Hargeisa, 15 July 2009 (Somalilandpress) – ARR will be writing to Somalilandpress 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.

To read Part One CLICK HERE
To read Part Two CLICK HERE
To read Part Three CLICK HERE

A car speeds towards me flying over speed-bumps and moving twice as fast as all the other cars. Is there an emergency? An act of terrorism by the Al-Shabaab cowards or is it simply an ambulance? No. It’s one of the vehicles delivering the poison called Qat to Hargeisa.

In this city where I walk next to houses that literally cost less than one of the accessories I am wearing, a large percentage of the population chooses to indulge in what should be a once in a blue privilege; chewing Qat. As someone who dabbled with this narcotic when in England of all places I had finally arrived in Somaliland where I can see if the effects were as damaging as the strong voice of complaint I had heard from those who oppose it.

I had already witnessed what it has done to the youth in London who spend their days in a Mirfresh from the age of 15 discussing their future goals and plans while everyone else actually accomplishes them. Qat has even superseded their right to a free education but that’s a whole other story. I guess I should take it easy on England and be thankful because if it wasn’t for England I would’ve been shocked to see people taking showers from a bucket.

This speeding car in this city has a policy; it doesn’t stop for ANYONE. This could be a young child, an old lady, or someone from abroad who has no idea that this vehicle carries the false joy of an entire city. Think about an open top Brinks Truck and you will start to get an idea of what I’m talking about. This truck doesn’t stop, because if it did; people would literally jump on it and take what they can from its golden cargo. Because of this the Qat dealers find it more cost effective to pay the blood money of whoever ventured into its path.

The cargo that this vehicle carries is a poison that has strangled our country not only spiritually but economically. It is rumored that approximately $600,000 USD goes to Ethiopia every day from Hargeisa alone. Since a sizable chunk of our economy is based on Money Transfers, Telecommunications companies and Qat; I sometimes wonder if this little triangle is in place so that people can call the Diaspora for urgent funds to spend on Qat but know that it would be a very nasty stereotype. What I can say, however, is that Qat is definitely having a negative impact on our nation and that too much of a lot of people’s income is used on abusing it.

A certain age demographic depends on Qat and expects you to just fork over $50 so they can chew themselves into what I can only describe as a false joy. You’ll get asked for money by people who will in return tell you that the $10 you have given them is not enough to cover their Qat for the day which is still bewildering after the hundredth time. I feel for the ladies who are forced to sell Qat because their husbands think that anyone who can father a child is a man but forget that a man is he who can not only have offspring but care for them and the beautiful soul that has bore the children for him. The women who sell Qat have earned a nick-name here which is Dhuuso Nuug.

This literally translates to Fart Sucker because they spend their day tending to men who are chewing by providing them tea and whatever else helps their false joy. Rumor has it that these women have superpowers which include never using the bathroom or even eating food. I don’t blame these women; however, I blame the so called (wo)men in their families.

After seeing what Qat has done to my people I have promised myself not to ever chew until my oldest son’s engagement. This is my way of avoiding swearing to never do something and at the same time reminding myself that there is so much I have to accomplish in life. The good news is that the younger and educated generation have no interest in chewing and the only young people you will find chewing are foreigners who think it’s a part of their culture. Most young people here are wise to the ill effects of Qat and I can only pray that this is picked up by the young men in England who see it as a rite of passage to start chewing their lives away from a very young age.

Another issue/dilemma we are faced with over here is the constant site of people begging. Now don’t get me wrong; I have the softest heart for those in need. I initially used to go into my pocket and give them money without counting but later smartened up to the hustle in play over here. Most of the people begging here are not needy Somalilanders but people from Oromo who probably own more land and livestock then I do and have taken up begging as a profession. They are also the same people who refuse to work if offered and brag that they can make more money begging when you offer them a job. The sad fact is that it’s true.

This is at the expense of genuinely needy people who are too proud to beg in public. What I now do as a result is tell them to seek help from the Masjid because that’s where I will be making most of my charitable contributions.

I don’t want to paint a bad picture for those of the Somalilanders abroad because it’s really a beautiful place to be. I have loads of cousins here visiting from abroad and they seek refuge in places like Kayse Busharo, the Dollar Store and gas stations which sell pretty much everything you can think of at a marked up price. When you consider that most of the things here are not bought directly from the suppliers and that they have exchanged hands many times before reaching here you will learn to forgive them for charging so much for their items. I personally go to F2 (operated by young Somalilanders businessmen from Hargeisa, the UK and UAE) every now and then so I can enjoy a decent burger with fries.

