Emily will be writing to Somalilandpress about her experience in Somaliland and will be offering tips to anyone who may want to visit the unrecognized republic along the way – discover Somaliland from a Non-Somali perspective. This is her fifth article – adopting their way.

First article: Click Here
Second article: Click here
Third Article: Click here
Fourth article: Click Here

Hargeisa, Jul 19 2009 (Somalilandpress) — I finally feel like I’m living the good life here in Hargeisa. It took a little while, but I’ve gotten used to calling people walaal [brother] and learned not to smile when negotiating a price since it foils my bargaining skills. I’ve adapted to changing my shower schedule to the afternoons when the power is off and I have all the time in the world, from the mornings when the water’s colder and I’m in a rush. From Borame to Berbera I have had the pleasure of swimming in the Gulf of Aden (wearing a dirac of course) and eating freshly plucked peppers which I didn’t know were spicy until my eyes welled with tears. Being here I have begun to feel more like an anthropologist than anything else. My favorite thing to do is hang out with whoever I can, and try to understand life here from their perspective.

The drive from Berbera to Hargeisa, a car stuck in the river.
The drive from Berbera to Hargeisa, a car stuck in the river.

I’ve also recently started taking Somali classes every day which I enjoy very much. Before coming here I had learned some Somali in the U.S. but at the time I didn’t realize how vastly different the dialects are in the south of Somalia versus in Somaliland and other regions. Most of my Somali friends back home are from the south, or as they call it here, “Xamar”. As a result, I speak using words from xamar, so people here that do understand me (and many do) like to tease me for it, and then a great many people just plain don’t understand some words which I worked hard to learn and have rendered themselves quite useless. Needless to say I now have a much better sense of the different dialects and also different clothes from different regions, so I’ve smartened up a bit.

A few weeks ago I stayed in the famous coastal town of Berbera, home to a huge port and as black and brown sand beaches whose shores host more camels than people. In Berbera I learned about the painful love story of Elmi and Hodan, and visited the bakery where Elmi used to work (“Father of Love Bakery”). Berbera felt peaceful, intensely hot and generally abandoned, so that the town was a sort of carcass of old buildings, rusted cars, and lackadaisical inhabitants.

Berbera's blue water
Berbera's blue water

I’ve had the chance to spend more time at the University of Hargeisa recently, and have included a picture here incase you’re curious. The students I’ve met are very eager and capable scholars and new programs are constantly developing. There is, however, a shortage of books in the library and for classes. Luckily online libraries help, but the classes are all held in English, the books need to be imported, and with no proper mail system here and the huge expense of DHL and Cargo for sending items, the lack of books is palpable. Nonetheless I have been very impressed with the caliber of the programs and curricula, and both the students and faculty are doing excellent and meaningful work. This weekend there is actually a literary festival here in Hargeisa which will feature poetry, theatre, and a book expo.
[ad#Google Adsense (200×90)]Hargeisauniversity02

If you want to learn more about Somali poetry and songs and the like, http://shunuuf.tripod.com/ has a huge collection of writings in both Somali and English.

All the best and thanks for reading!

Source: www.SomalilandPress.com


  1. I'm glade you are adopting to changes, that's the right thing to do, just as we adopt when we come to America, Americans should also try to adopt to other societies because the world isn't only America.

    Nice photos, I like the naso hablod photo with the SUV stuck in the river bed.

    • to Jubba. its not Naaso Hablood in the background of the pic with the SUV stuck in the river bed. Open ur eyes.

  2. Emily hi there.

    Yes indeed its great to see you exploring things the local ways. Very good, its learning experience so don't hold it back.

    You said something about books and how there is shortage, your absolutely right; I spoke to this American organisation before about delivering/donating books to Somaliland universities. They were happy to donate over 22, 000 volume of books but there was one problem, they told me someone had to pay for the shipment. This was a problem, so i forwarded the issue to Somaliland organisations, I'm still waiting on them.

    This is what they wrote to me:

    "There is a $1,500 surcharge on containers requesting more than 40% post secondary books. …requires the recipient group or their supporters to
    fundraise $9,800 for the shipping charges to Berbera port. Please note,
    the shipping costs do not include the port and clearance charges- those
    are the responsibility of the container recipient."

    If Somalilanders out there wish to raise these money, let me know do contact me. This roughly works out at $2.40 per book if you look at it that way. This is the problem with postal and shipment because I'm sure you can get similar price from a "wholesales" from China.

  3. well emily i know you fall love with somaliland really
    but i have a question how you will forwad the peace and stablite of somaliland in your country and also how you can take main part in seeking recognaze of somaliland?

    thank you for your caming in my home
    i very glad to welcom my country
    i like somaliland very like my parentis

  4. Hi Em,
    Wonderfull article once again, you seem to be exploring the country better then I did last summer. Nothing much has changed here in Boston except too much rain in July. Do not worry about missing camel meat because I now sell camel meat and hump in my store.

  5. Young Lander

    waxan idin waydiiyey.. waxani amaan ka badane,,waasidee xaaalku? tolow amaantan iyo Farxada inta leeg ma siin lahaydeen qof inaga inaga mida?

    waxay u eegatay meel kastaad tagtaan iyo wax kastoo aqoona ama wax barasho toona waxba idiin kordhin maayaan..
    Qadarintii dadka qalaad ayaa wali Galbiga idin huruda…..

    imisa qof oo inaga mida ayaa dalkii wax ka soo qora ama ka sheega… waxa amaanta iyo dhiiri gelinta ugala masuugtaan ayaan la yaabanahay..Cajiib

      • Waxaan sugayaa maalinta aan ka dhoofo Somaliland in qof idin ka mid ah in uu sii wado wax ka qorka Somaliland.

  6. Hi Emily,

    I always enjoy reading your thought-provoking article. Those of us who have student at the university of Hargeisa were especially grateful for the beautiful university scenery photoes in your article.

    I hope you the best,


  7. The country seems and indeed is one boring place but its good get away, change is good for any of us like Tupac once said 🙂

    I don't know if I can last two weeks in Somaliland, maybe in the country side when its wet season. Cities look nasty and boring.

    Thanks for the post Emily

  8. Em- So wonderful to see how you are thriving there. I'm so happy to see that the people of Somaliland love you as much as we love you here in the United States. I miss you.

  9. Hiya Em ( Amal) Great t o see both the learning of Somali language and the regional dialect that you are developing.. As an Anthropologist I can see your skills to develop enthnography of the everyday life of Somalilanders here in the Country..

    hope to see more account of this experience Young Lady lol