The name alone—Berbera
—ripples with exotic resonance, conjuring images of tropical quays, swarthy traders and fiery sunsets imbued with smells of spices, incense and palm oil.
Throughout a Sunday afternoon in the Ethiopian capital, Yemeni émigré men in their fifties and sixties arrive at a traditional Yemeni-styled mafraj
room clutching bundles of green, leafy stalks: khat.
Crossing African borders by land can be an intimidating process (it’s proving an increasingly intimidating process nowadays in Europe and the US also, even in airports). But crossing from Ethiopia to Somaliland at the ramshackle border town of Togo-Wuchale is a surreally pleasant experience.
Amid the hustle and bustle of downtown Hargeisa, Somaliland’s sun-blasted capital, women in various traditional Islamic modes of dress barter, argue and joke with men—much of it particularly volubly. Somaliland women are far from submissive and docile.
Bar Seed is the only female member in Somaliland’s 82-person Parliament, but activists hope upcoming national elections may end her isolation.
A wind turbine, situated some 20 kilometres outside of Somaliland’s capital Hargeisa, has become a significant totem of the country’s changing energy landscape.
As Somalia starts to emerge from its quagmire of instability and chaos, 20 years of relative peace and stability are starting to pay dividends for its close neighbour Somaliland, as this November it struck its first major oil deal since seceding from Somalia in 1991.