I have also finally had the opportunity to visit Summertime a few times too many. I’m guessing the reason this place has such a big aura attached to it is because it’s the congregation point for the “I’m a happily married man that cheats on my wife” and the “I was virgin until I came to Hargeisa” clubs (some of you guys are actually cool but it’s the truth!). I’m not saying that everyone there falls into this category but if you come there you will see for yourself that most of them do.

The food is great even though the guy at the window insists on taking a tip without your permission (count your change) and the owner was even kind enough to entertain my complaint regarding an issue I had with them and give me a refund. My overall summary would be that’s it’s a very beautiful place and facility but the crowd there is both socially amateur and immature.

Of the things that have happened in the recent past are Silaanyo’s return to Hargeisa for which no one was allowed to meet him at the airport. I found it surprising because the airport became a security joke when Maryan Mursal arrived and let just about everyone in. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few goats were also allowed to attend. I’m not promoting any particular party but just saying that rules should be applied equally and that didn’t seem to be ‘fair play’ on our government’s part.

I also had the pleasure of being invited to the opening ceremony of Mount Royal Hotel which lies next to Ilays School on the road to Boroma by Najeeb Hassan Haashi (the owner). I’ve been to Panorama and other places but this place took the crown in Hargeisa because while sitting in there you would literally never imagine you were somewhere in Hargeisa. I still wake up sometimes and look out the window and ask myself “what the hell am I doing here” and it’s nice to know that progress is being made and that the better things in life are slowly being made available to the people of Somaliland.

I still haven’t been outside of Hargeisa because I’ve been busy helping my brother get his school in Hargeisa up and running (Toronto Language & Computer Academy located right next to Maan Soor Hotel) but have finally been to the other side of town which I was surprised to find out was twice as beautiful as this side of town. There you will find a bunch of hotels ranging from the Scandinavian hotel to the Ambassador hotel lining the road to and from the airport. I still haven’t been to Ambassador Hotel but will make it a priority to go there before I write my next installment.

The last thing I will discuss is that I had the chance to go to the secret gathering of foreigners and NGO employees here in Hargeisa. I won’t give too many details as they have gone underground since the cowardly attacks of last year other than to say it’s a pretty neat gathering for them to let their hair down and just have a good time. I was one of only two other Somalilanders there and not knowing what I was getting myself into got all dressed up as if I was going to Maan Soor Hotel and ended up at a casual get together where I was looked at suspiciously for either being a Somalilander or for looking so darn good.

Having never had a hard time getting into the top ‘spots’ where all of the people there could never dream of getting into; I found it intriguing that I was considered something of an outsider at this gathering in my own city! This was literally the only time I had encountered an Indian person looking at me as if they were better than me and it was reminiscent of the old days where people left jobs at McDonalds to be offered dummy positions at major corporations in the Gulf.

Some of them were nice so I guess I forgive them but I made it a point to explain that I was here because this is my country and not because I couldn’t get a better job with those kind of perks abroad (Thank you to the British gentleman and American woman who invited me if you’re reading but I ‘m only writing what I felt about most of them).

I also recently applied for a position with a local association and experienced firsthand how things work behind the scenes here. I wasn’t interested for monetary purposes but wanted this particular post because it’s somewhere where I felt I can use my expertise to bring positive change (I also have a personal policy of not spending money when and where I’m not making money unless I’m on vacation… Try it; it really works!).

Suffice to say that someone that the interviewer had brought with him who couldn’t complete the aptitude test got the position. Talk about conflict of interest; this is the way of our land. I am constantly being encouraged to tell people my full name to get a better service which I guess is something I resent about how our country works. It’s the same as everywhere else in the world: “It’s not who you are but who you know.” The only problem is that over here it’s done so openly. For me, personally, I will always live by this Somali proverb that goes “This goat that I have today is better than the Camels your father used to have.”

I guess I’ll stop this here for now because I too have noticed my blogs are getting longer. I’m either seeing more things or getting extremely bored but I promise you it’s not the latter just yet. There’s lots of things I would like to cover including the Squatting epidemic but I’ll save it for another blog entry. Thank you for reading and look out for Part V.

To Be Continued…

By Arr


  1. "this place took the crown in Hargeisa because while sitting in there you would literally never imagine you were somewhere in Hargeisa"…Why'd you come to Hargeisa if you wish you were somewhere else? Based on this and other articles you made, it seems to me you bragging of your fathers camels when you have no donkey.

