Ku soo Dhawoow
Mareegta Far-Shaxan
  ha moogaan mareegta u ban baxday raadraaca taariikhda, dhaqanka iyo hidaha
  Tifatirayaasha Farshaxan way ka madax banaan yihiin fikradaha gaarka ah ee ku sugan halkan

kula xidhiidh Bahda Farshaxan EMAIL ..

The Tales of Two Towns, The Destinies of Two People

    Scholars in the development regime have been arguing about what makes certain places develop more
    rapidly while others lag behind with severe consequences for the people who live in them. Apart from
    many other factors and conditions to which there are different viewpoints, the only factor upon which
    these scholars agree as being a detrimental to development is the way people think and manage themselves
    with respect to their politico-socio-economic affairs. At the local political level, the behaviour of
    the authorities in power is decisive in either improving or destroying the lives of the people they
    represent. Poor education, greed, selfishness and blatant egotism from the part of the local authorities
    in power are the main causes of the destruction of lives of any people in any place, and vice versa.
    The following is a meagre attempt of a comparison of the current human thinking patterns of the local
    authorities of two towns located in two contrasting countries: (Landskrona in Sweden and Gabiley in
    Somaliland) and the ways these respective local authorities base their rationale in solving
    developmental problems of these towns. Sweden belongs to the developed world where its people enjoy a
    highly secured welfare system, while Somaliland belongs to one of the most disadvantaged countries on
    earth. However, the comparison is interesting since both these two towns suffer developmental problems,
    albeit in different contextual environment. What is so important in this context is the way respective
    local authorities deal with these problems.
    What these two towns have in common, among many other things, are the following:
    1) In both of them, there are human beings and natural resources on which their livelihood depends.
    Citizens in these two towns try to sustain their lives at their best by using their minds and relatively
    acquired knowledge system in improving their livelihood conditions. They work, study, travel and try to
    improve their lives and ward off daily difficulties. In both towns, there are local authorities that
    determine the course of the future of the people whom they lead.
    2) Both towns lie between two (according to their relative standards) economically and knowledgably
    powerful cities. Landskrona lies between Lund, the seat of the largest university of the Scandinavia and
    Helsingborg, a bigger town with a highly developed close link to Denmark, the gateway to southern
    Europe. Gabiley lies between Hargeisa, the capital city of Somaliland and Borama, the seat of the first
    university in Somaliland and one of the first places where one of the first educational institutes
    (Amoud Intermediate School) was established during the colonial time. Therefore, both these towns
    (Landskrona and Gabiley) are subjected to pull factors by their respective neighbouring towns.
    Conceptually, in the geographical discipline, a pull factor of a certain place is what makes people and
    economic activities from other surrounding places move to it. In the case of Landskrona, people and
    companies have been moving from it to Lund and Helsingborg and other towns where better economic
    opportunities exist. In Gabiley, people have been immigrating to the capital city Hargeisa that lies not
    more than 45 km to the east in pursuit of better lives and to Borama that has strengthened its position
    by providing better education and job opportunities. If things go unchanged, Gabiley will remain a poor
    satellite for many decades to come (may be centuries) depending on subsistence economic activities with
    its inhabitants doomed to pervasive poverty, while Hargeisa and Borama will emerge as the leading
    regional nodes of knowledge and economic powers. Only those who cannot afford to move from it will
    remain there making it a place of destitutes and uneducated pastoralists while Borama and Hargiesa will
    enjoy modernisation and being the melting points of ideas, international links, highly educated work
    force and economic dynamism. Landskrona would have met the same relative plight as Gabiley if its local
    authorities do not ponder over pioneering methods in bringing the city to its past glorious position.
    The differences of the two towns are strikingly big. Landskrona lies in Sweden, one of the most
    developed countries in the world, where Gabiley lies in Somaliland, one of the poorest countries.
    Landskrona is one of the places where industrialization in Sweden started but, due to the structural
    changes of the world economy over the last decades, it lost its position as being one of the dynamics of
    the Swedish economy. The town used its comparative advantages in being a coastal town with deep and wide
    harbour as well as in being the centre of the most agriculturally rich areas of Sweden. In Gabiley,
    although being relatively agriculturally rich and enjoying every precondition for prosperity, the town
    has never experienced economic growth and development. The lives of the people of the town and its
    surroundings have never changed to the better since the creation of the town. In fact, the situation has
    become more difficult in Gabiley due to the population growth of the rural surrounding areas with the
    carrying capacity of the agricultural landscape being on the brink of a total collapse. In both of these
    cities, politicians who have the means of change approach different strategies to improve or,
    ironically, further exacerbate the gloomy situation. In Landskrona, local politicians save no energy in
    investing local resources in the best way in order to improve the living conditions of the people, while
    their counterparts in Gabiley transfer its economic resources to Hargeisa, the capital City of
    Somaliland, with the aim of placating their corrupted, depraved, egoistically motivated clan appointed
    mentors in the government apparatus. The result is pervasive poverty, widespread diseases, illiteracy
    and environmental degradation for the inhabitants of Gabiley.
