Editor’s note: this is an open letter to the government of Taiwan from Mr. Aniis A. Essa, of the Somaliland Advocacy Group in Washington DC, USA.
First let me ask for your indulgence by addressing this letter to you without the ceremony of protocol, but I believe it is permitted in the face of great national necessity to trespass on the finer etiquettes of diplomacy as the subject of my letter does, at least in my eyes, qualify as such.
I am writing to beseech you to glance through it, a memorandum on the origin of Somaliland and its present dilemma.
Diplomats refer to Somaliland in a derogatory sense as a self-declared republic.
I see no shame in that epithet, but on the contrary I take pride in it, remembering that the great republic which you now have the honor to represent, also started its glorious history as a self-declared republic.
This memorandum gives you in nutshell the history and the hope of our country, and of our people.
It also gives you a brief assessment of the problems of Somalia itself, and a glimpse of the pivotal role which the Republic of Somaliland, and its people, can play in solving the intractable problems of Somalia.
Our country, Somaliland, is not an entity which was born after the disintegration of the Siad Barre dictatorship.
In pre-historic times it was known as the land of Punt.
Many, including recently Ethiopia, lay claim to that legendary name.
However, two undeniably basic facts prove beyond doubt that the land of PUNT was in what is now known as Somaliland.
First, the land of Punt was famed for its production of frankincense, and that is why the pharaohs of ancient Egypt believed that the Land of Punt was the home of the spirits of their god-kings.
There is no other place in the Horn of Africa where that tree grows except in the northernmost region of Somaliland.
Secondly, all the ruined cities of the people of Punt are located here in Somaliland, and an English army officer who participated in a campaign against Sayid Mohamed Abdulla Hassan just over a century ago, has written a small book which he called the ruined cities of Somaliland.
These two facts conclusively prove that in ancient, pre-historic times, a country existed in Somaliland, with its own identity, and its own geographical contours.
In more recent history Somaliland was part of the Uthman Empire under the Khadif of Egypt.
It was then know as “Arda Somal “ – The Land of the Somalis, or Somaliland.
In 1884, the British took over from Turko-Egyptian rule and established over this land an entity called the British Somaliland Protectorate; a country which on the 26th of June 1960, gained its independence from Britain as the Republic of Somaliland.
These brief chapters are designed to prove beyond doubt, that the Republic of Somaliland was never an integral part of the former Italian colony, and subsequently The United Nations trust territory of Somalia.
People who are not aware of these facts are invariably left with the mistaken impression that Somaliland is a renegade region of Somalia.
On the 1st of July 1960 this country “Somaliland“ voluntarily, and against the wishes of the main body of the political leadership in Somaliland, united with Somalia in pursuit of the ideal of creating a Greater Somaliland, consisting of the five segments into which the scramble for Africa had divided a homogenous nation.
That ideal atrophied under the dictatorship of Siad Barre, and because of the unrelenting opposition of the international community.
There was a time when Great Britain under a Conservative Government briefly accepted the idea, and decided to relinquish the Somali inhabited districts of Kenya to Somalia.
But at the request of Emperor Haile Selassie, President Kennedy of the United States prevailed upon his friend Harold Macmillan, then Prime Minster of Britain, to ignore the Somali cause.
From that time on, the International community stood together solidly against the unification of the Somali people.
Our fathers and grandfathers who lived through the magnificent years of the fifties will never forget that great wind of change which blew across the continent and that great continental levee–en–masse, which for the first time in history produced a black, purposeful solidarity throughout the whole continent,
For a brief period it gave to the people of all African Countries a common initiative, a common purpose and a spirit of a nationhood.
The independence which should have fostered that magnificent spirit, and should have built nations on the backs of the euphoria of the period, and atop the ashes of tribalism, failed miserably.
No attempt was made to pioneer a new form of governance.
Instead a group of black locals merely replaced retiring colonial civil servants.
The system of colonial rule whether legal or administrative was allowed to function as severely and obnoxiously as it did in the past with the only difference being that the enforcers of the rule were now black men.
In a few short years the petty dictators who took over from the colonial governments dissipated the euphoria.
Leaders around the world at the time, in the pursuit of influence and allies in the Cold War, aided, abetted, encouraged and wooed the petty dictators who were ruining Africa.
Nation building all over the continent came to an abrupt end with independence.
The people of Africa were forced in silent rage to go back to the only social and political organization they knew – tribalism.
The unification of the Somali people which was attempted in 1960 was part of that nation building, and like the rest, it died an untimely death.
Somaliland is now the only country in the Horn of Africa where an effective program of nation building is being vigorously pursued.
Peaceful co-existence between all clans has been painfully nurtured, and is now fully established.
We carefully chose new governments and we elected a parliament to lead this nation to renewed social and economic highs.
The political map of the Horn of Africa with the rise of Eritrea and Somaliland has also changed the “New World Order” and this favors the downfall of African dictators.
The break-up of cumbersome states in Europe led by despots is also welcome.
Recognition of emerging states is the order of the day.
We have to thus realise that we are no different to the former Yugoslavia, and the former Soviet Union, who broke-up into different independent countries.
If the Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, and Southern Sudan can be sovereign countries, why not Somaliland?!
We have the will, political and collective, to make it happen.
We have a right to self-determination, and for recognition from the world.
We should therefore be considered for immediate recognition, by all world bodies, and developmental aid in order to help us cope with the tremendous problems we now face.