Sheikh Ahmed Sheikh Mohamed Walaaleeye being tied to the post moments before the Firing squad shot him

By Khadija Abdillahi Sheikh

When you hear the word ‘home’ what comes to your mind? Is it where you were born, grew up or currently reside? Is it the country of your parents? Or maybe it is where your children were born.

To me, Somaliland is home and for one simple reason: Here, is where I found myself. I share this sentiment with many others of similar experiences. We may not be of similar age, but we have several common characteristics and we are, Generation Somaliland.

Somalia is an unknown quantity to us: To some of us it was before we were born others were too young to have experienced the short lived glories of Somalia. They speak of one of the greatest military in Africa but what I see is AMISOM upholding security in fragile Mogadishu.  They speak of its captivating architecture but what I see is a city in ruins.  They speak of Soomaalinimo, Nationalism that brought the unity into being but what I see is her progeny Qabyaalada, Tribalism. Melancholy saturated stories of Xamar make no sense to us. We associate Somalia with civil war, famine, pirates and above all betrayal.

And we only know Somaliland: On 26 June 1960, Somaliland was declared an independent state briefly before it joined the Southern territories to form the ill-fated Somali Republic. An assassination of a president, a military coup, and civil war ensued.

Somaliland’s revolution is reproduced by the Arab Spring. Many of the Arab Spring events that have been unfolding in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria since 2010 are similar to events that took place in Somaliland quarter of a century ago. The bombardment of Syria’s Homs reminds me of the bombardment of Hargeisa in 1988 by MiG-17’s lifting off from the same city and gunning down barefooted refugees on their run to neighboring Ethiopia. Gaddafi’s mercenaries that were hired to contain the revolution against him were a reminder of Siyad Barre’s ruthless mercenaries who looted, killed, and raped in Somaliland. And just as peaceful demonstrators in those countries were met by live ammunition and apprehended, so were students who demonstrated against Barre’s regime in 1982 in Hargeisa sent to long periods of prison.

The difference between the Arab Spring and the revolution in Somaliland is that the latter prevailed and the ousted dictator Siyad Barre died in exile in Nigeria. Sadly, there was no Social Media to report on the atrocities committed against the people of the then Northern region of Somalia (Somaliland). And to this day media coverage of the mass graves recently discovered in Somaliland has been scant.

Since then, Somaliland was rebuilt by its people with little or no assistance from the international community. We’ve held numerous democratic parliamentarian and presidential elections; the latter resulted in a peaceful handover. How many African countries can boast of that? Our schoolchildren save their lunch money to contribute to the national campaign to rebuild roads and bridges or to give to the victims of recent floods in Somalia. Our triumphs have passed by unnoticed by the world for over twenty years.

We may forgive but cannot forget. For many of us, the injustices that our people were subjected to are impossible to forget. We even have a monument of a MiG 17 at Freedom Square to remind us of the fallen. It is difficult to forget because every house in Somaliland has lost someone. Somebody’s brother, sister, father, mother, uncle or aunt was lost. And what makes the loss greater is the fact that none of the governments that came after Siyad Barre acknowledged the genocide let alone apologize to or compensate the victim’s families.

My family had suffered firsthand when my uncle Sheikh Ahmed Sheikh Mohamed Walaaleeye was detained and later executed by a firing squad along with 9 other Ulema in January 1975. His alleged crime was protesting a new family law that challenged basic Islamic teachings. He was my grandfather’s eldest son; he was the backbone of the family. With his murder our family was never to be the same again.

In a recent broadcast interview with the wife of Siyad Barre’s then Vice President, she opined that the execution of the 10 Islamic Scholars in cold blood which went undisputed by the people of Somalia triggered the decline and eventual demise of the Somali Republic.

Finally, we should not be held hostage to the notion of a Greater Somalia. Somaliland should not be blackmailed into reuniting with the South while Djibouti is sovereign and the Ogaden is still part of Ethiopia and some of Somalia is known as the North Eastern Province of Kenya.

