Any reader may wonder if anything other than piracy, warlords tussle and the sound of bombs can ever come from Somalia.

Such negative perception of Somalia is understandable if one is to refuse the de facto break-up of Somalia into two disparate parts that have had paradoxically different trajectories since 1990. Prof Iqbal Jhazbay’s recent book, Somaliland: An African Struggle for Nationhood and International Recognition, deals with that part that has attracted huge academic interest but little media attention. In this study, Prof Jhazbhay provides us with a detailed analysis of a part of former Somalia that ironically seems to escape international attention for doing well.

He takes us through a historical journey of the internal struggles in what was viewed as the most successful attempt at re-drawing of colonial demarcation at independence. From a brief history of the genesis of Somaliland alienation from the union project to its unique liberation movement that set the stage for the move from insurgency to clan-based democracy, Jhazbhay provides an interesting academic analysis of Somaliland’s effort to re-establish an independent nation-state.

He also reviews in broader detail the import of its colonial legacy and powerful clan structures on the reconciliation process and the role of its diaspora in providing an important cushion to the minimal support it receives from the international community for its reconstruction process. It is a classic analysis of how a society can retract itself from chaos and establish a relevant and rooted social contract. While the rest of Somalia seems to have failed to move forward from Hobbesian chaos, Somaliland’s remarkable success is rooted in its bottom-up approach that has employed local traditional norms and structures.

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The descriptive analysis gives us adoptable format to execute a social contract where such is required. Although Prof Ali Mazrui suggests in his foreward to the book, that the study significantly contributes to our understanding of the Somali predicament, I am of the view that in terms of its theoretical contribution, there are bits where most African post-conflict societies can reflect on and even find useful and relevant, to their own progression. As an academic and activist with wide connection with continental actors, his analysis of the external factors constraining Somaliland’s aspiration for international legitimacy provides those interested with African diplomacy a mine full of geo-political intricacies. This is not to mention the very interesting analysis of the interaction between disintegrating forces with the paradigm change on integration of the African continent. Closer home, the relevance of this study to our post-election reconciliation process is what he terms “quadrilateral framework” that constitutes, inter alia, reconciliation and reconstruction.

Business as usual in Hargeisa

The analysis of the bottom-up process of Somaliland reconciliation and reconstruction as central variables in acquiring lasting peace can be of significant value to our policy makers if we are serious on ensuring a continued inter-communal peace in affected areas. The public tussles between the top political actors in gatherings that are purporting to be facilitating communal reconciliation fall far short of the professor’s description of the bottom-up approach rooted in local tradition successfully employed by Somaliland.

Rift Valley will not be healed by the establishment of a flimsy political alliance of personalities but rather an elaborate interaction of the communities concerned and a honest and serious commitment by the government in the reconstruction of the economic lives of those affected. A public dance of political heavy weights or knee-jerk fundraising will never constitute reconciliation and reconstruction of the volatile region. I am of the view that whoever is interested in deep-rooted reconciliation and reconstruction of a polity such as the inhabitants of the Rift Valley, Jhazbhay’s study is a must-read.

PDF: Click here

Source: Sunday Nation


  1. lets not forget that half of AL SHABBAB formations are from somaliland region including the three senior leaders, my dear somali people our problems are intertwined unless we come together to solve these problems we will never succeed and our enamy will always use that against us, allot of love to all somali people from djibouti to ras kambooni

  2. Alshabaab is a terrorist group and finding few of them from Pakistan doesn't mean Pakistan and Somalia are one. They are international and have members in a number of countries.

    I'm still waiting to get a copy of the book but the reviews i'm reading are giving me good ideas of the book. Thank you Prof. Iqbal for your efforts to find and spread the truth.

  3. Top Al-shabab might have hailed from Somaliland it only proves that Somalilanders are the only Somalis capable of creating a powerful group or authority, the rest cant even bring two people together to work for a common goal.

    Al Shabab leaders like Ahmed Godane fled from Somaliland because he knows he will not get support but understands how naive the people in the south are.

    If Ahmed Godane is captured alive, we want him returned to Somaliland and no he will not be handed to no America – he is still a family but must be put behind bars.

  4. To abdi,

    No body is gonna come to rescue unless u sort your mess out. DO NOT tell me as a somalilander "yeah please lets come together and solve out problems out". I dont think we share any problems together but i believe we can sort our prolems out seperately as we as osmaliland did on our own without help, why couldn't you? All you as southern somalis good at is being an evious and hypocrisy towards somalilanders.

    If i was from southern somalia, i wouldn't come to this website and make comments about another place knowing my situation, but the difference between myself and u is the dignity and values. U dont posses non but i do.

    Viva somaliland

  5. People should understand that Prof Iqbal Jhazbay is a paid consultant by the secessionist Somaliland. He is also married to a South African national whose parents originate from Northern Somalia. So he has 2 strategies here: 1) To continue milking the donor's money from the corrupt Somaliland administrations. I mean donor because most of the funds that secessionist Somaliland government operates is provided by the international donor's money. 2) To get oil and mineral contracts favorably after his mission of breaking Somalia ito several entities is fulfilled (inshallah it will never happen). It is plain simple personal interest that this fella is pursuing.

    What many seccesionists donot know is they are already a defacto territory occupied by Ethiopia while they are running away from their fellow country men and women, Somalis!

    • Secessionists today, secessionists tomorrow, secessionists forever. Deal with it and move on. Stop crying after us.

  6. People in the south should know that they need to help themselves. First help yourselves, then worry about Somali Weyn. Somalilanders are not better but they tried to help themselves. You have better land and more population than Somaliland. You don't need Somaliland because if you all come togather you can defend you country from Etho.

    Somaliland is controlled by Ethopia and they think they wouldn't servive without them. If your own brother don't want to help himself, you may help him out for a while but not upto the point that you manage his daily life. Yes, we are very worry and want you to recover but decission is yours.

    We support Somaliland since they help themselves and if they go back to same old Somali clan base, forget it. This is how you would know who support clan base idea. If we are this clan, we don't care others. All Somalis are belong to clans and no clan that is better than other. People are equal before Allah. Whatever you do don't mixed Clan and Country just pick the want you like and stay with it.

  7. Hassan

    You are totally off the mark. Prof. Iqbal Jhazbhay is a South African married to a South African.

    So, try your luck elsewhere and get your facts correct. The book is an academic text, reviewed positively by scholars such as Prof Hussein Adam and Prof Ali Mazrui. Adam refers to it as ‘highly-original’ and Mazrui calls it ‘a major scholarly success’


    You will do yourself a favour, by googling, the reviews of this book and to judege the book on its academic merit. Engage the ball.