Somaliland: The Danger of Redrawing African Colonial Borders

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Somaliland colonial boundaries

Somalilandsun- The political map of Africa that shows its independent countries had not been made by United Nations, by African Union, or by African nations. It is the result of the European Colonial Occupation that invaded African Continent at the end of the 19th century and divided it up into territories with colonial borders for their own political sphere of influence.

When leaving Africa, mainly in the 1960s, the Europeans based the independence and diplomatic recognition of all African emerging countries including Somaliland on their colonial borders inherited from the colonial powers. Thus, The United Nations, African Union, or African States did not draw the current borders of African States. All the borders of African independent states had been drawn by the colonial powers of Europe at the end of the 19th century, mainly during The Partition of Africa held in Berlin in 1884. The statehood, independence, and diplomatic recognition of each African State are based on its own colonial borders. Similarly, the statehood, independence, and the expected diplomatic recognition of Somaliland Republic will be based on its own colonial borders drawn during British Somaliland Protectorate era. Likewise, all the current borders of the Arab World [and the rest of Asia], as well as South America also emerged from colonial borders drawn mainly by Britain, France, and Spain and were all recognized too on their colonial borders.

Somaliland is located in the Horn of Africa. It lies between the 08°00′ – 11°30′ parallel North of the Equator and between 42°30′ – 49°00′ Meridian East of Greenwich. It is bordered by the Red Sea to the North, Djibouti to the West, Ethiopia to the South, and Somalia to the East. Somaliland has a coastline with the majority lying along the Gulf of Aden (Red Sea). The country is slightly larger than England, with an area of 137, 600 km² (53,100 sq miles) and with population around 3.5 millions.

According to the unique history of the continent of Africa, an African country is recognized as an independent nation when it meets or fulfills the following three requirements:

1. That it is colonized separately
2. That it has its own colonial borders
3. And that it has official proclamation of independence granted by the colonizing power on specific date

Somaliland has perfectly fulfilled the three required conditions to be recognized as independent country and that is why it was recognized on June 26, 1960 by the United Nations and many countries of the international community.

The borders of Somalia, Somaliland, and Djibouti have the same international status and legitimacy because they were all drawn by European Colonial powers. Anyone who opposes the legitimacy of Somaliland borders, its statehood, its independence, and its diplomatic recognition is challenging the borders and sovereignty of all African independent states (54 states) whose borders also rose from their colonial borders.

African borders are based on land only and not on lineage or clans. There are no clan borders or clan states in Africa or anywhere else in this world. There are only national land-based borders in Africa whose nations consist of many tribes or clans that share common borders and sovereignty. The following African clans clearly show of how same African clans are distributed over different countries. The inhabitance or residence of some African clans is as follows:

1. Fulani Clan: This clan inhabits in Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon etc.
2. Tuareg Clan: This clan has inhabitance in Senegal, Nigeria, Mali, Niger etc.
3. Lunda Clan: This clan inhabits in Congo, Zambia, and Angola.
4. Yoruba Clan: This clan has inhabitance in Nigeria, Benin, and Togo.
5. Maasai Clan: This clan resides in Kenya, and Tanzania.
6. Afar Clan: This clan inhabits in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti
7. Gabooye Clan: This clan inhabits in Somaliland, Somalia, Ethiopia
8. Berber Clan: This clan has inhabitance in Morroco, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria.
9. Isaaq Clan: This clan inhabits in Somaliland, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti
10. Samaroon Clan: This tribe inhabits in Somaliland, Ethiopia, and Djibouti.
11. Hawiye Clan: This clan inhabits in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia.
12. Darood Clan: This clan inhabits in Somalia, Somaliland, Kenya, Ethiopia
13. Rahanwein Clan: This clan has inhabitance in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
14. Essa Clan: This clan inhabits in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Somaliland.

The land of Harti People in Sool and Eastern Sanaag is located within Somaliland colonial borders. It is integral and inseparable part of independent Somaliland. Thus, there is no “disputed land or territories” in Somaliland. Somaliland does not accept the idea of “disputed land in Somaliland” as any other African country would not accept to call part of its territory “disputed land”. There is no country in Africa or in any other continent whose population is based on single clan or lineage as Puntland Administration of Somalia claims falsely. If the Organization of African Union does not respect and recognize Somaliland borders, emerging from colonial borders as any other African country, then the territorial integrity of each African country will be questionable and at risk of dispute and disintegration.

The internal security and peace of Africa rest on respecting, recognizing, and implementing its current borders that rose from colonial borders. If an African country would claim the clan and its land located in another African country, the continent would fall to endless devastating, bloody clan wars, violence and anarchy. The African continent would not exist as we know it today. The peace and stability of African states (or Asia and South America) depend on respecting and recognizing colonial borders.

African Union and African leaders claim that if Somaliland is recognized, it will shift or change the borders of current African independent states inherited from colonial powers leading to instability and political unrest in Africa. If that claim were true, why did not the recognition of South Sudan and Eritrea change the borders of Africa and cause instability and political unrest in African continent? Unlike Somaliland, South Sudan did share history and colonial borders with Sudan but, at the same time, was recognized. Senegal and Gambia founded federation or union in February 1982 calling it Senegambia. That union was dissolved in September 1989 after disagreement and each country retained its original independence and diplomatic recognition without changing the borders of Africa. So, why denying Somaliland of retaining that independence and recognition it had before the union with Somalia? Somaliland diplomatic recognition does not need any approval from Somalia as any other African country did not need approval of its independence and diplomatic recognition from any other African country.

