Did Somaliland diplomatic representatives fly to Taiwan wearing koteka – penis gourd? That’s what a new viral post is alleging.

Take a look at the photo taken of that event, and find out what the facts really are!

Fact Check Somaliland Representatives Wear Koteka To Taiwan MeetingClaim: Somaliland Reps Wear Koteka To Taiwan Meeting!


This viral post is circulating on social media and has been excitedly discussed in certain regional forums. Check it out :

Taiwan Finds An Unexpected New Friend in Somaliland

Thomas J. Shattuck
1 July 2020

On July 1, news broke that Taiwan and Somaliland, an unrecognized state that broke away from Somalia in 1991, would set up representative offices in their respective countries. The two countries did not announce the establishment of formal diplomatic ties. They are strengthening existing relations with the new offices in the hopes that relationship flourishes. If they do eventually announce formal relations, then Taiwan would become the first country to diplomatically recognize Somaliland, which is considered an autonomous region of Somalia.

On 9 August 2020 A small group of Somaliland officers arrived in Taiwan to set up a representative office. Taiwan Foreign Affairs sent its officer Joanne Ou to receive the arrival of their guests.

Joanne Ou couldn’t control herself and almost dropped dead when she met the Somaliland officers!

Misleading Note: We intentionally added the Misleading overlay to prevent the picture from being further abused.

Somaliland Reps Wear Koteka To Taiwan Meeting: Bullshit

The story that was being shared is partially true, but the photo is NOT of Somaliland diplomatic representatives meeting Taiwanese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou.

Therefore, the claim that Somaliland representatives met Joanne Ou wearing kotekas – penis gourds – is categorically FALSE.

Fact #1: Thomas J. Shattuck Only Wrote The First Part

Thomas J. Shattuck is a real person – a Research Associate in the Asia Program and the Managing Editor at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

He wrote the article – Taiwan Finds an Unexpected New Friend in Somaliland, and it was posted on 1 July 2020, as shared in the viral post.

The fake post’s creator copied the second paragraph’s of Shattuck’s article and added the fake story about Somaliland representatives meeting Joanne Ou, the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry spokesperson

Fact #2: Somalis Do Not Wear The Koteka

The koteka – a penis gourd – is worn by some ethnic groups in Papua New Guinea, not the Somali people.

Bloggers and netizens claim that the original picture was originally taken on a PNG Air or a Singapore Airlines flight, but we believe they are mistaken.

Based on the kebaya-like uniform (which we cannot identify) of the air stewardess, and the Malay word Keluar (Exit) in the background, this was most likely taken on one of Indonesia’s budget airlines.

Fact Check Somaliland Representatives Wear Koteka To Taiwan MeetingFact #3: The First Somaliland Rep Met With The Taiwanese Foreign Minister

The first Somaliland representative was Mohamed Omar Hagi Mohamoud, a political scientist, research,er and analyst, who arrived in Taiwan on Friday, 7 August 2020 (tweet).

But instead of meeting with Taiwanese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou, he met instead with Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu on Sunday, 9 August 2020.

He has this picture taken that day, wearing a suit… and no koteka.

Fact Check Somaliland Representatives Wear Koteka To Taiwan Meeting
Mohamed Omar Hagi Mohamoud

Fact #4: Somaliland Has Yet To Establish A Representative Office

As of 23 August 2020, Somaliland has yet to establish a Representative Office in Taiwan even though it plans to do so.

It was Taiwan who first established its Representative Office in Hargeisa, the capital city of Somaliland on 17 August 2020.

Taiwan Representative Office in Somaliland
Taiwan Representative Office in Somaliland

Why Would Someone Create This Fake Story?

With China’s aggressive foreign stance in recent years, it is not uncommon to see such fake stories being created and shared.

Some believe it’s part of a concerted attempt by China to tarnish Taiwan’s reputation globally.

Others believe the many fake stories are being created to drown out the negative coverage of China’s controversial Belt and Road Initiative, and their aggressive moves in the South China Sea.

Whatever the reasons may be, it is our duty as global citizens to stop the proliferation of such fake stories.

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