Hargeisa, 23 June 2009 – ARR will be writing about his journey to Somaliland and will be offering advice to anyone who may want to travel to this Horn African nation. ARR was born abroad and this is his first trip to Somaliland.

The women of Somaliland are among the most beautiful of God’s creation. Apart from those that are destroying their skin and inviting skin cancer to their final years by insisting on altering their complexion, I have witnessed some of the prettiest faces I have ever seen. While I don’t think I would ever be able to reconcile how I was raised in my life abroad with how the local population was raised; something keeps telling me that the local women would make better wives and mothers. Writing that may get me in trouble with some friends from abroad but the truth is; I think I may have finally found home.

I was still wondering why our women insist on wearing every colour in the spectrum of light in two garments which is a question that has haunted me in my previous 26 years of observation. One day and totally out of the blue I finally found the answer. On one of the many walks I take with my mother she was asked if she was a widow due to the fact that her clothing was colour coordinated. Aha! The answer had finally revealed itself. In taking a trip to the top of one of the hills on northern Hargeisa to get some exercise I found the answer to one of the most pressing questions of our times (at least for those of us in the Diaspora).

This was one of the most fun hikes I took with my mother because this time she wanted to go as much as I did and didn’t complain as much about the rocky roads as she normally does. Most people spend their entire trip to Hargeisa inside of a car but for health reasons I have insisted on treating my mother like Hager and both ends of Hargeisa like Safa and Marwa. From this one particular hill located just north of Man Soor I was able to see Naaso Hablood as well as the very famous mountains with the same name.

From this vantage point you can see almost all of Hargeisa but what I had to admit is that the view to the other side was much more spectacular and inviting. Just north of Hargeisa lies a flat area of land that seems to never end with shrubs and greenery extending for as far as the eye can see only to be cut off by majestic mountain ranges that appear as a silhouette in what would make a very picturesque painting.

After a few of these nature hikes I’ve taken with my mother I am yearning and looking forward to my trips to Daallo and Sheikh Mountains. I also hope that this will provide an answer to those who jokingly accuse me catering to only one particular corner of Hargeisa. I am not one of those boring people who are the same tribe on both sides but have in my blood a nice variety that I love equally if not more than my father’s side.


As a youngster I used to love to go camping and one of the most fascinating things about a trip outside of the city limits is the cloud of stars that are clearly visible to the naked eye. While the Northern Lights are not visible in Hargeisa there are literally thousands of stars that light up the sky. So far I have only been able to locate the North Star, Venus and the Big and Small Dipper and would probably notice more celestial objects if I knew them.

While my nephews and nieces have been complaining with a passion similar to the Iranian protesters that there is nothing to do while our Satellite receiver is down I have had the pleasure of enjoying the cloud formations above during the day and the immaculate stars at night. This along with the Adhan that cuts into whatever activity you have at hand are some of the most enjoyable aspects of my trip to Hargeisa thus far.


The city is literally littered with Masjids and almost everywhere you go you can find a new Masjid being built. While this has sparked an inner feeling of joy in me as a Muslim I think that there is something else that should be considered. I recently visited a sick relative in Hargeisa hospital only to see how small it was and how inadequate the facilities were. A very nice lady who I spent time discussing the hospital with showed me the extension to the old hospital that her family had built as a donation and encouraged me to find more donors for the hospital (This is the public Hargeisa hospital and not the private for-profit hospital Edna Aden had built with charity she collected on a premise of free health care for all).

In the rush to build Masjids to try to help those who lived a life of sin there are literally hundreds of Masjids being built at the expense of other crucial facilities that should be helped with families’ charitable funds. I made a promise to myself that I would do what I can now and probably bequeath something to hospitals and schools in my will when the time came.

I had also continued to investigate why in The City of NGOs (twelve hundred of them as I had heard) there are still so many people living in poverty. While I accept poverty as an inevitable reality what I couldn’t accept is the rumour that nearly half of the funds allocated to Somaliland are embezzled in Kenya (Not cool! We have a restaurant named after one of your very famous children). While that is obviously an issue that needs to be tackled; it still doesn’t excuse the mismanagement that is taking place here in the sphere where we have control.

