Libmonster ID: UK-1204
Author(s) of the publication: R. BECKIN

R. BEKKIN, PhD in Law

You will not find such a state on any map of the world: Somaliland. For the world community, this is just one of the provinces of the once unified state of Somalia, which ceased to exist in 1991. The civil war that began three years earlier led to the country's disintegration into three state entities: The Republic of Somaliland (proclaimed in May 1991), Puntland (established in May 1998), and Somalia proper. The first two were never recognized by the international community, although they are de facto states, while southern Somalia is a collection of disparate territorial units ruled by different clans.

There is a smoldering border conflict between Somaliland and Puntland, which seems like a game of Cossack robbers against the backdrop of events in southern Somalia. The real cause of the conflict is a dispute over the territories where oil reserves are discovered, as well as a struggle for revenue from customs duties and port charges between Bossaso, the capital of Puntland, and Berbera, the largest port in Somaliland.

A STATE THAT DOESN'T EXIST

In the capital of Somaliland, Hargeisa, news reports on the local channel SLNTV (Somaliland Nation TV) occasionally remind about the confrontation with a neighbor. Peace is the national wealth of Somaliland, which is cherished and valued more than gold and drinking water. The events of the 1988 - 1991 Somali civil War are still fresh in people's minds. In 1988, the rebel town of Hargeisa was heavily bombed. According to eyewitnesses, only ruins remained of the city. Dictator Siad Barre's order to level the rebel city to the ground was carried out.

In 1991, Somaliland, a former British colony and then a province of Somalia, could only be called a state conditionally. It was a barren area with war-torn infrastructure.

The world community was in no hurry to recognize the new state, and few people would then have volunteered to predict a long life for it. But 16 years have passed, and Somaliland continues to exist as a state, thanks to the weakness of the central government in Mogadishu and despite the lack of significant natural resources.

MEETING WITH THE AMBASSADOR

At the beginning of October last year, Irina Olegovna Abramova, Deputy Director of the Institute of Africa of the Russian Academy of Sciences, offered me a long-awaited business trip to Africa. The purpose of the trip is to collect material for a scientific paper on hawala**. I agreed without hesitation. All that remains is to select a country. But it wasn't that easy.

All the options that were offered to me - Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana, Egypt, and Sudan - I rejected after much thought. If you really go for hawalei, then, of course, to Somalia or, in extreme cases, Somaliland. They say it's quieter there.

Before going there, I went to see the Ambassador of Somalia to the Russian Federation, Mr. Khandula. There is no Russian diplomatic mission in Somalia, so I made the question of my trip dependent on the results of the conversation.

The Embassy of Somalia is located in one of the Moscow high-rise buildings in Zyuzino. In the next entrance of the same building is the diplomatic mission of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Unlike his housemate, the ambassador of a real State, Mr. Khandule represents a country within the borders of 1990, which has not existed for sixteen years - as long as the Soviet Union.

Hailing from Somaliland, Khandule has consistently advocated for the unity of Somalia. On one of my visits, he took out a map that showed the Somali tribal areas instead of State borders. It's like if the Russian ambassador had a map of the lands where Russians live.

After Mr. Khandule said that Somaliland is "the safest place on earth," I had no doubts about going to this mysterious country. Especially since the Ambassador kindly agreed to organize my trip.

He gave me the coordinates of his old friends: Sayid, Cartan, and Righty. All of them once studied in the Soviet Union: Said and Raiti - in Leningrad, Kartan-in Kiev, and Khandule himself - in Moscow.

Twenty-five years ago, these four young Marxists from Somalia secretly traveled to South Yemen and applied to the Soviet Embassy for an opportunity to study in the country of advanced socialism.-


* Mohammed Siad Barre (1919-1995) came to power in a military coup on 22 October 1969, President of Somalia since 1976. In the early years of his rule, "scientific socialism"was declared the official ideology in Somalia. Overthrown in the civil war of 1988-1991. Since 1992, he has lived in exile in Nigeria.

** Hawala - (Arabic. - money transfer, check) - transfer of debt. A contract under which one person assumes the obligation to pay the debtor's debt to the creditor. Khawali can also be understood as a document confirming the transfer of a debt. Hawala as a simple and affordable money transfer system is now widely used in many third world countries.

