Explorations in History and Society

Exploring and Collecting the History of the Somali clan of Hawiye.

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taariikhda sheekh xasan barsane oo kooban

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Imaam Sheekh Xasan Sheekh Nuur Sheekh Axmed
“ Sheekh Xasan Barsane “ ( 1853 – 1927 )Sheekh Xasn Sheekh Nuur Sheekh Axmed oo lo yiqiin Sheekh Xasan Barsane wuxuu dhashay sanadka markuu ahaa 1853, wuxuuna ku dhashay tuulada loo yaqaan Ubaadi oo u jirta qiyaas ilaa 68Km magaalada Jowhar, Gobolka Shabeelaha Dhexe, Soomaaliya.
Hooyadiis waxaa la dhihi jiray Xalima Hilowle Sheekh Xasan wuxuu ka soo jeeday qoys Somaali ah una saxiib ah Diinta Islaamka iyo fardooleey. Aabihii Sheekh Nuur wuxuu ahaa sheekh ka tirsan dariiqooyinka Raxmaaniya. Wuxuu ka dhex muuqday hoggamiyana u ahaa jameecadiisa.Sheekh Xasna Sheekh Nuur Sheekh Axmed wuxuu bartay Qur’aan Kariimka isagoo ya, kuna bartay tuulada Unaadi wuxuuna barashada Diinta Islaamka ku bilaabay isagoo aan weli gaarin 10 jir halkaas oo la shegay in aabihiiis uu mashaa’ikhda Diinta bartaa ugu keenay. Markuu laabtan jirsaday ayeey isaga iyo aabihiis isku raaceen inuu sii kordhisto wax barashadiisa uu doonto iyadoo ay jirtay in aabihii uu mashaa’iikh fara badan ugu keenay halkii ay ku noolaayeen.Shiikhii wuxuu aaday meel walbo oo uu ku tabaayay in cilmi uu yaalo oo uu ka sii kororsas karo meelaha uu cimliga u dontay dalka gudihiisa waxaa ka mid ahaa Mateey Aw Xasan oo ku taala Afgooye iyo Muqdisho. Sheekhu kama uusan zuulin inuu raadiyo cilmi isagoo markaana day dalka dibadiisa sida magalada Marka uu tagay laba jeer oo kala duwan wuxuuna halkaas ku soo gutay xajkii iyo cilmi uu raadinayay, wuxuu halkaas ku maqnaa muddo ka bdan saddex sanadood.Sheekhu waxa uu halkasi kula soo kulmay Sheekh Maxamed Saalax oo sheekha ay dariiqada SAALIXIYADA ka soo jeedo ah.Sheekh Xasan Barsane markii uu ku soo laabty dalka waxaa dalka soo buux dhaafiyay gumeyste kala duwan oo markaas iyo ka horba ku sugnaa dalka tan iyo intii ay dhacday qeybsashadii Afrika ( 1884 ) dalalka reer galbeedak oo ay ugu horeeyeen Ingiriiska, Faransiikam Talyaaniga iyo Boruqiiska aya soo galay dalkeena hooyo ee Somaaliya. Sheekhu wuxuu ka biyo diiday inuyu ku hoos nooaado gumeyste isagoo ka doo biday inuu geeriyoodo isagoo dhawraya sharafta Diinta iyo dalka. Sheekhu wuxuu dhexgalay dadka isagoo jamciyay ciidan firadiisa lagu qiyaasay ilaa laabtan kun ilaa soddon kun ( 20,000 – 30.000). tababar dheer iyo wacyi gelin ka dib sheekha iyo ciidamadisii u kacay difaaca dalka iyo Diinta.Waxaa ay la kulmeen hanjbaad iyo hujuum kaga imaanayay dhanka gumeystaha Talyaaniga oo iyagu markaas heestay dhamman koofurta Soomaaliya iyo Etiopia oo aheyd dalka kali ah ee Afrika kana qeyb galay qeybsashada dalalka Afirca ee Berlin 1884.

Sheekhu dhag jalaq uma siin dhamaan hanjabaadaas iyo baqdin galin taas kaga imaameysay dhanka Gumeystaha gumeystaha Talyaaniga xiligaasi waxaa Soomaaliya wakiil uga ahaa Jeneral la oran jiray Mario Devechio.
Si kastaba ha ahaatee Sheekha wuxuu go’aansaday inuu la dagaalamo.

Waqtigii ayaa dhamaaday waxaa bilowday dagaaladii fool ka foolka ahaa ee Sheekhu la galay gumeysihii. Sheeikha iyo gumeystaha waxay kulmeen marar badan iyagoo dhamaan dagaaladii uu la galay gumeystaha uu halkaasi kaga guuleystay. Waxaana dagaaladii u Sheekha la galay gumeystaha ka xusi karnaa :

· Gumar Sheel ( 1905 ) waxa uu ahaa dagaalkii ugu horeeyay ee uu la galay Amxaardii oo markaas isku dayaysay inay la wareegto dhamaan dhulka Soomaaliyeed iyadoo markaas timid Taytayle
( Balcad ). Waxaa jiray dagaalo kale uu Sheekha la galay Ethiopia ilaa markii danbe ay dalka ka baxaan

Waxaa kaloo ka mid ahaa dagaaladii uu la galay gumeystaha gaar ahan Talyaaniga oo aan ka xusi karno :

1. Dagaalkii Buulo Barde oo dhacay 1922
2. Ceel Dheere 1922 iyo 1923
3. Hilweyne 1923
4. Jiliyaale 1924
5. Hareeriile 1924

Sheekh Xasan Barsane wuxu ku caan baxay inuu ciidanka ka bar bar dagaalamo isago dhiiri galin jiray una sheegi jiray wax yaalaha hadii ay ku dhintaan iyo hadii ay ka bad baadaanba haleyaan waxaan u wadaa Aakhiro iyo Aduun. Dagaaladii faraha badanaa ee uu la galay Sheekha wuxuu ku laayay rag faro badan oo ka tirsanaa gumeystaha oo isugu jiray saraakiil iyo dablay .
Gumeystaha oo ka faa’ideystay maqnaashaha ciidamada Sheekha oo markaas ku maqnaa dagaalo dhinaca Hiiraan ayaa dhabar jabin ka dib waxa ay hareereeyeen xaruntii Sheekha iyagoo adeegsanaaya hubka xiligaa ugu casrisnaa lana yimid ciidan fara baan oo ay ka oo wadeen dhankaas iyo cadan iyo weliba kuwa kale oo ay ka soo ka xeeyeen dalalka kale oo ay gymeysan jireen kuwaas oo ahaa calooshood u shaqeystayaal sida ku cad buugii uu qoray Mario Devechio oo lagu magacaabo ORIZENTO DI IMPERO. Ka bid Sheekha waxaa uu u gacan galay cadowga, waxayna ka dalbadeen inuu ciidamadiisa ku amro inay is dhiibaan, waa uu ka biyo diiday. Si kastaba ha ahaatee gumeystaha ayaa aakhiritankii ku guuleystay inay qabtaan oo ay xabsiga dhigaan Sheikh Xasan Barsane sanadu markay ahayd 1924.

