Somaliland’s 64th Anniversary 1960-2024

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On Wednesday, Somaliland is celebrating its 64th anniversary of independence from Britain on 26th June 1960. It was 64 years ago when Britain granted us our independence. This ended 76 years of being under British protection (1884-1960).

The celebration of the important event will be attended by Somaliland government officials led by the president. It is the day the president his Excellency Muse Bihi Abdi addresses the Somaliland nation and shares with them the value of this day and the long journey that the country has gone through to gain independence.

It is important to clarify that this week starting from June 26, there are generally significant and valuable days for Somalilanders. Six million Somalilanders including hundreds of thousands more in Diaspora are celebrating their Independence in our home country. Somaliland Diaspora played an important role in all the different struggles Somaliland has been through to achieve its independence.

Somaliland must not be confused with Somalia or with Djibouti. Somaliland has been a distinct country with its distinct history for centuries and since modern history of Africa had began with the demarcation of colonial borders.

As we know, the majority of the population of Somaliland who are now living in Somaliland did not witness independence gained in 1960. It can be said that 2/3 of the population of Somaliland are people born after 1991 when Somaliland regained its independence from Somalia. Therefore, the younger generations of Somaliland must know that Somaliland was never under the British colony, but it was under the protectorate administration. During this period, the administration situation in Somaliland was very much different from other territories where Somalis live. For example, Italy and France have implemented a colonial system in Somalia and Djibouti.

What are the things we remember on our Independence Day?

This day has its memories that are considered by the people of Somaliland. June 26, 1960, reminds the people of Somaliland that they became the 12th country in Africa and gained its independence from Britain. It is a history that shows that the existence and independence of Somaliland are older than most of the countries of the African continent.

As a nation, we have to be grateful and remember all those who sacrificed their lives to achieve Somaliland’s independence. These people included business community, faith and traditional leaders and ordinary men and women of different ages.

On the occasion of June 26, Somalilanders should be thankful and remember the days and memories that our youth need to be aware of:

First of all, from the earliest time when the protectorate system started, the people of Somaliland have been on a long journey with their challenges and difficulties. They have shown resilience towards the circumstances they have been through. Traditional leaders had a great role in the internal affairs of Somaliland, and they had a great influence on People’s lives and their culture. The role of traditional leaders was important, and it was a role that the people needed whether they were in a peaceful or conflict situation. The most important task of the traditional leaders during the time of the protectorate administration was to bring closer the relationship between people and also to build trust between communities. They were always representing the interests of their country and making sure Somaliland clans lived together in peace. Traditional leaders, including elders representing different clans in Somaliland, were the ones who agreed with the British Government to establish Somaliland as a protectorate with its own borders.

Second, we must remember, on a day like this, all the patriots who fought for Somaliland’s independence. We cannot mention them all in this short note. Sayid Mohamed Abdulla Hassan who led Darawish fighters, their struggle took 20 years. The movement and resistance of the Darawish were based in Taleh (Sool region of Somaliland). The struggle of Sayid Mohmed and his fighters influenced society to be ready to participate in the struggle for independence.  We cannot forget other heroes who fought for the independence of Somaliland such as Sheikh BashirFarah Omar and other comrades who were fighting alongside them.

We should also appreciate other Somaliland movements who fight for the independence of Somaliland. SNS (Somaliland National Society) was the first movement that was announced in Buroa in 1945. As Somaliland historians have mentioned, this movement was mainly created to make the community aware of the problems of tribalism and for the community to live together in peace and tranquility.

SNL (Somali National League) was a political organization founded in Buroa in 1951. The objectives of SNL were based on a political movement aimed directly at Somaliland’s independence from Britain. The founders of this movement and its thousands of members contributed to the fight and struggle for independence. Among the other historical events that mark this day is to remember other pro-independence groups in Somaliland. We can take as an example USP (United Somali Party), NUF(National United Front) and Hesbollah. Although these political groups were working on different agendas, they were united in the goal of achieving Somaliland’s independence.

On this day, we remember the institutions Somaliland established before the union, such as the legislative assembly, which consisted of 33 seats. It was the first parliament that Somaliland had as a state before the union. We remember a day like this when we shared our excitement and freedom with the other countries of the world on 26 June 1960.