    Strategies for development/underdevelopment
    During my study at Lund University, Sweden, our class made a field trip to Landskrona, the old
    industrial town that lies 30 km away from Lund. Landskrona contributed a great deal to the Swedish
    economic base. The aim of the field trip was to see with our own eyes a town in a constant
    transformation and at the same time try to find reasons behind these transformations. We could see a
    town trying to cope with high unemployment rates as a result of the closure of vibrant economic
    activities; buildings and offices of the bigger companies in early times of the Swedish economic build-
    up becoming now the meeting points of flocks of birds; old railway lines that once transported bulk
    goods that were in great demand to the harbour being covered by sand and grass and the giant warehouses
    looking like ghosts ready for action. We could also meet the human minds that are trying their best in
    creating economic innovations and other pioneering attempts to enhance the quality of lives of the local
    people who lost their jobs when the companies in which they were employed closed down or moved to other
    Due to its strategic position at the centre of the Sound region and its huge agricultural resources,
    Landskrona became one of the rapidly industrialized cities of Sweden during the 19th century, with
    industries like textile, foodstuff, metal and shipbuilding being the corner stone of the industrial
    base. The shipyard alone (being the biggest shipyard in the world) engaged 2.300 employees of a town
    that had 30.000 inhabitants. With the elapse of time, Landskrona started to loose slowly but steadily
    its leading position as one of the economic engines of Sweden. Many companies and industries (among them
    the shipyard) were shut down, with the result being an economic setback for the town. People started to
    move from the town. Now the town is characterized by high unemployment rates, criminality and
    deterioration of the once beautiful buildings. Although many reasons can be mentioned as why Landskrona
    has lost its leading position as an economic force, there are two major factors that economic analysts
    usually refer to.
    The first factor is the stiff competition that the town has been facing over the last decades from its
    two neighbouring but equally powerful towns: Lund and Helsingborg. With the improvement of
    transportation, technology and other economically essential infrastructure, firms that were located in
    Landskrona moved to bigger neighbouring towns to seek better comparative advantages, or they simply
    became bought out by, or merged with, other companies in these towns or other places. Other services,
    industrial companies and suppliers who depended on these firms were also forced to close down or move to
    other cities. People who were happily employed in companies in Landskrona lost their jobs, their
    dependents became without economic sources.
    The other factor is that the world economy is now characterized by internationalisation, concentration
    and specialization of the economic activities with the result being stiff international competition and
    globalisation of the economy. This entails that companies not only change ownership but also lose market
    with closure as a final result. For Landskrona, the result became catastrophic mass unemployment,
    criminality and other social problems.
    The political power holders of the city do not spare any effort at their disposal to alter the gloomy
    development of the town. With the era of the old heavy industries being part of the history, the city
    counsel of Landskrona has been looking for alternative ways to bring back both capital and people to the
    city. New ideas of business innovations, development of tourism, educational institutes and investment
    strategies are being introduced. The results of these noble efforts have already started to show.
    Politicians who control Landskrona are knowledgeable people with clear objectives, firm and resolute
    decisions and who are determined to improve the plight of the city and its people. Through these wisely
    planed economic strategies, Landskrona is on its way back again to regain its leading place as a dynamic
    economic centre that will contribute to the welfare of Sweden in this world of regionalization and
    economic competition.
    In Gabiley, there have never been any development strategies undertaken by any political authority. As I
    hail from Gabiley, I have been following its development situation at close range over the years. It is
    saddening to see the people of Gabiley suffer unnecessarily due to lack of qualified political leaders
    who could tackle the massive underdevelopment that has plagued this town and its surroundings through
    the years. Lying between Hargiesa that is the Capital City of Somaliland and Borama with its bright,
    far-seeing and unified academicians and competition-aware local authorities, Gabiley will finally
    succumb to the begging situations for handouts of the “First Ladies” and co. (as Huda Barkhad did
    recently) and baits of economic powers from other regions, while its resources will end up in big
    pockets of undeserving gangsters in Hargeisa.