  2. Arr thanks for yet another wonderful article, I feel your pain for the nation and all you said is the honest truth sadly. Lets hope we can get the message across to the youth and tell them it's not okey to spend thousands of dollars on some grass called qat it kills your family as well as your health and the country as whole.

    You should kick those NGOs out, they should know Somaliland doesn't need them just as it doesnt need the international community, it can survive, so do your job or get lost.

  3. Another great article brother ARR, so far this article tops it all. You have finally spoken the truth about what is taking place in Somaliland and I would not be surprise if some folks decide to pester because of your observation. With regards to the Oroma people who pimp their kids, I call it pimping because the mother would stand on the side as her eight children keep saying "Adeer lacag isii". I say deport all of them back to Ethiopia because they are not contributing to the society. I have seen few of these beggers in Dahabshiil office in Jig Jiga Yare as they convert the Somaliland shillin into Ethiopian Bir and sent to their families.
    Lets build walls like the USA to keep illegal immigrants out period.

  4. A great post, Arr! As someone who grew up in Hargeisa, you help me articulate to others who never been in Somaliland what it is all about. When I want teachers to teach young impressionable American students about Somaliland, your posts, Emily's, and others provide interesting introductory lesson plans about a unique country in East Africa, Somaliland, not the pirate and violence-infested Somalia. I am embarrassed when someone asks me if I am a Somali pirate. Somaliland Republic provides me with a shield against such a horrible label, brought about by the Somalis themselves. As matter of fact, I ask American students in my neck of the woods to make power point presentations about the differences and similarities between Somaliland and Somalia. Anyway, let me share with you a sample lesson plan that may be used by anyone who is interested to teach about a place called Somaliland.

    ACTIVITIES FOR TEACHING about Somaliland
    Ask students to create a book to describe Somaliland Republic. When completed, the book should tell a reader unfamiliar with this nation what life is like there.
    Encourage students to discover how many different ways they can say "hello” In Somaliland language –be creative to find translators on the Internet.
    Persuade students to write to students in Somaliland‘s primary schools. Students can compare and contrast differences and similarities between Somaliland and state of New Jersey (just an example; it could be Virginia, California, etc.)
    Allow each student choose the name of a city in Somaliland. The student must research Somaliland and design a postage stamp to be used by Somalilanders. The stamp might have on it a physical feature, person, or landmark that the Somaliland is noted for (Daalo mountains, Naaso Hablood, Awdal mountains, pristine beaches of Eil Sheikh, Bulahar, Berbera, LugHaya, etc.). Students present their stamps to the class, explaining why they chose to use the image they used.
    Challenge each student to collect information about the weather in that city that he or she chooses. Students can compare from month to month and plot high and low temperatures over the course of a period. Which city has the warmest year-round weather? the coolest? Which city has the widest range of temperatures? Which city has weather most like the weather in your city?
    Source: http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/lesson/les

    Thanks for helping me help American students learn about a place we, Somalilanders, call “The best kept secret in Africa."

    In short your piece serves an interesting anticipatory set keeping students engaged in learning across content areas such as Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, etc.


  5. Imagine our land without two things:
    Qaat & beggars.

    General appearance of Hargeisa city is from bad to worse and that is because of those beggars.. I f I were in your palace Arr I was not going to direct them to Masjid in fact I was going to complain to our RESPECTFUL government to remove or send them back to Eithipia. They speak no Somali but fluently they say liibantoo .. and in regard to Qaat I hope from Allah first and the Future government to plan new strategies regarding the killing drags and stop importation from Ethiopia to start a new successful life for all Somalilanders.

    Thanks Arr. beautiful article.

    • I dont think you should reply to this man even though i respect yor view about the beggers in hargeisa, but remember they are not all oromos there are hundreds of somaliland people who are poor and need help i am telling you this as someboby who works for NGO and a proud somalilander this guy is on a ego trip.

  6. I think you are a deluded little man your articles are comical,i think who ever let write on somalilandpress should be ashemed. And here why i think you are on ego trip promoting your sub-clan talking about the hotels your relatives has got in hargeisa,insulting the women of somaliland talking about the girls changing there skin colour or calling the women who strugle to raise their children on selling qat dhuuso nug and also insulting the the garments they wear.I myself as somebody who was raised in the uk and now works for united nations in addis ababa. I want to ask you which airport have you landed on when write about i have finally been to other side of the city and i was supprised it was beautifull remember the plane landed on that side you cliamed you have never been to,and i am going to say never insult peoples homes saying the accessories you are wearing cost much more than some of the houses unless you are wearing solid diomond rolex you are talking b-shit so dont insult our inteligence.