Waxaa Sheekha lagu xabisay xabsiga loo yaqaaney Gaalshiro iyadoo markaasi maxkamada gumeysiga ay ku xukuntay 30 sano oo xarig ah oo ay u dheertahay shaqo adag iyo jirdil. Si kastaba ah ahaatee hadana gumeystaha ayaa ku qanci waayay inay xabisaan oo kaliya waayo Sheekh Xasan Barsane ayaa ahaa caqabadii ugu weyneyd ee ay gumeystaha Talyaaniga kala kulmeyn koonfurta Soomaaliya iyadoo aanba dhihi karno sheekha wuxuu ahaa quwada kali ah ee dagaalo waaweyn kaga hortimid. Talyaaniga ayaa 3 sano ka dib waxay hadana isku dayeen inay dilaan Sheekha iyagoo ay u suuro gashay sanada Markey ahayd 1927 iyado markaasi ay gumeystuhu ku xireen meel god ah oo aan ku filneyn inuu fariisto godkaas ayaa wuxuu lahaa oo kali ah meel yar oo shabaq camal ah oo uu xoogaa wax u neef ah ka qaadan jiray. Intaas oo kali ah ugumaysan simin hadana waxay ugu dareen inay sun ku buufiyaan qolkii uu ku xirnaa waxaana amarkaasi bixiyay KABEELLO sida uu xusay MAXAMED ABDI (Odoyaasha Muqdisho ) oo ka mid ahaa sadexdii Nin ee loo adegsaday inay fuliyaan falkaasi. Ugu danbeyntii Sheekha ayaa ku geeriyooday suntii. Sida ku xusan Orizento Impero iyo TREE ANNI DE IN SOMALIA .Sheekhu wuxuu dhintay taarikhdu mrkey ahayd 13. January 1927. waxaana lagu duugay Qabuuraha Sheekh Suufi oo ku yaalay agagaarka madaxtooyada Soomaaliya waxaana markii danbe loo qaaday oo uu hada ku aasan yahay degmada JILIYAALE oo markii hore Sheekha xarun u ahayd.

The Khulafa of Shaykh Uways B.Muhammed Al Barawi

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The following is a list of prominent Qadiriyah Khulifa listed in the hagoigraphy of Shaykh Aweys Al Barawi, al Jawar al Nafis (pp.17-24),

the following mentioned are affiliated with a Hawiya lineage.

Shaykh Imam Mahmud b. Benyamin al-Yaqubi
Shaykh Shakh’a famous as Shaykh Shaykhow
Shaykh Muhammad b. Uthman b. Ma’ow al-Yaqubi
Shaykh Yahya b. ‘Adow (known as Hajji Wahiliyya)
Shaykh Hajji Mahmud b. Hasan al-Warshaykhi 

Shaykh Abdi ‘Eli al-Warshaykhi
Shaykh Abu Bakr b. Muhammed b. Uthman al-Wa’issli
Shaykh Mahmud b. Hasan al-Daudi
Mu’allim Qassim al-Dubbarwayni al-Qadiri
Shaykh Ahmad b Mu’allim ‘Uthman al-Kandrashi
Shaykh Mukhtar Askub al-Kandrashi
Shaykh Ahmad b. Hajj Nur Jahbaz al-Kandrashi
Ahmad Yarow al-Sa’adi al-Qadiri
Abdullah b. Mu’allin Yusu al-Qutbi
Abd al-Salam b. Hajj Jama’ al-Qutbi
Muhammad b.Hajj Jama’ al-Qutbi
Hassan b. Barre al-Qubti al-Qadiri
Abu Bakr b. Ibrahim al-Qutbi al-Qadiri
Ahmad al-Qutbi al-Qadiri
Hajji Mahmud Fulow b. Mu’allin ‘Umar al-Qutbi
Al-Qadi Ali b. Mahmud b. Thabit al-Jawhari al-Qadiri
Faqi Ma’ow al-Qadiri
Abd Malaq al-Qadiri
Hajji Mayrow al-Qadiri
Uthman b. Aliyow
Hajji Nur al-Qadiri
Sultan Salad
Abdiyow Karkar wa al-Qadiri
Muhammad b. Ali al-Qadiri

References;

Scott Reese “Holy men and social discouse in Colonial Benaadir”; Appendix One.

Written by abshir100

July 3, 2009 at 2:09 pm

The injustice of the Abgal Imam

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In the annals of the Benaadir, the three hundred years from 1500-1800 is viewed as a dark time of troubles. From the Benaadiri perspective it was also a time that was survived only through the piety of a few individuals whose spiritual strength preserved the social fabric in the face of tyranny and agression. This is especially true in the traditions of Mogadishu where such evils were held in check only through the efforts of righteous individuals. By the late nineteenth century, as we shall see, the Abgal of Shangani had become productive citizens. Oral traditions contend, however, that this was not always the case. During the first years of pastoral occupation, Abgal rule was characterized by innumerable injustices. The practise of forcing all new brides in the town to spend the first seven days of marriage in bed, The good Muslims of Mogadishu were outaged by such evil but were too oppressed to resist. One pious man named Abu Ahmad Ala’ al-Din decided to take action. The father of the seven daughters, he swore an oath not to allow any of them to submit to such immoral humiliation. Instead, when he married off the first of his offspring, he and his daughter plotted to foil the lecherous Imam. Abu Ahmad and his daughter let it be known publicly that she had been wed. When new of the union reached the Abgal Imam, he sent a slave to the house demanding the ruler’s rights. Instead, Abu Ahmad beat the slave and sent him back to his master. Incensed, the Imam decided to go to the recalcitrant father’s house personally to punish him and take the bride to his bed. When he entered the house, however, Abu Ahmad and his kinsmen ambushed the ruler and killed him. This sparked a spontaneous uprising and the Abgal were expelled from the city. Abu Ahmad then gathered the elders of the town and instructed them to build a wall so that the pastoralists might never again settle in the town unimpended. While the Abgal were eventually allowed to reuturn and even regained much of their political power, so the story continues, they never again attempted to terrorize the townspeople or act in ways contrary to the laws of God. *

* Interview, Amina Shaykh Ali Nuur, Octover 6, 1994. As Cassanelli has pointed out, this is a common trope in the oral lore of the Benaadir. The fall of the Ajuran 300 years earlier is attributed to a similar display of royal hubris. Cassanelli, Shaping of Somali soceity, pp.109-112.

