Buhodleh: A city that symbolizes Somali Unity and Dervish Valor is under siege

By Ali H. Abdulla
Feb. 23, 2011

Ahmed Silanyo
Pres. Ahmed M. Silanyo

Silanyo’s Ambitions

What is going on in a small city in Northern Somalia is testimony to the dark history of Silanyo, the current President of the secessionist enclave calling itself Somaliland. Silanyo used to be the chairman of the clan-based militia, the SNM, which used civilians as human shields when its fighters infiltrated the cities of Hargeisa and Burao and forced the residents of both cities to run for their lives when caught between the rebels and the equally brutal military forces of the Somali government. That hate-filled conflict contributed to the collapse of the Somali government and the loss of Somali Nationalism and Patriotism. It is the base for most of the problems that still besiege Somalia today. It is also the base for all failed efforts to resuscitate the failed State of Somalia.
In disregard to civilian sufferings, Silanyo’s SNM militia remnants are again waging a brutal and relentless war against another population center called Buhodleh, a city that stands for freedom, Somali Unity and Dervish Valor. The thousands of SNM militia assembled in the area get regular enforcements, logistical support and regular monthly salaries, which has been increased twofold recently as an incentive to continue the war against people who are defending their land, honor and freedom. Some of these funds are provided by British Tax Payers in the form of aid. The philosophy behind the onslaught is the ambition of Silanyo to fulfill a long held dream of ethnically cleansing the regions that refused to support the SNM secessionist agenda and supported the Somali government in its war against the rebel movements. It seems that it is pay-back time as is clear from an old letter circulating in the Somali media.

The City of Unity

Buhodleh is a small city along the border between Somalia and Ethiopia. Its residents are the descendants of the Dervish Warriors who resisted against colonial ambitions in the Horn of Africa for 21 years. They fought against the French, Italian, British and Ethiopian hegemony. The leader of the Dervish movement, Sayid Mohamed Abdullah Hassan was born in Sacmadeeqo, 11 km from Buhodleh. Sayid Mohamed grew up to become the Mahdi of Somalia and frustrated the efforts of the colonial powers to establish an effective rule in Somalia. Although he was finally defeated by the combined forces of these powers and their Somali collaborators, he leaves a legacy for Somalis unparalleled in Somalia’s written history. He inherited his poetic prowess from relatives on his mother’s side such as Ali Dhuuh and Ismail Mire, both of whom are bards in their own rights.
Although all Somali pastoralists practice Egalitarian democracy, I.M. Lewis uses the Buhodleh area as a base for his famous book “A Pastoral Democracy”. In my travel to the area, I met a pastoralist in a small town known as Widhwidh who told me that his camel herd includes a number of camels in the name of I.M. Lewis, a gift from his father to Lewis in the 1950s when the latter visited the area.
Buhodle City
Buhodleh can be compared to the legendary city of Troy which resisted its enemies for a long time. The comparison stems from the fact that Silanyo and Farole, the respective presidents of Somaliland and Puntland use their own Trojan horses to try and infiltrate the defenses of the city. Although Farole has not used force against Buhodleh, both administrations use some local collaborators to weaken the resolve of the city inhabitants for supporting a local administration known as SSC and their unwavering intention to stand up for Somali Unity regardless of the huge costs involved in terms of lost lives, lost income and lost development. True to their Dervish history, the people of Buhodleh are ready to sacrifice everything dear for the sake of dignity, honor, freedom and the blue Somali flag.

Background to the Conflict

For people who are not familiar with the current conflict in Northern Somalia, a short background history is a must.
Before, and even after the colonialists divided Somalia into 5 different spheres of influence, the Somali people never recognized any borders and grazed their livestock wherever the grass was greener. They used to migrate with their herds wherever it rained. This behavior even led to British intervention to stop their movement south into Kenya. An American Archeologist theorized that the ancient Egyptians were Somali pastoralists who settled in the Nile Delta. The constant migration contributed to the homogeneous nature of the Somali people who speak the same language, and pray to the same God.
In 1960, two of the former colonies, Italian ruled Southern Somalia, and British ruled Northern Somalia united to form the Somali Republic. After enjoying 9 years of civilian rule, the military took over power in Somalia in 1969 after the assassination of the elected president, Abdirashid Sharmarke. The military dictators ruled Somalia for 20 years. In 1991 they were eventually replaced by clan-based militias that collaborated with the Ethiopian regime of the brutal dictator, Mengistu Haile Miriam. One of the rebel movements that destroyed the Somali State and plunged it into the current chaos that fostered pirates, Warlords and Islamic extremists is the Somali National Movement, the SNM. The current president of Somaliland, Silanyo, used to be its chairman. Read More


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