Hersi Boqor: Leader of The Rebellion

Hersi Boqor was the son of Boqor Osman and the heir apparent to the Sultanate of Migiurtinia. When the Italians announced their intentions to occupy Migiurtinia, Hersi Boqor united the sultanate’s forces to rebel against the colonials. Under his leadership, the forces were able to slow the Italian advance, which was additionally hurt by a rebellion in the hinterlands of Obbia, which required military attention. For three years the sultanate was in revolt and a number of fierce battles ensued.

In December 1925, led by the charismatic leader Hersi Boqor, son of Boqor Osman, the sultanate forces drove the Italians out of Hordio and Hafun, two strategic coastal towns. Another contingent attacked and destroyed an Italian communications center at Cape Guardafui, at the tip of the Horn. In retaliation, and to demoralize the rebellion, Italian warships were ordered to target and bombard the sultanate’s coastal towns and villages. In the interior the Italian troops confiscated livestock.

After a violent confrontation, Italian forces captured Eyl, which until then had remained in the hands of Hersi Boqor. In response to the unyielding situation, Italy called for reinforcements from their other colonies, notably Eritrea. With the arrival of reinforcements at the closing of 1926, the Italians began to move into the interior where they had not been able to venture since their first seizure of the coastal towns. Their attempt to capture the Dharoor Valley was resisted and ended in failure.

De Vecchi, the governor of Italian Somaliland, had to reassess his plans as he was being humiliated on many fronts. After one year of exerting full force he could not yet manage to gain total control over the sultanate. In spite of the fact that the Italian navy sealed the sultanate’s main coastal entrance, they could not succeed in stopping them from receiving arms and ammunition through it. It was only early 1927 when they finally succeeded in shutting the northern coast of the sultanate, thus cutting arms and ammunition supplies for Migiurtinia. By this time, the balance had tilted to the Italians’ side, and in January 1927 they began to attack with massive force, capturing Iskushuban, at the heart of Migiurtinia. Hersi Boqor unsuccessfully attacked and challenged the Italians at Iskushuban. Following the long and tough campaign, by the end of the 1927, the Italians had nearly taken control of the sultanate. Hersi Boqor, followed by two hundred armed men, retreated to Ethiopia in order to rebuild their forces, but were unable to retake their territories, effectively ending the Campaign of the Sultanates. Migiurtinia was the last region to fall to the Italian colonists. Hersi’s father, Boqor Osman, was arrested by the Italians at the end of 1927.

Below is an English translation of an excerpt of a diplomatic document from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated November 1929.

They are aware of this laborious negotiations for the rejection of the rebel Migiurtino Herzi Bogor, son of former Sultan Osman, who has fled to Ogaden. He was such a superb and ferocious man, with a group of followers he escaped  to Ethiopian territory from the fighting that destroyed the migiurtin. He had continued to be rebellious despite occasionally openings to submit. Herzi Bogor evidently hoped for Ethiopian support similarly to what had happened in the last years for other rebels.
In fact, it will not be useless to recall Ras Tafari’s attitude towards Abscir Dorre who rebelled in 1926. He was first confined at the request of Count Colli and fled to Addis Ababa. Following this, Ras promised formally to the Minister R. to closely monitor Abscir Dorre and prevent him from returning to the Ogaden. Instead, shortly thereafter, Abscir Dorre fled from the capital, obviously with the conviction of the Ethiopian authorities who did nothing to trace him. Abscir Dorre rebelled and fell into the 1927 fights with our troops.

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