THT- The history of Somaliland, a region of the eastern Horn of Africa bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Aden, and the East African land mass, begins with human habitation tens of thousands of years ago. It includes the civilizations of Punt, the Ottomans, and colonial influences from Europe and the Middle East.
The Somaliland coastal town of Berbera which hosts its main port is an old ottoman dweling and administrative area that has many buildings in ruins as proof.
Though in ruins most of them are inhabited by very welcoming people while others have been rehabilitated.
Formerly a British colony, Somaliland briefly reached its independence in 1960 followed by a voluntary later turned fateful union with Somalia a former Italian colony.
Somaliland proclaimed its independence in 1991, adopting its own currency, a fully independent government, working institutions and police. The authorities organized a referendum in 2001, advocating once again for full independence.
Historically imperialists have long coveted Somaliland’s coast. Nowadays visitors to Berbera, its main port, can stroll from an old Russian turned American turned UAE air base, pass a clutch of buildings where the British ran the territory from the late 19th century until independence in 1960, then trundle on to Moscow Village, where Russian technicians were billeted in the era when Somaliland was absorbed into Somalia, and the Soviet Union was its key ally.
But imperialists come and go. It was the Ottoman Turks, lording it centuries before the British, who have left the finest architectural mark. Their limestone villas, with arched colonnades and latticed windows, still line Berbera’s unkempt streets. Whitewashed mosques and even a synagogue can be glimpsed down its alleys.
The port of Zeila, north-west of Berbera, also hosts a crumbling seventh-century mosque from the Ottoman Era.
By: Yusuf M Hasan