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ma. Soon, the four of them were invited to join the Union.

"Those were the best years of our lives," Mr. Handule recalled.

WHO IS FLYING TO MOGADISHU?

It was necessary to get from Moscow to Hargeisa with several transfers. Calmly and without incident, I flew to Dubai, the difficulties began further. Our flight from the United Arab Emirates to Djibouti was delayed by almost an hour, due to organizational rather than technical reasons. Daallo Airlines is perhaps the only company that, apart from the Somali language and sad memories of dictator Siad Barr, unites the divided parts of the once united state.

All the pilots and flight attendants in this company are the same Soviet-era artefacts as the "museum" IL-18, on which I traveled from Djibouti to Hargeisa. According to the sullen, taciturn pilots, the plane was at least a 1960s model, but the only consolation was that the 737 that had brought me safely from Dubai to Djibouti was not much younger. On this flight, the seat numbers on the boarding passes were not marked, and all passengers sat down wherever they wanted. Suddenly, it turned out that some oddballs had purchased seats in business class. Like the elderly Japanese businessman who mistook me for a Chinese engineer in the waiting room.

It took a lot of effort for our flight attendants to expel the Somalis who had settled in business class. Soon, a lanky, Somalian-looking guy sat cross-legged next to me, and the flight attendants managed to get him out of business class after much coaxing in broken English. His name was Mohammed, and we talked about Somalia and the high cost of living in Djibouti.

The transit lounge bore a monstrous resemblance to a station forecourt in a God-forsaken Russian outback. Rows of metal chairs with peeling paint facing each other, shabby walls, dim lighting, annoying flies, a barman with a disgruntled face pouring suspicious-smelling coffee.

After passing through the suspicious metal detector on the third attempt and checking the luggage, the idle waiting continued, except that the hall was a little cleaner. The poster shows a huge bundle of kata crossed out with red stripes. And immediately below it, as a confirmation of one of the basic laws of dialectics, sits a lean, bearded man with a blank look, methodically chewing the green leaves depicted in the drawing.

When I saw the IL-18 on which I was to fly, I realized that the cat in this case is not a luxury, but a medicine that reconciles with reality and helps to come to terms with the inevitable.

For a long time, the seat next to me on the plane remained empty. My Mohammed was safely ensconced in a compartment that could only be called business class after consuming a large bundle of kata. Unlike the flight from Dubai to Djibouti, the ILe-18 flying to Hargeisa was not driven from business class.

At last, just as I was getting ready to take a nap, a thin, hairy-eyed Indian boy quietly sank into a chair beside me. We were the only non-Africans on the plane.

"Are you also flying to Mogadishu?" he asked with a knowing smile.

"I'm sorry, but I think this plane is going to Hargeisa." You've got the plane mixed up.

"No, no, this plane is definitely going to Mogadishu. I asked the steward when I sat down.

I looked at my watch. 8.25 am. The dream was gone. My plane is less than 5 minutes away. What to do? With great difficulty, I dug my backpack out of the luggage compartment above my seat and, maneuvering between the passengers ' elbows, hurried to the exit.

"Where are you going, mister?" - in the narrow aisle of the plane, I was blocked by a big man in a rumpled jacket, as it turned out later-a steward.

"I was wrong... I'm in a hurry... it's not my plane...

"Where are you going, mister?" - calmly repeated the question of the bully, and did not think to move from the spot.

"To Hargeisa!" Please let me pass!

"You're not mistaken. This plane is actually flying to Hargeisa.

"Really?" What about Mogadishu?

"To Mogadishu later. We will first land in Hargeisa and then fly to Mogadishu. But if you have a ticket to Hargeisa, you will have to pay extra to fly to Mogadishu.

Well, no way! Thank you.

I went back to my Indian. He turned out to be an engineer, an employee of a telecommunications company, named Kumar.

"No one in our group wanted to go," Kumar said. I was the only one who agreed. My friends laughed at me...

"It's probably worth a lot of money to take such a risk.

Kumar smiled apologetically and lowered his eyes. Behind his unruly meekness, there seemed to be great ambition.

I gave the brave Aryan a final pat on the shoulder.

