“Somaliland is a republic that exists:” Amina Duale profile

Without Wikipedia, Amina Duale wouldn’t be able to point out her country on a map. Literally, her father’s place of birth does not appear on many maps, atlases, globes or even Google Maps.

Amina Duale

The Republic of Somaliland is an autonomous state in the northwest of Somalia, with its own functional parliament, constitution and armed forces. But it is not always recognized by the international community, and good information on the unofficial country is relatively scant.

“If you Google Somaliland, you’ll find it on Wikipedia,” says Duale. “Without that, nobody really gets to know that Somaliland is a republic that exists.”

That’s why Duale, who works as a business consultant with non-profit and non-governmental organizations in South Sudan, Somaliland, Puntland, and other new and contested nations in Africa, donates to Wikipedia.

The article on Somaliland is, as Duale says, one of the few comprehensive, independent sources on the first few pages of Google. But the connection she feels to the site is more personal.

“I thank God for Wikipedia because my life is in it. I am represented,” she says, counting herself as one of the 3.5 million inhabitants of Somaliland.

Like many regions that make up the Horn Of Africa, Somaliland’s recent history has been turbulent. In the early part of the 20th century, it was an area controlled by the British. But since there was no abundance of natural resources, Britain used Somaliland as a stopover on trips to India, and ceded control over the territory in 1960.

That year, British Somaliland merged with Italian Somaliland to form the independent Somali Republic. It was a short-lived country brought down by a military coup d’etat in 1969, which installed Major General Mohamed Siad Barre, then head of the military, as president.

Siad Barre controlled Somalia for 21 years, but became increasingly authoritarian as his tenure continued. Another coup d’etat in 1991, staged by a variety of different factions in region, resulted in the Somali Civil War. In 1991, the war brought down Siad Barre, and a new country, present-day Somalia, would be formed.

Somaliland, conceived by one of the several groups who fought in the civil war, would declare its independence from Somalia that same year. Since then, the would-be nation has been relatively safe and stable compared to southern Somalia – a little known fact outside of the region, according to Duale.

“There are safer places in Somaliland, but you don’t hear about that on mainstream media,” she says. “And that is really a crime, because you’re saying that almost half of a population does not exist.“

Indeed, Al-Shabaab, the Somali sect of the militant Islamist group al-Qaeda, is not a threat in Somaliland, and the gangs of pirates centered around Mogadishu have limited presence there too.

“The crucial part is that Wikipedia talks about places that are not mentioned in mainstream media. If you go to BBC or CNN or many of these mainstream media, they hardly talk about Somaliland. They report that Somalia has been without a government since the 1991 Civil War, which is not true,” she complains.

“It has been a very long and painful history and just to know that we are recognized in Wikipedia, for me that’s an honor really.”

Duale decided to repay that honor when she saw Wikipedia’s fundraising drive last year. In order for the Wikipedia page on Somaliland to compete with what she considers misinformation in the commercial press, she needed to donate.

“For me, Wikipedia is one of the few places I can go to get accurate and independent information. I don’t mind sending $10 or $20 every month. Wikipedia belongs to all of us, and it’s our duty as a community to keep it going.”

Profile by Joshua Errett, Wikimedia Foundation Communications volunteer
Interview by Victor Grigas, Wikimedia Foundation Storyteller

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5 Comments on “Somaliland is a republic that exists:” Amina Duale profile

Abdulaziz Al-Mutairi 1 year

Well-done Amina. Keep writing about Somaliland. Somaliland needs talented young people like you.

Schwarz Man 1 year

Amina you are doing very good job for our native country SOMALILAND.
Former British protectorat.
Somaliland and somalia they never joint before and there was not a coutry called SOMALIA accept 1960 when British Somaliland join the Union. The Histroy repeats ITSELF If we go back to 17,18,19th century we can see clearly there was not SOMALIA, so lets look in the southern shore of the Gulf of Aden, eastern Africa. In the Middle Ages it was a powerful Arab sultanate who rules most of south somalia and part of the coast of Mobasa and ZANZIBAR; when the arab sultanate was broken up in the 17th century. The coast of Somaliland came under Turkish influence in the early 13,14,15,16th century, but formal control was not acquired until it was taken from Egypt in 17th century. The collapse the Ottoman empire and Egy. Somaliland It fell under British control, so you can see again there was so called Somala and it never exicit as SOMALIA accept British Somaliland,french Somaliland AND Italy somaaliland. In 1960 British SOMALILAND took independence from great britain and was united with the former Italian Somaliland to form a great Somalia including SOMALI ETHIOPEN+SOMAI KENYA however the regime from South Somalia started to destroy and Killing women, children and elder. So much bad exprience from the south somalia we as Somaliland poeple decided to retake our county full control. In 1991 the government of SOMALIALND declared independent however THE was not internationally recognized.

SOMALILAND HA NOOLATO

abdi ali 1 year

Thanks Amina Duale to support our nation of Somaliland and our achievements to build a government. Thanks also Wikipedia for their original research to find the existing of Somaliland state. Somaliland Republic and it’s people will exist forever to separate country from the other part of they call Somalia. VIVA SOMALILAND.

Somalilander 1 year

I wish to congratulate Amina not because she donates to Wikipedia but because she is just generous and hard working woman. Somaliland thanks you. All Somalilanders admire what your supporting.

Wikipedia has Somaliland not because they care or want to know but because that’s their business. Their mission statement is to have anything and everything including Khaatumo.

Nevertheless I support Amina. Wikipedia is part of democracy, everyone has a voice and everyone can have a spotlight to shine.

No need to over complicate simple things. Somaliland exists to its people and that’s all that matters.

Nicolas B. 1 year

What does Amina says, essentially ? Apart from the hysterical “crime” stance (crimes kill people).

[A] Some facts are true, she knows it, they are part of her life.

[B] But these facts are absent from the media, as if they did not exist.

[C] But now, thanks to Wikipedia, these facts are written somewhere, and start to be read by people.

Nice story. I like this, really.

But this story is not entirely true. Amina just doesn’t read the good newspapers. Good newspapers, like le Monde Diplomatique, know Somaliland, and write about it — well, not often, but from time to time.

If this story were true, it would be an exception, an infringement of a Wikipedia rule. Happily, such “infringements” happen quite a lot. But they happen in a hostile environment, with apprentice cops chasing them.

What you forgot to tell is this :

This story would not have happened *thanks to Wikipedia policy*. This story would have happened *despite Wikipedia policy forbidding it*.

Indeed, Wikipedia has a stupid and coward policy, called “No original research”. This policy essentially says that Wikipedia must only accept ideas which are already published by the generally accepted references of knowledge.

At the time of Galileo, Wikipedia would say that Earth is flat, and Galileo writing otherwise in Wikipedia would have his contributions reverted.

For Amina and for many others, Wikipedia should really give up this policy. “Original research” is a precious jewel. Without original research, there would be no Wikipedia.

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