Sunday 15 January 2023

2236. Are these Somaliland postage stamps?



As detailed originally in the Blog published on 10 July 2010, Somaliland was established as a British protectorate in 1884. On 26 June 1960 the British granted independence to its former protectorate and Somaliland became a sovereign state. On 1 July 1960, its larger neighbour, Italian Somaliland, was also granted independence becoming the republic of Somalia and Somaliland merged with Somalia to become a single sovereign state and gave up its own sovereignty in doing so. 

  Following the overthrow of the dictator of Somalia, Siad Barre, in July 1991 a state of anarchy spread across the country. Civil war had already broken out in May 1998 between the armed forces of the then central government of President Barre and the fighters of the Somali National Movement (SNM) of the former Somaliland. On 18 May 1991 Somaliland was declared to once more be a sovereign republic separate from the collapsing state of Somalia. It has maintained its independence from the troubled Somalia ever since and has sought to obtain international recognition of its de facto independent status but has so far failed to obtain recognition of it as a sovereign state from any foreign countries. The Somaliland government has held to the line that it is a thriving democratic state with a history separate from that of Somalia and it has been a sovereign state in its own right during its previous history.

  For decades after the one sided declaration of independence Somaliland had no functioning postal service. In recent years however it has set up a service within the country (see Blog 1683) and in the last few months has set up a postcode system in the capital Hargeisa to enable home deliveries to carried out more efficiently.

  Becasuse there was no postal system there was no valid reason for there to be any postage stamps. Postage stamps are of course not just useful as receipts for the prepayment of postage but also as one means of underlining a country’s sovereignty. It has been said that there are two items that a sovereign state needs to affirm its sovereignty - a national flag and national postage stamps. For most of its existence  trying to obtain international recognition, Somaliland has not had one of those prerequisites - stamps with its name printed on them.

  Now it is possible - though I might be completely wrong about this - that Somaliland does indeed have its own postage stamps, perhaps necessitated at last by the developments of recent years in establishing a national postal service. On its Facebook page, Somaliland Postal Service includes in an illustration repeated several times on the site a picture of what may possibly be 4 postage stamps (see illustration at the head of this piece). Unfortunately the text in the various segments of the illustration is all in Somali without a translation so I do not understand it. I can not find any further illustrations or news of an issue of postage stamps elsewhere.

  Certainly the illustrations are very suggestive of them being postage stamps - the illustrations are poor quality but the main features of the designs include a pictorial element (a camel, a large pot, men (perhaps farmers) with another large vessel and. Cattle. The items appear to have monetary values printed on them (in, I presume, Somaliland shillins) and clearly bear the name ‘SOMALILAND’ in capital letters as well, I think, in Arabic.

  If anyone who reads this piece is able to read Somali then a translation of the text above the four stamps would be greatly appreciated. Google translates “Samaynta tigidhada boosta” as “making tickets post” (“boosta” is “post” and “tigidhada” is ticket so I guess that post tickets are postage stamps which is consistent with the illustrated items being Somaliland’s first postage stamps. 

This is the entire post as it appears on Facebook - 

As can be seen the illustration of the possible stamps is only a small part of the item which seems to inform readers of the activities of Somaliland Postal Service. As far as I can see the item has appeared seven times on the Facebook page, the first occasion being 3 April 2021 and so if these are indeed postage stamps we might assume that they were first issued about two years ago.

So that’s something to look out for.

Post scriptum - following Stewie1980’s comment in the comments section I tracked down the photograph he mentions of the 10000 shillin stamp (if it is a stamp) which appeared in a post on the Somaliland Postal Service Facebook page dated 21 April 2022. It certainly makes this particular item much easier to assess. It looks as though it is imperforate and possibly self-adhesive. Very interesting. It appears that 10000 shillins converts to £14.69p (but see Stewie1980’s comment below). Note that the ‘stamp’ with the samedesign featured in the previous illustration is a 15000 shillin value. The stamp is dated ‘2020’ which I assume was the year of issue and this also seems to be the case with the other values though the illustration is more indistinct. Thanks to Stewie1980 for this very helpful input.

The French company, Busch Collectibles, is selling sheets of ‘stamps’ from two Commonwealth countries - Guyana and Dominica - which commemorate the late Queen Elizabeth II by depicting a portrait by Matej Gabris of The Queen as a young woman. The company states that these items are exclusive to the company and by the look of them I think they have been produced as Personalised stamps rather than being official products of the two respective postal services. They are quite attractive items though the portrait looks to me rather like a cross between the late Princess Margaret and Elizabeth Taylor rather than The Queen herself.  Each sheet contains 12 identical ‘stamps’ and are sold for €20 per sheet.


  1. There is a better picture of the stamp with the men and the large pot on the Somaliland Post's facebook page. But with a face value of 10,000 shillings. At the bottom right it says '2020 Somaliland Post'. The stamp is an imperforated self-adhesive.
    This is all very interesting!

    1. WK responding - Thanks Stewie1980 - I have not seen the picture you mention. I will take another look.

    2. You're welcome!
      I see you are using the old fixed exchange rate.
      10,000 is now only about £1.
      In December 2022, the official exchange rate of Baanka Somaliland was Sl.Sh.8530/- for 1 US dollar.

    3. WK - Thanks again. I googled a currency site and that gave me the exchange rate which I quoted. It’s pleasing to know that if these are stamps (I think they must be) the face value is very reasonable