It is disappointing that today our people are portrayed as power thirsty secessionists, when in fact Somaliland was built on the premise of freedom and equality for all. And Somalilanders were the first to extend their hand (and flag) to the ill-fated union. Prophet Mohamed, Peace Be Upon Him, taught us that: “A believer is not bitten from the same hole twice’’. So, before even considering another unity there should be an acknowledgment of the wrongs committed against us which would be the first step in reconciliation. The next step would be to find an answer to the question: How can a unity with the failed state of Somalia benefit the thriving democratic Somaliland?

Regardless of our country’s lack of international recognition, we remain very hopeful. For both those outside (The Diaspora) and those inside, Somaliland represents freedom, hope and prosperity.


Khadija Abdillahi Sheikh

Follow her on twitter: @k_asheikh


  1. A magnificent piece of work, so eloquently put, a welcomed relief from the usual barrage of partisan articles, I am proud to say I too am #generationsomaliland

  2. Well said. I am a Kenyan but my roots can be traced to SLND. My grandpa moved from Buula Xaar to Kenya. I still have family from both my father and mother's side in SLND..I feel I am a #somalilander

  3. I hope Somaliland becomes the first Secular Democractic Republic in Africa, I hope that its leaders have the courage and foresight to put forward a plan to educate future generations by building schools that encourage critical thinking, science, math, the humanities, logic and comparative religion.

    I hope that Somaliland leaders have the courage and foresight to build the infrastructure of the country, I hope they have the courage to invest in renewable energy, I hope the have the courage to put aside horrible cultural practices like FGM, I hope they have the courage and foresight to invest in the healthcare of the nation. I hope they have the courage and foresight to build a real future for our people.

    I chose to support Somaliland not bc I am ethnically from it but bc it shows the best sign of any of these coming true. I dont see any other Somali area dont licky squat towards any of these but Somaliland is trying no matter how slow it seems now

  4. Let us all cheer my country men. I am a proud Somalilander too, but that require us to work hard and help build our Motherland in the best way we know how!

    • wow pain pain my uncle was killed in 1988 his house was bomb i feel ur pain Khadija

  5. Well defined piece of unrealized stories Somaliland youth need to envisage and preserve their imagination whenever recognition of their home country is at stake!

  6. Well defined piece of unrealized stories #Somaliland youth need to envisage and preserve their imagination whenever recognition of their home country is at stake!

  7. Young generation Somaliland or the lost generation will be forever known for their weird, fake separatist ideology.
    Their lack of education,
    their aimlessness floating around,
    their country less destitutes etc

    • An old Somaliland saying goes: Allow not a 20 year old HJ youth confront a 50 year old Dhulbahante man at Ainaba's well.
      The 20 year old was born while HJ owned Ainaba's well while the 50 year old man was also born while Dhulbahante owned and controlled the well.
      It is the reality on the ground that counts. Today's Somaliland youth were born with Somaliland flag flying high all over Somaliland. A reality they will never reverse. Live with it. NO Pun intended.

  8. Exceptional price of art – Don't worry mate the days of recognition is coming to nearer day by day and I am sure as long as we are competing over the transformation of our roads and changing the lives of our younger generations and continue to recognise ourself. The world recognition will follow soon.
    I am proud Somalilander and will die to be Somalilander.

  9. Khadija put many of us to shame. Let us start defending our values, our nationhood and stop bickering over trivialities.

    Well done, Khadija. Your evocative words so move us all!

  10. Khadija well done dear,
    This article really moved me as if I feel your pain and believe me I do. That image of your uncle taken to his death should be engrained in our minds and our children’s. One of the thousands of untold stories about what the Southern have done to Somalilanders. Have you notice their all of a sudden false patriotism and pride of nationalism? What most of them failed to understand is ; every conceivable simple they showcase or brag about belongs to Somaliland
    1) The blue flag
    2) Currency
    3) National simples such as the emblem
    4) The post stamp …etc.
    One can truly argue Somaliland brought you Prime mates/knuckle draggers in to being by providing you with an identity, no wonder you're holding on to it. They will never be fair and reasonable about anything. Every horrible thing under the sun is glorified and lionized in their culture such theft, lying swindling, knifing misrepresenting. Somalilanders should always keep an eye on them and be vigilant about their ill intensions and deep perverted hatred about our noble culture and way of living
    Proud Somalilander forever

    • 1) The blue flag
      2) Currency
      3) National simples such as the emblem
      4) The post stamp …etc.

