Somaliland and Kenya have historical relations starting with the creation of Nairobi where Somaliland Camel Corps (SCC) provided protection to the engineers and architects during the design phase of the city. The SCC soldiers were first to settle today’s Eastleigh, which is suburb of Nairobi.
Lord Delamere traveled overland from British Somaliland with SCC. These Somalis were headmen of the caravans acting as interpreters and guides Lord Delamere. Most of these Somalis with their families moved from British Somaliland to Kenya and were engaged in livestock trading, squatting on the farms of Lord Delamere where they were in constant conflicts with the White settlers.
Luckily Delamere was elected as the Governor, he had a soft spot for the Somalis. It was after his death in 1931 that the European settlers turned the tables on the Somalis, driving them and their cattle from Laikipia district where they had made a great fortune from stock trading. These Somalis who were always at loggerheads with each other and the Colonial administration, moved to the urban centers and towns, Nairobi and Isiolo carrying the biggest population. It is from these areas that they started their agitation for equal rights with the Asians, a move that will cost them to be labeled as Aliens and non-citizens of Kenya.
They were the Isaak and Herti tribes of British Somaliland who could speak English, Arabic, Swahili and later the Masai and Kikuyu languages. Some had traveled earlier to Europe and Asia where they acquired the knowledge of commerce and warfare. The Herti Somali tribes were the Dulbahanta, Majertaen and Warsangeli, combining with the Marehan and Ogaden to form the Darod; while the second and third major groupings of the Somali nation were the Hawiye and Dir.
The Isaak and Herti were employed as interpreters and soldiers by the British colonialists in the areas of Northern Frontier Province of Kenya (NFD). Their Somali cousins there were illiterate nomads engaged in cattle raiding and tribal wars for territories with water and pasture for their animals.
After independence of British Somaliland on 26th June 1960, the Somaliland united with Somalia on 1st July 1960, in which Somalilanders describe as “Original Sin”. The union created new state called Somali Republic with Mogadishu its capital.
This unity aimed to bring all Somali-speakers under one regime a.k.a “Greater Somali” which combines NFD, 5th Region of Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somaliland and Somalia. Mogadishu administration invaded Ethiopia to realize such “Greater Somali” dream and had diplomatic chaos with Kenya.
On 1979, former British Somaliland created an armed wing against Mogadishu regime, as the unity was not fruitful for Somalilanders. After 10+ years of armed struggle, Somalilanders were able to overthrow Siyad Barre regime of Mogadishu and reinstate the Republic of Somaliland (former British Somaliland) based on colonial border and according to 1964 OAU Charter.
Today, The Republic of Somaliland is free, democratic, peaceful, moderate and some described as ‘Africa’s best kept secret’. There are more than 18,000 Kenyans working in Somaliland including teachers, doctors, nurses and entrepreneurs. There are diplomatic missions for Ethiopia, Djibouti, Turkey and expecting Kenya to open embassy in Somaliland
In other hand, Republic of Somaliland has embassies in Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, UAE, USA, UK, South Sudan, Malaysia, France, Canada, China – Beijing, Yemen – Sanaa, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Turkey and Australia.
In last 27 years, Somaliland had elected municipalities, parliaments and five elected presidents who came on free and fair elections via multiparty system.
Somaliland is strong, safe and reliable business partner. The Dubai owned DP World invested $420 million in Berbera Port and is managing the port services. DP World is building 240 km start-of-art road that links Berbera Corridor to Ethiopia via Wajaale border town. Somaliland will able to handle 30% of Ethiopian imports and exports.
Ethiopian airline, fly Dubai, Emirates Airline and Air Arabia have direct daily flights to Somaliland’s Egal International Airports. Ethiopian airline listed Egal Airport as second highest airport in terms of revenue generation with more than 90,000 passengers in last summer. Ethiopian Airline operates two daily flights.
Somaliland has $500 million trade per year with Ethiopia. Somaliland exports different commodity items to Ethiopia; fish and salt are main exports to landlocked Ethiopia. Somaliland is rich in frankincense and exports to the Arabian Gulf, China and regional countries.
Somaliland exports more than 4 million heads of livestock to Saudi Arabia and UAE per year. About 70% of Somaliland population does livestock grazing mainly the camel, which makes Somaliland a country with highest camel population in the world.
Republic of Somaliland is based on 1964 OAU Charter which restores the colonial borders to avoid conflicts in Africa. Today’s Somaliland is within the borders of Former British Somaliland and accordingly Somaliland is eligible to be recognized just like Eretria. Somaliland is not the first country that withdrew from union, as Egypt and Syria united and disintegrated; South Sudan separated from Sudan; Eretria withdrew from Ethiopia; UK has the courage to allow Scotland to vote on referendum, and Scottish voted to remain within UK.
The regime in Mogadishu adopts the “Greater Somali” ideology which makes Somalia hostile to neighboring countries. The constitution of Somalia accepts all Somalis to be citizens of Somalia and this includes the citizens of Northern Regions of Kenya with Somali origin.
Somalia Constitution writes all Somalis across Kenya – NFD, Ethiopia – 5th Region, Djibouti, Somaliland and Somalia must be under Mogadishu administration because they do share language, religion, color and culture. Mogadishu failed to understand that ethnicity does not unite countries and communities but the interest.
22 Arab Countries share religion, language and culture but remain different countries; In Africa there are many who share everything just like Somalis in east Africa.
Kenya and Ethiopia should recognize Somaliland to end “Greater Somali” theory that is threat to the regional security and stability; this theory will continue to be danger to the region in the future. Somaliland will be strong and reliable business partner in the areas of education, trade, security, and diplomacy.
Today, Somaliland neighboring countries enjoy peaceful border while Kenya is suffering due to terrorists infiltrating across its border with Somalia.
Somaliland has homegrown anti-terror skills and defeated Al-Shabab in many occasions, which made Somaliland free from terrorism. Such skills will be useful for Kenya’s war against terrorism.
Kenyan Universities are currently operating in Somaliland; Kenya exports will have new friendly market.
In other hand, Somaliland will benefit from the qualified Kenyan manpower because Yemenis, Indians, Bengalis and Syrians provide skills that is not available in Somaliland.
The government of Kenya must diplomatically engage with Somaliland starting with opening an embassy in Hargeisa and recognizing it diplomatically for the sake of the abovementioned economic and diplomatic gains.
By\ Abdulaziz Al-Mutairi