Skip to main content

Pan-Africanism and Pan-Somalism

  • I. M. Lewis

Somali attitudes towards Pan-Africanism, and more particularly towards the federation of African states, have to be understood in relation to the very special conditions of the Horn of Africa. It will be necessary therefore to begin this survey with a few general remarks about the Somali Peninsula and the special characteristics of Somali nationalism.

Hide All

page 148 note 1 For fuller information on the structure of Somali traditional society see Lewis, I. M., A Pastoral Democracy (London, 1961).

page 148 note 2 The populations of these territories are approximately as follows: French Somaliland, 65,000 (half of whom are Somali); Ethiopian Haud and Ogaden, 750,000 Somali; Somali Republic (Somalia and ex-British Somaliland), 2,250,000; Northern Province of Kenya, 200,000 Somali in a provincial population of 300,000.

page 148 note 3 For further information on Somali nationalism see Lewis, I. M., ‘Modern Political Movements in Somaliland’, in Africa, XXVIII (London, 1958), pp. 244–61 and 344–64;Castagno, A. A., ‘Somalia’, International Conciliation, no. 522 (New York, 1959).

page 149 note 1 Report of the Four Power Commission (London, 1949), II, pp. 1011. The members were Britain, France, the United States, and the Soviet Union.

page 149 note 2 At the present time, the Greater Somalia League (G.S.L.) and the Somali National League are probably the most militant; and the Independent Constitutional Party (H.D.M.S.) —which draws its support almost entirely from the area between the Juba and Shebelle rivers—the least militant.

page 150 note 1 Il Corriere della Somalia, 27 July 1959.

page 150 note 2 The situation in French Somaliland, still an oversea territory of France and currently seeking independence within the French community, is regarded by Somali nationalists as indentical with that in Algeria prior to Algerian independence.

page 150 note 3 Il Corriere della Somalia, 31 August 1959.

page 150 note 4 The preparation of the constitution was initiated by a decree of 6 September 1957, which provided for the setting up of two committees, one political and the other technical. In the preparation of the final draft presented to the Assembly all the main political parties participated. See Costanzo, G. A., Problemi costituzionali della Somalia nella preparazione all' independenza (Milan, 1962).

page 151 note 1 The Somali Peninsula: a new light on imperial motives (London, 1962), p. vi.

page 152 note 1 As for example in the Emperor's speech at Gabradare in the Ogaden in August 1956, when he spoke of the racial, economic, and geographic unity of the Somali and Ethiopian peoples. This speech, of course, was vigorously repudiated in Somali.

page 152 note 2 See, for example, The Somali Peninsula, pp. 59–60 and 63–77; A. A. Castagno, op. cit. pp. 386–91; and The Ethio-Somalia Frontier Problem (Ministry of Information, Addis Ababa, 1961).

page 152 note 3 This treaty, signed by Britain with Ethiopia after the battle of Adowa and in the context of Anglo-French rivalry on the Nile, was designed to secure Ethiopian goodwill and to gain some assurance that Ethiopia would not support the Mahdist rebels in the Sudan. Despite the fact that the Anglo-Somali treaties of 1884–6, on the basis of which the British Somaliland Protectorate was established, pledged Britain to protect the ‘independence’ of the Somali clans concerned, by the treaty of 1897 Britain unilaterally abandoned many of clansmen she had undertaken to ‘protect’ and some 67,000 square miles of territory were excised from the Protectorate. This is the vital grazing area known as the western Haud. However, the treaty was cleverly worded to stipulate that while Ethiopia recognised British sovereignty within the new frontiers of the Protectorate, Britain did not reciprocally recognise Ethiopian sovereignty over the land and people who had been abandoned. Yet it was on this questionable basis, admittedly with reluctance, that in 1954 Britain finally surrendered the area to Ethiopian administration —again without consultation with the Somali contracting parties of 1884 and 1886.

page 153 note 1 See The Danod Incidents, a pamphelt published by the Somali Republic Ministry of the Interior in 1961.

