Somaliland Separatist Movement

Although it’s unrecognized as a sovereign state, many countries around the world show their support of the Somali National Movement which began sometime in the 1981. Somaliland remained apart of Somalia, a country on the Eastern coast of Africa, until May of 1991 when it gained political independence, despite the first election taking place years before and became the Republic of Somaliland. Somaliland government is heavily influenced by British colonial powers, meaning that its form of government has numerous traditions tied into it. There were originally two divisions of Somaliland, British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland, both on the coast of Somalia.

The taxonomic systems that help determine who powerful figures are and what democracy means hold important nuances across cultures. The cross cultural considerations for the heuristics that guide perceptions of governmental systems are worthy of exploration when discussing separatist movements such at this. Elders make up the highest ranked members on the hierarchy of government power, while representatives fall under them. Age and honor are important aspects of  Somali culture, as is the clan system.

The Isaaq is the largest clan among several others. Clans are divided into sub-groups and follow a patriarchal system. The clan system provides the taxonomic framework for how the Somaliland government and social structures function. Territory disputes are generally fought among clans, the most salient being the boundaries of Somaliland. Since Somalia doesn’t recognize Somaliland as an its own distinct, autonomous region, territory disputes are difficult and messy. Different sub-groups have claimed parts of former British Somaliland, creating an obstacle for a united Somaliland that can be recognized as an autonomous state.

Looking at the effects of a sovereign Somaliland through a social lens, there are many ways in which identity and social taxonomic systems are influenced. Considering the concept and social function of clans, connections can be drawn to other separatist movements, especially those elsewhere in Africa, and more specific, Somalia.

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