My personal odyssey and that of my friends continued as we drove into Hargeisa. The first thing that struck me was how big the city had gotten. The vista went on for miles.
It was as though a great weight had been lifted from me. I was home. Twenty five years spent in the abroad, only to be rescued by serendipity.
The city bustled with activity, the business of the day was in being productive. My first day in Hargeisa was one of fascination as I people watched. Everybody seemed cheerful, happy and content. On the second day, I dove into my intent to see how the people of Somaliland lived.
I spent the day with one of the most prominent and venerated politician in the country. I do not wish to name names, suffice to say, he was very bullish on Somaliland’s future.
On May 18th, we were invited to the Presidency for the evening celebrations. My friends went, I did not as I had come down with a bug, but I could hear the music, singing and laughter from the house, at least a mile away. I felt privileged to be invited, though as back then in the defunct old days of the Somali Republic, an invite to the Presidency did not always end well. The two images are in stark contrast.
This was my nation, my people and my land. In the next few days, I spent time with soldiers, university students and graduates, the unemployed, hotel owners, government officials, business people and some of the diaspora.
The single common theme in all those conversations was one of qualified optimism. My friend, they would tell me, Somaliland is on the ascendancy and I had to agree. Things are not always perfect, that would be looking through rose-tinted glasses, but when you consider where the nation started from and how much peace and progress has been achieved so far, it is undeniable, Somaliland is on the march.
This young nation has time and time again proved the naysayers wrong and I was buoyed by the confidence shown by the people of Hargeisa. It rained once in the eight days I was there and the experience moved me as the fresh wind came over the city and the ‘Saxansaxo’ brought back wonderful memories.
In the eight days I was in Somaliland, I reunited with family and old friends and made some new ones. The memories will with stay me but I will make a solemn oath to not wait so long to return.