Colonial Experience

March 01 23:36 2011 Print This Article

Colonial Experience The Anglo- Italian agreements of 1891 gave Italy the triangle of land known as the Horn of Africa as her ‘sphere of influence afterwards, Italy proceeded to construct shaky colonial edifice of her own in this part of Africa.

Until the outbreak of the First World War, Italy was unable to consolidate her control over these territories all attempts both military and political were in vain due to active resistance from the Inter- riverine people of southern Somalia it is out of the scope of the this article to discuss the details of this resistance; however, a brief sketch will be helpful.

In the late 19th century, the inter-riverine region was the center of religious ferment and economic resistance against European colonization the so called gosha Revolt (1890), led by nassib Buunto, emerged from the struggle against slavery nassiib Buunto recruited the bulk of his fighters from the freed slaves who deserted their Italian landlords and Somalia Abans (oversees) He established a centre named after him in the gosha region the center offered the escaped slaves not only refuge and freedom but also a better way of life by developing communal ways of forming and cattle herding training in new handicraft skills, new techniques for building houses and for manufacturing tools and weapons it was the free men of this centre who fought against the Italians, delaying their penetration into the fertile hinterlands of the inter riverine region for decades.

Another focal point of resistance was the Banadir the Banadirians of the interior were concerned that the occupation of the port by foreigners would mean the diversion of the external trade from their control the Banadir ports played a significant role in the region’s external and internal trade.

They supplied the hinterlands with imported commodities as well as providing market for livestock and major local products. Moreover, it was in these coastal towns that cottage industries like weaving and knitting the Banadiri cloth, the established.

It was essential to defend such economic resources, and the Banadir revolt (1888-1910), through religious in origin, was motivated by economic factors. The Banadirians blockaded the Italians on the coast for more than two decades, from 1888-1910.

In October 1923,De Vecchi di Val Cismon became the first fascist Governor of Somalia marking a change in Italian strategy in the Horn of Africa. De Vecchi set out to exterminate all who opposed his government’s desire for total control over what fascist propaganda called ‘La Grande Somalia: However, the Somalis were heavily armed and led by men who had been given advanced training during the preparation for the First World War.

An estimated 16,000 rifles were in Somali hands. The Governor’s first task, therefore, was to order the confiscation of arms and ammunition from the Somalis, particularly from the clans in the inter-riverine region. In March1924, Sheikh Hassan Barsane, a leader of the Shabelle valley movement known as the Barsane Revolt, convoked a Shir (meeting of elders) where the participants, inflamed with millenarian zeal, denounced the Governor’s order.

On behalf of the Shir, Barsane wrote the following to the Governor:

In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful…I have received your latter and understood its contents, but must advice that we cannot obey your orders and join with you in a covenant…Your government has its laws, and we have ours. We accept no law other than ours.

Our law is the law of Allah and his prophet… We are not like other people; none of us has even enrolled in the Zaptie (colonial forces), ever! … And if you come to our land to fight against us, we will fight you with all possible means … the world is very close to its end, only 58 years remain. We don’t want to stay in this world. It is better to die while defending our laws.

After some initial success, the Somali resistance crumbled when the Italians captured Barsane on 4 April. De Vecchi, s problems were not over. Further resistance emerged from freedom the Jama’oyin religious settlements, which had sprung up in the 19th century in the same region. In 1923, Sufi Baraki united several Jama’a settlements: Buulo, golwiing, Muki Dumis, and others scattered in the Lower Shabelle region, and set up his headquarters in Barwa, the birthplace of sheikh Aways Qadi, the founder pf the movement.

The major goal of this movement was to propagate the teaching of its founder. The tours of Sufi Baraki to the villages, where he often made provocative speeches, aroused Italian suspicion, and the fascist authorities warned him several times to give up what they called ‘these unhealthy activities; Sufi baraki was forced to leave Barawa for the extreme north of the Upper Jubba region, where the strong religious movement had emerged led by Sharif Alyow al-Sarmani.

Sufi Baraki learned many things there, which he later taught to the Lower Shabelle militants. These included plans to fight against Tribalism; to bring harmony among the Ikhwan (Muslim) brotherhood; to fight salaried tribal chiefs who were considered agents of the colonial administration; to establish settlements for the protection of the Ikhwan from Italian raids, and to promote learning and training.

Sufi baraki returned to the Lower shabelle and established a villages called ‘Dai Dai; later known as Jama’a Dai Dai; located in the heart of the Jidu territory. Eventually, the movement gained the support of Sharif Alyow al-sarmani, who established his own village at Qorile later known as Buulo Ashraf, not far from Dai Dai.

A partial merging of the two groups occurred, making the Lower Shabelle movement more powerful. Delegations were dispatched, across the inter-riverine region to obtain support. They contacted Sheikh Murjan, a prominent Qadiri holly man in the Lower Jubba.

The Italian authorities felt endangered, and as a preemptive measure, the Governor ordered the Barawa District Commissioner to negotiate with the leaders of the movement in a peaceful way. This was not fruitful, and a Zaptie commando was sent against Sufi Baraki and his allies.

On 20 October 1924, Zaptie forces besieged Dai Camp; the Ikhwan defended their village and forced the Zaptie to retreat to Barawa leaving behind some of their dead injured.

Sufi Baraki considered the event a miracle, and proclaimed a jihad against the fascist administration. Early in November 1924, the Italians sent well-armed detachments to attack the strongholds of the movement; many centers were attacked, and the ikhwan fought bravely with arrows and swords. Read on about Somalia History.

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Alan Davison
Alan Davison

Alan Davison, internet researcher, full-time writer for 15 years. Writer and publisher of or Follow me on Twitter.

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