way to further destinations, irrespective of their political, economical or social persuasions.
The old colonel blew his top having heard of the welcomed accorded to the “renegades” from the Silaanyo cabinet. He berated the able young man about associating with undesirable elements. The old and unreconstructed colonel could not believe that the able young diplomat would welcome or associate with, in his tired old eyes, such “political pariahs”. The able young man asserted that it was his duty to assist every Somalilander, from the impoverished student, to the misguided migrant to the grandest political grandee.
The situation escalated. The impasse between to two men basically shut down the work of the liaison office. The old colonel wrote to Hargeisa and requested the removal of the able young man. The incredulous Foreign Office officers, who know and appreciate the work of this able young man, couldn’t believe the request from the head of mission.
There the matter remains, awaiting the final decision from the President, because it was he who appointed the crusty old colonel and not the Foreign Office. In all likelihood, the able young man will be posted elsewhere, the crusty old colonel will get one of his old acolytes and the work of the mission will fall into neglect and disarray.
This tale which is based on true events, also applies to the political scene in Somaliland. A crusty ex-colonel wants to lead Somaliland into the 21st century, whilst a young able banker wants to use vision and vigour to remove the shackles from Somaliland.
We are indebted to the crusty old colonels of Somaliland, Without your efforts and sacrifice Somaliland would not be free, but, it is a new era and it needs all the able young men and women that Somaliland can muster.
Allaa Mahad Leh