References;

Scott Reese “Holy men and social discourse in Colonial Benaadir”

Written by abshir100

July 3, 2009 at 1:52 pm

History of Medieval Somalia explained through Maps

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Horn of Africa in 1300 C.E: According to Ibn Battuta

Horn of Africa in 1300 C.E: According to Ibn Battuta

Horn of Africa in 1550: According to written accounts of the era

Horn of Africa in 1550: According to written accounts of the era

Horn of Africa in 1650 C.E: According to Written Accounts of the Era

Horn of Africa in 1650 C.E: According to Written Accounts of the Era

Horn of Africa in 1650 C.E: According to Written Accounts of the Era

Horn of Africa in 1650 C.E: According to Written Accounts of the Era

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by daud jimale

May 31, 2009 at 3:28 am

Sufism in nineteenth century Benaadir

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Merchants and Ulama, Blood and Patronage:

The Urban Sufi Phenomenon

At the same time that the Benaadiri community began to experience the crisis of the late nineteenth century, organized Sufi turuq gained popularity in the towns of the coast. From the last quarter of the nineteenth century through the middle of the twentieth, the various turuq played a central role in Somali society. While Sufism was known in Somalia before that time, it was largely the preserve of a few ascetics; it only emerged as a prominent social movement under the guidance of charismatic preachers after 1880. The efforts of these clerics were so successful by the beginning of the Second World War, it was estimated that virtually all Somali males identified, at least nominally, with one of the local schools of Sufism: the Qadiriyya, Ahmadiyya, or Salihiyya. Modern scholars of Somali history and culture have amply demonstrated the importance of rural saints, shaykhs, and local preachers, or wadaads. In addition to their spiritual roles, these men frequently acted as advisors, mediators, and even political leaders amongst the clans of the interior. An examination of the manaqib and urban oral traditions reveals that the townspeople of the Benaadir coast also participated in a vibrant mystical culture and, as I will show below, played a pivotal role in Sufism’s expansion number of influential shaykhs of the period made their mark in the largely urban milieu of the coast. Foremost among these was the Qadirishaykh Uways b. Muhammad (1847–1909). Born in the southernmost Benaadir town of Barawe, Shaykh Uways is credited by his followers with the almost single-handed revival of the Qadiriyya order in East Africa.

Accounts of Uways’ childhood, education, and travels have been widely documented: between 1880 and his death in 1909, the Shaykh succeeded in spreading what became known as the Uwaysiyya branch of the Qadiriyya throughout southern Somalia and along the East African littoral as far south as Tanganyika. The writings of most western-trained scholars concentrate on Uways’ activities among rural and disadvantaged peoples. Qadiri oral and written traditions emphasize the attraction the Shaykh held for all segments of society, rural and urban, elites and non-elites. As the quote at the beginning of this article clearly indicates, Qadiri disciples viewed Uways as an important presence in the towns of the Benaadir as well as its villages and hinterland.


The Shaykh’s influence among the urban mercantile classes is demonstrated in numerous written and oral manaqib. His first miracle is said to have been performed in Mogadishu among the merchants of the town whom he “saved” from their reputedly immoral ways and initiated into the path of the Qadiriyya.

This incident will be discussed more fully below. Here it is important to note that according to oral and written hagiographies, following this incident, hundreds of townsmen from all social classes, “both free and slave,” flocked to the side of the Shaykh and joined the Qadiriyya as muridun. These new adherents included many of the local ulama, including Shaykh Abd al-Rahman b. Abdullah al-Shanshy, known more commonly as Shaykh Sufi; members of the political elite, most notably Imam Mahmud b. Binyamin al-Yaquubi, leader of the Abgaal clan, the dominant political force in the Shangani quarter of the city; and many members of the merchant class. Although less dramatic than the arrival of the Qadiriyya in Mogadishu, the appearance of the Ahmadiyya also attracted ready adherents from the urban peoples of the Benaadir. The advent of the Ahmadiyya on the coast is credited not to the emergence of a single charismatic holy man but to the efforts of a number of shaykhs deputized to spread the word of the order by an Ahmadi leader from Arabia, Shaykh Mowlan Abd al-Rahman.


According to most oral accounts, Shaykh Mowlan came to the Benaadir coast a few years before the return of Shaykh Uways and installed five pious men as representatives of the order. These five then proceeded to spread the teachings of the order along the coast and up the Jubba valley. While never as numerically large as their Qadiriyya counterpart, the Ahmadiyya had, by the end of the nineteenth century, spread throughout the Jubba valley, making it, by some accounts, the preeminent tariqa along the river. During the same period, large Ahmadiyya followings formed in the towns of Barawe and Marka under the leadership of Shaykhs Nurayn Ahmad Sabr and Ali Maye respectively. A small Ahmadiyya community also formed in Mogadishu, although some contend that membership there consisted primarily of immigrants from the other two towns.


Exact data for the numbers of townsmen attracted to the various turuq are non-existent. Family histories suggest that by the turn of the twentieth century most men claimed at least nominal attachment to one of the main turuq, the Qadiriyya, Ahmadiyya, or, more rarely, Salihiyya. Similarly, an early Italian administrator in the interior trading center of Luuq in the 1890s noted the prominence of tariqa membership among the community of merchants from the coast. One of the distinctive features of the turuq in the towns was the extent to which the lives of religious practitioners and merchants were closely intertwined. While it was possible to find among the mercantile inhabitants of the Benaadir towns those who were concerned only with commerce and others who followed purely religious pursuits, the social lines between these groups were hardly distinct. The lives of religious practitioners and lay people were closely linked. Their worlds intersected through ties of tariqa affiliation, kinship, and patronage. Sometimes individuals were both religious practitioners and merchants. Few urban lineages were exclusively religious in character. An exception was the Reer Faqih, also known as the Banu Qahtan, of Mogadishu, a clan of religious scholars, who, until the advent of colonial rule, held a local monopoly over the position of qadi, or judge. In general, however, urban families and lineage units tended to be involved in both religious and secular spheres of society. Many families, in fact, counted both ulama and merchants among their members. While urbanites claim that this was a custom carried out from “time immemorial,” evidence of its practice can only be dated to the later nineteenth century and is largely connected to the rise of the turuq. During this period, most merchant families hoped ideally to direct at least one of their sons to religious pursuits and the study of ilm (the religious sciences), while the others took up commerce or various trades. Such was the case of Faqih (“jurist”) Yusuf, of Mogadishu’s Shangani quarter during the early twentieth century. According to family traditions related by his grandson, the Faqi and several other brothers dedicated their lives to study, supported by several younger siblings who became small merchants and tailors. Occasionally, this strategy produced a noted scholar or holy man. Shaykh Ahmad Nurayn, a respected nineteenth-century jurist and early leader of the Ahmadiyya tariqa from Barawe, for example, was a member of the notable Hatimy clan of merchants. Similarly, Shaykh Abd al-Rahman Sufi., poet and early Qadiriyya leader in Mogadishu, came from the commercial Shanshiyya clan. Obviously, not every family or lineage could hope to produce a scholar or holy man of prominence.