It is the day Somaliland was officially recognised by 35 countries, including all five permanent members of the UN Security Council. We also remember our first Somaliland cabinet whose names were: 1. Mohamed Ibrahim Egal (Prime Minister) 2. Garad Ali Jama (Minister) 3. Ahmed Haji Duale (Keyse) (Minister) 4. Haji Yusuf Iman (Minister) 5. Haji Ibrahim Nur (Minister).

Today, 64 years ago, we also remember the concept of unifying Somalis under the Greater Somalia dream. This is why Somaliland formed a union with Somalia four days after its independence. As stated by the people who are knowledgeable about international laws, that union was not based on agreements that are signed when two countries form a union, therefore there was no act of union signed together by Somaliland and Somalia.

Today is a special day in the history of Somaliland. It is the day we remember poems such as Abdillahi Sultan Tima-caddeAbdi Iidaan etc. Poems that were presented during Independence Day were those that expressed or elaborated the value of Independence Day. We also cannot forget the artists who created our most precious songs on Independence Day: Ismail CagafAli suguleAbdillahi Qarshe, Hussein Aw-FarahSahardiid Maxamed (jebiye)Yusuf Haji AdanAbdi Muhumed AmiinHassan Sheikh MuuminAhmed Ismail Diriye(Qasim), Maxamed Ismail (Barkhad Cas) and others. Their heir literature, poems, songs and music have influenced Somalilanders to become more patriots.

The songs composed at the time of Somaliland’s independence are memorable. Listening to these songs is very enjoyable to listen to. The lyrics of these songs show the unity of the people of Somaliland and their struggle during the independence time. These are the songs sung by: Mohamed Saleebaan TubeecMohamed Ahmed KulucMohamed YussufGuduudo ArwoMagoolMaandeeq, BaxsanOmer Dhuule, Maxamed Adan (Dacar), Cismaan Gacanlaw etc.

Third, it is important to point out the disappointment and the frustration of the Somaliland people. Immediately after the union, they faced injustice and oppression under the successive governments of Somalia. This issue hurt the people of Somaliland, which led to the failed coup that was initiated by junior officers from Somaliland in 1961. The purpose of the coup was to restore the independence of Somaliland. Therefore, on this day, we remember all 23 officers who made sacrifices for their country. We especially remember Abdillahi Said Abby who was killed in the coup confrontation

Fourth, it is also very important to mention that as a result of the oppression, torture, and killing of thousands of the people of Somaliland, the SNM (Somali National Movement) was formed in London in 1981. After a long struggle, Siad Barre’s forces were defeated. The sovereignty of Somaliland was restored on the 18th of May 1991. The two celebration days of May 18 and June 26 have a historical connection. The celebration of 18th May is (regaining sovereignty Day) and the 26 June is (Independence Day). Both of them are national days.

Fifth, we also remember and are grateful for the state and the system we have rebuilt since 1991. What we have accomplished is something we and other nations in the region as a whole should be proud of. Our young people need to study and reflect on the long journey we have gone through. We, finally remember all the leadership of the successive Somaliland governments and the progress they have achieved and also reflect on the setbacks faced.

Finally, as we celebrate Somaliland’s 64th anniversary, the challenges we are facing today are huge. Because of the MOU agreement between Somaliland and Ethiopia, Somaliland’s neighbors have created a diplomatic war against Somaliland since January 2024. The hostility of these two countries is increasing day by day. The November 13 election is one of the other challenges ahead. What we need today is to strengthen our unity and togetherness so that we as a nation can peacefully overcome all the challenges that are in front of us.

I wish you a happy and successful celebration

Abdirahman Abdillahi Jibril (Awliyo)

Email: jabdi35@yahoo.com

 

Rerefernce:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Somaliland_independence_26_June_1960.jpg: accessed 24/06/2024

Boobe Yusuf Duale (60 sano ka dib xoriyadda: Sooyaalkii Xisbigii SNL ee 1960-kii – BBC News Somali:

https://www.bbc.com/somali/war-53190048 (Last accessed 23 June 2024)

Abdirahman Abdillahi Jibril (18 May 2021) Somaliland-30th-anniversary-2021-pdf-new.pdf (horndiplomat.com) accessed 25 June 2024

Brock Millman (2014) British Somaliland an administrative history, 1920-1960: Routledge in Middle Eastern Histor

Colonial Office (1960) Report of the Somaliland protectorate constitutional conference

http://www.somalilandlaw.com/state-of-somaliland-1960.htm: last accessed 21 June 2024