    • Lmao,
      First of all Mr grew up in U.K learn how to write using the English language. Second of all, Mr works in Adis Ababa for thieves who are stealing poor people's money think about the question you will be asked on the day of judgment… THINK REAL HARD, then reply in your broken English. If you know anything about what this talented young brother is writing about you would agree. Everything he's written about is completely true. 100%

      Oh yeah and let me tell you something that made me laugh my ass off, He does wear a solid gold and diamond rolex, in Hargeisa…;)

      Live, Love, Laugh and then Learn Mr grew up in U.K….

  7. And for you to say i have never had getting into top spots i dont think you even get a job in mcdonalds. listen you can talk the talk but you need to walk the walk this people you are insulting live there lives so get of your hight horse and self importance and your sub-clan promotion

  8. Are you actually somali?
    You are critising your own race and and country .
    You should be talking about the positive things about our country and not putting it down .
    I was born in The U.K and have never ever put my country down.
    You are talking about young women changing their colors but thats lies and you know that – im a young woman myself so i should know how the girls act here and in somaliland .
    I dont understand you wallahi because your just chatting shit.
    Just because you live in U.K – no need to star turning against your own country like' whats the need though !
    By the way you should be ashamed because im only 14
    You think your clever but your not
    So i suggest you edit this blog and think properly about what you are writing !

  9. This is the reality guys, there is no need to cover up things just for the sake of "its our country", it will never change as long as you cheating yourself and avoiding the ugly side. It needs to be brought to the surface, ARR is actually sensitive towards the people there.

  10. Arr is not the problem here, this whole website is run by a bunch of adolescents and to expect maturity from those who post here would be a little too much.

    The only thing they got going for themselves is that they know how to use tags to help them appear in search engines.

    They should immitate garoweonline which is arguably the best somali run website out there even though their content is very biased.

    These kids would probably grow up and turn out to be professionals someday.



  11. Thats what Arr seen and thats how he chose to report and tell, nothing is wrong with it, lets agree to disagree, you kids need to go some where else if you don't like the site or its contents, dont ruin it for the rest of us.

    Arr, can you please take some pictures.

    Cheers Arr!

    • Listen yeah
      Kids are talking more sense than you lot on here,
      your all supporting him as if he's saying things, that are true which he isn't .
      So to be honest everyone has a right to put their view across even if they are kids .
      Your right some people may disagree but the reason for this blog is so people can tell him what's right with it and what's wrong with it so let people put their point across !!

  12. Brothers and Sisters: Please let us not get personal. There are people who are not Somalilanders, who are reading what we are writing. If you disagree with what someone has written, you can writing back with well- thought out reasons why dont see his or her points the same way. For instance, I can disagree with what is said about Oromo beggars. When half million Somalilanders were in the refugee camps in Ethiopia during Barre era, would you have liked the Oromo people to say bad things about us?

    • I am not the person advocating sending them all back or not taking on the genuinely needy people. Just as there are checks in place to make sure that there is no abuse of the social and welfare system in the West we need to make sure that people who are perfectly healthy and turn down the opportunity to work do not turn down these opportunities by turning to begging as a profession.

  13. In summary, I am genuinely sorry if I have upset anyone (which was quite obviously far from my intention) but couldn't disagree any more vehemently with the notion that I have insulted my country or its women by making factual observations. I could write about the New Disneyland that was built here only for you to be mad at me for telling lies but admit I can do more to write about our accomplishments. This country is the gem of Africa and has a beatiful future ahead of it regardless of what me or anyone else has to say.

    There are plenty of good things about our country and they are obvious to whoever has the pleasure of seeing it with their own eyes. Yes it will take us time to get to the point where someone who is accustomed to a different standard of living will fit right in; but that's tough and those that fall into that category will slowly but surely learn (myself included).

    I again say thank you to all that commented; especially the first poster with a sense of humor who corrected the proverb for me and the person who took the time to guess the kind of watch I wear.