Somaliland is not a secessionist or breakaway region from Somalia but Somaliland just withdrew from the union with Somalia after Somalia grossly violated the union and committed atrocities and crimes against humanity in Somaliland in 1980s? If Nyanza Province of Kenya, or Arusha Region of Tanzania, or Puntland province of Somalia break away from their own respective countries, that would be secessionists, separatists, or breakaways and that would change or shift the colonial borders of Africa inherited from colonial powers and that would create instability and political unrest in the continent of Africa because these provinces share history and colonial borders with their own countries.

The declaration of Organization of African Unity (O.A.U) in 1964 on African Borders was the formal acceptance of the existing colonial borders inherited from colonial powers on which independence and recognition of each African country were based including Somaliland. That declaration had nothing to do with unifications, federations, and unions between two or more African countries like the failed union between Somaliland and Somalia formed unthoughtfully and hastily in 1960. A union or federation could be dissolved anytime if the sides disagree each restoring and retaining its original independence and borders. That declaration reinforces the rightful claim of Somaliland to be recognized as independent nation based on its colonial borders. That declaration does not prevent Somaliland from withdrawing from the union with Somalia and restoring its independence and diplomatic recognition achieved on June 26, 1960. If Uganda and Kenya share union today and after some time they disagree and dissolve that union, each would still be independent, recognized nation on its own colonial borders

Some people confuse Somaliland Republic with Puntland Region of Somalia for either not knowing the history of Somalis or for irrational political reasons. Puntland is an integral, inseparable part of Somalia because it is located within Somalia’s historical colonial borders with which Somalia achieved independence on July 1st, 1960 from Italy while Somaliland Republic emerged from British Somaliland Protectorate borders and achieved separately its independence from Britain on June 26, 1960. Somaliland Republic has undeniable rights to claim independence, statehood, and diplomatic recognition based on its own unique colonial borders like any other African country while Puntland cannot have such rights because it is part of Somalia and shares colonial borders and nationhood with it.

Somaliland and Somalia are not the first two countries in this world whose union dissolved or ceased to exist. The Soviet Union that had 15 Socialist Republics created by the Bolshevik Revolution led by Lenin in 1917 broke up after social upheavals and political discontent ended its existence peacefully in 1989 with new countries emerging from it such as Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia etc. They are all recognized by the UN and international community on the basis of their original borders existing before the union. The federation of former Republic of Yugoslavia that had 8 countries broke up too after bloody civil wars between 1991-1995 and new countries such as Serbia, Croatia , Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo etc. emerged from its ashes. All these countries are also recognized diplomatically too for their original borders existing before the federation. This shows that the unity among countries that share a union is not sacred anymore if they have disagreement.

Some Somalis believe that Somaliland cannot withdraw from the union with Somalia or even be recognized claiming that Somalis share same language, religion, color, and culture. If this claim were true for achieving union, the Arab World which has nearly 17 independent countries such as Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and Sudan, and that also share same language, religion, culture, and color would not have separate independent states. They do not have any federal or union for disagreeing to share one.

Independent Republic of Somaliland was the first to pioneer the unification between Somaliland and Somalia on July 1, 1960 in quest for Greater Somalia in the Horn of Africa. The union was doomed after Somalia hijacked the governments for the thirty years of its existence (1960-1990) and then committed atrocities against Somaliland people when they rebelled against injustices and humiliation perpetrated against them. Only justice and fair power-sharing are the most important factors for a union to survive and that is what Somalia failed to understand in the years of the union.

The idea of “Greater Somalia” emerged in the middle of the Second World War [1939-1945] and the main objective was to liberate the five Somali Territories and bring them together under the same banner and government in the Horn of Africa. That idea of “Greater Somalia” (Somaliweyn) is as elusive as “Greater Arab” today and no one knows when it will come true. Only Somaliland and Somalia do not constitute “Greater Somalia” while excluding the other three ( 3 ) Somali territories. The dictatorial regime of Siyad Barre buried the hope for “Greater Somalia” for committing unforeseen atrocities and human rights abuses in Somaliland and turning its native tribes against one another. Siyad’s brutal military regime is solely responsible for the pains and disasters that Somalis face in the Horn of Africa and around the world today.

The Puntland administration of Federal Somalia is strongly advised that peace and good neighborly relations between Somaliland Republic and Somalia will only depend on respecting, recognizing, and implementing the border between Somaliland and Somalia. Somaliland will stay independent of Somalia, and Somaliland people will not throw their destiny away again but will defend it. Somaliland borders are unalterable as any other African borders are unalterable, and not based on clan lineage but on land.

Ibrahim Hassan Gagale

January 29, 2018

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1 COMMENT

  1. The journalist who wrote this crap is repeating the same crap we hear every day.
    The colonials never drew line in British Somaliland on the ground like other colonial territories only on paper and in 1960 there was 2 somalilands not 1 ad many Somalilanders claim.
    In 26 Jun 1960 the British Somaliland became part of somali Republic not part of somalia because at that time there was no somalia and 1st Juli 1960 came the other Somaliland independent and became part of Somali Republic.
    So two Somaliland formed the Somali Republic.
    Many northern deceive the international community or are trying to deceive.
    Somaliland can’t leave somalia because they were always one country occupied by 2 colonial power’s and many Somalilanders believe that somalia comited atrocities on somaliland which is incorrect by itself the atrocities were comited by dictator and his government which includes those who serving in Somaliland government .
    You can’t blame entire population the atrocities that a dictator and his government which includes your government and the SNM comited atrocities in Somalia but somali people in the southern don’t blame somalilanders

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