Thursday, April 12, 2007

Somali Round Table

Leefbaar Somalia, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

On Saturday mornihg, before the Grand National, I will be going to The Hague for the 2007 Afrikadag (Africa Day) organised by the PvdA (Dutch Labour Party). I will be attending a fully booked session 'Somali Round Table' organised and facilitated by Khaalid Hassan, who I have got to know through this blog, but who I have yet to meet.

The programme is set out as follows:

Maanta maanta maanta waa maalin weyne maanta. Maanta maanta maanta madaxeen bannaane manta.

Today today today it’s a great day today. Today today today freedom we gained today.

With these majestic and unforgettable words, at least for those who lived during the glorious first decade after independence, the Somali and Somaliland nations used to wake up on the anniversary days of 26th of June and 1st of July 1960. These were the years of Somali independence, Somali renaissance and Somali nationalism (Midnimo). At that time in the Horn of Africa, Somali’s were divided by colonial powers in five different countries. For many people this was a decade of great hopes and lofty dreams about uniting all Somali’s within one nation.

Nowadays, the Horn of African is one of poorest and most violent regions in the world. And more than four decades later, the dream of Unity is gone and Somali’s seem to be more divided than ever. The (British) Somaliland reclaimed its independence in 1991, (French) Djibouti never joined the Union; the (Ethiopian) Ogaden and the (Kenyan) NFD regions seemed to have accepted the Ethiopian and Kenyan reign over their territory and for at least 17 years (Italian) Somalia was engaged in a bloody civil war following the collapse of the central government.

In this Round Table Discussion Somali’s from the Horn of Africa of all ages have the opportunity to discuss the past, present and future direction of their region. The Round Table will be moderated by Rik Delhaas, Journalist for the VPRO, Trouw en De Groene Amsterdammer and has worked in Somalia and Somaliland. Rik Delhaas is the author of the new published book De President, de Hyena en kleine Hagedis, a book on Africa after the Cold War.

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