Somali Nationalism: International Politics and the Drive for by Saadia Touval

By Saadia Touval

The Horn of Africa, the scene of Somali Nationalism, is the immense, arid triangle mendacity opposed to the Indian Ocean and comprises French Smaliland, the Somali Republic made of the previous British and Italian Somalilands, and people gigantic components of Kenya and Ethiopia within which Somalis stay. Somali nationalism feeds, as does that of different African and Asian peoples, at the notion of self-determination, and aspires to the political unification of all this territory of a few 374,000 sq. miles right into a unmarried "Greater Somalia."

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All three groups have a reputation for witchcraft and magic. They are dispersed among the other Somali tribes and are attached to them in a client-patron relationship, the sab performing certain services for the "noble" tribes. There is no mixing or intermarriage between the sab and the patron tribes. The sab seem to accept their inferior status, a disposition reflected in the absence of traditions claiming "noble" ancestry. 25 Traditional political organization among Somali tribes is limited both in scope and in effect.

However, it was only in the i88o's that PARTITION OF THE HORN 41 Italians were attracted to the Somali coast facing the Indian Ocean, part of the domain of the Sultan of Zanzibar at the time. The impetus came from commercial interests. An Italian trader, Vincenzo Filonardi, living in Zanzibar and witnessing the growing German and British activity on the East African coast, repeatedly called the attention of the Italian government to the trade opportunities there. 26 The mission, headed by Captain Antonio Cecchi, left on the frigate Barbarigo early in 1885 and, after surveying the mouth of the Juba river, reached Zanzibar in April.

The Italians proceeded upon this suggestion, and in 42 SOMALI NATIONALISM August 1888 arrived at a preliminary agreement with the company for the transfer to Italy of a concession which the company expected to acquire over certain territories on the East African coast. T h e Sultan gave his assent to the deal in January 1889, and an agreement between the Italian government and the British East Africa Company was signed on August 3 of that year. Finally, on November 18, the territories concerned were transferred to Italy, the Italians acquiring control over the towns of Brava, Merca, Mogadishu, and Warsheikh.

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