    Whereas politicians in Landskrona are elected by virtue of their political programmes, proper education,
    sound and sincere qualities, the politicians who control Gabiley have been tribally elected, some of
    them even lacking formal education! The town counsel members have been handpicked by uneducated and
    selfish figures with tribal power base. Although local elections have been processed in the country, the
    old counsel members dominate the political structure of Gabiley just because of their being well
    connected to the corrupted clan-minded ruling officials in the government. They were originally elected
    to secure certain tribal interests and with this, others who could have been more qualified have been
    eliminated from the power. Their vested personal interest and misuse of power are the guiding lines of
    their political agendas. Their political survival always depends on the dictations of the higher
    echelons in Hargeisa. That is why it has become the norm for them to get direct orders from people in
    power in Hargeisa in transferring the taxes and customs revenues to Hargeisa where only God knows its
    final end use.
    Over the last 10 years, I visited Gabiley several times. I could not see a single development project
    initiated by these politically corrupted local government officials. Instead, what I experienced was a
    sad situation where the people of the town suffered from lack of proper administration and development
    strategies. The only place in Gabiley where the victims of unemployment and lack of economic freedom
    could solicit job opportunities was (and still is) the local government office. People used to gather
    there in flocks every working day from the early morning to try to get the luckiest moment to speak to
    the Mayor of the town or one of his associates in securing a handout for the day. The citizens of
    Gabiley who fall outside of the tribally gained control of power try individually to make ends meet, but
    without positive state intervention, their livelihood and the future possibilities for their children
    are at risk. In this highly needy and chaotic clan-oriented situation, it is the tribal relations,
    interest opportunism and access to the state apparatus that gains the crucial influence on the decision
    process. Corruption and nepotism are the means of operation here. That is why the time in Gabiley seems
    to stand still with no minute economic development at sight. Disease and poverty are the reality of the
    daily life of the citizens of Gabiley. Although the town is located in the most agriculturally potential
    area with every pre-condition for economic development, it is lagging far behind its neighbouring towns
    ( Hargeisa and Borama) that have succeeded in outdoing it with relatively bright future for their
    What has happened to the minds of the people of Gabiley? Why cannot they change their sad situation
    through collective efforts and organized management? Why do they accept and be satisfied with the meagre
    baits from the wife of the president of Somaliland while their enormous natural resources are being
    swapped for cheap positions and sinister loyalties by uneducated and selfish local authorities? Why do
    they act fatalistic instead of wresting their economic resources from the corrupted local authorities,
    investing it in roads, irrigation canals, schools, health centres, higher education institutions,
    companies and other essential economic infrastructure?
    These questions remind me an intellectual discourse that took place between me and a Swedish man who
    happened to be a liberally oriented academic. I was in a train to Stockholm when this man started to sit
    on the chair next to me, saying hello in a respecting manner. After a while, we started to exchange our
    viewpoints about the world political developments where the discussion on USA occupation of Iraq led us
    to the wider contemporary question: Why Arabs cannot organize themselves and build the biggest world
    power since they possess the vital engine of the world economy (oil)? That could have changed the course
    of the world history at a time when they occupy the biggest natural resource of the world that is the
    engine of all economic lives of the people. He stood firmly on his euro-centric notion that there is
    something wrong with the thinking capacity of the Arab people. Although I could not agree with him, his
    standpoint reminded me the parallel of the Gabiley context. I do not think that there is something wrong
    with the minds of the citizens of Gabiley. Because of their relative sedentary live style, the citizens
    of Gabiley enjoy the highest educated per capita in Somaliland and they only need to think and
    understand what is going around them. They have to wake up and do something in changing their plight in
    the world of globalisation. If the educated sector of Gabiley, both in Diaspora and back home, do not
    make a unified effort in changing the gloomy situation of Gabiley, its future generations will end up as
    marginalized victims while their counterparts in Hargeisa and Borama will become their leaders.
    In the modern world, there is a devastatingly stiff competition between people, companies, societies,
    regions and countries and in any competition; there are always losers and winners. Winners live happily
    and enjoy the fruits of their hard work while losers lick their wounds and live in an unending misery.
    And who does want to be a loser? Certainly not the citizens of Gabiley.
    Eng. Adam Sheikh Ibrahim Suldan
    SODA (Somaliland development Association)
    Lund, SWEDEN
    Email: sult2a@yahoo.com
    Xigasho: Somaliland Center
Soo Bandhige :Fu,aad
              Bahda Mareegta Farshaxan

Copyright ©2003- Mareegta Raadraac ee Farshaxan. All Rights Reserved.