Somaliland: In Search of Recognition
Somaliland is a democratic state with a well functioning government, yet remains frustrated in its quest for the international recognition its people feel they deserve.
Below are extracts from an article written by Greg Mills and published by Business Day:
IN A recent article, author Bashir Goth observes of that rump of what was previously
One of the first acts of
Divvied up at the 1885 Congress of Berlin between the colonialists according to ethnic loyalties, rivers, mountains, perceptions, interpretations, royal European relationships, alliances, whims and follies, these borders were inherited unquestioningly by the new leadership of Africa. For even though the political and economic chaos of post-independence Africa illustrated just how unworkable the borders could be, the moratorium safeguarded the weak territorial control of the continent’s states from covetous neighbours and fissile internal politics.
But 50 years on, how realistic is this, given the difficulty Africa’s bigger states have in managing their territories, cracks in the fac ades of national ethos and institutions, and the backdrop of the breakup of the former East bloc and Soviet Union?
And if politically feasible, what are the likely candidates for new borders and states?
One problem with African states is relative underpopulation or, put differently, the unevenness of its population concentrations. There are large areas of very few people, while some places, such as
Those opposed to attempts to revisit
If one accepts that Africa’s problems have stemmed in large part from the failure of governance, especially over large territories, and the related inability to manage differences of religion, race and ethnicity, then alternative forms of state formation remain a viable option, perhaps nowhere more than in Africa’s big states — Congo, Sudan and Nigeria.
Bashir Goth observes that “Somalilanders know that we neither have the political clout nor the alliance of the willing to support our cause”. A functioning Islamic democracy,
The irony for Somalilanders is that their country — the colonial British Somaliland — was briefly internationally recognised for four days in 1960, before Hargeisa agreed to join forces with the (formerly Italian) Somali Republic to form Somalia. While they do not thus technically represent the thin edge of the recognition wedge for Africa, they are, for the moment, a political symbol and catalyst for a long overdue debate — about whether redrawing or maintaining