Somaliland is virtually a young nation not because of the 26 years since it has reclaimed its independence from Somalia after 31 years of a failed union, but given the fact that approximately 70% of its population is under the age of 30.
The youth Participation of the Somaliland Politics
Somaliland youth has always been active participants of the different kinds of elections that took place in Somaliland and all the other democratic exercises. They are the staunch supporters and the energy that drive the election campaigns from the big cities and towns to the small villages and the nomads in the furthest rural areas.
In every election, youth and women have proven again and again to be the hard campaigners while the decision making is being exercised by only the elderly men within the ranks of the parties.
Unfortunately, the four successive governments in Somaliland and the political parties, to which the youth faithfully supported since their establishment, failed to notice and make youth part of their plans. Once won the contested seat(s), each party seemed completely oblivious to the efforts it received from its youth supporters.
Youth Unemployment remains over the roof
More than half a decade since the rebirth of Somaliland and a massive advancement on many fronts including peace and stability, free and fair elections, peaceful power transfer, infrastructure boom and many more; the youth unemployment remains over the roof with estimates suggest as high as 75%. Despite, graduating from local universities in flocks of thousands, only a handful secure and land on jobs and the rest joins thousands of unemployed graduates from previous years.
This struggle of finding a job after many years of studies leaves many depressed, and others find themselves on their way to Libya with the knowledge that the odds of their survival in this suicidal journey are very small.
In this frustrating situation, the theme and call for change is so common that arguably all youth will unanimously tell you the immediate need for change. Their call remains consistent and loud but never heard!
Youth, the November Election and the role of the clan
In the presidential election set to happen in Somaliland on the 13th of November, youth are evidently even more involved in campaigning compare to the previous elections. This can be caused by several factors but it’s predominantly because of the over popularity of Social Media within the Somali societies in the recent years. Consequent to the popularity of Social Media among Somalilanders, it has become serious platform of campaigning for the contesting parties and of course youth came out as the undisputed experts in this virtual world.
Sadly, beyond the excitement and 24/7 campaigning of youth lies a bitter truth. If you look beyond the threshold of the youth campaigns, it will not take you a deep investigation that this support is ruled by clan and not the quest for change as one would have hoped.
The desperate need for change remains but the clan seems to be a better chance of getting employment in the foreseeable future if their running kinsman wins; and even if he wins, the chances of all the youth of the clan getting jobs are low as it is unrealistic to give jobs to or employ all of them
The strong call and possibility for change
The reality of the youth will remain gloomy with many dilemmas as long as they keep shouting their divided voice of change behind the backs of their old clansmen. The true possibility of change can only be expected when the united voice of the youth rings with force that shakes the political establishment that has failed them repeatedly to the ground and paves the way for a new inclusive political system.
Written by Khadar Mariano
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @APuntite