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Somaliland Flag flying high in Brussels (SATURDAY - 2/June/2012)

Somaliland Diaspora in Belgium managed, successfully, to coordinate series of historic events that lasted for two days. On 25th May 2012, the Diaspora, led by Mahamud Sayid, liaised a [preliminary] Conference hosted by the Flemish Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. This maiden interaction between Somaliland and the Flemish Belgians was intended to instil bridges between the two nations, whom seem to have certain things in common; they have both achieved levels of independence and seek full diplomatic recognition for their respective countries. Somaliland, a former British Protectorate, which has achieved its independence on 26th June 1960 and during the decolonisation wave, reclaimed its independence from the failed union it has joined, voluntarily, with the former Italian Somalia in July 1960.

The day started with an introductory networking between the representatives of both Somaliland and the Flemish-Belgians. Soon after that introductory session, the Conference, chaired by Mr Mark, a Flemish Senator, commenced with lengthy and illuminating speeches made by the representatives of both countries.

Somaliland has accomplished a flourishing democracy in a turbulent region famous for its notorious Military Oligarchies and oppressive regimes. Since 18th May 1991, when Somaliland has forsaken the failed union with the former Somali Republic, Somaliland surprised the International Community with its consistent resistance to all sorts of extremism that ravaged neighbouring Somalia into the failed state it is, today. The International Community has noticed this and, since then, falling for the charismas of this young and vibrant country. Somalilandís latest ally, the Flemish Parliamentarians and Academics, were very impressed with the accomplishments made by this exemplary nation. The many speakers representing the Flemish people spoke of Somalilandís steadfastness to ostracize terrorism, sea piracy, warlordism, and rogue statesmen. They, also, spoke of the impressive progresses made by Somaliland for the last 21 years. Such progresses include the efforts made, almost single-handedly, by Adna Adan Ismail, head of Adna Adan University Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland, and her team, who assisted to reducing the gap of the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR); ďover 74% less than the regional figure than the former SomaliaĒ Madam Elke, Flemish Senator. Somalilandís rebirth was, also, described as an Ďevolutioní by another Flemish speaker, Senator Vanlouwe.

The delegation from Somaliland, who was headed by the Speaker of Somalilandís House of Parliament, Honourable Abdirahman Iro, MP Abdiqadir Jirdeh, Somalilandís former Foreign Minister Adna Adan, and Dahabshiilís CEO Abdirasheed Duale, all made a detailed and very well coordinated presentations/speeches. Abdirasheed Duale spoke of Somalilandís current private sector and how Somalilandís companies can be global economic players. Dahabshiil, a Somaliland owned company, which Mr Duale said started as a small family business in Burao, Somaliland, is today operating over 100 countries in the World. Honourable Iro spoke of Somalilandís current developments and drew a comprehensive picture of the strides Somaliland is making towards a full democratic and sovereign state. Likewise, MP Jirdeh talked about the Ďway forwardí, while the former FM, Adna Adan enlightened Somalilandís most recent acquaintance about Somalilandís gruelling history since 1800s, and Somalilandís struggle to recapture its glory. Adna bravely challenged the wavering stance of Europe over Somalilandís rightful quest to re-recognition; ďI am asking you, the World, why are you recognising terrorism when democracy is right here in Somaliland, and it is much more deserving of recognitionĒ Adna Adan. It is providential to say that those who were meeting there that day, agreed that Somaliland deserves better attention from the International community, and particularly, from the European Union, who should be more assertive in its decision to cooperate with Somaliland, and whom the panel, strongly, suggested should grant Somaliland what it deserves; recognition.

The first half of the events hosted at the Flemish Parliament in Brussels that day concluded, successfully. The participants, particularly the Somalilanders, who travelled from more than 10 countries; Somaliland, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Italy, and from the regions in Belgium, remained in the meeting venue, after refreshment break, for Somaliland Societies in Europeís (SSE) 2012 Annual Conference. The SSE is an umbrella Organisation that brings together Somalilandís non-political organisations and societies in Europe. This umbrella Organisation was created in early 2001, and since then the SSE managed to integrate more than 40 Somaliland organisations and thousands of individual Somalilanders, who interact via online network. SSE was part of the last two major Rallies that took place in London in 18th May 2011 and 22nd February 2012. The SSE Chair, Abdirahman Awliyo, opened the Conference with a detailed account of the Organisationís Aims and Objectives and what SSE has achieved under his chairmanship. Other members of the umbrella contributed with elective essays.
The events on 25th May concluded with higher note and all parts presented positive and encouraging messages.

The second day, of the two days long events, resumed on 26th May in a Theatre Hole in Central Brussels. Somaliland Societies in Europe entered in its second day of its 2012 Annual Conference. The Chair, Abdirahman Awliyo, the Deputy, Fathia Sheikh Muse, and the Treasurer, Mohamed Bashe, all made separate speeches to tribute to the period they have held their respective posts and the difference the team has made. The SSE members, who all followed the progress of the Organisation since its creation and the contributions the executive members have had, erupted in applause to demonstrate their appreciation and gratitude for the Executive Board, who transferred the responsibility, that day, to a newly appointed Board; Abdirahman Yassin of France was appointed the new Chairman of the Organisation, myself, Salma Sheik was appointed the Organisationís Secretary, Eid Hassan Muse, the Coordinator of West London Somaliland Community in London, UK, was appointed the Organisationís Treasurer, while Mote Botane of Milton Keynes, UK, and Mohamed Amiin, Head of Radio Hormud, Denmark, were appointed Executive Board members (new addition).
The Organisationís managerial transfer was witnessed MP Abdiqadir Jirdeh, who offered some valuable advice to the newly appointed Executive Board, while thanking the former Board for the hard work they have invested into the organisation whilst running the Organisation.
The events were concluded on 26th, Saturday evening, with celebratory party hosted by Wadani political organisation, which the organisationís members were meeting in Brussels, at the same time, and opened an office in Belgium. Some of todayís most popular Somaliland artist, Himilo, Xatanteeye, Cujuf, and Tufaax entertained the masses with numerous popular songs. In the next day, Sunday 27th, most of those attendees of the Events, who travelled from the neighbouring European countries, began their journeys back to their countries of residence. 15 of these returning home travelled from United Kingdom and with West London Somaliland Communityís Mini Bus, which is known, amongst the Somalilanders in the UK and even the rest of Europe, ĎBaska Qaranka. I was fortunate enough to travel on Baska Qarank and enter this trip into my dairy as the greatest trip in a long time, now.

Salma Sheik
SSE Secretary

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