Like many people, my impression of Somalia is coloured by the familiar TV images of a lawless land governed by conflict, piracy and bloodshed. With this in mind I was a little apprehensive to visit Somaliland, neighbour to the world’s most failed state. But despite its name, Somaliland is a peaceful haven on the corner of chaos. An unrecognised and self-declared autonomous area which broke away from Somalia in 1991, it even has its own parliament, currency and army. Driving through the streets of Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital, was like venturing into a clash of rural and urban lives. Goats and businessmen jostled for space on the cramped pavements.
Women clad in colourful headscarves, balancing jerry cans, elegantly negotiated their way through rows of qat chewing customers and the hum-drum of construction sites housing western style hotels.