The Horn of Africa is often described as dangerous, unsafe, affected by violent conflict with a high level of criminality and a strong presence terrorism (Al-Shabab). And yet, this region also hides one of the most peaceful, stable, and secure territories in Africa for over thirty years: the Republic of Somaliland. The Republic of Somaliland is a de facto state located in the Horn of Africa, in the northern part of historical Somalia. It withdrew from the union with the Republic of Somalia to declare its right to self-determination and became independent on the 18th of May 1991.
Created in 2015 by 4 friends, Thomas Brag, Ammar Kandil, Matt Dajer, and Derin Emre, Yes Theory is an American digital media brand that promotes foreign cultures in a “fresh and authentic way” on their social media platforms, including YouTube, where they accumulated a following of 8.1 million subscribers. In their recent YouTube documentary entitled “Dark secrets of a country that doesn’t exist”, the group of friends decided to share the culture, history, and traditions of the territory while shedding the light on the political situation of Somaliland.
Indeed, the Republic of Somaliland has managed to successfully transition into peace and state reconstruction, drawing on several forms of leadership and legitimate authority, in stark contrast to its neighboring country of Somalia. The country currently has a functioning political and legislative system including democratic elections thus making it stable. But despite meeting the criteria for statehood, reaching peace, stability, social protection, economic growth and complying to all international rules, the Republic of Somaliland is still awaiting for international recognition, making the territory invisible for all the successes it has achieved since de facto independence.
Throughout the documentary, Yes Theory cleared out the confusion between Somalia and Somaliland by breaking all the preconceptions of Somaliland being an unsafe, violent and dangerous territory. They rather showed a welcoming and secure country where the people are attached to their history and traditions. For instance, he showed Somaliland’s level of trust and safety in their institutions, as seen through the Somaliland system of money exchange which happens on the sidewalks. The local also added, “The currency exchange market is one of the oldest, most beautiful traditions and displays of honesty [as] people go to payers, leave their money there and they come back and the money is still there”.
Dr. Edna Adan Ismail, former Foreign minister of Somaliland, director of Edna Adan Hospital, and President of the Unrepresented Nations and People’s Organization was also interviewed in the documentary to further inform about the case of Somaliland as an unrecognized but peaceful state. She also emphasized the cultural differences between the two states, the unfair reality of Somaliland being a safe but invisible state in the eyes of the global perspective whereas Somalia’s regime in Mogadishu is “rewarded” with attention by development and human rights activists for being a failed state. She also finishes by giving hope and strength for Somaliland’s future.