- The Somaliland constitution confers on all Somalilanders, whether in the Diaspora or living inside the country, equal rights to hold elective and appointive offices as well as to engage in private business. This official welcome does encourage some of the Diaspora people to end their long self-exiles and return to their country of origin. But unfortunately on some occasions, some prominent members of the Diaspora are subjected to negative rumors, innuendos and open criticisms in order to smear their reputations
People who return home have different reasons for doing so. There are those who are of old age and would like to spend their last years at home. There are also those who have accumulated wealth and would like to invest their funds there; and there are those ambitious individuals who after earning degrees and working as professionals overseas decide to utilize their knowledge and skills to make a difference for their people.
However, some local elites apparently believe that they alone are straight (way toosanyihii) and that Diaspora people are crooked (way qaloocanyihiin). They try to find faults with them, question the source of money they bring into the country and do not even spare women from those attacks.
This is not an easy statement to make but it is one validated by our recent experience.
Skilled Diaspora Somalilanders who assimilated the liberal traditions and the institutional basis of the industrialized world are needed to transfer the skills they possess to move the country forward. We need eminent engineers, scientists, doctors, agriculturalists, economists, businesspeople, writers, lawyers etc. We cannot afford to fish for faults and attack those skilled Diaspora Somalilanders. We need a culture that receive those people with open arms and accord them the respect they deserve. Diaspora people are needed not only to remit the money that sustains the lives of our people but also to transfer the skills they possess.
When I heard the recent attacks against the Somaliland Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Hussein Abdi Duale, I told myself: alas it is déjà vu all over again. Why this reaction? Because Hussein Abdi Duale is not the first, nor will he be the last former Diaspora Somalilander, who is subjected to a smear campaign. Multiple people before him, men and women, were subjected to similar attacks.
It is needless to identify here individuals who were unfairly subjected to such treatment before. Everybody who happens to read this piece knows a man or a woman from the Diaspora who was subjected to similar attacks.
Hussein A. Duale came to Los Angeles around 1984 from Oklahoma and stayed here till 2010 when he was appointed a cabinet minister in Somaliland. During his long stay here in Los Angeles with us he established a solid reputation among our community as charismatic and articulate. He is very skilled petroleum engineer. He also became a competent manager through his long experience in the private and public sectors.
Hussein worked closely with the late Saeed Maygag Samatar in promoting the interest of Somaliland. In the early 1990’s, for example, they collected and shipped relief supplies to the people displaced by the war. Hussein also was one of the founding members of SOPRI. If Saeed Meygag Samatar spent countless hours of his precious time and his own financial resources for Somaliland cause, Hussein Duale, driven by the same spirit of patriotism as that of Saeed, walked away from a high paying government job in Los Angeles in order to serve his people.
The fact is some people are not satisfied with the affluence they achieve in the rich countries and aspire to help their fellow Somalilanders at home to improve their lives. Such was Saeed Meygag and such is Hussein Duale.
Speaking at a farewell luncheon held in his honor a year and half ago shortly after being appointed as cabinet minister, Hussein told the Somaliland community in southern California that he would be a workaholic in Hargeisa. He joked that the folks over there may think that he had no other life than work. True to his promise, he has worked very hard for the people since assuming his new responsibilities. He brought in new companies to explore oil and gas. He was also involved in reaching an agreement with Ethiopia to ship oil and gas from Ethiopia through the port of Berbera. His ministry is busy drilling water wells and building reservoirs.
If the goals he is pursuing are achieved, he may end up having a potentially trans-formative and consequential impact in the country. Because of his engineering and managerial skills as wells as his ethics of hard work, Hussein is the right person to lead the effort to explore what lies underneath the soil in Somaliland.
One wonders why the media is not reporting the positive things this hard working minister is doing for the country. Good news is newsworthy too.
Recently, Hussein told the press of his dream should oil and gas be found and exploited in Somaliland. He stated the country would follow the example of Norway. Norway, you may recall, is famous for transparently putting the proceeds from its oil for the benefit of the people. This vision can only be articulated by someone who is patriotic and honest.
Finally many of the Diaspora people who return home bring jobs and skills and expertise to the country. They are not a threat to anybody; rather they are a major asset to the country. There is no justification for any tension or animus by one group against another. The country demands that they all respect each other, and work together to move the country forward and create better future for our children.
By Adan H. Iman
(Adan H. Iman is Diaspora Somalilander who hails from Awdal Region and is currently a resident in California, USA).