By Osman Hassan
Buuhoodle is famous for its past and present history, though its establishment as a town merely goes back to living memory. Its past history is rooted in the struggle of Sayid Mohamed Abdulla Hassan’s Darwiish liberation movement against the colonialists of all stripes colonizing the Somali homeland, notably the British and their native collaborators. The Sayid was born at a site called Sacmadeeqo, a neighbouring location only few hours walk from Buuhoodle. Many of the Sayid’s fighters, if not most, hailed from the Buuhoodle region.
Buuhoodle is one of the cradles of Somali literature. It boasts as being the birthplace and home of some of the greatest Somali poets, such as the Sayid, Ismail Mirre (his chief lieutenant), Ali Dhuux (his main critic of the time), Samatar Baxnaan and Aden Arab among others. Professor Ian Lewis came to Buuhoodle as a place (not a town then) in the early 1950s when he was doing his research for his PhD Doctorate on Somali pastoral democracy.
Otherwise, Buuhoodle rarely made to the headlines since its glorious Darwish days- not until after the collapse of the Somali State in January 1991. That was when, the one-clan based secessionist rebels in the north, going by the SNM acronyms (Somali National Movement – a misnomer since they stood for the antithesis of Somali nationhood) declared the secession of the northern regions (former British Somaliland) from Somalia. Making good on their declaration, the Awdal unionist region was the first the SNM used their immense military arsenal acquired from the disintegrated Somali national army based in the north. The region was immediately brought under their heals, committing in the process widespread atrocities against the defenceless unresisting civilian population.
Those brutalities amounting to crimes of humanity were meant not only to cow the locals for ever but also to serve as an exemplary lesson to the remaining unionist regions of Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC) that the same punishment would await them unless they summarily succumb to their dictate. They did not oblige and what the SNM capture of Awdal did was to prompt the SSC regions to unite with their fellow kindred clans to the east and form what came to be known as Puntland – a mainly defensive bulwark against feared secessionist invasions – from the SSC’s perspective.
For a while, the existence of the Puntland administration served as a deterrent dissuading Somaliland from embarking on reckless predatory adventures to grab the SSC regions. But Dahir Rayaale, Siilaanyo’s predecessor and a former officer in Siyad Barre’s security services, realised that Puntland valued the SSC regions merely as a milking cow but otherwise had no commitment to their defence nor welfare. He was not wrong. And so in October 2007, Somaliland invaded Lascanod, the regional capital, with hardly a shot fired in its defence. As Rayaale rightly calculated, Puntland’s defence forces in the town simply vanished, withdrawing to the safety of, Garawe, the capital of Puntland. Progressively thereafter, Somaliland’s occupation expanded to most of the Sool and Sanaag regions.
Conquests make history for their conquerors and Rayaale became an instant household hero as the leader who succeeded to deliver Lascanod, hitherto considered unassailable beyond their grab. Siilaanyo who succeeded Rayaale, and looked down on him as an outsider to the ruling clan, reckoned he could do better and capture Buuhoodle. The people of the town, representing the last free area of the SSC regions, saw the situation as a do or die challenge, the last ditch that stood in the way of the total occupation of the SSC regions by the secessionists and hence the end of the union. In what turned out to be Siilaanyo’s and his enclave’s biggest disastrous gamble, his forces were routed at Kalshaale, Buuhoodle town itself and other places.
What saved the people of Buuhoodle from the jaws of their secessionist predator, and kept that beast at bay ever since, was not only their fighting prowess, or their unshakeable unity, but above all their unwavering desire to be free and defend Somalia’s unity. Buuhoodle, if it remains undefeated and free, could turn out to be the catalyst that finally unravels the secession.
Who is who in Buuhoodle: Somalia, Somaliland, Puntland , Khatumo?
Much as Buuhoodle’s people would have wished their town (and its region) was under the rule of Khatumo and Somalia, the simple truth is that it is neither; nor is it under the control of either of the two clan-based neighbouring enclaves- Somaliland and Puntland- who are vying for it. Both are doing their utmost best, in their different ways, to be the master of the place, either through machinations (Puntland) or outright occupation (Somaliland).
1) The case of Somalia
Somalia’s recent leaders, and in particular the former one, Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, had shown no interest in, or commitment to Somalia’s unity or the plight of the SSC regions under the occupation of the one-clan secessionist enclave. At no time has he, or his predecessor for that matter, condemned the secession or the occupation of one part of Somalia (SSC) by what is technically another part of it (i.e. Somaliland). On the contrary, Hassan Sheikh had cynically reached tacit quid pro quo understanding with Somaliland so that he could count on the support of their MPs in the Somali Parliament in exchanged for leaving them in “peace” if not mollycoddle them. This tolerance has given the green light to foreign governments and international organisations to deal directly with the enclave as a de facto government responsible for the north (former British Somaliland).
2) The demise of Khatumo
The Khatumo State established in Taleex in January 2012 has been blatantly hijacked by its leader, Dr Ali Khalif Galaydh, to serve his interest and that of Hargeisa. Khatumo now is nothing more than a name appropriated by Galaydh which has no writ beyond his hotel room in Buuhoodle. As far as he is concerned, Khatumo conflates with himself and for all practical purposes it is his personal baby. He has hand-written its sham constitution and generously awards himself unquestionable prerogatives in order to reach personal treacherous deals with Somaliland.
email: osman.hassan2 @gmail.com
Osman Hassan is a seasoned journalist and a former UN staff member. Mr Hassan is also a regular contributor to WardheerNews.
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