- Good luck! Write down how everything will turn out for you there. Maybe I'll also fly to Mogadishu in a couple of days.

There were no more than five madmen like Kumar left on the entire plane, bound for the Somali capital. At that moment, I was extremely envious of them.

WHERE IS THIS STREET?

At Hargeisa Airport, a smiling, moustachioed Saeed, a friend of Ambassador Khandule, was waiting for me. However, getting into the country was not so easy. The fact that Mr. Khandule had not been to his homeland for a long time, I felt in the first minutes of my stay on Somali soil. Back in Moscow, I was very suspicious of the "visa" e-mailed to me, which was a copy of a barely discernible text in Somali with a seal. Mr. Khandule also provided me with another, but even more ridiculous-looking, Somali visa , in case I decided to fly to Mogadishu.

"Just don't show anyone your second Somaliland visa, eh

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then they will be offended, " he added, handing me a large questionnaire in English with my photo.

Well, okay, Africa after all. No one goes to them, that's why the visas are so strange, I reassured myself. But it wasn't as easy as I thought.

At Hargeisa airport, arrivals are charged a kind of indirect tax. Everyone entering the country, regardless of citizenship, must exchange $ 50 for the local currency at an exchange rate that is exactly two times lower than the market rate. Thus, the state actually charges an entry fee of $ 25 per person.

After paying the required amount, you can go to the next window with the passport, where the visa is affixed. To my disappointment, they didn't give me a visa and refused to return my passport. Fortunately, Said was nearby. It turned out that my visa on a piece of paper is not really a visa, and some other document is required, which I have not even heard of. Saeed said a few affectionate words to Khandule, and we went to the city to the Ministry of Internal Affairs to get the necessary paper.

The first thing that caught my eye about Hargeisa was the lack of road signs. I remembered a recent experiment in a German town where all road signs were removed from the streets. According to the organizers of this action, the lack of signs should make drivers pay more attention to pedestrians.

In Somaliland, such experiments will not surprise anyone. Instead of signs at busy intersections, there are traffic controllers who do not have a specific uniform, but often in a sand-colored police suit. They are constantly waving their arms and blowing their whistle. In the absence of a staff, they have to do all the work with their hands: you go to the right, you go to the left, and you go straight.

If there is an accident, everyone who happens to be nearby comes running to see it. In poor-looking Hargeisa, an accident on the road is second only to the appearance of a white man on the street.

At the same time, there are a lot of cars in Hargeisa. These are mostly used Japanese cars, which can be purchased relatively cheaply even by Somali standards. In addition to cars, the role of transport in the city is performed by narrow-eyed donkeys-water carriers, which, however, do not greatly interfere with traffic.

They managed to rebuild Hargeisa after the war, but they didn't get around to naming the streets yet. Through the city center stretches one single street, which has the name-Independence Road (Independence Street).

The Ministry of Internal Affairs turned out to be a one-story building resembling a rural elementary school in the Russian hinterland. Said and I didn't get the paper I needed here.

The next item in our program was the Ministry of National Planning. It turned out to be exactly like the Ministry of Internal Affairs. And there we were not given the required paper.

"Look, Sayid, can we just go back there and give them some money?

"That's all we can do now," said Said.

Everything turned out easier than I could have imagined. I waited in the car. Five minutes later, a satisfied Saeed appeared, accompanied by a police officer holding my passport in red.

Before the cop got into the backseat of our car, Said whispered to me that I should give this guy $ 20. Then Said got behind the wheel next to me, covering the bribe taker with his broad back...

Less than half an hour later, Saeed and I were sitting in a restaurant, remembering our ordeal with the passport as a funny misunderstanding. After learning from Said that most of the ministerial posts in the country are bought for 10 -15 thousand dollars, often by illiterate people, I concluded that traveling to ministries in Hargeisa is only a waste of gasoline.

CAT DISHWASHERS

Most of all, I was afraid of getting sick in Africa with some intestinal infection. Sayid had already told me that there were no proper doctors in the country, and therefore, in accordance with Darwin's teaching, only the strongest survived. If you are ill, put your trust in Allah.

