By Samira Sawlani
Somalilandsun – New York based writer, journalist and filmmaker Sean Williams spent a number of years reporting from around the world. Having spent much of his time in the Middle- East he was constantly exposed to news from Sub- Saharan Africa, particularly developments in Somalia, Somaliland and the wider region.
In an interview the journalists told Somalilandsun that curiosity of the unrecognized country internationally acclaimed as “Africa’s Best Kept Secret” led him begin carrying out research into the various political, social, cultural and economic characteristics of the area which has resulted in a growing fascination with Somaliland that is directly related to his imminent exploration and film making expedition.
In order to explore this further he decided to travel to Hargeisa, not only to further develop his knowledge but to tell the world through his work the story of Somaliland and the challenges and opportunities faced by its people.
While in Hargeisa he hopes to speak with ex- patriots and those returning to Somaliland to set up businesses and invest in the country. He will be interviewing local business owners, entrepreneurs and investors in order to gauge an idea of the economic conditions and circumstances which they face.
Of course no journalist can travel to Somaliland without investigating the impact on the country of awaiting International recognition. Sean has set up meetings with local government authorities and officials in order to illustrate to the world how Somaliland is continuing to flourish despite the issues around recognition. Through these meetings he will also be providing Somalilanders with an opportunity to express any frustrations they may have due to the hindrances they face as a result of awaiting state recognition.
With the on field facilitation of Somalilandsun Mr Williams shall not only produce a documentary of the achievements garnered by the yet unrecognized republic of somaliland for airing by a number of major global TV channels but several articles for by publication worldwide.
On a personal level he says he “cannot see a reason why Somaliland does not qualify as an independent state. It meets the criteria of statehood as cited in the Montevideo convention.”
Aside from writing on domestic situations, the rumours that Al- Shabaab are heading towards Somaliland and Puntland after being forced out of Mogadishu by African Union forces is an area of concern which Sean will also be reporting on. Due to this he will be meeting with local anti terrorist organisations and have the opportunity to gain insight into the stability of such institutions and how Somaliland is preparing to deal with these threats.
The conflict in Somalia has long dominated the news coming from the region as has the constant debate over Somaliland gaining International recognition. Now is the time for the country and the region to make headlines for different reasons. Ultimately, the presence of journalists like Sean Williams in Somaliland will provide a platform for the world to hear more about how the country is flourishing and continuing to grow despite often facing adverse circumstances.
When asked about what expectations he has from his trip he says in an enthusiastic voice that he is “looking forward to it immensely and has heard much about how hospitable and friendly the people of Somaliland are.”
Having travelled and worked in other parts of the world, this is Sean’s first trip to Sub- Saharan Africa. His choosing to tell the story of Somaliland through his journalism is also a way to emphasise upon how the country is a separate entity from Somalia.
As Somaliland develops and the focus on investing in infrastructure continues to become priority, the challenge is no longer just about gaining recognition of independence from nation states, but for the general world population to gain awareness of the country. Ultimately this will only be made possible through the media and with the presence of journalists willing to tell stories, Somaliland will continue to hold its own place in the world.