page 153 note 2 In April 1962, the Somali Foreign Minister warned the U. N. Acting Secretary-General that current Ethiopian postures constituted a threat to peace. In September, an Ethiopian spy-ring was uncovered in the Northern Regions and was alleged to have been sent there to stir up trouble at the time of the President of the Republic's visit. In the same month, the Ethiopian Government withdrew diplomatic recognition from an official of the Somali embassy in Addis Ababa, and a wrangle developed about his nationality. In September also the government paper The Somali News attacked the United States for giving military aid to Ethiopia, and claimed that a jet airfield was being built at Gabradare in the Ogaden to menace the Republic. In October, the Ethiopian Government claimed that the representatives of io ‘tribes’ from the Republic had sought Ethiopian nationality.

page 154 note 1 The somali News, 25 August 1961.

page 154 note 2 Ibid. 27 October 1961.

page 154 note 3 Ibid. 13 October 1961.

page 154 note 4 See, for example, The Somali News, 1961 and 1962, passim. See also A People in Isolation: a call by political parties of the Northern Frontier District of Kenya for union with the Somali Republic (London, 1962), a pamphlet published in connexion with the Kenya Conference.

page 155 note 1 Mboya argued that Kenya had as legitimate a claim to Jubaland, which Britain had excised from Kenya and given to Italy to add to Somalia in 1925. These statements were attacked in an editorial in The Somali News, 20 October 1961, and in a letter from the Secretary-General of the S.Y.L. to The East African Standard, 30 October 1961.

page 155 note 2 The Somali News 11 February 1962.

page 156 note 1 On the same occasion the Somali embassy in London distributed copies of The Somali Peninsula: a new light on imperial motives, an important contribution to the history of the imperial partition of the Horn of Africa.

page 156 note 2 The Somali News, 23 March 1962.

page 157 note 1 The Somali News, 6 and 20 April 1962.

page 157 note 2 In March 1962, legislation banned trade with South Africa, refused transit to South African nationals, and closed sea and air ports to South African vesels or aircraft, save in case of emergency.

page 157 note 3 The Somali News, 20 April 1962.

page 157 note 4 In June 1962, the Republic was represented at the Lagos Conference of Foreign Ministers, which approved a revised draft charter for the Organisation of African States. In his address, the Foreign Minister regretted the absence of a number of African States and stressed that his government was opposed to rival political groupings amongst the African States. The Republic was also represented in June at the Islamic World Conference in Baghdad, which passed a resolution supporting the Somali struggle for union.

page 157 note 5 This was partly, apparently, in response to representations made by the British Government, which urged that a final settlement of the N.F.D. problem would have to be acceptable to Kenya's African leaders.

page 157 note 6 Both were accorded the Freedom of Mogadishu and awarded the Star of Somali Solidarity. For details of these visits, see The Somali Republic and African Unity, a pamphlet published by the Somali Government in September 1962.

page 158 note 1 Here the Minister referred to his country's unhappy experience in trying to settle its boundary dispute with Ethiopia. ‘The settlement of boundaries’, he said, ‘can be one of the most intractable problems between independent African States.’

page 158 note 2 The Commission consisted of Major General Bogert, M. P. from Canada, and MrOnyiuke, G. M., Director of Public Prosecutions in Eastern Nigeria. Their finding were published as Report of the Nothern Frontier District Commission (London, 1963), Cmnd. 1900.

page 159 note 1 The Republic has diplomatic relations with the following Muslim countries: Egypt, Lebanon, Sudan, Algeria, Pakistan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.

page 160 note 1 In an important speech on Pan-Africanism at a state banquet held in honour of Jomo Kenyatta on 28 July 1962.

page 160 note 2 It should be noted, however, that both Ethiopia and the Somali Republic attended the Belgrade Conference and were in fact the only States who had been at the Monrovia Conference to go to Belgrade.

page 161 note 1 Speech of 28 July 1962. The President took a similar line in another speech on 16 August 1962, during Ronald Ngala's visit. On that occasion, speaking of democratic practice in the Republic, he regretted that many other African States ‘because of the intolerances that are inevitable among a heterogeneous populace’ had had to resort, for the sake of cohesion, to a single-party system of government. ‘Others forbid politics altogether.’

* Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Glasgow. This article is based on a paper read in January 1963 to the post-graduate seminar on Pan-Africanism and Eastern Africa at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of Modern African Studies
  • ISSN: 0022-278X
  • EISSN: 1469-7777
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-modern-african-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed