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|Jamhuuriya On-Line Version: A Mouthpiece For S/Land Enemies|
By Ahmed Ali Aden, Birmingham, UK
Jamhuuriya was one of the frontline if it was not the best of newspapers of Somaliland which made habit to defend the country from the propaganda of the enemy since its first publication in 1991 or in 1992. It was among one of an independent but patriotic newspapers that emerged for the young and democratic Somaliland, all Somalilanders have welcomed this new freedom of speech, and many parts of the public knew that a media which was independent, was one of the things that the people of Somaliland have gone through the bitter battle against the butcher and the brutal dictator of Siyad Barre.
I was in Hargeisa when Jamhuuriya was a toddler (socod barad) and that the well-known cartoon (dhan-xiir) was formed. Every morning when you wake up in Hargeisa and other major towns of Somaliland the first thing you wanted to know was what dhan-xiir has said and what Jamhuuriya has written this morning. There were other newspapers at the time such as Xoriyo, Codka Hargeysa and Baraarug. But people were obsessed with Jamhuuriya not because it was very cheap or free but because it had all the qualities that you would associate with a national newspaper.
It was like a bright sun, shining over the people and they used to admire it more than any other newspaper. Few years down the line people became addicted to it like how they are addicted to the Qat/Khat and no one could have chewed Qat without having Jamhuuriya at his side. During the late president (Egal) Jamhuuriya became a hot issue; there were clashes between the top editors of the newspaper and the authority, especially president Egal and Dhan-xiir have exchanged comments and unguided remarks on a number of occasions.
But now things have changed from the side of Jamhuuriya’s on-line version. It has changed what people have known to it, and suddenly started to behave like an enemy within. A person would not need to look far for a proof, the recent article from the street fighter professor Abdi I Samater is on Jamhuuriya now. They accepted his nonsense and hatred and they have prominently displayed on their website. What I found shocking is that they (Jamhuuriya) have failed to differentiate between someone who is in opposition to the government of Somaliland and someone who is totally against the sovereignty and Somaliland’s independence.
All-Puntland, Hiiraan, and Somaliweyn websites are the main platforms of the street fighter A I Samater. Through these websites he disseminate the propaganda against Somaliland and its people, but it is very unfortunate for Somalilanders to see Jamhuuriya joining the frontline enemies by allowing his malice contribution to appear on their website.
The question I was expecting from the editors of the on-line version was how the street-fighter got into the parliament when the president was delivering his historical speech. Gate-crashing, trespassing and intruding private meetings or buildings are an offence in this country (Britain). I do not really know whether or not he sneaks into the White House when Mr. Bush is meeting with his cabinet but the whole incident was an embarrassing one for Mr. Rayale himself.
Having freedom of expression in a country does not mean that the country is accepting everything which is damaging its national interests; it does not also mean that the newspapers of that country can become the mouthpieces of the enemy as Jamhuuriya is nowadays tends to be.
In addition to this, the on-line version’s readers have fallen dramatically over the last year and half. This is due to the poor edition by the London team of the on-line version. When the members of the British Parliament were making their speech on Somaliland, shortly after on their return from Somaliland they have as the Americans branded and called General Morgan as the Bucher of Hargeisa. The on-line version has translated this as (Hiliblihii Hargeysa) and they even made this as the headline of their story. Does this make any sense to the readers? Absolutely no, they could have said (dadqalkii Hargeysa or dhiigya-cabkii Hargeysa) instead of directly translating the exact English words.
Poor spelling and bad grammatical structure of the Somali language are the habit of the Jamhuuriya On-line version team in London. Creating good and attention-grapping headlines is a unique skill which one needs to study his own literature and history if he/she is not naturally born with qualities or distinctions for a writer.
Finally, as well as learning how to distinguish between Somaliland’s opposition parties and its renowned enemies, I think the team also needs to improve a lot about their journalism career.
Ahmed Ali Aden