Enrolled as a (French) Ph.D. candidate at the University of Montréal in Canada, I have been in Hargeisa for two weeks to conduct fieldwork for my thesis. Though, it is not my first time in Somaliland. I came here in 2017. In broad terms, my research interests focus on pollical, economic and social issues between the Arab Gulf and the Horn of Africa. On the Horn side, I specifically look at Somaliland, Djibouti, and Ethiopia.
From 2017.. to 2022
I can only speak of Hargeisa where I have stayed. The city seems to grow at a fast pace. There are now more places to hang out, like cafés, restaurants, shops, etc. I heard many Somalilanders from the diaspora came back here in recent years, especially since the outbreak of Covid-19. I guess their investments, initiatives, and projects already contribute to further Somaliland’s development.
Last time I did not go out of the capital, but I travelled to Berbera for the first time this week. I really enjoyed my stay there. This city is astonishing. Open to the outside world with a brand-new port, the city’s past also jumps out at anyone walking downtown. Its Somali design pockmarked with Ottoman remnants offers an awesome sight. I wish I had more free time to travel around, to Burco, Borama, Saylac etc, Hopefully soon.
Experience in Somaliland
Somaliland’s potential is just incredible because of Somalilanders. All those I have had the chance to meet up with in my free time are bright people, brimming with projects and ideas to make this country strive. Also, I would say curiosity is what strikes me most here. I have had so many endless enriching discussions. And Somaliland is a safe place, including for researchers. Back where I am from, many still hardly believe there is such a place in the Horn.
At last, you should know that when I am conducting research, I seek to embed the place I am living in. For the past two weeks, I have tried to get a sense of the everyday life in Hargeisa. I must say that I enjoy it. I especially like the Jigjig yar area where my favourite restaurants and cafés are. At last, another activity I enjoy is strolling around to contemplate Hargeisa’s amazing, colourful wall paintings.
PhD Student, University of Montreal
GCC, Horn of Africa