For merchants who lacked a prominent relative among the ranks of the ulama, or Sufi leadership, supporting religious institutions such as mosques or student hostels through endowments of waqf or patronizing individual religious notables were the most common means of acquiring spiritual capital. In Mogadishu, as in most places in the Islamic world, notables regularly provided funds for the construction and maintenance of mosques and other religious structures. Evidence from epigraphs demonstrates that from as early as the eleventh century, local personages, including a number of women, supported the construction of mosques in the oldest sections of the town. The Italian ethnologist Enrico Cerulli noted that one of the earliest inscriptions found in Mogadishu’s main jami or Friday mosque indicated that it was constructed around 1238 and endowed by a local notable, Kululah b. Muhammad. Similarly, the Somali historian Sharif Aydrus b. Ali provides a detailed list of prominent mosques built and maintained by local persons of note through the mid-twentieth century (Aydrus 1954:39). In the hagiographies and oral traditions of the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, mention of such endowments is rare.


Rather than endowing centralized institutions, benefactors subsidized the activities of individual Sufi masters, students, and scholars. The funding of scholarly activities could take a variety of forms. The most direct of these was the distribution of personal largesse. Local benefactors, for instance, might present regular or occasional gifts of cash, livestock, or other foodstuffs to a shaykh or alim in order to help finance the latter’s study and instruction of students or, more rarely, the practice of traditional/Islamic medicine. Alternatively, a merchant might provide an alim with a quantity of goods, such as cloth, spices, coffee beans, which the latter could sell to finance his activities. Merchants are also said to have helped members of the ulama finance larger trade ventures toward the same end. In addition to the distribution of largesse, merchants and other notables also subsidized members of the ulama and Sufi shaykhs through acts of hospitality. This often took the form of feasts provided for shaykhs and their followers on various holy days or the provision of permanent or semi-permanent housing. The provision of hospitality to scholars, saints, and students is a motif that appears constantly in both written hagiographies and oral traditions.


Merchants might make their homes available to learned individuals on an ad hoc basis. During the 1920s, for example, a hide merchant and follower of the Qadiriyya named Uways Nuur, from the Bendawow lineage, often hosted a certain Shaykh Ooyey al-Qadiri from Jawhar, of the Abgaal, along with his followers. His hospitality usually consisted of providing them with food and occasionally lodging during their stay. Similarly during the 1930s, Hadi al-Barawi, a Barawe merchant living in Bardheere, frequently offered passing scholars lodging for a night or two in exchange for prayers of blessing or lessons in ilm. Hospitality could also take the form of more long-term and concrete investment. Two vivid examples of this are recorded in the oral traditions of Barawe.


The first centers around the Ahmadiyya shaykh and alim Mahmud Waciis, who settled in the town of Barawe from the Ogaden during the later nineteenth century: “Shaykh Mahmud Waciis came to Barawe in the middle of the night and encountered Shaykh Nurayn Ahmad Sabr and said ‘I am here at the order of God. Take me to the house of Suudow Abrar [the pious wife of a wealthy merchant].’ Shaykh Nurayn escorted him there and when they arrived at the correct house the former shouted out to her that he had a guest. At this she is said to have replied, ‘Is it Shaykh Mahmud Waciis?’ And both Shaykhs were filled with wonder at her foreknowledge.” The Shaykh is reputed to have remained in the house of Suudow Abrar until his death some years later (Funzi 1994).


Another example of relatively large-scale largesse was the case of the wealthy Barawe merchant Abd al-Qadir b. Shaykh Ismaan, known more commonly as Shaykh bin Shaykh. Oral traditions about the Shaykh b. Shaykh family state that following the death of the Qadiri leader Shaykh Uways Muhammad in 1909, no one dared buy his house in Barawe for fear that it was inhabited by jinn or spirits. As a result it remained unoccupiedfor months after his death. One night, however, Shaykh Uways came to Shaykh b. Shaykh in a dream and instructed him to buy the house. Shaykh b. Shaykh, who was not then as wealthy as he was to become, borrowed a large amount of money from his relatives and purchased the deceased holy man’s house. Following this, it became the principal place of residence for all Qadiri ulama visiting Barawe, who stayed as the guests of Shaykh b. Shaykh for both long and short periods of time (Shaykh bin Shaykh 1994). Finally, merchants and notables also made long term financial and material commitments to the education of future ulama and religious notables. In addition to entertaining and housing religious practitioners,some urban merchants provided extensive aid to students who came from other parts of the region to study with local scholars. These patrons paid for the subsistence of the students during their stay and built and maintained special student hostels where students resided during the course of their studies. In addition, a local notable might establish a waqf or endowment to finance the education of an individual student. The creation of a waqf for an individual rather than an institution, such as a mosque or school, is unusual and the extent of this practice in the Benaadir is unknown. However, there is at least one recorded instance of such an individual waqf. The hagiography of Shaykh Nurayn Ahmad Sabr indicates that on at least two separate occasions the Shaykh initiated endowments for the purpose of financing the religious education of the future children of two Mogadishu Sharifs. Given the well-established connection between merchants and religion, it is not surprising that Sufi ritual became an integral part of urban life.


Urban Woes and the Social Lens of Hagiography

One way to explain the proliferation of the turuq and the manaqib that grew up around them is to consider them a way for adherents to discuss the problems of society in relation to the crises of the period. Rather than constituting purely laudatory accounts of the miracles of various holy men, the literature produced by the turuq was a genre that presented the sacred as a remedy for secular ills. The use of manaqib as eulogistic literature dates to tenth- and eleventh-century Maghreb, where the first biographies dedicated to ascetics and martyrs appeared.


From this point onward in Islamic history the genre became a favorite vehicle of religious orders, especially Sufi turuq, whose adepts wished to venerate their founders and more distinguished adherents using the written word. The founders of the Qadiriyya and Ahmadiyya orders, Shaykh Abd al-Qadir Jilani and Ahmad b. Idris, were memorialized in such compilations. This genre remained a hallmark of Sufis through the nineteenth century. Thus it should come as no surprise that with the appearance of well-organized Sufi congregations in the Benaadir came the production of the first locally composed manaqib.


The emergence of manaqib as a written genre of literature in Somalia appears to be directly linked to the local renaissance of the Qadiriyya and Ahmadiyya Sufi orders during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The earliest known collections are dedicated to the first generation of scholar-saints, who are credited with the Sufi revival. According to current Sufi leaders and adherents, these collections served to memorialize the saints and to educate new initiates about the tariqa. As such, they were generally recited during weekly, or even nightly, meetings, known as dhikr, and during annual ceremonies, known as ziara, held to mark the anniversary of the death of a particular saint. Recitals also occurred on a much more informal basis, however, taking place during what B.W. Andrzejewski described as “ad hoc situations, round the evening camp fires in the interior,” or “at parties in private houses in towns”. These were written exclusively in Arabic, which Somali urbanites considered the only proper language of public oratory. Running translations into Somali were generally provided at all such events for the benefit of less-educated adepts and casual observers.

