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Ambassadors Programme

Explorer

Johnny Haglund

Nov17

Discovering the soul of Somaliland

By Johnny Haglund, Monday November 17, 2014
A brother and sister on the way to school in the town of Berbera, Somaliland. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens; the exposure was 1/250sec at f/9, ISO 125.

A brother and sister on the way to school in the town of Berbera, Somaliland. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens; the exposure was 1/250sec at f/9, ISO 125. © Johnny Haglund

Somaliland has a very exotic feel to it. In many ways it's like I’ve travelled back in time. My assignment at the moment is to photograph its coastline, meet its fishermen and all the other people affected by the pirates who operate in the Gulf of Aden.

These pirates affect a lot of people. All cars, food, clothes, equipment and other goods to Somaliland that arrive by sea, for example, are more expensive. The shipping companies are afraid of the pirates and so are the insurance brokers, according to General Omar Adil Klinle of the Somaliland Marine Corps. He has been fighting pirates for a long time.

During my trip I feel the tension; there are armed soldiers almost everywhere. This does affect my photography a bit; I have to be careful where I point my camera. But most of the time the people I meet are friendly, after I tell them why I am here and what I want to do. Many Somali people are afraid that I’m going to portrait them as poor and sad, because that is what they have seen on television.

“The whole world thinks we are miserable, but that’s not the whole truth,” people shout at me. But I tell them, through my interpreter, that I’m here with an open mind. I want to travel deeper into the soul of the Somalis, and through my photographs tell the story on how this 'not-yet-country' (Somaliland is not recognized by the international community as a nation) is holding it together...

How many kilos? Fishermen check the weight of the day’s catch. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens; the exposure was 1/250sec at f/8, ISO 500.

How many kilos? Fishermen check the weight of the day’s catch. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens; the exposure was 1/250sec at f/8, ISO 500. © Johnny Haglund

Armed soldiers and guards are found in many places along the coastline of Somaliland. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens; the exposure was 1/400sec at f/11, ISO 125.

Armed soldiers and guards are found in many places along the coastline of Somaliland. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens; the exposure was 1/400sec at f/11, ISO 125. © Johnny Haglund