M.I.A.

After making daily posts on this blog since my arrival in Somaliland in early March, my regular readers are probably wondering where I have disappeared to over the past two weeks. I am very sorry to have disappointed or worried you by this unexplained silence. I now want to update my friends and readers on the situation.

Two weeks ago, on the Tuesday following the death of Osama Bin Laden, we (meaning my colleagues and house mates) received a death threat from someone claiming to be Al-Shabaab, the Somali Islamist jihadi insurgent group (referred to as a terrorist organization by most western governments) with self-proclaimed links to Al-Qaeda.

While we had no way of ascertaining the veracity of the message, we treated the threat seriously and responded to it by taking measures to increase our security levels. It was a stressful and anxious week to say the least.

While the threatened attack has thankfully not materialized, given the circumstances I have taken the personal decision to leave Somaliland. This was a very difficult decision for me and I spent much time deliberating the choice. After two months, I felt I had just started to settle in to life in Hargeisa, to better understand Somaliland, and to feel happy living there. Not to mention I really enjoyed writing this blog and sharing my day-to-day experiences of life in Somaliland.

However, much as I felt sad about ending my stay prematurely, I also felt that I could not justify taking any potential risk to my life or health. What is such a shame about the whole incident is that all of my other experiences in Somaliland have shown it to be a very safe, peaceful, and welcoming place.  I don’t believe that the person or people who made the threat are representative of the average Somalilander. And I still encourage people to visit Somaliland.

So, the end result is that I am no longer living in Somaliland and therefore I will no longer be updating this blog on a daily basis. But I hope readers will still benefit from reading my past posts and will continue to make comments.

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4 Responses to “M.I.A.”

  1. So VERY VERY happy to know that you are safe and well. I feel I have come to know you this past little while and was worried! Thanks to G-d you are alright!

  2. I respect your decision, but as a Somalilander I can assure you that caller was just talking blah blah. Somaliland is so security minded that people would jump on a would be terrorist to death. Remember we fought very hard to reach were we are, and that is why terrorist incidents in Somaliland against foreigners are similar to the ones in London or Madrid ie suicide bombs. Yes Alshabab has declared ‘jihad’ on Somaliland, but that’s all they could do and that was 3 years ago. This place is no like Western countries were security is handled by 911 even if you see somebody being mugged/killed/attacked etc , but here in SL people in the streets will take things into their hands and kill that somebody if they ever tried some kind of attack or hit and run, or assassination (refer to what happened back 2004 with the Kenyan aidworker, were nomads caught the crinimals)…I say it highly Impossible, trust me. But I respect your decision and glad that you’re safe and nothing happened in Somaliland.

    • africagrows Says:

      Hi Afi, thanks for your comments. Yes, several of my colleagues felt the threat was just that– a verbal threat only, intended to scare us, and not likely to materialize into reality (and that is why they decided to stay). Indeed, nothing bad has happened in the end. However, we couldn’t do much more than make a judgement call based on speculation and opinion, and in that situation I preferred to be safe rather than sorry. I agree with you that Somaliland is generally a safe country and, should someone try to mug or rob a foreigner, I would also expect that bystanders would intervene. However, when it concerns terrorist attacks, if something did materialize, it would likely be of the nature that our neighbours couldn’t have helped us even if they had wanted to. And indeed an attack did result in the death of two foreign teachers in 2003, as you are probably aware (see article below).

      British Teachers Murdered by Gunmen at Somali School (2003)
      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/british-teachers-murdered-by-gunmen-at-somali-school-584231.html

  3. Ibrahim Says:

    An unfortunate turn of events. Glad you’re safe and sound. Really enjoyed reading your blog and would like to thank you for giving up you time and sharing your experiences. Very insightful.

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