Yes, it has been 16 long, arduous and lonely years since we reclaimed our sovereignty on May 18, 1991.
Yes, the recognition that we have aspired to achieve may seem as distant as ever. Yes, detractors have called us and still call us all kinds of names. Yes, enemies who are hell bent on breaking our will and sowing discord among our people have used all kinds of deceptive tactics and hired spin-doctors to discredit our cause. Yes, the world refuses to look at our achievements, our democracy and the oasis of peace we have created.
Yes, weasel-hearted African leaders have been warned that recognising Somaliland would open the gates of hell and monsters would emerge in scores from their scandal ridden closets. Yes, our people suffer due to the absence of diplomatic relations, international credit lines and regular trade agreements. Yes, some of our politicians, some of our opportunists, some of the greedy among us, some of our weaklings and some of the wishy-washy individuals have been trying to weaken our morale.
But, against all these odds, as people of Somaliland, we have only one thing in mind - that all roads lead to recognition. From day one, we have decided there is no rollback, no reverse gears and, most importantly, no free ride to our coveted goal of gaining our sovereignty, building our country and gaining recognition.
We have been watching other countries with less democracy, less peace and less ethnic cohesion, gaining sovereignty and recognition. We have seen Bosnia, Montenegro, East Timor - all former Soviet Republics - embraced and accepted by the international community. We now watch Kosovo and Western Sahara inching towards independence.
Somalilanders know that we have neither the political clout nor the alliance of the willing to support our cause. We have neither oil to satiate Western hunger for fuel nor the correct creed to claim evangelical brotherhood.
However, like the hedgehog we know one big thing; that our determination, our strong will, our resilience and our enormous belief in the righteousness of our cause will bear fruit no matter how long we wait for it and no matter how much we suffer on the way. We have proven it in the past and we can continue to prove that we have the resolve and the persistence it needs to stay the course. No one can detract us, no one can pigeonhole us, and no one can sway us from our goal.
Despite the world’s indifference, our people have worked hard over the last 16 years. We held democratic local, parliamentary and presidential elections, we created a fabulous free press, we held terrorism at bay, we built our ruined homes, we established universities and erected some factories with our meager resources and remittances from our sons and daughters scattered all over the world. And with or without recognition we intend to continue our march.
Our future plan is to develop our roads, our ports and airports, and our health and education systems. Let the Africans whine and whimper over opening Pandora boxes; let the Americans and Europeans indulge in their double standard business of lobbying independence for places like Kosovo and denying the same to Somaliland; let the Arabs wallow in their monkey business and Orwellian newspeak of confusion and self pity. Somaliland has no time to waste.
Yes, we may be travelling alone but “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, And we have promises to keep, And miles to go before we reap” with full apology to Robert Frost.
And reaping we did, as we have gained friends along the way. We owe ample gratitude to a few courageous countries that judged us by our achievements and extended a hand of friendship to us. They shook our hands when all have deserted us; they opened representative offices for us when all have avoided us.
We owe enormous gratitude to South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana, Belgium and the UK. Their legacy will be written in gold in the annals of our history.