While we celebrated our Independence Day here in the United States today, Somalia — a country that is currently undergoing a transition to a more stable government — celebrated its Independence on July 1st, 53 years after achieving freedom from British and Italian colonial rule. A colorful celebration took place at Konis Stadium in Mogadishu after several years of internal turmoil with Al-Shabaab, its eventual ousting, and the gradual transition to a new government last year.
President Hassan Sheik Mohamud was in attendance at the newly resurfaced Konis Stadium along with military and government officials. The ceremony and celebration were televised live on national television. “I’d like to congratulate all Somali people, everywhere, on the 53rd anniversary of our independence and unity. It’s the day when the name of Somalia was established in the world,” said President Mohamud.
There was much to celebrate this year as the the UN mandated presence in Somalia of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has taken hold of most of Somalia save for a few Al-Shabaab strongholds. AMISOM congratulated Somalia on its independence, but duly noted the future challenges of the country.
“The Somali people have demonstrated their unwavering resolve to take charge of their country’s destiny and they are working hard to see their ideal state take shape. Despite all the challenges facing the country, recent developments are encouraging and show that the gains are irreversible,” said Ambassador Annadif while promising AMISOM’s unwavering commitment to Somalia.
While celebrations rang out in Somalia, global celebrations took place around the world. Somalians in Minneapolis, where the largest population of Somalis live in the United States, celebrated at the Somali Independence Festival on June 30.
This year’s Independence Day ushered in another year of freedom from colonial rule for Somalia, but it still has other foes to contend with. Just last month the United Nations Common Compound in Mogadishu was attacked by Al-Shabaab and deadly feuds still occur in cities where Al-Shabaab still holds power or are clinging to it. Nevertheless, Somalia is fighting for country-wide autonomy with the help of the African Union and the United Nations. Perhaps its Independence celebration next year will be absent of any news of continued internal turmoil within its borders.