By Hamdi Abdiqani Shire
Eyl, an ancient port town located in the North-east of Somalia once caught the attention of the international media for being the centre of Somali piracy. It became infamous in the global map for the dirty dealings involving ransom and kidnapping of unsuspecting sailors. However, to equate the history of Eyl to piracy and kidnapping is a grave disservice. Its history is far beyond piracy and negative publicity.
Eyl is a town full of history that people know little about. Its hidden treasures, the flora and fauna found within its borders, the breath-taking sea water, and the serene and tranquil beach, and the profound Somali history coupled with the ever green surrounding hills are just but a tip of the iceberg of what Eyl is. Its impeccable beauty will blow one’s mind. Once accustomed to it, one will yearn to see and to explore more of it.
Eyl is one of the few getaway places in Somalia that will give you a pleasant feeling that washes over the hustle and the bustle of busy and noisy towns. Taking a vacation and enjoying the mystery of the epic hills will help you fully unwind.
The magnificent appearance of the mountains and hills that surround the town of Eyl gives it a splendid beauty and grandeur that is pleasurable to watch. Equally, the two settlements of Daawad and Badey which surrounds the town provide an inflow to the town. The two settlements are connected by a meandering stream that takes water to the Indian Ocean. The lively springs within Eyl makes it a tourist destination from sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. Simply put, there is nothing like Eyl one can come across south of the Sahara and north of River Limpopo.
To flash back the history of Eyl it was a centre for late Zayid Mohamed Abdulla- the religious leader who fought against British and Italian forces during colonialism. It was one of the strategic places which he chose to be his home. He built the most elegant parliament house in the horn of Africa in 19 century. The castle he built is still as beautiful as it was centuries ago. The Engineer who built the castle used camel milk during construction. Camel milk is one of the most treasured animal products in Somali culture.
In addition to that, the Somali youth league (SYL); the founding fathers of Somalia’s independence had its main office in Eyl and it was among the few towns that they operated from.
Eyl was an important trading centre. Dhows and ships from Yemen used to bring sugar, date, floor and tea-leaves in exchange for butter, millet and leather. Eyl was a business hub that brought people from all walks of life together.
The education system that existed then was very strong. The schools that were there at the time had a good foundation and consequently produced young, talented, and visionary intellectuals that played a big role in the development of the country and more so the region-Puntland. Abdur-rahman Mohamed alias Farole, the former president of Puntland state was among those rare gems of individuals produced, mentored and groomed at Eyl.
Eyl is a town that is known for its arable land and it is beautiful orchards and farms that produce all sorts of fruits and vegetable crops that are tasty and sweet unlike the arid part of the country that are dependent on seasonal rainfall. The ever-flowing springs of Eyl provides the necessary water for irrigation of the farms.
Fishing was one of the most profitable sources of income that the people of Eyl depended on back in the days, it used to be transported to local markets and to the neighbouring countries like Yeman. However, Pirates and illegal fishers took away that opportunity from the people, causing their businesses to perish. In a random discussions I had with some of the people of Eyl town about fishing, I discovered, that there are many people in this town who are passionate about fishing but lack the required skill set and equipment to pursue their passion. The establishment of fishing industries coupled with the provision of skills and equipment to the people could be a great way to end unemployment and create jobs for young people.
Eyl is not only a tourist destination but a town which can advance the dwindling Somalia’s economy and agricultural sector. If only the spring water that wastefully goes to the Indian Ocean is tapped, Eyl will generate a lot of agricultural products that will increase the GDP of the country.
An establishment of port in Eyl town will also be a big economic boost for Puntland and Somalia at large and it will bring back the reputation and the lost glory that this beautiful town once pride itself back in the good old days. It is never too late to recognize the part of our country that hold high value and portray the silver lining side of Somalia.
Eyl is the nerve centre of Somalia and the mitochondrion of Puntland. Its serenity attracts mass movement of tourists into it while the springs act as a water source for the farms. Tapping this natural resource will greatly impact the lives of the people living in Eyl and that of the country for good.
Hamdi Abdiqani Shire
Email: [email protected]
Hamdi is a social worker who majored in psychology. A Part time lecturer at East Africa University and project officer at World vision international.
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