I remember the first time someone asked me where I'm from, which is sadly more often than not and my answer has always been: Canada. In part because this is where I grew up and my whole identity has been centered on, despite the many travels I've experienced since childhood. Lately thou, I've been curious about my parents home country and its past before the misery of civil war and pirating became the global face of Somalia. Without boring you with the history and politics of Africa, Somaliland is the independent region that separated from Somalia in 1990, after it achieved victory over Siyad Barre regime. Its comparable to South Sudan with its history of oppression and political isolation and its quest to be recognized as its own independent country. This small country has been left alone to develop its own political system, election and social structure without foreign intervention, unknown to most people with the exception of UN and Western government officials. Its been truly an eye opener visiting Somaliland, the cities of Hargeisa and Barbera in particular.
What impressed me the most is the absence of violence and any political instability in the country. Did not expect the sense of safety I felt and the friendly attitudes from all I've met. My best friend who joined me on this trip was also surprised with the city's security, since she traveled to many interesting places and never felt safe to walk around freely as a woman.
There will be more to come, but for now enjoy these few glimpses of my parents' homeland.