“What it takes to make a difference in Somaliland?”
The other night on 15 April’10, I had the opportunity to attend Abaarso Tech School’s first ever annual arts students presentation night. The evening included acting, singing and poetry in English and Somali too. Abaarso Tech is a secondary boarding school situated 20km west of Hargeisa.
The school is the brainchild of Dr Ahmed Hussien Isse, the distinguished intellectual – politician – human rights/democracy advocate and former foreign secretary of Kulmiye party.
Having known Ahmed Hussien through the media, and being an admirer of his political talks, and vision for a brighter Somaliland, I wanted to see his school. Ahmed is no longer active in the public political arena but instead has chosen to devote much of his energy to Abaarso Tech. Indeed, a worthy and admirable decision.
So, what made me go on a cold and wet Hargeisa night all the way to Abaarso was simply plain ‘curiosity’. I wanted to see Ahmed’s new world or his admirable self-exile from the murky world of Somaliland’s political limelight; if you can call it that! So, what better occasion than on a night of festivity.
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Size of the school impressed me the most. It’s locality was even more impressing, in the middle of nowhere! As one approach’s on the highway to Abaarso village first thing you see is a sea of city lights in the middle of nowhere in the thick darkness, resembling an airport terminal of some kind and an educational one for that matter inside Somaliland — this took me aback.
In my observations on the night, the kids performed well and did their best to entertain us. I was little disappointed though that the kids should have been taught or given ample time to polish off their acts to the bream. Also, lighting and arrangement of the stage area deserved a little more attention and planning.
This said, I was greatly moved by the dedication and morale support of the teachers. Many of them from the US, presumably post graduates. I watched them with delight as they egged, clapped, whistled and danced around giving all the moral support a kid could nurture, while fighting off in some, the nerve racking ‘stage fright’ syndromes. These kids have never held a mike before in their hands, so it was ‘a feat and a half’ for them to achieve indeed and probably never forget too.
What also struck me in these kids was their self-confidence, regardless, how out of sync, tune or note they were with the organist/music or text, yet, they stood proud and tall throughout their acts. Which sheds light, on the amount of dedication these kids get from their teachers and type of school Abaarso Tech will become in coming years.
Seeing these US middle class “twenty something or thirty something” teachers having so much fun with their students left a lump in my throat. I was most intrigued to find out so much about them and talk to them about their experience in Somaliland and ask them ‘what made them come to such a stateless (or failed state as some would say,) part of this world. I knew it wasn’t the occasion to thrust my curiosity on them on such a night of noise and grandeur and left them to be themselves with their students.
Edna Aden also, made me feel proud when I saw her sitting amongst the audience. Truly, the Edna we’ve always known. Saeed Abdiqadir Hashi, executive manager of Maansuur hotel made me feel proud too. I saw him helping out gearing up the PA system and preparing the break-time snacks and soft drinks. Maansuur Hotel were amongst the one or two sponsors of this ‘truly unforgettable night for the kids.’
The good Dr Ahmed Hussien too, he saw talking, mingling with students, teachers and parents. I wanted to congratulate him and give him my admiration and salutation. Again, my over-zealous feelings were dampened by something beyond me and couldn’t bring myself to ‘jump him’ with so many people around and waited for a quiet moment when he was alone.
Alas, this never happened and I left the night, disappointed and angry with myself for not at least saying to the good Dr and his teacher’s “hello”, or even “thank you for instilling the joys of a brighter future in us and our beautiful kids, parents and fellow country-folk alike.”
Burdened by this guilt, I sought to sooth myself by taking pen to paper.
Somalilandpress, 19 April 2010