By: Yusuf M Hasan
ARABSIYO (Somaliland sun) – Though failed the impact of a visit to Gabile in Quest of performing Friday prayers as an ordinary citizen by president Ahmed Mahmud Silanyo remains to date.
On the 12th October 2012 president Silanyo accompanied only by Police commissioner Brigadier Abdilahi Fadal, his then presidency minister Hirsi Haji Ali and former head of his personal security Gen Feisal entered Gabile town unannounced and without usual pomp that accompanies a presidential visit anywhere.
But upon entering the main mosque for Friday prayers, fidgeting started amongst the faithful after they noticed somebody resembling their head of state but unsure in lieu of absent large retinue of government heads, assistants, assistants to assistants and security guards.
Though mosques are usual silent during prayers on that Friday of October if a pin dropped at the Gabile one everybody would have heard it both inside and outside due to the amazement induced silence.
For many like 17 years old Mumin the day remains etched in his mind and as he told Somaliland sun events that saw him pray a few feet to the president of Somaliland are retold to various listeners more so from the rural areas of Arabsiyo who perceive him as blessed.
After prayers the now certain faithful with full access mobbed their head of state without being manhandled by the usual busy-bees composed of assistants, assistants to assistants and security guards and a strange request was made.
The request coming upon completing exchange of greetings and well-wishes with the formerly astounded residents now fully recovered from their shock of seeing their head of state devoid of usual retinue of presidential guards was unanimously “President kindly intervene at the Mass Graves in Arabsiyo”.
The problem the residents wanted to have the president interfere in was in relation to the damage caused to the graves over the years that has resulted in exposure of victims skeletons occasioned by soil erosion.
President Silanyo though a politician used to large receptions by his constituents and visibly in turn astounded by a simple request to visit Mass Graves rather than usual demands for a road there, school here and hospital here and there, agreed to visit the mass graves and see the anomaly.
upon arrival in Arabsiyo The large number of Gabile residents now forming the official entourage took the president to the town’s cemetery where the regime of Dictator Siyad Barre used as a mass graves for Somalilanders butchered by his army during the 80’s and a formerly jovial president turned ashen faced upon observing the pieces of bones protruding from now open graves.
Though the cemetery has for over two decades withstood the tide of time and managed to contain its cargo load of haphazardly buried occupants in some instances over 20 to a 4X4 graves, the continuous pounding of the rains and subsequent erosion of soil had resulted in the horrid mess of then human skeletons exposure.
On the spot consultations ensued with president Silanyo ordering an immediate construction of a wall geared towards the deterrence of soil erosion that was fully funded by the central government in figures yet to be disclosed nor has disclosure been sought by any considering the then existing emergency.
The expedited construction of a stone wall on the edges of the valley bordering the mass graves, subsequent covering of the exposed human skeletons and graves refilling stands perfect to date gratitude’s going to president Silanyo for fast action and the residents of Arabsiyo who continue to keep a hawk-eyed watch.
The site has also benefited from the expertise of the Peruvian forensic anthropology team known as Equipo Peruano de Antropologia Forense (EPAF) whose work continues to not only help unearth mass graves but the proper reburial of victims.
Just as Somalilandsun concluded during its first spot check we still maintain that the protection of the Arabsiyo mass graves though small time to many is one of the most tangible acts by President Ahmed Mahmud Silanyo.
A second spot check by Somalilandsun revealed that the embankments undertaken by local residents has withstood and the graves are secure thence acknowledge that contrary to the believe that all administrators in every country on earth tend to be out of touch with what matters most to the governed the Silanyo act in Arabsiyo puts him ahead of his compatriots.
But the irony is residents of Arabsiyo continue to wonder why reports of development achievements garnered by the/Silanyo administration in its over five years in office repeatedly fail to mention the graves protection works that they believe is among the best of Silanyo’s tenure so far.
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