As you know, what you are most afraid of, certainly happens. And very soon. By the evening of the same day, I felt ill. After a while, when I came to my senses, I realized that it couldn't have been any other way. In the cafe where Said invited me, most of the time, instead of eating, I fought off annoying thin cats that got in the way and waited for the right moment to jump on the table and snatch a piece of meat from my plate. I fought as hard as I could. In response, the cats hissed hideously or screamed shrilly.

Cats in Somaliland are probably the most privileged urban animals. A few rogue dogs. They live mainly on the outskirts and are content with garbage from large urban garbage dumps. The main entertainment for them is to chase the wandering monkeys in search of food and adventure in the city. I still regret that I did not have time to take a picture, as one dog, slowly moving its paws, chased the monkey.

Monkeys are children's best friends. Street urchins pick them up and kiss them. Once in the city, the monkeys start playing pranks - they jump on cars and do whatever they want with them.

But the spontaneity of the monkeys is nothing compared to the insolence of the local cats. While I was fending off two skinny kittens, flies that didn't know shame also landed on my plate without hindrance. They didn't react to the flapping of their hands, and I didn't want to kill them right on the plate. Said and his friend, the former Ambassador of Somalia to the USSR, who joined us, just laughed.

I smiled back and tried to finish off the huge piece of meat and pasta as quickly as possible. Meat (beef or camel meat) with pasta is the main food in Somaliland, wherever you go. If you are near the sea, or rather, near the Gulf of Aden, then you can often find fish in restaurants.

From this monotony very much

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you get tired quickly, like a school cafeteria. But then, on the first day, I still didn't know all this and politely tried to finish off the breakfast that I didn't enjoy, which turned into a late lunch. However, I soon saw something that made me throw all decency to hell and push aside the plate of half-eaten meat.

The two dystrophic cats I'd just been struggling with jumped up on the next table and began to lick the plates left by the customers.

"It looks like the restaurant staff saves water and prefers cats to do the dishes for them," I joked sadly, pushing my plate away.

My fellow diners didn't argue and joined in with a chorus of laughter...

When I came back to life after being poisoned, I decided to eat only packaged foods: yoghurts, milk, chocolate paste, and well-washed fruit in bottled water.

Unsanitary conditions in Somaliland are felt not only in cafes and restaurants. There isn't a single cactus in Hargeisa that doesn't have a torn bag hanging from it or a used plastic bottle hanging from it.

As a mockery looks like the inscription on the poster at the entrance to the capital: "Keep the city clean".

The natural decline in garbage is due only to goats, which in large numbers loiter around the city and chew everything that comes to their eyes: from newspapers to kata leaves. Even local residents do not dare to use such goats for their intended purpose. It is hard to imagine what will happen to a person who eats a goat that chews a narcotic cat all day long.

Fly-covered camel meat and beef at 20,000 shillings per kilogram (about $ 3) on the market made me want to become a vegetarian.

HAWALA, SIR!

The main source of well-being for Somaliland residents is not international aid, but money sent by relatives from abroad. Due to the underdevelopment of the financial sector, money transfer operators have actually taken over the functions of banks, the largest of which is Dahabshiil.

Today, Somaliland has a unique situation with the banking sector. Formally, there are only two banks in the country. B C - Bank of Somaliland (Bank of Somaliland) and CBS - Commercial Bank of Somaliland (Commercial Bank of Somaliland). The paradox is that the former, which is a de jure Central Bank, de facto performs the functions of a commercial bank, while the KBS is more of a state treasury than a full-fledged commercial bank.

The main tasks facing the BS are to maintain the national currency and fight inflation. To do this, the bank conducts currency interventions, buying up significant amounts in local currency-shillings for dollars. It is not uncommon for a bank manager to take out loans for currency interventions under his own name.

Abd ar-Rahman Duale Mohamud considers the reduction of the country's inflation rate to be one of his main achievements as BS manager. The US dollar is the main currency in Somaliland. The shilling is mainly used for small purchases. The State, represented by the Bank of Somaliland, does not interfere with the activities of currency changers (sarrafs), considering them at this stage of the development of the foreign exchange market as assistants, and not as competitors.

The bank's governor has repeatedly stressed to me that he is almost single-handedly managing to support the Somaliland economy. He has obtained from the President the right to pursue an independent policy in matters relating to his direct competence.