I have been to a few NGOs and from what I can see so far the people that work there get as much work done as a Gulf Cooperation Council employee. While there are no doubt those who work as hard as they can to make a difference I can’t help but feel that they could do more if they were focused on the objectives of their organisations rather than their salaries. As I had mentioned I have started to mobilise and get an NGO together and will be working on this as a long term and well thought out project during the free time that I have. I guess this is the best place to say thank you to my friend M. Al-Maktoum who has offered to support this charity from the very beginning.

The past few weeks have been quite interesting in many other ways. I was forced to part ways with my long hair and beard after weeks of being taunted in the streets by almost everyone. Out of frustration I had been tempted on numerous occasions to speak with my hands (which are much better at speaking Somali then my mouth mind you) but eventually gave in to logic and decided to get a haircut instead.

I had uploaded pictures on my mobile of how I look with short hair as an example and have to admit that the barber pretty much got it right which was ‘cool’. I’m sure he would’ve noticed that he made both sides uneven if he wasn’t busy chewing away at Qat while cutting my hair. What wasn’t ‘cool’ is that he had initially tripled the price I paid for the haircut claiming that they charge by hair length. After much bargaining and agreeing to give him a tip we settled on a price that I knew was too much but didn’t mind parting with.

I also had the chance to go one night to Imperial Hotel for the launch of a children’s book called Riyaaq. I didn’t understand much of the clever wordplay and chanting contained in the book until I got a hold of the book myself and started reading along. It was amazing that such a beautiful book would be made available to our children teaching them morals and parables in the melodic tone one can hear being sung in many of the classrooms in the city. Since there are many children who don’t have access to an education and even more whose education has been left to schools operated by self interested and inexperienced profiteering businessmen I found this book to be something special and welcome to our youth.

I also had the pleasure of taking part in the funeral of one of Sheikh Madar’s offspring and have made it a new habit to go to as many funerals as I can which I started to do in England. I find it fascinating that there is not a single tear shed at funerals here and that the deceased children are the ones that go in the grave themselves and place the deceased person in their final resting position.


I have also had an experience with Hargeisa’s notorious traffic jams that are usually caused by nothing other than a simple and absolutely inconsiderate idiot (not by the traffic warden that disappear for half an hour at a time). It took us twenty minutes to cover twenty yards because one man and his will to have his car cleaned in the middle of the street was more important than the mass of cars that also needed to use the same street. We all yelled at the cleaner who said “I don’t care, I’m getting paid” and I will have to admit I was very tempted to pay him a hundred times as much to smash the windows and slash the tires. If there weren’t hundreds of witnesses I probably would’ve seriously considered doing this myself.

Apart from visiting the Somaliland Medical Association and then the wonderful Nurses Association (where they teasingly reminded me of my mother’s days as a nurse in a short skirt!), of all the things I had done I would have to say the most interesting thing was the near hour of uninterrupted chat I had alone with Rageah Omar at his family home which was only disturbed by a brief visit by Faisal Ali Warrabe (the leader of the Ucid party) to give condolences to Rageah.

Faisal seems like a nice man and asked me a couple of questions about his nephew from Toronto who is a good friend of mine that I couldn’t or wouldn’t answer. Although I and Rageah are both related and descendants of good friends I had never spent time getting to know this particular relative and have to admit he was a very interesting person regardless of his credentials. I think he deserves the success he has achieved because he is quite a brilliant man and a sincere and genuine individual.

I guess the next best experience I’ve had in the last few weeks was when I went to visit a few ministries yesterday and found that there were both utterly incompetent and very competent individuals working in our government. Some of the very old people I encountered were extremely difficult to converse with and narrow minded while there was a younger generation present who were looking forward to the advancement and progression of Somaliland. While it’s fun to criticise the current government I also have to give credit where it is rightfully due.

The thing that has annoyed me the most, even more than the corrupt NGOs so far is the Somaliland Suldaan system. I can openly tell you that whoever the Suldaan for my particular clan is does not represent me as I have neither voted for him and he just happens to be the child of a very smart man who I’m sure deserved the title. I surprisingly enough don’t personally think that reason and intellect are transferred genetically in totality to offspring therefore nullifying the entire inherited Suldaan concept.

