The immigration official at the border between Ethiopia and the Republic of Somaliland says that, in his seven years of working at the small and dusty border post, he has never seen a South African passport before. During the day, the air in Somaliland’s capital city Hargeisa is still and listless in the heat. There is not a great deal to do except nap to the lullaby of an electric fan, listen to the mu’addhin calling out to the faithful, or chew khat. Alcohol is banned, so there is no cold beer to help the day drift on by. During the night, a cool breeze and sugary milky coffee lubricate conversations with Somalis, who often have American or British accents. The diaspora is returning home and investing heavily in the country. The usual topic of coffee shop conversations is the national elections: Somaliland went to the polls on November 13. After that conversation, there tends to be a bombardment of questions about President Jacob Zuma’s corruption. I inevitably end up apologising ...

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