With more than forty years of experience working in various banks, including English ones, Mr. Mohamud enjoys a reputation not only in Somaliland, but also abroad. Representatives of other countries ' central banks often come to Hargeisa. According to Mohamud, the Bank of Somaliland operates more efficiently than central banks in many African countries. Nor is it an exaggeration to say that Western partners are willing to cooperate with the BS only because they trust Mohamud personally. So, according to Mohamud, only thanks to his own connections, the currency of Somaliland is printed smoothly in London. However, according to unofficial sources, the president of the country has the ability to issue so much money,

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how much they need to cover their own running costs.

The Bank of Somaliland has 10 branches in different cities of the country, including 4 in the capital - Hargeisa. BS has 3 correspondent banks: Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (Ethiopia), Banque pour le commerce et l'industries (Djibouti), CommerzBank AG Frankfurt (Germany).

However, despite its efforts to strengthen the national currency, the Bank of Somaliland acts primarily as a commercial bank. You can open a current and savings account with the bank. Both types of accounts are interest-free. But this does not mean that the BS operates in accordance with Islamic financing methods. The reason for such bank deposits is simple: the bank does not have sufficient capital to open and maintain interest-bearing accounts.

The main problem for the country's banking sector is the lack of sufficient capital and guarantees. If the banks need capital, the Bank of Somaliland will not be able to provide it. The inefficiency of the banking regulation system is expressed primarily in the absence of special legislation. Somaliland is currently preparing a banking law. With the adoption of this law, there are certain hopes for the arrival of foreign banks in the country.

Established back in 1970, Dahabshiil is the richest financial institution not only in Somaliland, but also in all of Somalia's pre-war borders. Formally, Dahabshiil is a money transfer system, most of its clients are representatives of the Somali diaspora abroad (senders of payments) and Somalis living in their historical homeland (recipients of payments). But in fact, it is Dahabshiil, and not the Bank of Somaliland, that is the real central bank in the state.

Ministries, as well as many non-governmental organizations operating in Somaliland, have accounts with Dahabshiil. Most banking operations are carried out through it.

Other havaladars (havali operators) also provide their clients with services for opening and maintaining current and savings accounts. For example, the well-known hawaladar Al-Barakat in the West, whose assets were permanently frozen by the United States after September 11, 2001. Unlike its competitor, Dahabshiel won rather than suffered from the consequences of the events of September 11. The reason for accusing the company of financing terrorism was found among the papers of one of the charity organizations suspected of collaborating with Al-Qaeda, the phone number of the Dahabshiel office in Pakistan. However, Dahabshiil, which has an official status in 40 countries, managed to prove its innocence in the terrorist attacks.

A significant part of Al-Barakat's clients transferred to Dahabshiil after the accounts of this Hawali operator were frozen. This has allowed Dahabshiil to consolidate its position as the largest financial institution in all of Somalia, including Somaliland and Puntland.

Dahabshiel was too big for even a monster like Western Union. The latter, having opened an office in Hargeisa, waited for the recipients of money transfers to come for them. While Dahabshiel and other hawali operators deliver money to recipients themselves, no matter how far away from the office they are. Very soon, Western Union had to close its Hargeisa office.

Currently, it is Dahabshiil that is the engine of not only the financial sector, but also the entire economy of Somaliland. Dahabshiil is not limited to providing banking services. Several years ago, with his active participation, an attempt was made to create the first Islamic bank in the country. The partner of Dahabshiil in the project was the Yemeni Bank Saba al-Islamiy (Saba Islamic Bank). It was assumed that the newly established Islamic bank would be called Dahab Saba-after the names of its two main founders. But the authorities considered that it was impractical to create an Islamic bank at that time. As a result, this project migrated to Djibouti, where it met with the support of the country's leadership and the President personally.

Abd al-Rahman Duale Mohamud told me that the Bank of Somaliland is currently not interested in developing Islamic banks. If such a bank is created, it will undermine the existing balance sheet: people will start withdrawing deposits from banks and quasi-banks that do not pay interest, and carry them to an Islamic bank, which will provide even if not guaranteed, but profit. In other words, the Bank of Somalia-

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lenda, represented by its manager, considering Islamic banking structures as its competitor, demonstrates behavior that is more typical of a commercial bank than a central bank.