Andrzejewski suggests that such oral performances provided the manaqib with a public audience that went far beyond the boundaries of an individual tariqa. He notes that while hagiographic stories were often heard during religious events, they also found their way “into ordinary conversation, especially when people discuss some difficult or unusual situation or reminisce about similar things in the past”. Andrzejewski’s comments highlight two important aspects of the genre. First, it existed as a distinct form of oral literature, which was widely known and used in both rural and urban society. Second, and more importantly, individual stories could be used to illuminate particular social problems. The observations put forward by Andrzejewski were based on evidence gathered during the 1950s and 1960s. However, the presence of hagiographic accounts in Somali oral literature can be demonstrated for a much earlier period. One of the earliest examples comes from Richard Burton, who, in his 1856 First Footsteps in East Africa, related a story told to him by a local alim about the saint Sayyid Yuusuf al-Baghdadi, who vanquished the infamous magician Bucur Bacar, supposed progenitor of the Yibir group of outcasts (72–73). Several other nineteenth-century European writers also noted the existence of oral hagiographies, albeit usually about somewhat mythical saints.


These early accounts point to the possibility that a hagiographic tradition was present in Somali oral literature before the Sufi revival of the late nineteenth century. The emergence of the turuq and their tradition of written hagiography, therefore, seems to have provided a new vehicle of transmission, written text, for an already existing genre of literature. Oral versions of many of the stories recorded about the scholar-saints in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries appear to have circulated widely before they were committed to paper. Shaykh Abd al-Rahman Umar noted that the manaqib of the Qadiri shaykh Abd al-Rahman Zaylai contained in Jala al-Aynayn were “drawn from the learned, and the mouths of men, and the loving brothers of the tariqa”.  Similarly, in other collections, the oral roots of the manaqib are presented as validating their authenticity. In each work the compiler provides a chain of transmission, silsila, for every story. Such chains begin with the person from whom the compiler received the story and proceeds backward in time, listing each transmitter of a manqabah and ending with the person who is said to have witnessed the actual event. Such chains are modeled upon similar chains, known as isnad, used to validate the pedigree of hadith, the sayings of the Prophet. The social utility of various oral genres among the Somali has been amply demonstrated by numerous researchers. The late B.W. Andrzejewski and Said Samatar have demonstrated the various political and social uses of Somali oral poetry, while Lee Cassanelli has illustrated the uses of historical tradition and the histories of individual clans in the definition of social relationships and identities among pastoral groups. If, as Andrzejewski maintains, manaqib are simply another category of oral literature within the Somali repertoire, then it can be argued that they, like other genres, also hold social meaning. Many of the issues confronted and remedied by the saints of the manaqib were physical threats to both urban and rural society: famine, physical insecurity, and epidemic illnesses such as smallpox. In other instances, the issues were moral in character, involving social concerns such as public morality and local tradition versus Islamic “orthodoxy.” Many stories in the hagiographic literature center on public morality and piety.


Such episodes invariably pit pious saints against impious, or at least morally misguided, townsmen. This could be viewed merely as the moral invective of holy men against the apparent evils of the secular world. An examination of these stories within the social and economic context of the late-nineteenth-century Benaadir coast suggests that they may also mirror a widespread belief of the time that local society was suffering from a genuine moral and social crisis, one which could only be remedied by turning to God and religion. This is demonstrated by the first miracle recorded in the hagiography of Shaykh Uways b. Muhammad, al-Jawhar al-Nafis, which is quoted above. The written manaqib does not state the exact nature of the abomination known as hiikow. Oral versions suggest that it was a licentious dance which was performed either by the townspeople or by their slaves. In the latter case, according to oral sources, merchants used the event and the carnival-like atmosphere that surrounded the weekly performances to attract customers. The written version links this immoral behavior directly to members of the urban elite, especially those involved in commerce: “Among them were the Ashraf, merchants, notables, clan elders, rulers, patrons and people of the ships. All of them assisted and participated in this abominable practice until the breasts of the ulama contracted [with anguish]”. It was only the appearance of Uways, according to the hagiographer,that led to the immediate and miraculous renunciation of “the abomination” by the parties concerned, the reconciliation between merchants and ulama, and the adoption of the Qadiriyya tariqa by the townsmen. In another instance of immoral behavior amongst the mercantile elite, rather than a pious Shaykh rescuing townsmen from the path of immorality, irate townsmen plotted the downfall of an overzealous qadi and Sufi saint, Nurayn Ahmad Sabr. During the reign of the Zanzibari Sultan Sayyid Barghash (1870–1888), the Ahmadiyya Shaykh Nurayn Ahmad Sabr was appointed qadi over the town of Barawe. According to both oral and written hagiographies, the Shaykh favored a strict interpretation of Islamic sharia over the use of local customary law, or xeer. Oral versions of this story emphasize that this privileging of “orthodoxy” clashed with the customs of certain Barawan lineages which, in contradiction to Islamic law, excluded women from inheriting wealth or property, thus limiting the distribution of wealth to the agnatic line. Because of this conflict, the written hagiography states, many local notables and merchants wanted to remove the Shaykh from his position of power. Leading citizens wrote to the Zanzibari Sultan making false claims about his lack of competence in the law and clamoring for his removal. The Sultan resolved to have the qadi arrested and brought in chains to Zanzibar for punishment. The Shaykh, by virtue of his karama, or holy qualities, avoided the trap set for him by the jealous townsmen and proceeded to Zanzibar in order to refute the charges against him. He was received by the Sultan and tested by members of the Zanzibari ulama who proclaimed that he was an erudite scholar worthy of his post. The Sultan then denounced those who had leveled the charges against the Shaykh and ordered his reinstatement as the qadi of Barawe  Shaykh Nurayn’s problems apparently did not end here. Another story from the same collection relates that an unnamed town “leader” attempted to assassinate the controversial Shaykh.


One of the leaders of Barawe, who harbored ill will against the Shaykh, went one night to Balad al-Rahma18 with ill intent, accompanied by one of his askaris [soldiers]. As they drew near to the house of the Shaykh . . . they saw a person appear by the door whose shape was like that of the Shaykh’s . . . there was no doubt of it being Shaykh Nurayn. The askari fired his rifle and wounded the person, who fell to the ground. The two thought that they had killed him; but they had not. It seems that the deceased was a cow . . . And when the leader came to know that he had not killed Shaykh Nurayn with the rifle he began to keep watch on the affair for fear that it would reach the government of the Italian Company. Certainly, the above anecdotes cannot be taken as faithful representations of “historical fact.” On the other hand, to categorize them as merely religious polemic robs them of their potential value for the social historian. Instead, I suggest, the above manaqib constitute commentary on the many social and economic maladies of the late nineteenth century—ills brought about by a perceived immorality and impiety of the urban elite that could only be remedied through a return to piety in the forms of the Sufi turuq and the sharia.


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Written by hawiye1

May 21, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Italian imperialism and Benaadir resistance prt 4

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5:The Storm of the Banadir Resistance gathers strength

As became clear from the NY times report (see part 4) on the ‘Lafole Massacre’, the Italian minister of Foreign Affaires commented on the ‘Lafole Massacre’ that the Italian government would take ‘energetic measures’ to punish the Somalis who were ‘guilty of the outrage’.