I still can’t seem to come to terms with this inherited title and wanted to share my opinion with the world. Being supportive of my inherited Suldaan would make me feel as foolish as those who vote based on clan allegiances so they can brag about someone who doesn’t care the least about them holding such and such a position, or, as dim-witted as some of the so called Somalilanders I have encountered who still dream of a Somali Weyne.

While I have been critical in many ways during my trip to Somaliland so far I also see all the good that is here but haven’t found many who are brave enough to openly question the areas where we need change. I have always been the type of person to let someone know when there is a bugger in their nose or they have a hole in their shirt. I find this my way of showing people I care as it would be twice as easy to simply ignore. I look forward to adding much more insight from my personal experiences and giving a broader perspective when I have the opportunity to travel to more places in Somaliland.

I had originally intended to delay writing this third instalment until I had more experiences but was encouraged by the many wonderful emails and phone calls from all over the world I have received. I was quite shocked that this blog I am writing for SomalilandPress has been syndicated on various other Somaliland website and will try my best to fit all of the requests I have received into my increasingly busy schedule and will continue to share my inner most thoughts in the process.

To Be Continued…. ARR

Source: SomalilandPress


  1. Never be afraid to criticise, for without criticism changes do not occur. Somaliland is need of constructive criticism, which should be backed by action from all us.

  2. Brilliant! That was great I really enjoyed that and read all the way through hehehe, wow you know how to write and express yourself, excellent.

    You got me hooked to your writing.

    You doing great and I too admire Rageh Omar. We also need his brother before those Al Shabab blow him up, nothing better than family sticking together.

  3. Brother Arr,

    I just want to send you a note of thanks for your part 3. You call my attention to a serious problem facing our sisters in Somaliland. Iam deeply concerned the question about why girls destroy their skins.

    It seems like an easy question, but it really requires a lot of thought and searching. In my point of view changing color means that it will be attractive and married soon. To be a white lady is qualities to look a man for choosing his life partner. What I see in Hargeisa in summer holidays is that many young ladies use chemicals utterly and dress well for hoping and dreaming to marriage in the summer.

    Blame should be own by Diaspora youth who blossoming the market of marriage in the sumer.

    My sisters in faith remind your Allah,

    Hargeisa, Somaliland

  4. I havent heard about these thing about girls bleaching themselves, tell them dont get skin cancer, beauty is skin deep, besides most man including my self like their woman black and strong like African coffee

    Those girls are behind, they will look like michael jackson, somaliland has long way to go to catch up to the developed world.

  5. I am continuing to enjoy your prolific writing from home. What is interesting about your writing is the fact it is being written from prism of someone who was not born in there –as someone whose umbilical cord is not there. This prism opens up to me things that I never thought about. You made a link between “Naso-Hablood” and womens’ colorful dresses –watches out you are being watched.. I also understand your constructive criticism of rampant mismanagement and lack of transparencies of NGOs. Remember this Somaliland does not have enough resources or where there is some resources do not have where-with-all to manage those resources effectively for the benefit of the people. The fact that there are NGOs in Somaliland is in itself an economic activity, which might not be in line with established objectives, that provides a meager sustenance to many. Someone of us criticize Atna, a former foreign minister of Somaliland, and a long time advocate for health care of our people. Yes, there might be some commingling of private and public funds that she solicited for the established of the hospital in “ Dunbulgh." This hospital is to balance the availability of health centers for both sides of the city. Why should someone who lives in “Libaxyada” travel all the way to the Group Hospital in the "Sha'ab” area? Remember also Adna trains a large number of nurses to attend to the health needs of ever-increasing population of Hargeisa. Someone may say that Atna is profiteering and I say she is profit-sharing! In comparison, see in the West where we live; there is always reporting of all kinds of mismanagement and lack of accountability in companies and governments. What happed in Enron, ripping off a great number of Americans and what happened to the members of the British ruling elites who were stealing from their people through patted personal expenses? What factors might have contributed to the collapse of the Western economy? What about Saudi royal families and British government officials exchanging of bribes? The shorting comings of the West will not justify the mismanagement of NGOs in Somaliland, but little understanding of the unique situation of our nascent nation is in order. We should all aspire to higher moral grounds!

