By Ambassador Larry André, Jr.
Diplomats in Somalia – indeed around the world – would do well to follow the advice of Somalia’s great poet Hadraawi:
Always weigh your words well; make things clear to the uncomprehending. Don’t forget your similes and figures,
Nor get into confusion’s cul-de-sacs
Losing your argument’s thread;
Avoid hesitation – the clarity
of your facts should not sit in the shade.
Your argument must be plain,
So take care of its coherence.
Your approach must be reasoned;
So limit your questions
Whenever making key points.
If three words suffice
Don’t stretch things to thirty.
Leave boastfulness behind:
Don’t speak haughtily
Or wave your arms dismissively –
Never utter an unbecoming speech.
Sirta Nolosha (Life’s Essence)
To follow the direction of the Master of Speech, my three words are “Thank you, Somalia.”
Thank you for your partnership. Markets once near empty have come back to life. Schools have reopened. Roads once dangerous are now clear for commerce, travel, and families to reunite. Our security partnership allows communities once subjugated to oppression and extortion under violent extremism to live in peace and begin to build back toward prosperity. The bravery shown by soldiers and shopkeepers alike to liberate their communities has inspired me. In the fight that remains, through training and equipment, the United States will continue to support the Government of Somalia and Somalia’s security forces to extend Somalia’s sovereignty over all its territory.
Thank you for your example. During my time as Ambassador here, I have spoken to Somalis from Hargeisa to Kismayo and many places in between. While some conversations were difficult, most of them left me in awe of the commitment Somalis have at every level of society to ensure the full revival of their country. I think of the father from Hiraan who told me of his soldier son’s love for Somalia and its people and his willingness to die for it. A community leader from Baidoa explained to me how he was working hard with humanitarian organizations to register men, women, and families to allow them to receive much needed assistance during this catastrophic drought. The young student from Mogadishu smiled when she talked about reading and had dreams about becoming a teacher herself one day. These are the stories of Somalia’s full revival. This is why the United States believes in a Somalia that is unified, strong, and democratic, why we remain a reliable security partner and the largest humanitarian responder. $1.3 billion in assistance from the United States – more than 70 percent of all humanitarian funding – has prevented a famine and staved off starvation. Safe drinking water and emergency health care provided by the United States have prevented outbreaks of cholera and measles. For Somalia to build a unified, strong, and democratic country, it needs all its people.
Thank you for your will. When I arrived in January of last year, there were some who threatened to have Somalia revisit the violence and lawlessness of the 1990s. There were others who willed Somalia forward. This flashpoint was a stark reminder that the gains we make together on the battlefield, in the marketplace, or in the classroom can be swiftly be undone by political machinations that seek short-sighted, personal ends. I ask that Somalia’s political leaders continue to will this country forward. The more than 100,000 students who are back in school because of the partnership between the Ministry of Education and USAID look to you. The 8,000 farmers who are linked to markets and equipped with improved irrigation techniques because of investments from the United States look to you in this historic moment.
I first visited Somalia in 2001, and 22 years later, I am hopeful for Somalia’s future and full of respect for what the Somali people have achieved. The friendships I have made among the Somali people will continue for the rest of my life. Mahadsanid, is arag dhambe Soomaaliya.
U.S. Ambassador Larry André
Larry André served as Ambassador of the United States of America to the Federal Republic of Somalia from January 2022 until May 2023.