Now let us discuss these ‘energetic measures’ the Italian government wanted to take, and see whether they could stem the coming tide of the monsoon storm of resistance headed towards the Benadir coast region. As mentioned in part 3, the Italian foreign minister immediately appointed Commander Giorgio Sorrentino as royal commissioner extraordinary for the Benadir. His mission was as Robert L. Hess writes in his book ‘Italian colonialism in Somalia’:

”Sorentino was instructed ‘above all to provide for the security and tranquillity of the region’ After a complete investigation of the causes of the attack at Lafolé, he was to take whatever steps should appear indispensable for our dignity and for the security of the colony’’

This investigation would be completed within ten days which was around February 1897 (see part 4). The conclusion Sorrentino drew from the investigation was as follows:

”Within ten days he had determined that Lafolé was neither the precursor of a general urprising against the Italians nor an Ethiopian ambush but an isolated case of action by Wadan tribesmen and the tribes of Geledi; who had been spurred to the act by two Arabs from Mogadishu’’ (Robert L. Hess)

The conclusion Sorrentino drew was that the guilty ones were Wacdaan tribesmen and the tribes of Geledi, which meant that these tribesmen would be punished as the Italian foreign minister said in the NY Times report. Also Sorrentino believed that these tribesmen have been spurred to the act by two Arabs from Mogadishu. These Arabs were Abu Bakr Bin Awod, Filonardi’s interpreter and a certain Islam bin Muhammed.

The first thing, Sorrentino did was arresting Abu Bakr, while Islam bin Muhammed disappeared from the Banadir coast. The second thing, Sorrentino did was to plan a punitive expedition against the Somalis who were ‘guilty of the outrage’. For this he had ordered two companies of Eritrean askaris. In the meantime, Sorrentino, researched the conditions prevailing in the Benadir, where he discovered the widespread practice of slavery and domestic servitude. But he could not do something about it, since obviously this meant distrubting the whole plantation economy of the South.

”Under the circumstances-the already difficult relations with the interior tribes- Neither Dulio nor Sorrentino could act immediately against slavery. Such action would have committed the Italians to a costly undertaking of doubtful outcome, a risk that Sorrentino had been ordered not to take.’’ (Robert L. Hess)

Sorrentino and Dulio, the Benadir Company’s commissioner, had to content themselves with the expected punitive expedition against the tribes in the interior. Sorrentino was pleased at the prospect of this punitive expedition as he thought of the Somalis as: ”liars, thieves, and murderers”. A clear grudge from the ‘Lafole massacre’. He wrote in his book Ricordi del Benadir: ”We’ve got a nasty cat to skin!, May God protect us!”

In March the reinforcements of the two companies of Eritrean askaris finally arrived, and the Italians completed their plans for the punitive expedition against the Wacdaan and Geledi.

On April 20, almost 5 months after the Lafole attack, Sorrentino led his expedition inland and burned first Lafole and then several other villages associated with the Geledi and Murusade clan. The religious settlement of Nimow from where Sheekh Axmed Xaaji preached his religious message, was also bombarded by an Italian warship.

”The Italian bombardment of the small coastal village of Nimow in retaliation for Cecchi’s death marked the first such colonial action against a Somali civilian population.’’( Lee V. Cassanelli).

The Italians were joyful about these ‘energetic measures’ against the Somalis who were found guilty. Surprisingly, the Italians thought that these measures would solve everything and concluded that the Sorrentino expedition was a success:

”With Abu Bakr arrested, the Ethiopians in voluntary retreat, Lafole avenged, and leaders of Somali opposition deported, Sorrentino had virtually accomplished his mission by the end of April’’ (Robert L. Hess)

The deported leaders were Hussein Dera of Mogadishu and other Somalis for collaboration with the Ethiopians and instigation of Somali attacks on trading caravans between Lugh and the Coastal towns. Although these punitive expeditions looked impressive, they had no lasting effect, as it further antagonized the Wacdaan and Geledi clans. Also, it became clear that the two Arabs had no influence whatsoever on the clans of the interior, and thus were not the source of opposition to the Italian presence.

”The impression made by the punitive expedition after Lafolé could hardly have been called lasting” (Robert L. Hess)

This seems to be the case, since the Italians retreated to the coastal cities after the expedition.

”In the decade following the Lafoole incident, the Italians remained at the coast, their colonial policy marked by uncertainty and indecision. Their only major venture into the interior was the establishment of a garrison of Arab soldiers at Baardheere in 1902’’ ( Lee V. Cassanelli).

Also, in the book ‘Italian colonialism in Somalia’ of Robert L Hess, it becomes clear that the punitive expedition to avenge the Lafole attack was not followed by other expeditions into the interior.

”We make no expeditions against tribes guilty (of hostilities) but arrest individuals of that tribe who happen to be in town; (this policy) has persuaded the Bimal and the Somali of Mogadishu that we are not strong”

It thus becomes clear that the Italians retreated back to the Coast, and only were visible in the cities of Merca, Mogadishu, Barawe and Warsheekh.

In Somali Sultanate, Virginia Luling also talks about the consequences of Lafole attack, in which she writes: ”On the Italian side, though the repercussions of the disaster delayed by three years the formation of the Benadir Company, in the long run it reinforced the conviction that it was necessary to take military control of the hinterland.’’

What made the punitive expedition not effective on the long run? Why did the Italians retreated to the Coast? To answer these questions we need to know how the different Somali groups in Benadir responded to the Lafole attack.

”It is clear from colonial reports and from Somali oral recollections that Lafoole precipated a response from all the districts of the hinterland” ( Lee V. Cassanelli).

————-

-To start with the Geledi Sultanate,

The Sultan of Geledi, Sultan Osman, as already discussed in the previous parts, wanted to accommodate the Italian presence on the Banadir coast. Cecchi apparently went to conclude a treaty with the Sultan, in order to penetrate the interior of the Banadir region. The Lafole episode came suddenly, and the Italians mounted their revenge expedition. As a consequence, Sultan Osman quickly succumbed to the Italian pressure and signed a treaty of peace with the Italians.

”The encounter with the Italians subdued the sultan of Geledi, who quickly signed a treaty of peace and pledged obedience to the Italian government” (Robert L. Hess).

This however did not mean that the Geledi people supported the Italian penetration of the Banadir coast, or accepted the Sultan’s treaty with the Italians. The young people of Geledi were fiercely opposed to the Italians and also played a role in the Lafoole attack.

”Acting-Governor Dulio felt that the young men of Geledi were fiercely opposed to the Italian presence, whereas their elders wanted some sort of accommodation” ( Lee V. Cassanelli).

Besides the young men, the uncle of Sultan Osman, and others felt that if the sultan wavered in his resistance, Gobroon authority would be weakened for good. This was true, since many from Adawiin lineage, whose religious prestige among the Geledi was second only to the Gobroon, preached a policy of non-accommodation. The reasons why the Sultan of Geledi succumbed to the Italians were varied. One of them was that Sultan Osman himself considered the possibility of shoring up his waning power through an alliance with the Italians.

The only articulated fierce opposition to the Italians from the Geledi was from the leader of a jamaaca (religious settlement) of the Ahmediya. This leader was Shaykh Abiker Ali Jelle, a member of the sultan’s own Gobroon lineage.

