President of the Federal Republic of Somalia 55th Anniversary of Independence (when northern regions of Somalia got independence from Britain) 26 June 2015.
Today we celebrate one of the most significant moments in Somalia’s history – the moment of our independence.
55 years ago, the poet Cabdillahi Suldan Timmacadde, said as he watched the Somali flag rise, “Soomaaloo callan taagta saakaa inoogu horaysa” (“This morning is the first day we will see a Somali hoisting a flag”).
Thousands of people had converged in cities around Somalia to see in the new day: a day where nationalism was the rallying cry, where foreign rule would no longer be tolerated.
55 years on, we have the chance to look back and ask ourselves what we did with the opportunity that this historic occasion gave us.
My friends, ‘What have we done?’ We took 55 years to get to the point where we finally used our independence to do the right thing for Somalia – choosing democracy over dictatorship.
We took a long time and Somalia lost many sons and daughters because we failed to make the right choices, failed to capitalise on opportunities, failed to pursue a better future – the future those thousands of people dreamed of 55 years ago.
We cannot waste our opportunities again.
Just like that day 55 years ago, when Somalia chose a different future, and united against a common enemy to secure that future – we are the same point tonight.
We have a moment to choose independence again. Not independence from foreign agents, but from those internal elements which hold us back from greatness.
Then – we united for battle. Now- we must unite for peace.
Then -we fought together for independence from external forces. Now – we must give up fighting apathy, complacency, mediocrity, the status quo.
We have a moment to choose togetherness. To choose togetherness, to come together to fight a worse enemy than we ever faced with foreign forces. You may think, when I talk about enemies, that I’m talking about al Shabaab. It is true that they are an enemy of Somalia, an enemy of Islam, an enemy of peace. But it is not al Shabaab to whom I referring.
I am referring to the enemies that are with us in this room. Do not look at your neighbour with suspicion; it is not your neighbour I am talking about. Instead we must all look carefully at ourselves. We must look down at our hands; look at our tongues, examine our hearts.
Somalia’s future is not something that any one can give to us. It is only something we can make for ourselves.
No amount of dollars in external foreign funding; no amount of supportive troops; no amount of externally generated policies, programmes and priorities will give Somalia what she needs. As grateful as we are for these things- they are not our answer.
Because what Somalia needs is not something that can be measured and reported against a policy framework.
What Somalia needs is her sons and daughters today to choose their own future. More than that, we must MAKE our own future.
We will never do this if continue to allow our historical grievances and our current frustrations to stall our conversations before they begin, to undermine our trust and confidence in each other.
My government is committed to continue dialogue with Somaliland administration, with the aim of resolving our differences and ensure that the legacy of unity left by our freedom fighters prevails.
Somalia is at a critical point.
For the first time in 20 years, we are largely at peace. We have a legitimate government in place, and are making progress in emerging from a nascent to full state hood. However, we know that peace is fragile and progress is reversible.
In many ways, despite our rich cultural heritage, Somalia is a country in infancy. We are a nation of clans and sometimes of competing agendas. But I think it is fair to say that we have all had enough. And that is why inclusiveness and contribution is at the heart of the government’s agenda.
I firmly believe that we can have the best government, the best programs and the best institutions in the world, but that none of this will matter, or bring peace, unless we first have an understanding of what makes us one nation. Unless we first look at each other and see ourselves.
Unless we have One Somalia.
Next year, we have the chance to prove to the world that we are on the right track. I am fully committed to national elections in 2016 and am excited that for the first time in 45 years, Somalis will have the chance to choose.
We are making plans for these now. I look forward over the coming months to sharing those plans with you and seek your input in how we can make them work.
There is no other choice but ‘Soomaalinimo’. There is no other choice but to make our mark now. I trust you will join me in making that happen.