Five weeks ago on 18th May 2023, the nation of Somaliland happily celebrated the 32nd anniversary of re-asserting its independence which marked the end of the Greater Somalia Dream. today on June 26, Somaliland commemorates its 63rd anniversary of Independence which marked the end of the British protectorate making it the 15th African nation to gain independence.
Does Somaliland have two independence days?
The reason why I raised this question many times is because I have heard people debating this issue. The celebration of 18th May (regaining sovereignty day) and the celebration of 26 June (Independence Day) are both national days. Both days have been commemorated by the people of Somaliland and they are days that we have the opportunity for all of us to come together to reflect on the history and struggle that we have gone through as a nation. The commemoration of the two events has historical links that shaped what Somaliland stands for today: justice, peace, democracy and freedom.
To share and educate our young people on the value of national days like 26th June and 18th May offers an opportunity for them to become good citizens. 26th June is Somaliland’s national day, not Somalia’s as they claim. Understanding the historical significance of these days is a precious opportunity for our people to share the sacrifices made by our forefathers to achieve the freedom we have today. Details related to the history of the occasions of these two days can be found in articles and notes written by Somaliland historians.
What are the historical things to remember on 26th June 1960?
As we celebrate the occasion of June 26 this week, I would like to share with you what we should remember: the 26th of June has a special history and it is a highly valued day. Somaliland historians have written a lot about the memory of the day. 26th June is a day to remember the journey to end the British protectorate. It is also a day that reminds us of the historical traces of Somaliland’s independence. It is a day when patriotic songs and poems were composed. Most of the independence songs, poems became popular and touched the feelings and emotions of the Somaliland people.
It is a historical day to remember the farewell when they said goodbye to the last British Governor Sir Douglas Hall and his wife to travel to the UK. It is a day to remember The Queen Elizabeth’s message delivered by the Mr.T.E Bromley, on the occasion of Somaliland’s independence. The content of the message was as follows “I, my Government and my people in the United Kingdom, wish you well on this day of independence. The connection between our people goes back some 130 years and the British administration of the protectorate for 60 years. I look forward to a continuing and enduring friendship between our two countries“.
This was not the only congratulatory message received by Somaliland Government, there were other messages of greetings and congratulations that Somaliland received from other foreign leaders with regard to Independence Day 26 June 1960.
It is a day to remember Somaliland having its own Government (Somaliland cabinet), Constitution drafted in early 1960 and political parties like SNL, NUF and USP. Somaliland received international recognition from 35 countries that included China, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Ghana, Israel, Libya and the Soviet Union.
Unforgettable facts about Somaliland’s independence include an article published in The Daily Herald newspaper on Wednesday, June 1960, which is three days after Somaliland gained its independence. The content of the text was written as follows “Three days ago, it gained its independence; on Friday, it gives it up again”.
This day also reminds us of the breeze of freedom and what we have enjoyed for five days until we handed over our independence to Italian Somalia in search of the failed dream of a greater Somalia. This idea of Greater Somalia was a view to unite all Somali ethnic groups living in the countries of Somaliland, Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.
Although we commemorate positive achievements related to gaining independence 63 years ago, we also remember the loss we suffered for relinquishing our independence in pursuit of the Greater Somalia dream. Somaliland has learned its lesson and is here to protect its independence, never to make the same mistake it made on 1st July 1960.
On this occasion, 26 June as a nation we need to remember the struggle and movements we went through to get the freedom we have today. For example, we can mention the movements and struggles of our history: Sayid Mohamed Abdulla Hassan who led the Darawish fighters, SNS, SNL, USP and NUF. With this common history, we need to end the conflict in the Sool region through negotiation and understanding. We need to work together to keep the unity of the Somaliland nation and live together in peace and stability.
Finally, we are commemorating the 63rd anniversary of Somaliland’s independence while unfortunately; the conflict in the Sool region (Lasanod) is still ongoing. This conflict has an impact on the lives of the people, especially the stability and the lives of Sool civilians.
Taking into account tough challenges ahead e.g. Sool conflict, elections, and other issues, it is hoped that all Somaliland stakeholders in general, will work together to strengthen the unity of the Somaliland people.
Happy Independence Day, Somaliland
Abdirahman Abdillahi Jibril (Awliyo)