”When Abiker began to preach outright opposition to the colonials sitting threateningly on the coast, he was forced by the Geledi elders to leave the district’’( Lee V. Cassanelli).

This shows on which side the elders stood, and how they along with the Sultan were hesitant to join the resistance and thought accommodation was the best option for the group’s interest. We will see in later instalments whether this actually was the case.

-The Wacdaan response:

As already discussed in the previous parts, the Wacdaan were from the beginning fiercely opposed to the Italian penetration of the Banadir. This fierce opposition culminated in the attack of Lafole, in which mainly Wacdaan warriors along with a few Murusade and Geledi warriors, attacked the Cecchi expedition and killed all but three men.

The Italians directed their anger and revenge on mainly this group, by burning Lafole to the ground and bombarding the coastal village of Nimow from the sea. The Sorrentino expedition, with the Italian troops already based in the Banadir port-cities and the reinforcements of the two Eritrean Askari companies, was also mainly directed at punishing the Wacdaan and their allies.

These punitive measures however did not subdue the Wacdaan. Instead the Wacdaan remained harassing Italian presence on the Banadir coast by conducting guerrilla warfare tactics i.e. attacking caravans to the Banadir port-cities, organising blockades of the caravan routes that went through their territory to Mogadishu, and persecuting Somalis working with the Italians.

”Now the Wacdaan were beginning to blockade the caravan routes that ran through their territory to the coast” ( Lee V. Cassanelli).

The Italians sought to divide the Wacdaan and persuade sections of the group to submit peacefully. As said earlier the most numerous and militarily strongest section of Wacdaan, the Abubakar (Abukar?) Moldheere were lead by the famous Hassan Hussein, the fierce anti-‘infidel’ leader who along with Sheekh Axmed Xaaji articulated the opposition to the Italian penetration of the Banadir coast. This section of Wacdaan could not be persuaded, and continued to fight the Italians to the bitter end. The other section, the Mahad Moldheere, began slowly to depart from the rest of Wacdaan. They too participated in the Lafole attack, but started to move to the side of the Geledi. This was not surprising since they inhabited the territory contiguous to Afgooye and the fertile lands around Adadleh.

”Their interests coincided more with those of the agricultural Geledi. However, their smaller numbers gave them less influence in Wacdaan clan councils, which came to assume greater importance for policymakers as the Wacdaan began to act independently of the Geledi. While the Mahad Moldheere apparently cooperated in the Lafoole siege, their leader Abiker Ahmed Hassan subsequently struck an independent diplomatic stance.’’ ( Lee V. Cassanelli).

When in 1899 the Italians demanded forty hostages to be surrendered to the authorities in Muqdisho as a sign of Wacdaan submission, only the Mahad Moldheere responded. Their leader Abiker became a stipend official, which enhanced his standing among those of pacific persuasion.
The Abubakar Moldheere refused to send the twenty representatives demanded of them and for some years remained openly defiant of Italian authority.

”They continued to attack caravans and occasionally to boycott the market of Muqdisho. There is some evidence to suggest that feuding within the Wacdaan increased after this rift between the two major lineages’( Lee V. Cassanelli).

The Biyamaal response:

The Biyamaal were one of the first group to express their support for the Wacdaan in the lafole attack. They boycotted the markets of Merca, and the northern Biyamaal even collaborated with Hassan Husein of the Wacdaan. This collaboration led to the Biyamaal becoming also a target of punitive expeditions.

”After the Lafoole episode, several Biimaal sections boycotted the market of Marka to express their support for the Wacdaan action. The northern Biimaal collaborated with Hassan Hussein of Lafoole in cutting off land communications between Muqdisho and Marka.” ( Lee V. Cassanelli).

The Italians also targeted the Biyamaal for their support to the Wacdaan. In this they seized Jeziira, 13 miles south of Mogadishu.

————-
These were the immediate responses of the Italian colonialists and the different Somali groups to the Lafole episode.

These actions and reactions would accelerate in the coming years, as the Italians were determined to colonize the Banadir coast and its hinterlands as the springboard for the eventual colonization of the rest of Southern Somalia. In this, the Italians would target the two most fierce resistance groups in the Banadir: the Wacdaan and Biyamaal, who were already allied in their economic sanctions and operations to disturb the lines of supplies and communication of the Italians in Mogadishu. As will become clear in the next instalments the Italians would target the very foundation of the Wacdaan and Biyamaal power: their means of production and thus means of power–>the plantation economy of the Banadir coast.

In the next instalment the plantation economy of the Benadir coast and Southern Somalia will be discussed and the Italian strategy to undermine this by their anti-slavery campaign.

This strategy of directly targeting the foundations of the Banadir agricultural society and thus the power of the two most fierce resistance groups against Italian penetration of the Benadir coast would trigger the monsoon Storm of Resistance that struck the Banadir coast region.

 references;

Italian imperialism and Benaadir resistance prt 3

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4. The spark that lit the Banadir Resistance: Lafoole 25-26th of November 1896

Lafoole as explained earlier was within Wacdaan territory. It lay in an area with thick brush and scrub grass, a suitable spot for a well-prepared ambush. The Wacdaan were waiting for this moment, as Cecchi was despised by all Somali groups in the Banadir region, since he embodied colonial aggressiveness which became evident by his plans to ‘tap into the rich resources of Somalia’.

Also, the Wacdaan were from the beginning fiercely opposed to any compromise with the ‘infidels’. This attitude was persistent in the culture of the Wacdaan as explained earlier. Another impulse to this fierce anti-infidel attitude was the coming of Sheik Axmed Xaaji, the sheikh that found it intolerable to coexist with the ‘infidels’ in Mogadishu (see part 2). He lived among the Wacdaan, set up a jamaaca (religious school) and became the sheikh of the Wacdaan (religious leader). His ideas have apparently influenced the leader of the largest subgroup of Wacdaan (Abubakar Moldheere): Hassan Hussein.

Hassan Hussein, together with Sheikh Axmed Xaaji were instrumental in articulating the opposition to the Italian presence in Banadir. As already explained this too had its consequences for the political geography in Banadir, mainly the cooling of the alliance between Geledi and Wacdaan. Within the Geledi, the people wanted to resist the Italian expansion but the Sultan and the ones with authority choose for accommodation. In this the Wacdaan were slowly moving away from Geledi, and moving towards the Biyamaal, their erstwhile enemy.

The clash at Lafoole:

On 25th of November in 1896, the moment arrived in which the Italian government gave the approval to venture into the interior, thus effectively leaving the garrisons in Mogadishu. Cecchi too was waiting for this moment since he was eager to sign treaties with the Sultan of Geledi, which he still thought was powerful enough to be instrumental in the Italian plans for Somalia. What he didn’t know however was that the Sultan did not represent the feelings of the people, who were fiercely opposed to Italian expansion. Cecchi and the others in the expedition would find out too late about this fierce anti-infidel attitude of the Somalis.

