Sinn Fein president: Dialogue is key
By Rachel Jackson
Thirty years ago, arguments for a nonviolent end to the conflict in Northern Ireland might have been labeled naive.
But now, when Gerry Adams, one of the key architects of the Northern Ireland peace process, says “no conflict is intractable,” his words carry weight.
-The Daily Princetonian
Countries visited (not counting layovers): 9
Airplanes ridden in: 20
Sim cards used: 6
Photos taken: 1733
Number of times I thought I had malaria: 2
Number of times I actually had malaria: 0
Passport pages filled: 12
Overnight mini-bus taxi/bus/train rides: 4
National parks visited: 6
Hotels/hostels stayed in: 22
New foreign languages I learned words in: 4
Rescheduled/cancelled flights: 5
Currencies used: 10
Worst smelling money: Ethiopia
Most inconvenient money: Somaliland
Roommates I started the semester with: 3
Roommates who survived the crazy landlady: 1
Rides accepted from strangers: 5
Rides I’ve regretted accepting from strangers: 1
Stupid decisions made: not nearly enough
Days I’m going to sleep when I get home: 2
After two months in Somaliland and a week of dingy eastern Ethiopian hotels with tiny beds and disturbing bathrooms, I’ve decided to splurge for a night. I write this sitting on the balcony of my room overlooking a giant lake nestled in forested hills about an hour outside Addis Ababa. For $40, I get a night of luxury, with a giant, clean bed, a human-sized bathroom (with hot water!), an unparalleled view, and free internet. I’m going hiking this afternoon to explore the other crater lakes in the region, but first I had to share my small moment of bliss.
I totally wrote my college admissions essay on this. Please allow me this moment to revel in my awesomeness.
Seventy years ago, in 1940, a popular science magazine published a short article that set in motion one of the trendiest intellectual fads of the 20th century.
Sure, the speech-thought debate is usually relegated to the land of linguistics, neuroscience, anthropology, and dense Continental philosophy (who doesn’t love to curl up with some Derrida tome after a long day at work?), but the question is more than a mere intellectual fad. This example highlights the “everydayness” of this question:
Suppose I say to you in English that “I spent yesterday evening with a neighbor.” You may well wonder whether my companion was male or female, but I have the right to tell you politely that it’s none of your business. But if we were speaking French or German, I wouldn’t have the privilege to equivocate in this way, because I would be obliged by the grammar of language to choose between voisin or voisine; Nachbar or Nachbarin. These languages compel me to inform you about the sex of my companion whether or not I feel it is remotely your concern.
A simple conclusion, but fascinating nonetheless. The New York Times Magazine story is lengthy, but if the question itself doesn’t pique your interest, the story photo should:
I wish I could post incredible photographs here that would give you a full sense of being in Somaliland. I can’t. I took very few pictures here, mostly because people tended to react badly to street photography, but also because Hargeisa is an incredibly difficult city to capture on camera.
These will have to do.
note the wad of cash for just a couple loaves of bread
One of the few traffic lights in Hargeisa (none of which, in anyone’s memory, have ever worked):
The offices of the House of Representatives and the House of Elders. No grenades, no canes allowed:
Some shots of the countryside:
The coast at Berbera:
Somaliland has a small plastic bag problem:
These rock faces are called Adan and Hawa (Adam and Eve):
I’ve got less than four days left in Hargeisa and about a week of traveling in Ethiopia before I head back to the US. I’m excited to get home to the people I love, my bed, and reliable hot water, but before I get too far ahead of myself I thought I’d look back at some of the adventures I’ve had.
I’m terrible at taking photos in public places because I hate putting a camera between myself and the people around me, so these are limited, but it’s an unedited taste of what I’ve seen in the past three months.
For now here’s Ethiopia. I’ll post the ones from Somaliland later.
The tomb of Adam
Bet Giorgis (St. George) from above
Pilgrims at St. George’s
Blue Nile Falls:
According to the Economist
[Government hampering of opposition parties] is part of an older problem: the refusal of a defeated incumbent to accept defeat and bow out. Refreshingly, it does sometimes happen, as in Somaliland earlier this month and in Ghana in the past decade. But President Robert Mugabe refused to go in Zimbabwe after a clear verdict in an election in 2008 and President Mwai Kibaki refused to go after the elections in Kenya in 2007. Both leaders sparked widespread violence in their countries, thanks to their determination to cling to office; both eventually had to accept power-sharing agreements with the opposition.
You know you have a problem when you have to go back a decade to find a second example. I don’t know if I’d call that “refreshing.”
Michael has hit the nail on the head. Those of us outside places like Tanzania often all too eager to rush to the defense and preservation of the “natural” at the expense of the economic development and interests of Tanzanians themselves.
I appreciate the concern of people who have a deeply felt concern for nature and preserving its boundless beauty. But I’m hesitant to tell other nations how to best manage their resources. Tanzania largely lacks basic infrastrucuture - roads, bridges, trains, airports etc. - and…
For a variety of reasons, I’ve decided not to keep an open blog while I’m here in Somaliland. Instead, I’m switching over to a password-protected blog, which can be found at asummerinsomaliland.wordpress.com.
I’ll still occasionally post photos here, but I won’t be writing anything until I get back to the US in September. If you’d like to read my blog, send me an email.
In a completely unsurprising turn of events, I am once again not in Hargeisa. Apparently those spare parts for that single plane that flies from Addis to Hargeisa are now coming from Canada instead of Kenya. Or something. Did I mention that this “airline” has three names and three websites all with the same phone number?
Logically, I know that until the week I tried to fly, several successful trips were made from Addis to Hargeisa for many months and I just happened to be unlucky enough to be attempting to go the particular week that the plane isn’t working. But the story has changed enough that I’m giving up on them.
Instead tomorrow I will fly to Djibouti, spend a night there, and then hopefully get on one of the biweekly flights from Djibouti to Hargeisa. Did you know that, in addition to be the subject of many unfortunate- and in retrospect not very clever- Model UN jokes, Djibouti is home to the only official permanent US military presence in Africa? So maybe I’ll see some interesting 4th of July celebrations.
In other news, Somaliland has completed their recent presidential elections. They went off peacefully, except for some clashes in regions along the disputed Puntland-Somaliland border, and the results are in. The winner was from one of the two opposition parties and the current president has pledged to hand over power peacefully to the opposition. Which puts Somaliland ahead of about 90%* of African elections.
I’m looking forward to getting there and getting started with the work I’m doing. I can’t believe it’s July and I’m STILL not in Hargeisa. In a show of optimism, I have changed the name of this blog, which was highly overdue anyway.
*I made this number up, so don’t go quoting me. But you get the point. Very few African elections are deemed free and fair and involve handovers of power from one party to another. For recent examples of African elections where there might have been a change of power see Zimbabwe and Kenya. Even countries that have been fairly stable electoral democracies like Botswana and South Africa have never had serious threats to the incumbent party’s status.