” The future of the Somali race is to my mind one of the most interesting and difficult of the problems presented by East Africa. For the present, I advise that we leave them alone, or at least avoid as far as possible the task of attacking them in their own territory. They are naturally isolated, and, if our officers will only avoid getting killed, can do little harm by quarrelling with one another in Jubaland. Our real task at present is rather to see that they do not encroach to the south, and to prevent them from raiding the Tana River and the Lamu Archipelago. But we can hardly avoid in the future the further task of making a permanent settlement in Jubaland, and the delimitation of the Abyssinian (meaning stop Somali Region expansion) frontier may perhaps precipitate that settlement.

It is certainly to be desired that we should utilise the Somalis. There can be no doubt that they are the most intelligent race in the Protectorate, though it may be urged with some justice that they are also proud, treacherous, fanatical, and vindictive. Too much stress, I think, is often laid on these bad qualities, and it is certain that the average Englishman has little sympathy for the Somali. He tolerates a black man who admits his inferiority, and even those who show a good fight and give in ; but he cannot tolerate dark colour combined with an intelligence in any way equal to his own. This is the secret of the almost universal dislike of the Babu, and it reappears in the unpopularity of the Somali among East African officials.

The Somali are not willing to agree to the simple plan of having a fair fight and then shaking hands when defeated, but constantly indicate that they think themselves our equals or superiors, and not unfrequently prove it. Whenever it is worth our while to occupy Jubaland, and let them see a few hundred white men instead of half-a-dozen officials, which is literally all that they know of us at present, I anticipate that we shall not have much difficulty in getting on with them. The attractions of civilisation are so great for them, and our superiority in this respect so incontestable, that there can hardly be any doubt as to the result. What will happen in the wider limits of Somaliland, north of the Juba, it is hard to predict, but the area to the south is sufficiently small to offer an easy field for the extension of European influence when it is commercially and financially worthwhile. But meanwhile I think we had better let the Somalis alone, and avoid these conflicts between a lion and a swallow.”

The East Africa Protectorate

by Eliot, Charles Eliot


I was feeling depressed by the outcome of the political wrangling between the Somali president and his PM. I hope the new PM will be selected in a transparent manner and will be qualified to do the job. For how long must we put up with these constant changes in leadership?

To uplift my spirits, I decided to dig up my old archives and came upon this gem. This is an old classic song that was composed by Abdulkadir Hersi Yamyam (May he rest in peace). One of the things that Said Barre will be missed for was his nationalism which he strove to inculcate in the masses through songs, poetry and drama. I just adore this song and the uplifting words. How the mighty have fallen: from a proud nation to one of scattered beggars. Nevertheless, I am still optimistic and pray for a peaceful Somalia. Somalia, lifted up and held by women, will one day get back on its feet. 

I share names with equality
A mortal I do not allow
That he surpass me
And allusive words and hints
I confer not on anyone as gifts
I am Somali

Though impoverished I am
Yet my hardships I endure
And my palms I do not extend
A man with whom I am friends
With my enemy I do not rival
I am Somali

I am in a quest for peace
And from enmity I am terrified
But [from the battlefield] I flee not
And the man who brings wounds
From his hands I await not [I launch assault]
I am Somali

A man who endangers me lives not in peace
And there isn’t a man who did wait for me
Gratitude I have not yet abandoned
Nor do I support not any transgression
And a wronged man I compare not with others
I am Somali

To whom my ways do not appeal
As he wishes I do not comply with
Like some parts of the world
Coercion I do not accept
Nor do I carry any man’s shoes
I am Somali

O’ you who is wealthier than I
Your offerings for name’s sake
Know that I expect them not
Say not, too, persuade the ignorant
For I have not a conscious that sleeps
I am Somali

Neither man’s stroking of my head
Nor his lace on my legs [duplicity] do I accept
Persuasion I do not approve
As for secrets [about me] I say
A Saab [vessel] that hold no water
I am Somali

I am of a step with the wind
And on impulse I do not act
I am like fangs of poison [when provoked]
And at times, the bearer of good [when dealt with peace]
I am swathed in patience
I am Somali

A man who endangers me lives not in peace
And there isn’t a man who did wait for me
Gratitude I have not yet abandoned
Nor do I support not any transgression
And a wronged man I compare not with others
I am Somali

I am like Saan [hide] split into two
That still bears the credentials
Some men once disintegrated me
Whilst I tended to my flocks
[But] the obligation of unity I [still] carry
I am Somali

(Source: this is a classic Somali song called Somali Baan Ahay. The English translation is attributable to Shafi Said at http://shafisaid.wordpress.com/2007/11/13/i-am-somali/)