As for loans, the need for them in Somaliland is met, first of all, at the expense of the next of kin, members of one's clan, and friends.

Consumer lending on a cooperative basis has strong roots in the country. People who do not have enough funds to make large purchases are grouped together and regularly contribute a certain amount to the general fund. They choose a treasurer-a fund manager-from among themselves. After the required amount is collected, it is provided to one of the members of this cooperative society. And so on, until the need for loans of all members of the company is met.

Somaliland is, in the full sense of the word, dominated by the free market, as it was seen by the first Western political economists, in particular Adam Smith. If you want to trade , take it and trade. At every step you feel the presence of the invisible hand of the market. The state in Somaliland is an elderly night watchman, with whom you can always negotiate.

The main revenue generated by the country comes from port and customs duties, as well as entry and exit duties. As for other taxes and fees, their collection is complicated by the weakness of the fiscal system and the lack of a well-established tax mechanism. In particular, the income tax, the amount of which is determined arbitrarily, can be reduced on the basis of an oral agreement between the taxpayer and the state.

HOW TO BECOME A STAR

The main trouble in night Hargeisa is to run into a bare wire hanging from somewhere in the sky. However, my new friends were very worried when I wandered around the dusty streets of Hargeisa at night.

"You say it's safe here," I said.

"That's true, but it's better not to take any chances," I always got the answer.

From time to time, Sayid and Righty would point out the lost-eyed weirdos wandering around.

"Victims of the civil war," they explained. - They are basically harmless, but they can behave inappropriately.

These people, who were injured or lost loved ones, remained in the distant 1991. For them, the war continues in themselves.

On the evening before I left Hargeisa, an elderly man came up to me and, with a kind of weariness in his voice, shouted in English: "You are not Somali. Smiling, I told him that I was also Somali, only albino. The man looked at me incredulously and walked on.

This was the only negative attitude towards me as a foreigner in Somaliland. In all other cases, I aroused curiosity as the only stranger on the street. I staggered down Independence Road to the market and back, with no particular purpose in mind. No wonder everyone thought I was a clever Chinaman. Merchants of cotton wool and fabrics, calling to buy their goods, persistently addressed me as a native of the Middle Kingdom. Even the girls were shouting after me: "I love you, China", but for some reason they asked for money. At first I tried to explain that I wasn't Chinese, but then I gave up and accepted the role, which was not particularly burdensome for me.

"Being Chinese isn't so bad," Said said. "The Chinese are even respected here. They are interested in business, not politics. So if they think you're Chinese here, be happy.

And I was happy.

I was prepared for the increased interest from the locals. Probably, for everyone who once wanted to become a star, but did not become one, it is useful to go to the African or Asian hinterland to feel how hard it is to constantly be in the center of attention.

At first, I answered the "How are you?"that came from every step of the way. and "Where did you come from?", then just smiled. By the end of my stay in Somaliland, I was starting to shake from the attention to my figure.

WRONG WEDDING AND FUNERALS ACCORDING TO THE RULES

No matter how much I roamed the streets of Hargeisa, I didn't meet a single white man. But this does not mean that there are no whites in the capital. There are many representatives of international organizations, researchers and spies working in the capital of Somaliland.

One evening, Saeed drove me, maddened by idleness, to his German friends Olaf and his wife.

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Asia's wife. They lived in a villa outside the city. Olaf had been in Hargeisa for almost two years. He is writing a dissertation on the state system in Somaliland. He knows every dog in Hargeisa. Asia is originally from Eritrea, but speaks pure German. She is a German citizen and lives permanently there, and she came to Hargeisa to marry Olaf in accordance with the requirements of Sharia law.

The problem is that Asiya is a Muslim and Olaf is a Christian. And Sharia law, as you know, prohibits marriage between a non-Muslim and a Muslim woman. But the liberal Somaliland mullah apparently decided not to disappoint the newlyweds and held the ceremony for a good magarych, expressing the wish that Olaf would convert to Islam in the future...

All villas are protected, but not because there is a real threat to the lives of their inhabitants, but rather to avoid tempting not very rich locals and some radical citizens.

