I’ve lived in East Africa long enough to know that there are different post-colonial narratives. Like the Kennedy assassination and other things that happened fifty years ago, everyone has a different version of the story. These different versions eventually cease being explanations and start being beliefs.
After the colonial Italians left Somalia, the country began to rot. Mogadishu now looks like a strange Italianate alternate universe; it’s what Florence would look like as a ghost town. In the north, across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen, lies Somaliland. Somaliland is not a recognized country in the conventional sense, and does not maintain embassies recognized by the United Nations. It is to Somalia what French Canada is to Canada – socio-politically distinct, but inextricably connected.
I became interested in Somaliland as a traveler and as an economist. At the time, I was writing a chapter of an economics textbook and wanted to use the pirates of the Gulf of Aden as the topic of the chapter.
I’d been to the Gulf of Aden from the Omani side, and thought it would be interesting to explore what is happening in Somali, where the majority of pirates are recruited (it should be noted that most pirate recruits, however, come from the south and not from the region of Somaliland).