The night of 19th of October marks a history of the republic of Somaliland. Somaliland is peacefully at the eye of a region in the middle of a pernicious hurricane of violence and terrorism. It has been described as ‘Africa’s best-kept secret’ referring to not only restoring the peace and stability after the civil wars but also to become the miraculous exception in a region where democracy and freedom of speech are at a rarity.
You are never too young to lead!
On 19th October Somaliland achieved yet another milestone of its remarkable journey of democracy. A newly born organization called ‘Inspire Group’ imagined to do what many described to be ‘the impossible’ upon hearing, they planned to hold and host the first ever ‘Somaliland Presidential Debate’. What was surprising to the public more than the infancy of this organization and the heavy task it wanted to undertake was that it was exclusively youth lead initiative. This, to many, would look normal but in Somaliland, it would be a new phenomenon.
Upon starting to work towards their ambitious plan, they were sure that challenges would be plenty but as to the degree, they had absolutely no idea. They knew that they were making history and reshaping the political landscape of Somaliland forever but what it takes to do that, they would only learn later.
As the election time finally appeared on the horizon after two years of delays, the political arena has become fully charged with all the sectors and segments of the society engaged. And Inspire Group (IG) broke the big news to both the public and the political actors in this environment. As could have been expected at such critical time everything has changed. People start asking questions as to who this organization is, how these young men and women could hold such an important event, and most importantly what their reasons might be among many other questions. After a lot of engagement, the public has finally accepted the newest actor in the arena with their fair share of skepticism.
Ideas are fascinating but realizing them is quite another task
As IG made its intentions and plans public and more explanation still waiting, a more serious task was quietly waiting, it was winning credibility within the three parties and the time was not on its side. Tasks divided, the group members have started making presentations to the parties closely working with the youth members in the parties. They also made a similar presentation for the National Electoral Commission (NEC) as it is in charge of all election matters. At the same time, the group has been setting the format and making the road map of the debate. Questions for the candidates were also getting prepared by a secret group of people chosen based on their merit of scholarship and professionalism in their respective fields of interest in the debate.
With clear plans, intentions, and non-partisanship IG was winning the confidence of the parties and NEC, but in spite of this, what seemed endless details had to be fixed and changed again and again until the satisfaction of all three parties were met.
On the other hand, IG started to feel the weight of the tasks increasing by the date and for this they needed help. They turned towards the youth for this, testing again delicate waters with such an important assignment at hand. The group of volunteers chosen among the Somaliland youth started to working on the preparation for the event dividing themselves into teams.
Where there is a will there is away
For the next two weeks, there would be dozens of meetings, hundreds of calls and thousands of texts and messages between the team. Everyone was taking the task seriously and was willing to take as much load (weight) as he/she could. It was a team of leaders working as a team to lead the nation to a glorious new ground in the realm of democracy.
As the team worked tirelessly and were tested both mentally and physically, positive results were being received. Venue equipment was getting ready, the materials needed were getting printed, and the public was getting engaged online to send the questions they may have asked the candidates.
There is always another challenge around the corner
Although things seemed to be going on the right track, things would temporarily take a quick turn to an unanticipated and what might become the biggest challenge as another group declared that they are to hold another presidential debate. This was perhaps the real test and IG passed it because of its members’ teamwork, perseverance and moral strength at the height of this crisis. The situation was quickly dissolved with an agreement and IG was to go on with its plans.
Too good and too real; History has been made
Finally, the big day comes with everything ready to the last detail and IG, SPED volunteers, political parties, media and the public were ready to witness as history unfolds before their eyes. When the debate started on the eve of 19th October in every household in Somaliland people were sitting in front of the TV, others abroad were watching on the numerous Facebook live stream, and others were following the hashtag #SomalilandDebates on twitter. Both the candidates and moderators were extremely well prepared, and when the debate started it was an absolute silence and every point was carefully listened to and digested.
It was obvious that history was in the making from the first minute of the debate and when everyone sat through the five-hour marathon debate, history has just been made was chanted. SPED2017 has indeed set a precedent to Somaliland and an example for the Horn of Africa and Africa by making Somaliland the 85th country to hold a presidential candidate debate. On top of that, it demonstrated how truly capable the Somaliland youth are and how far up they can go if they are not given limitations but more importantly if they do not set limitations for themselves.
On the 19th of October at the SPED2017 Somaliland has won and Somaliland youth has proven that they can.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Khadar Mariano is the Deputy Editor of Horndiplomat He can be reached at @APuntite
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Horndiplomat editorial policy.
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