    All in all, I really appreciate your fresh look at and reporting of our economically-deprived nation and its people. Arr, you reminded me of this quote:
    " Do something people will respond to and they will get something from it."
    Jim Johal — Submitted by Sandy Kelly — Canada
    ”It totally made sense! If you do something that people will talk about they take something from your conversation and spread discussion.”

    • i thank you for your honesty in what you saw in your trip in hargeiasa, you have mention in gilrs trying to bleach their skin colour but one we need to ask ourselvelves why do they this one i found out on tribs to hargeisa is these girls think the lighter you the more good looking you are but one thing they dont understand is they harming their skin and tey do not understand what they doing to them selves i think all those who profit from skin products should be baned. secondly those days of sultans are over and we need move away from this old tradition every body in uor socoity knows that we need forget about same greedy man who says he represents you .

  6. Somaliland girls don't need to bleach their skin because they're naturally beautiful and the ones to blame are the people who come from abroad trying to impress these uneducated somali woman and the people who sell the bleach agents should be banned from the country

    • I will repley to your anwser you are somali but I am somalilander let us go back to history in 1940 s it is used call british protectrate or a british colony after that we volunterialy join to form what is call somalia in 1960 when we got our independance. our government need to take a minsteral post but that south italian colny somali rules they have not given not even one post even when we made union whoever the somaliland people they suffered from the regime of syed baree the dictator had boombarded the cities and killed 300,000 people and wounded a lot of people and this is a case that the international community to look at it .

  7. hi there you artcile was very interesting, regarding the skin bleaching it is our own people that have the menality that being light is beautiful and if you are dark you are not worth a second glance, so it must start from us that we educated our people that if you are beautiful on the inside then you are like a sunshine. regarding the clan business we need to change our way of thinking that you except people for their qualities, heart and most of all morals and values rather than clans but personally i do not think that will ever change somethings have to get worse to get better. One thing that you wrote down really bothered me regading that women over there will make better wives and mothers, i believe you are who you are you either born with the qualities or you are not, religion and culture and eman will make you a good person whether that be wife, husband, brother, sister, friend etc.

  8. hi there you artcile was very interesting, regarding the skin bleaching it is our own people that have the menality that being light is beautiful and if you are dark you are not worth a second glance, so it must start from us that we educated our people that if you are beautiful on the inside then you are like a sunshine. regarding the clan business we need to change our way of thinking that you except people for their qualities, heart and most of all morals and values rather than clans but personally i do not think that will ever change somethings have to get worse to get better. One thing that you wrote down really bothered me regading that women over there will make better wives and mothers, i believe you are who you are you either born with the qualities or you are not, religion and culture and eman will make you a good person whether that be wife, husband, brother, sister, friend etc.

  9. This is the weirdest article I have ever read in my entire life, and to be honesty I found it very offensive and narrow minded by the way he is talking about WOMEN bleaching their skins.. first off it is not men's problems whether we bleach our skin or not.. IT IS UP TO women.. so please mind ur own business and stop dictating what women should do or not to do with our own skins… Why dont u rather talk about useless men who are sitting and chewing Khaat 24/7 instead..

    • I will get to the men who chew Chat 24/7 iA. I also suggest you use lots of baby powder instead of bleaching yourself. The bleaching agents are very bad for your skin and will lead to future health problems. Up to you though.

    • Hi kaltun
      Dear sister don’t defend the religiously illegal and harmful habits that recently developed by our beloved women we are not the enemy of our sisters, yes there are a lot of useless men who wasted their precious time, money and health chewing the mild stimulus khat, this an other disaster which is more dangerous the bleaching the skin but lets us talk the two issues separately and healthily, dear sister kaltun don’t create hostility between men and women,

      These two things, chewing khat and bleaching skin are both have causes and consequences so I believe women are bleaching their beautiful natural skin to for beauty purposes but I have no justification for why men chew khat with their children and families starving to death.

