Life in Somaliland

Published on 8th November 2005

Mogendi Abuya Tamaro is a Kenyan National who has been working in Somalia for one year. He lecturers at Puntland State University (PSU) which is located at the Puntland state in Garowe City, Northern part of Somalia. The African Executive caught up with him and he shared some his experiences while in Somalia.


Q. Tell us more about the University


A. Puntland State University was initially a management school that was started by the local inhabitants of Puntland State. It is sponsored by Diakonia Sweden and the Somalis in Diaspora. It was later up graded to a community college, training mainly managerial skills, secretarial skills and Information Technology.


Through a participatory and comprehensive study by the local stakeholders and consultants from United States International University (USIU) backed by UNDP and Diakonia Sweden, a strategic plan was prepared and it is currently under implementation.


The college is now known as PSU (Puntland State University).  The students’ population has been growing due to the high demand for native skilled workers in the many international organizations located in Puntland State of Somalia.


Q. Are there other Kenyans teaching there?


A. Yes. We are five in total, although during the first semester I was alone.


Q. How are the students enrolled in the university?


A. Puntland State has secondary school system and those who get grades that are deemed as a pass are automatically enrolled into the University. However, for others interviews are held and those who pass are admitted.


We also have students who went through the old Somali education system. Some have been to the University for Diplomas.


Q. Comment on the infrastructure.


A. I only know of one tarmac road from Mogadishu to Bosaso and branching in somewhere to Somaliland Hargessa. For internet, telephones and other communication systems I find them cheaper than Kenya and at times even faster. The seaports, airports and the general planning of their towns leave a lot to be desired.


Q. What challenges do you face?


A. It’s a big challenge dealing with the students especially due to communication barrier. Communication barrier exist due to differences in culture and religion. Their gestures mean something completely different from those of Kenyans.


My first semester in PSU was very difficult as communication was a major problem. I had to ask them to get English teachers from Kenya. Eventually they got more English teachers and even an English college was started in Garowe. Somalis use Arabic and Somali as the medium of instructions in the few primary and secondary schools in Garowe. At times I am forced to get one student who understands English, teach him then he teaches the other students in Somali.


A native Somali who knows English will automatically get employed in an international organization irrespective of the skills they have. I have seen Kenyan Somalis who take advantage of this and get employed in the international organizations. I even know some Somalia refugees how have got out of the refugee camps in Kenya with Class eight English knowledge and they are teaching their fellow Somalis English and other subjects.


The students themselves are too impatient. They have the habit of showing that they know everything, yet they don’t.


The weather is a challenge too. The temperatures are too high and at times it gets extremely windy and dusty.


Q. How is the security in Puntland State?


A. Puntland State of Somalia and moreso in Garowe, is safer than Nairobi city in Kenya. Most international staff are always under tight security. They are not left to move around on their own. Of course Somalis are always carrying guns with them.


Q. Is there any discrimination?


A. Yes, religious discrimination. There is no church in Puntland. The administration does not respect some of our Christian holidays.


Q. Are people investing in Somalia?


A. Yes. Somalis in Diaspora are already investing here. The learned Somalis should also come back home and invest. There are colossal opportunities for the rest of African and other countries.


Q. What is the future of Somalia?


A. There is a great future for Somali as long as there is a stable government that is ready to serve its people. Somalia can do well in fisheries, livestock and it may have a lot of unexplored oil.

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