  14. Arr

    You dont owe anyone here an apology, you spoke of things you observed and wrote about it. Never explain yourself its a sign of weakness. There are both good and bad things in Somaliland, while we applaud the positive progress it is the duty of every Somalilander to speak out against the negatives, Also keep in mind many of the respondents to your article and probably a good chunck of the visitors to this site may not be Somalilanders at all, see how conveniently Abdi mentions pirate-run-site Garoweonline, what a coincidence. Take it with a grain of salt and keep on writing….. Long live Somaliland

  15. Inadeerooooo Arr,
    Somalido waxay ku maahmaahada: amaana u dimo .. Cayeena U guursoo.

    There is always someone to lead the cattle and for me Somalilandpress is the leader.

    Frankly Somalilandpress is the only Somaliland website I browse for the day seeking up-to-date news.

    Keep up the good job.

  16. Hello and thank you to all who commented. I appreciate the kind words from those who enjoyed the contents of this blog and am as appreciative of those who have taken offense to some of the observations I've made who took the time to voice their opinion.

    I wanted to first of all point out that this is not an article but a blog and that I am by no means a journalist. This is just me expressing my experiences in Somaliland from my perspective and I am not at all surprised that they differ greatly from those of yours or others.

    I can appreciate why people become upset when someone mentions a negative about Hargeisa or Somaliland (loving this place with all my heart and only wanting it to improve and prosper) but also understand that free and open observation from many perspectives is the only way we will enrich our society and broaden our horizons.

  17. I hit a nerve with people I can only imagine don't have a sense of humor and donated theirs to charity. Why would you take such offense to me repeating a silly and comical phrase I've only heard, learned and repeated in return? (Lighten up and know a joke when you read one.) I've also been accused of promoting a particular sub-clan which is a pretty darn convenient way of trying to make me look sinister but I can only speak on what I've observed myself and witnessed. Why not make suggestions in the comments like others have so I can perhaps take you up on your offer?

    As for those who have decided to use my blog as a reason to discredit the efforts of SomalilandPress and think that they should be 'ashemed' I would only ask that they take the time to contact them and discover for themselves how patriotic and passionate about Somaliland the staff at SomalilandPress are. I am sure if you would take the time to provide them feedback in a constructive manner you would find them happy to hear your suggestions.

  18. Arr what is the purpose of your writing in this instance? I am not a professor of Literature or English languagebut it comes across as quiet arrogant and inconsiderate. You appear to think that your advantages in life have made you better than those of your fellow country men but I assure you despite your advantages, as many as they may have been, have been wasted on you. Diplomacy in your writing wil go a long way and WRITE MORE about the country, people and culture and not about yourself.


  19. Arr you got your head up your arrse !! I THINK you should give up on your self promotion and promoting your nuh-ismail clan i think most of the readers worked you out already, first you need to insult peoples homes while you are wearing primark clothes seeing what you are wearing on your picture. secondly i hope you give up writing your bull****,and i think you should give the platform to somebody like ramsey who worked you out i think he will write more sence than you, and for little fans who think you write great articles including that girl in u a e
    muna they must be related . dont cry or be upset it only my opinion.

  20. After reading this blog, I can say for those of us who have never been to the place the novelty is wearing off. You have shared a lot of information, perhaps this is where the problem lies, sharing too much information. A little mystery goes along way Mr. Arr. Despite saying that, don't keep us waiting long to read Part V.

  21. @ Sahra (Miss Assumptions):

    First of all, please don’t assume that everyone is capable of cramming the same large objects up their ‘arrse’ as you can.

    Second of all, please don’t assume that all of us shop at your favorite store in the UK. Show me which Primark sells Halston suits and I would be glad to purchase them there on your kind of budget.

    Third of all, stop assuming that you have figured some great thing out because it’s obvious from your comment that you probably read Ramsey’s comments before reading the article. You should form your own opinions rather than letting someone else’s opinions bias yours.

    Finally, don’t assume that everyone is as emotional and irrational as you because your comments gave me a good laugh (as opposed to making me upset or crying)… I think I’ve figured out which Sahra it is and you need to get a life and forget about me…

  22. @ Arr,

    You've ruined it for me now (well nearly) with your harsh response to 'Sahra'. She probably was wide off the mark but that was ungentlemanly of you.

    Before anyone hurls clan insults in my direction, am only a sijui girl in London and know nothing about Somaliland clans but I admit am intrigued to know who nuh-ismail are. if you think am an idiot for asking this you may want to think again as I have a PhD in maths (and you probably don't 🙂 ). InshaAllah I plan to build a home a Burao.