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Somaliland Sun Editorial Team, May 20, 2013
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|Understanding Somaliland History|
|Sunday, 12 February 2012 13:43|
By: Ayanle Omer Iden
Before going into the details of the history of Somaliland, it is useful to explain that Somalis belong to the Cushitic group and are found in the Horn of Africa, from the shores of the Gulf of Aden to the plains of Northern Kenya .They have a very elaborate clan system, are mostly pastoralist and are Sunni Muslims, almost exclusively of the shafi'ite school? Although they are generally considered as ethnically, culturally and linguistically homogenous society , their sense of clannish and individualism is extremely strong and Somalis did begin to consider themselves as constituting to a single nation until the events of the 20th century.
On the other hand, Somaliland was the former British Somaliland protectorate and gained its full independence on June, 26, 1960. Meanwhile, thirty five countries of the world states recognized Somaliland immediately after independence , hence only five days later, the new government of Somaliland opted to join with the former Italian Somaliland, which become independence on July1, 1960s. Unfortunately, the union tuned into a disappointment for the people of Somaliland because it ushered in two decades of political subjugation and ten years of armed struggle against southern domination.
i)Pre –Colonial Era
From the 10thcentury until the 19thcentury, the history of Somaliland is the history of various successive waves of migration from the north to the South, from the coastal towns to the hinterland. The Dir Somalis, universally regarded as the oldest Somali stock were, in the 10th century, already in possession of much of the northern coastal strip.
The first major movement as regards Somali migration is the arrival form Arabia of Sheik Isma'il Jabarti, ancestor of the Darod Clan around the 10th or 11thcentury, followed by, perhaps about two centuries later, the arrival, also from Arabia, of Sheikh Isaaq, founder of the Isaaq Clan.
Nevertheless, these movements were complemented by a continuous Arab immigration contribution to the reinforcement of the Muslim faith in the region. The holy wars against the Christians in Abyssinia, which took place between the 14thand the 16th century, were the first recorded experience of different Somali clans joining together in common sense.
It is not until the 19th century that a European interest in the Somali coast emerged.
On the other hand, in 1854, the British explorer Sir Richard Burton explored the coast and in April 1855 he launched an expedition with the objective of exploring the Ogaden hinter land.
On 19 April, however, his camp was savagely attacked, one of his levitations killed and another severely wounded, by Somalis belonging to the Habar Awal Clan. This event prompted a rapid response from the British authorities based in Aden, a satiation in the short rout to India, where they had a settlement since 1839.
In compensation for the attack the Habar Awal clan established a treaty with British authorities in 1856 favoring trade in the port of Berbera. This creating the link between Aden and the northern Somali coast was no longer isolated and although there was some foreign presence in the coast(The Southern of Zanzibar exerted some authority, it was the nomads of the hinterland who controlled the coast, it was not until the later decades of the nineteenth century that colonial powers gained some influence, initially in the coast, and then towards the hinterland.
ii) Post-colonial Era
While, in view of the upcoming independence, there was a progressive hand over of the administrative and political matters to the local population in Somalia, in the British protectorate, progress proceeded at a much slower pace, indeed, no decision had been taken in relation to the future of the territory and the British authorities continued their light – handed administration of the protectorate.
Never the less, in 1954, Britain signed an agreement with Ethiopia for the complete withdrawal of British presence in the Haud and Reserved areas (Somali populated areas). When the terms of this agreement became public knowledge, there was an immediate outcry and large – scale upsurge of political activity in the protectorate, which led to a fierce campaign to recover the territories but also most importantly to obtain independence. Britain, who had no other choice but to be receptive to such public demands, indicated that the pace towards independence would be accelerated and, that it would not oppose the eventual union of the protectorate with Somalia if this was the wish of the Somali population.
At that time all the Somali political parties pursued the aim of independence and pan – Somali unity, and the majority of the Isaaq clans followed the Somali national League (SNL) whose leader, Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal, was to play a central role on the future of the nation.
While the British authorities were(relatively) slowly working towards the transition of government in the protectorate, the declaration by the UN General Assembly that Somalia was to become fully independent on 1 July 1960 (thus earlier than expected). Precipitated a widespread surge of nationalist interest and forced the British administration to rush through the final stages of the preparation for independence. Agreements were made separately with the British and the Italian authorities to ensure that the two territories would become independent at the same time in order to unite themselves on 1 July 1960.
Although this rush for independence was acclaimed by the population of both territorial and is stimulated by Somali patriotic Farvour, it failed to take account of the numerous and significant differences existing between the protectorate and Somalia. Hence, when British Somaliland eventually gained independence on 26 June1960 and when, five days later, the "Republic of Somalia" came to life, difficulties were not long to emerge.
The new born republic was to face serious problems which could have been partly avoided if the British and Italian authorities had worked in collaboration in provision often the unification of the two territories. Thus, the process of integration was far from smooth.
Although the new government represented a relatively fair balance in the repartition of seats between north and south, the north had sacrificed more than the south and Hargeisa had declined to a mere provincial head quarters remote form the centre of things. For the Isaaq clans, this perception of isolation was reinforced by their geographical distribution which was limited to the north, and their loss of political power. Despite northern discontent, by the end of 1963,most of the integration had been achieved and the northerners had managed to increases their economic and political power in the south particularly with the nomination of Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal as prime minister following the presidential elections of June 1967. The cohabitation between a southern president ("Abdi Rashid Ali Shirmarke) and a northern premier proved to be workable and survived until the following elections held in March 1969, where the short–lived democracy was put to an end.
On the other hand, after the regime of Said Barre's Military coup d'état of the civilian government ruled the country until 1990s, national movements like Somali National Movement (SNM), ousted the regime and liberated north in January, 1991 and established a civilian government and eventually declared "The Republic of Somaliland," in May18 ,1991 based on the boundaries of the former Somaliland British protectorate.
Somaliland Citizen and Activist
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