      Let us to gather stand same position both bleaching the skin and chewing khat because both are chronic diseases for our society let us say no tribalism also

      Liban yusuf
      Hargeisa somaliland

  10. Great read. I'am 100% with you on the Suldaan crisis in Somaliland. There seems to be a suldaan and caaqil boom in recent years. Every dumb loser wants to be a Suldaan rendering it a ceremonial useless position

  11. Good read, very vivid descriptions, felt like I was there myself. However, I couldn't overlook the close-mindedness in referring to the people who support the concept of Somaliweyn as dim-witted. People should be free to choose what or who they support. Please be more open-minded and show respect of others. Thank you and looking forward to the next installment of your trip.

  12. Dear Arr.. people are very much entitled to their exprience and to share wih other people, That I believe his is how learning can be passed.. However, I am acually no agreeing with regarding some of your accounts about Hargeisa, our people and situations you are alking about. Just to mention some:- You said "I am trying my best to connect with the city on a less superficial level and be one with my fellow Somalilanders and even take the bus which I didn’t do abroad". That statement shows that you are one of he classic superficial brothers who come to the country and belittle everything… I am too visiting Hargeisa and our other cities, I can see the standrad of living of some people and without bragging and promising to start NGO …. I am helping who I can…at least pass some skills to young people if you have any brother.. that itself is a gift.. Is not charitable or very Islamic to talk like the way you are talking. Another issue is the Issue of women in Somaliland … I am sad his country has to be relying on people like you.
    You often say my family who is this and who is that Your accounts would be much better if you leave the personal show and show us what difference you are going to make and do.

    • Thank you for your advice Kalka,

      It's funny how one sentence can mean a lot of things. In sharing my shock and amazement and genuine joy of being in a country where people who I am related to are all doing well for themselves I seem to have given people the impression that I am either bragging for myself or on their behalf.

      We all have successful families abroad but that number goes up exponentially here and the reason I shed light on it is to show some people abroad who are reluctant to come here (including my own siblings) that there are better opportunities in their country than abroad. I am no better than any other Somalilander and all the people on the ground I have met can bear witness to how humble I am. I just can't pretend to not be surprised at things I see as much as you want me to because it is/was all shocking to me. I think I was naive in writing these articles because I did not factor in the envy or xaasidnimo of the havenots while writing. I guess it was a little arrogant to forget that perhaps a lot of people still take the bus, live in a hut, or don't have family members with any measure of success in Somaliland, etc… Go cry now…

      With regards to helping people out; my left hand doesn't know what my right hand gave but again I am happy that you have 'done what you can' as I am sure EVERYONE who visits the country does. The NGO is almost registered and we have some great projects we will be working on and we hope we can make a humble difference.

      And finally, this blog that I was writing was for people who wanted to read about MY experiences in Somaliland and is not about Somaliland. That's what you fail to realise. Nobody asked you to read this article but the fact that it has my name in the title should have shed a little light that it would be discussing a person or from one person's perspective.

  13. Regarding the women issue do you read or just skim through things? Am I not defending their position, their health, the way that men are failing to support the women who they should be responsible for?

    In short I think people would look less stupid if the read the actual blog and form their own opinion rather then reading the comments of others and then reading with a biased opinion.

    I can see a wave of sentiment when I read the articles and all it takes is one illiterate person to misunderstand something due to a personal complex they have and the rest of the lazy readers all follow like blind sheep…

  14. Hi Abdi ,I really admrie your inspiring writings about the real status of the Somaliland.I am a graduate form oxford and worked many national l and international organizations before i moved to new Zealand . your comments on the issue of the Somali political situation is well articulated piece of work and i agree with all your clarifications when dealing with the Somali crisis. For the last week many Khatumo sate residents were miss treated in Lasanod for just expressing their wishes for the unity of Somalia and this will open an all war for the people of Northern Somalia . I would like to share with thee UK Government not to jump the gun but hopefully allow more Independent scholars to attend this important Conference in London so that their contribution will give an inclusive dialogue for all Somalis regardless of their tribal difference.Ismail