A few years ago, somewhere between Hargeisa and Berbera, located on the Gulf of Aden, local "Wahhabis" - supporters of the Ittihad organization - killed foreigners because they did not have a long enough beard. The whole country rushed to find the villains. They were found and severely punished. But since then, foreigners have not been allowed to leave the cities without being accompanied by two police officers armed with Kalashnikovs. Formally, the state provides two young men for free, but according to established tradition, it is customary to reward them with $ 20 for two.

My bodyguards were a gaunt old man and a very young boy. Of course, such security is useless. The only thing that threatened me on the way was the thorns that bit into my legs every time I ran out to photograph another camel or the phallus-shaped dum-dum, created by the labor of many thousands of insects from sand and clay.

Before leaving the city, we visited the cemetery where the victims of the civil War are buried. With a liberal approach to marriage and family relations, the strictness of Somali Islam in matters of funerals is surprising. All the graves are similar to each other and represent a barely noticeable mound, surrounded by several ovals of small stones. Above each burial site is a small stone that looks like a flattened brick. Neither the name, nor the date of birth and death are indicated on the stone.

AFTERWORD

Life in Somaliland has a different speed, and to get there in time, you need to spend more than one month, and maybe even a year. When I told Said on arrival that I was here for eight days, he laughed in my face.

"That's too little. Too much.

But despite their skepticism, Said, Righty, and even Kartan, who showed up on the last day, did everything they could to make sure that I didn't leave Hargeisa empty-handed. Less than a few hours before departure, a miracle happened: I had forms for opening accounts with Dahabshiil and economic statistics for Somaliland for 2004!

I leafed through it happily at the airport. It was unthinkable for me to put this treasure in my luggage.

Luggage is checked at the airport in the old-fashioned way: you open your suitcase, and the security service, gently chewing on the cut, picks at your things. The metal detector is nearby only for beauty or for intimidation.

The plane's departure is scheduled for 15.30.

15.00. Half an hour before departure. No movement.

15.30. The same. Everyone continues to chew the cut.

I ask the airport employee: when is your flight to Djibouti?

- At 16.00, the landing will be announced. Please wait.

The ancient IL-18 arrives at 16.05. Passengers slowly disembark from it.

I see my suitcase, pinned down by the Somalis ' trunks, heading for this wreck.

When will we fly? The plane had just landed.

As soon as the last passenger stepped off the ramp, the crowd chewed up the last of the kata and rushed to the gate that blocked the way to the runway. Several times I hear the word "Burao", accompanied by indignant exclamations. (Burao is a city in eastern Somaliland).

I rush to the officer standing at the gate:

"Mister, where is this plane going?"

"Where do you want to go?"

"In Djibouti."

"Wait." This plane will now fly to Burao.

- What do you mean in Burao?! They took my luggage there!

- Don't worry, your luggage will fly back. Now this plane will fly to Burao, return, pick up you and other passengers and fly to Djibouti.

"But why?" After all, he was supposed to fly to Djibouti. He's already late.

"I know he's late, but we don't have enough planes. Then there were people who urgently need to go to Burao. He will bring them and come back. Don't worry. It's very close.

The angry shouts from the crowd grew louder. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who couldn't wait to get to Djibouti.

After a while, the gate was opened.

"In Djibouti?" I asked the officer uncertainly, pointing to the plane where my luggage was already.

"Yes, in Djibouti," he says without batting an eye.

"In Djibouti?" I asked the tall Ethiopian stewardess.

"In Djibouti."

Calming down, I sat down, as I should, in the first chair I liked.

I was awakened by the sound of a man sinking into the chair next to me. It turned out to be the same Mohammed that I met at the beginning of the journey.

"So, how did you like it in Somaliland?" "What is it?" he asked me.

- Super!

"I saw you in town. My sister really liked you. Next time, I will definitely introduce you.

I didn't say anything.

Hargeisa - Moscow


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R. BECKIN, SOMALILAND-THE DREAM OF ADAM SMITH AND CHARLES DARWIN // London: British Digital Library (ELIBRARY.ORG.UK). Updated: 18.07.2023. URL: https://elibrary.org.uk/m/articles/view/SOMALILAND-THE-DREAM-OF-ADAM-SMITH-AND-CHARLES-DARWIN (date of access: 22.05.2024).

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