For the first time ever, Somalia has sent an ambassador to South Africa. New Ambassador, Sayid Sheriff, said he’s optimistic about planting Somalia’s diplomatic flag after decades of instability, and said he plans to reach out to the thousands of Somali refugees living in South Africa.
South African President Jacob Zuma said his nation also plans to embark on ambitious projects to help the Horn of Africa nation get back on its feet after decades of war.
Sheriff is the first ambassador from Somalia to be sent to South Africa, the continent’s magnet for refugees, which attracts more asylum seekers than any other nation.
The arrival of new diplomats typically is a pomp-filled affair, and Tuesday night’s event in Pretoria was no different in that respect. The other 10 diplomats dutifully shook hands with South African President Jacob Zuma, handed over their credential letters and posed for photos.
Somalia’s presence at this ceremony, however, was special. That’s because for much of the last two decades, Somalia has not had a functioning central government. The Somali Embassy in Pretoria is now open for business.