This expedition consisted of Antonio Cecchi, Commander Ferdinando Maffei of the Staffetta, Commander Franscesco Mongiardini of the Volturno, and fourteen other Italians. In the evening when the expedition force set their camp at Lafoole, they were attacked in which a fierce fight followed. Apparently, this attack was not decisive enough to finish off the expedition. The next morning a renewed attack followed which successfully finished off the expedition, with only 3 survivors to tell the story.

”With government approval, Cecchi prepared for an expedition into the interior. By November 25, he was ready to move; his caravan consisted of seventy askaris, Commander Ferdinando Maffei of the Staffetta, Commander Franscesco Mongiardini of the Volturno, and fourteen other Italians, for the most part members of the crews of the two ships. That very night their encampment at Lafolé, some twelve miles inland, was attacked. In the early morning hours, as the caravan once more got under way, it was attacked again. By eight-thirty in the morning of November 26, all but three sailors were dead or dying.” (Robert. L Hess)

Who were these groups that attacked the Italian expedition?

In the Shaping of Somali Society, (Lee V. Cassanelli) it becomes clear that the group that attacked the Italians were of mainly Wacdaan warriors, accompanied by Murursade and Geledi warriors.

”In November 1896, he and a score of Arab askaris set out to meet with the presumably influential sultan of Geledi. It was the first colonial attempt to penetrate the interior with a military contingent, and it ended disastrously for the Italians. Cecchi’s expedition was besieged and most of it destroyed at a place called Lafoole, along the Muqdisho-Afgooye road by Somali warriors of the Wacdaan clan.”

In another passage the author reveals more about the composition:

”Geledi’s long-time allies the Wacdaan had apparently acted independently at Lafoole; and they had been assisted by a handful of warriors from the Murursade, also Geledi allies”

Virginia Luling instead talks about Wacdaan and others, which thus means Murursade and Geledi warriors, since the alliance consisted of these three groups:

”…Antonio Cecchi, famous as an explorer and one of the most enthusiastic and influential advocates of Italian colonisation, set out from Muqdisho for Geledi with a party of soldiers in Novermber 1896, intending to negotiate with Sultan Cusmaan Axmed.
They were surprised and attacked while camping in Wacdaan territory, at Laafoole at the edge of the deex, where the white earth meets the black, and the thorny bush gives way to more open country. Out of the seventeen Italians, only three survived.

The assailants were from the Wacdaan and perhaps other clans.”

Virginia Luling further sheds light on the location of Laafoole:

”It must be a particularly suitable place for surprise attacks, for fourteen years earlier, Révoil’s caravan had been attacked by Wacdaan at the same spot, and its name ‘place of bones’, comes from a much earlier slaughter, supposedely of the ‘gaalo madow’. ”

——
Reactions to the clash:

The ‘Lafoole Massacre’ as the Italian press called it, came less than a year after the humiliating Italian defeat at Adowa in Ethiopia. It was a severe physiological damage to Italian colonial ambitions.

For Somalis, it was a great day, which send a shockwave throughout the Banadir region. The ‘Lafoole Massacre’ which already severely shocked the Italian colonialists, was immediately followed by sporadic incidents along the whole Banadir coast.

In Mogadishu 100 or more Italians were wounded in a general uprising. In Marka, a young Somali, Omar Hassan Yusuf, assassinated the Italian resident, Giacomo Trevis. According to local accounts, Omar emerged after praying in the small mosque of Shaykh Osman ‘Marka-yaalle’ and knifed the ‘infidel’ Trevis as he walked along the beach. Giacomo Trevis was a hated man in Marka for a lot of reasons, besides been an unwanted colonialist, he was also hated for his policy of compulsory labor. In Warsheekh, a government askari was confronted as he stepped outside the garrison. In Baraawe, the well-known and influential Haji Shaykh Abbas railed against his Somali compatriots and called them ‘woman’ for allowing the Italians free movement there. ( Lee V. Cassanelli).

The Italians in Banadir were shocked, and when the news reached Rome, the foreign minister immediately appointed Commander Giorgio Sorrentino as royal commissioner extraordinary for the Banadir. Initially, the Italians thought that Lafoole was an Ethiopian ambush since Ethiopians were besieging Lugh at that time and since there were rumours of an Ethiopian invasion of Banadir region. When Sorrentino landed in Mogadishu, on 26th of January 1897, he immediately started the investigation of Lafole.

”Within ten days he had determined that Lafolé was neither the precursor of a general urprising against the Italians nor an Ethiopian ambush but an isolated case of action by Wadan tribesmen and the tribes of Geledi; who had been spurred to the act by two Arabs from Mogadishu’’ (Robert L. Hess)

This was a gross understatement of the Lafoole incident, and of the attitude of the Benadir groups to the Italian presence.

Throughout the Banadir, from Warsheekh to Baraawe, 1896-97 is remembered as Axad Shiiki ( the ‘Sunday year of Cecchi’). The Biyamaal date the beginning of their twelve-year resistance at Axad Shiiki. ( Lee V. Cassanelli).

The clash at Lafoole is immortalized by this shirib:

Shiin digow Sheikh Axmed Xaaji
Shiiki sheydaan mooho?

Translation:

Writer of (the Koranic verse) shiin, Sheikh Axmed Xaaji
Is not Cecchi a devil?

Sheikh Axmed Xaaji is the well-known religious leader of the Wacdaan who had established the jamaaca to teach Quran, religon etc

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The Italians have misinterpreted the signs of the coming storm which would engulf the Banadir region.

In the coming part, we’ll explain the immediate consequences of the clash at Lafoole. How the Italians reacted to the ‘Lafoole Massacre’ and how the different Somali groups in Banadir reacted to the event and the wider issue of Italian presence in the Banadir coast. Slowly on from there we will arrive at the heroic struggle of the Biyamaal and their allies, amongst which their erstwhile enemy Wacdaan, against the Italian expansion.

SOMALIS TO BE PUNISHED.

___________

For the Murder of Italians at Magadoxo, Africa.

Rome, Dec. 3.—In the chamber of Deputies today the Marquis Visconti Venosti, Minister of Foreign Affaires, confirmed the reports from Zanzibar of the murder of the Italian Consul, Signor Cecchi, the Captains, and a number of officers of the Italian warships Volturno and Staffeta, and the wounding of 100 or more other Italians by Somalis at Magadoxo. The men had fallen into an ambuscade and were attacked without warning.
The Government , the Minister said, would take energetic measures to punish the Somalis who were guilty of the outrage.
The Marquis said that the confirmatory reports showed that fourteen Italians had been killed, together with a number of the escorts of the Italians whose caravan was attacked during the night. Twenty-seven bodies were recovered by a rescue party when hurried to the scene from Magadoxo when the news of fighting reached there. The rescuers arrested a number of the Somalis who participated in the massacre and punished them appropriately. Many of the Somalis tribesmen were also killed by the Italians in the fight that followed the attack on the caravan.

The New York Times
Published: December 4, 1986

references; Italian Colonialism in Somalia, Robert L. Hess 1966

Written by hawiye1

May 21, 2009 at 2:08 pm