Colonization

                           Capture of Boqor Cusmaan

Italian depiction of the capture of Boqor Cusmaan by Italian and allied forces in 1927.                                                                

           Capture of Bargal

Hoisting of the Italian flag following the destruction and capture of Bargal. 

The Italian and British conquest of the Sultanates  (in 1920-1927) suppressed the peoples’ resistance and destroyed all political, economic and commercial structures. The Italian fascist authorities were more repressive than the British, as reflected by the economic policies they applied to the northeastern regions. For instance, import-export trade and all the commercial transactions with the previously mentioned traditional markets were suspended and forcibly replaced with Italian trade companies, which imported consumer goods from Italy and exported salt, frankincense, hides, skin and agricultural cash crops (banana and cotton) to Italy through Mogadishu.

     Prince Umberto II of Italy, Alula Somalia

March 22, 1928. The arrival of Prince Umberto II of Italy to Alula.

               Crown Prince of Italy Bargal

Crown Prince in front of the monument to the fallen Italian forces (Bargal).

The suspension of trade markets and political structures of the former Sultanates by the colonial authorities had a devastating effect on the livelihood security, famine coping mechanism and employment/income earning opportunities of the northeastern communities. This time period saw the migration of large numbers pastoralists, merchants and fishermen to the southern regions of Somalia, as well as to the nearby Arab states and East Africa in order to seek employment and trading opportunities. Furthermore, the Sultan of The Warsangeli was exiled to the Seychelles Island by the British authorities and the Sultan of Obbio and the Boqor of Migiurtinia, their families, relations and key collaborators (such as the traditional elders) were forcibly deported by the Italians to Mogadishu.

                Sultan Ali Yusuf exiled

The Sultan of Obbia ( right ) and family being exiled to Mogadishu. 

The deportation and exile of the Sultans, the compulsory conscription of more than 25,000 pastoralists (Italo-Ethiopian war of 1935-36) and destruction of economic, trade and political structures were all aimed to prevent or repress internal resistance & rebellion and to deplete & weaken the manpower resources of the conquered regions.

                   Boqor Cusmaan in Mogadishu

Boqor Cusmaan ( middle ) and family in Mogadishu with the Governor of Italian Somaliland (De Vecchi). 

Due to its location, Hafun was selected as the capital of Italian Somaliland. The once bustling capital was later reduced to ruins through heavy shelling by the British in 1942 (during the Second World War) destroying most of the historical buildings.

In 1943, the Somali Youth League ( then known as the Somali Youth Club), the political party that brought Somalia to independence in 1960, was founded by Yasin Osman Sharmarke. Sharmarke was the son of a noble chief from the Sultanate of Obbio and cousin of Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke who would later became President of Somalia. Timiro Cukaash Guleed, who many believe the fictional character ‘Hawo Tako' was based off of, was the first female member of the Somali Youth League. A poet and freedom fighter, Cukaash would play an integral part of the Somali independence movement. The Italian colonial masters murdered her husband and arrested a pregnant Cukaash, forcing her to give birth to her first child in prison. She spent the next two years behind bars.

In 1947, Ali Mire Awale wrote “Soomaaliyeey toosoo” ( the current Somali National Anthem). A few years later in 1954, Mohamed Awale Liban created the Somali flag.

                  

First hoisting of the Somali flag 1954. Photo taken in the former territory of Migiurtinia, the last Somali territory to be colonized.

Liban chose the blue color to represent the United Nations who helped Somalis reach their dream of independence, the white color represented peace and prosperity, and the star represented the five Somali regions which had been divided by the colonial powers.


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