An Atlas of African Affairs

By Andrew Boyd; Patrick Van Rensburg | Go to book overview

12. The Somalis

The republic of Somalia became independent in 1960 with Mogadishu as its capital. It unites the former British Somaliland protectorate (650,000 people) and the former Italian territory of Somalia (11/2 millions), whose political leaders had agreed to unite the two at the moment of their simultaneous independence. Aspirations for unity of all Somalia affect: Ethiopia, whose Ogaden and Haud areas are peopled by about 400,000 Somalis; French Somaliland (population 70,000); and eastern Kenya, where 70,000 Somalis are interspersed among Galla tribes (29).

The strategic importance of the Red Sea entrance to the Indian Ocean brought three European powers into the arid and partly desert 'Horn of Africa' in the 19th century. The French acquired a small enclave at the narrows, creating Djibuti, since 1903 the main port for Ethiopia because of the railway to Addis Ababa. The British moved in in 1887, the Italians in 1889; they accepted Ethiopia's claims to Ogaden and the Haud, but border problems in these areas remain unsettled even today. After Italy's defeat in East Africa in 1941 (11), Britain for a time administered Italian Somalia and Ogaden (which the Italians had annexed to their colony) as well as the British protectorate, thus bringing most of the Somalis under one rule for the first time; and after the war Britain suggested creating a 'greater Somalia'. This was opposed by Russia and others, and in 1950 Italian Somalia was made a United Nations trust territory under Italian administration, with a pledge that it should be independent by 1960. The approach of this deadline made Britain speed up political advance in its protectorate, whose people wanted to share in the coming independence. Elections in 1959 and 1960 gave sweeping majorities to parties in both territories favouring union, and these parties agreed to act as a ruling coalition after independence.

The Somalis are mostly Moslem, at least in name. In the past, they have often been divided by feuds between their tribal groups. Many are nomads, travelling far in search of pasture for their flocks and herds. These movements have given rise to international disputes. Somalis from the British protectorate were for many years free to use grazing land in the Haud. After 1954 Ethiopia insisted on its right to control this movement, and there were violent conflicts in the borderland.

Somalia has very few resources; Italy subsidized it heavily before 1960. The World Bank has estimated that £3 million a year in outside aid is essential.

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An Atlas of African Affairs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Foreword 7
  • A. Population 10
  • B. Regions and Barriers 12
  • C. Languages and Peoples 14
  • D. European and Asian Settlement 20
  • E. 'Pre-European' History 22
  • F. Europeans on the Coast 24
  • G. the European 'scramble' 26
  • H. the New Political Map 28
  • I. British and French Heritages 30
  • J. United Nations Activity 32
  • K. Pan-Africanism and Regional Unity 34
  • L. Africa Overseas 36
  • M. Education 38
  • N. Health and Pests 40
  • O. Minerals 42
  • P. Transport 44
  • Q. Power, Development And Research 46
  • 1. the Maghreb 48
  • 2. Morocco and Mauritania 50
  • 3. Algeria 52
  • 4. Tunisia and Libya 54
  • 5. Egypt and Its Neighbours 57
  • 6. Suez Canal 58
  • 7. Suez-Sinai Conflict, 1956 60
  • 8. the Nile 62
  • 9. Egypt 64
  • 10. the Sudan 66
  • 11. Ethiopia 68
  • 12. the Somalis 70
  • 13. West Africa 72
  • 14. Ex-French Africa 74
  • 15. Ex-French West Africa 76
  • 16. 'Equatorial' Africa 78
  • 17. Commonwealth West Africa 80
  • 18- Senegambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia 82
  • 19. Ghana and Its Neighbours 84
  • 20. Nigeria 86
  • 21. Cameroons 88
  • 22. Two Congos 90
  • 23. Post-Belgian Congo 92
  • 24. Lower Congo 94
  • 25. Between the Lakes 96
  • 26. Ruanda-Urundi 98
  • 27. British East and Central Africa 100
  • 28. Uganda 102
  • 29. Kenya 104
  • 30. Tanganyika and Zanzibar 106
  • 31. the Rhodesias 108
  • 32. Katanga and Copperbelt 110
  • 33. Nyasaland 112
  • 34. Angola and Mozambique 114
  • 35. Malagasy (madagascar) 116
  • 36. South Africa and Its Neighbours 118
  • 37. Protectorates and S.W. Africa 120
  • 38. Eastern South Africa 122
  • Index 125
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