      Originated from Somaliland unless you mean the Italian Somaliland, you must be kidding!!
      1) The blue flag – 1554 cawaale designed based on UN when Somalia was under UN trust territory
      2) Currency – During british military admin of the south
      3) National simples such as the emblem – Italian based on the upper and lower jubba tigers 1954
      4) The post stamp …etc. as far back as 20's 30's postal stamps bearing Mogadishu architect is in collections

      The fact remains fact that Somalia was once great!

    • @Rashid
      the dirty blue flag was not ours, it belonged to southern and our grandfathers excepted unconditionally.
      May allah give jannah . we will never forget them Somaliland forever.

  11. Khadija,

    This piece is an absolutely eloquent and highly endearing thought. I am not one who yearns for an apology after the fact, and I am not one who is eager for a revenge, even though I lost few members of my family, including a doctor of medicine, nonetheless, I NEVER want to see the same blunders our leaders made in 1960…….Long live Somaliland.

  12. if you truly wish to know more about generation Somaliland take the time to view this video – It right there in front of you – all if t. Thanks Khadija

  13. First of all I doubt the man being tied up would like Somaliland to be a secular democratic nation considering his Islamist leanings from what you mentioned, however, him being killed for his beliefs is not something I support.

    Somaliland needs to move away from both Islamist (Theocractic Rule in any form) and Dictatorships period.

  14. This is a good article Khadija.

    As a non-Somali I find the concept of Somaliland to be very appealing. Indeed Somaliland has made massive steps forward against the odds.

    However, I question the common narrative that Somaliland is of one mind. What about those non-Isaaq clans to the east and west who would rather be part of Somalia? Is Somaliland not simply a one-clan region, further encouraging the 'qabyaalada' you speak of? In the last year even this one clan has shown deep divisions along clan lines especially HY, IM & Arab clans seemingly disenfranchised and not as pro-Somaliland as before.

    I would be interested in an intellectual response to these thoughts rather than the bitter responses that are often seen here.

    • The writer described the algorithm that bond the Somalis living on the Somali Peninsula and highlighted how the objective was ruined by the dictator ruler followed by the pull back from the union that benefited Somaliland. I guess the beneficiaries of Somaliland “Mr. Fugitive Guest” are not only the people in the corridor but those on the sides as well. The Socio-economic thrive is obvious and all of that thrive began from the grass roots. The time for Super Powers installing dictators with arms and ideologies is over. Don’t forget relaying on the local farms in our backyards, rural – urban life system and the mere resources of our own will be the lasting peace. In your judgment Just obey the gravity don’t try leaning against it. That is what made the nation’s geography of Somaliland and everyone gets their fair contribution from it. It is the simple economic rule of demand and supply “Economy 101”.

    • What of all the Somalis in Ethiopia who do not wish to be part of Ethiopia?

      What of the Somalis in Kenya who do not wish to be part of Kenya?

      I believe Khadija has already answered your questions and you failed to understand the contents of her post.

      90% of the Clans within Somaliland are represented within a democratic political system i doubt that can be said about the other 56-African states on the continent.

      Below is a Map of African Democratic states… Although unrecognized Somaliland is one of 9-states considered a flawed-democracy.

      Imagine what could have been achieve had Somaliland-Republic received it's right to be a full member of the international community?

      Perhaps the only FULL-Democracy in Africa??? we will never know….

  15. Indeed, I heard about the story of the 10 sheiks murdered by the former regime. Putting a personal narrative to the event hits the mark. Consequently, Somalia was never the same, a curse bestowed by the old regime that will take some time to undo.

  16. My intention was to share a story of a loss, I believe many Somalilanders can relate to. I want to add that just because one is pro-Somaliland doesn’t mean they are anti-Somalia. We can coexist as separate entities and harbor no animosity towards each other.

    Thank you all for your kind comments.

  17. Also the picture posted is misleading. That is not Sheikh Ahmed Sheikh Mohamed Walaaleeye.