Somaliland, a de facto independent country located within what is internationally recognized as Somalia, is the subject of much Finnish influence. Many returnees from Finland have risen to prominent positions in Somaliland society.
The parliament’s spokesman and the rector of Hargeisa University are both Finnish citizens, for example, and one of Somaliland’s biggest political parties – Faisal Ali Warabe’s Justice and Welfare party – was born in Helsinki.
Hashi believes that the Finnish experience helped Somaliland avoid a bitter civil war similar to that engulfing the Ivory Coast following last summer’s presidential election. Warabe, who lives in Espoo to the west of Helsinki, accepted his defeat when he came second in the vote.
”One interesting thing Warabe said was that he did not want war or conflict,” says Hashi. “He just wants democracy, which he learnt in Finland.”