By Abdikadir H. Dooy
The local phrase “Gaari waa” which means the “unreachable part of Somalia” was nothing to me other than a term which I used to hear from old people until I went a trip to the far east of Somalia. Bosaso which is the capital of Bari “the largest region of Somalia” was included the unreachable land prior to the construction of the two-lane road that connects Garowe to Bosaso port in 1989. Yet the most historic, largest and richest “in natural resources” of the same region remains unreachable. Except for the local residents, it is hard to get someone who has the guts to travel there for fun neither for love, only when it is must go in order to fulfill the terms of reference that a job holder signed with an employer.
I was with eight other passengers traveling by Toyota’s Land Cruiser as public transport; we left at 7 am from Bosaso’s Xalwo Kismayo Restaurant. Despite the fact that it was my first time ever to trip such a rough and long journey only my body was felt that but I was emotionally excited and curious. As we took the early hours with talks and stories, the situation has suddenly changed when all female passengers began vomiting due to the roughness of the road, then I was told that every woman in whatever age vomit when it comes to traveling through the way to Bargal. Eventually, after 10 hours of driving roughly about 350 km, we reached safely the gate for a broad unreachable land “Bargal”, a newly named Gardafu region.
Bargal is a historic coastal town off the Indian Ocean which currently has approximately 7,000 population, it became so popular after the King Osman’s palace was built in the 19th century, local elders told me it is about two hundred years old. Still, the footprints of the empire are available in Bargal. Fortunately and because of my assignment, I had the opportunity to meet with almost every part of the community, from elders to pupils, district council members, youth clubs, educators, women advocates, fishermen and business people. Even though the level of illiteracy in the community is extreme again they are characterized as peace and unity lovers.
A couple of weeks later, I had continued my trip to Alula which is another historic district located at the red sea, the way from Bosaso to Bargal was relatively smooth compared to the way connects Bargal to Alula. This district became totally isolated after recent huge storms and floods distracted the only rough way that existed. The government of Puntland makes a huge portion of its revenue from frankincense tax and licenses sold to fishery boats that jammed between those two coastal districts while both of them has the lowest services in the whole state, for example; Alula’s only power generator has not been functioning for the last months due to mechanical errors.
However, according to my personal observations, this region is lucky enough to have the best and the most honest man I have known in Somali politics. Governor Abdikadir Iidi is a Somali-British and a mental health practitioner who compromised his well-paid job and came to his born-country to try his best advocating and delivering better services to his homeland.
“I am not a politician, I am purely a technical man who sacrificed to appeal assistance for the people of this region to get basic needs through either government channel or humanitarian programs, I am committed to that and I happened in dangerous situations many times just for that” said governor Abdulkadir Iidi. And I really witnessed many complex situations he was facing during my visit to Gardafuu region.
Nevertheless, this region is located at the blend of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, and it happened to have the world’s largest frankincense farms but because of remoteness and lack of transportation it remained unrevealed.