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Somali Independence Week Series
July 01, 2009
The idea of possible merger of the British and Italian Somalilands surfaced as early as 1959. In February of that year, British Colonial Secretary, Alan Lennox-Boyd, proposed while he was in Hargeysa that British Somalilanders have the option to choose between early self-Government and an early association with Italian Somaliland, which at that time was scheduled to gain independence in December of 1960.
By May of 1960, British Colonial Secretary, Ian Maclead officially stated that Britain was about to grant independence to Somaliland protectorate so that it can unite with Italian Somaliland (Somalia), which was scheduled to become a sovereign state on July 1, 1960. The Secretary made his announcement while Somaliland leaders were in London for talks on a constitution. He underlined that the merge between the two Somalilands was in accord with the wishes of the British Somaliland leaders who want to join Italian Somaliland.
On April, 1960, the Legislative Council (in British Somaliland) passed a resolution, asking not only for independence but also to unite with Somalia. And after having one-week conference in Mogadishu, the two sides jointly announced that the two Somalilands will unite as a Somali Republic, and the two Legislative Councils will be merging into one National Assembly.
Again, on June 27, 1960, the Somaliland Legislative Council unanimously passed a bill that unites Somaliland with Somalia.
The Joyous Friday – Independence and Union Day
On July 1, 1960, the 5-pointed white star flag was hoisted; and the next day, the union of the two Somalilands (British and Italian) was formally ratified by the National Assembly. Margery Perham of The Times has described the birth of the new Republic as Siamese twins whose god-parents were: the United Nations, Britain, and Italy. [See The Times, July 4, 1960].
Still, Many Somalis seem to have plenty of reasons to be celebrating, this coming July 1st, for the Unification of the two Somalilands. For that reason, the Roobdoon Forum presents to its readership excerpts of news coverage that relate to the independence and unification week of 1960.
Somalia is Born As Free Republic
The New York Times
Friday, July 01, 1960
New Nation Merges Former Italian Trusteeship Area With Somaliland
Mogadishu, Somalia, Friday, july1 (Reuters) – The new republic of Somalia was proclaimed at a minute after midnight today.
Independence for this Italian territory of Somalia on the horn of Africa coincided with the union of Somalia and Somaliland, a former British territory that became independent five days ago.
Cannons thundered in salute, fireworks burst and crowds danced and sing in the be-flagged streets as the population of 2,000,000 began celebrating.
The proclamation followed a glittering reception attended by delegates form seventy-two countries. Congratulatory messages poured in from around the world.
The white-starred flag of the republic was hoisted with full military honors.
‘Joyous Moment’ Hailed
Addressing cheering crowds from a floodlit balcony of the legislative Assembly building, the provisional head of state, Aden Abdullah, said the world was “listening to the new independent state at this joyous moment.”
Mr. Aden asserted that the republic would maintain good relations with all nations and would defend “the sacred values of democracy.”
A United Nations representative, Constantin A. Stravropoulos of Greece, said, independence could never have been achieved without an enthusiastic and constructive spirit of the Somali people and Italy’s enlightened leadership.
Mogadishu was in a jubilant mood. Housing accommodations caused the biggest problem because of the influx of visitors, some of whom slept in cars and in the open air.
The union with Somaliland will be formally ratified tomorrow by the National Assembly.
Observers predict Mr. Aden will be the first provisional President. He is a former trader who at 52 is Somalia’s elder statesman. He is expected to hold the post for a year. After that, a referendum will choose a new President.
A behind-the-scenes struggle is under way for the post of Premier. There is a strong support for Somalia’s Premier, Abdullahi Issa, 38, but the need to cement ties with Somaliland may result in the selection of its premier, Mohammed Haji Ibrahim Egal. Mr. Ibrahim is regarded as a moderate.
The independence celebrations will continue until Tuesday with around of parties and dinners.
Problems for the Somali Republic
By Margery Perham
July 04, 1960
The new Republic of Somalia is coming to birth in this pleasant little city of Mogadishu. Good fairies – and some, perhaps, not quite so good – have come from nearly all nations of the world for this interesting event.
The new state can boast three god-parents: Great Britain, the United Nations, and Italy. The birth is, in fact, one Siamese twins – Italian Somalia and British Somaliland – but in this case none of those attending the affair, with one possible exception, wants to see them disjoined.
The young provisional Government of the new country, discreetly and efficiently helped by the Italians, has given a splendid welcome to its guests. A luxurious hotel has been run up in some three months, out of prefabricated parts sent out from Italy at a cost, it said, of much more than £1m, and a fleet of cars was brought in, driven by smart uniformed drivers, to rush guests from one function to another.
The main welcome was in the overwhelming pleasure and courtesy of the Somalis in receiving their guests. Surely one of the most handsome races in the world with their aquiline features and incredibly slip hips, they are brimming over with joy and good fellowship, and their women even more handsome than the men, have come out well into the open to express their sense of joy.
VOLLEY OF FIRE
One volley of fires against dissidents has unfortunately marred the proceedings. The young state is coming to life in a dangerous part of a dangerous world; and even before it faces outwards it has its own internal problems. It suffers less than some new or soon to be new African states from the deep divisions of culture, language, or religion that seem to deny the possibility of their nationhood. There is no mistakenly a Somali anywhere in the world, but though there is this unity of a clan, and also of a common language and religion, this encircles a strong internal tribalism.
The diplomatists who fly in and out of Mogadishu to be entertained by the young Ministers and permanent secretaries, in their well out lounge suits and in the setting of the excellent public buildings of the capital, will have little idea of the real Somalia, which stretches away to north and west. To fly right over this is to see something very close to desert, flecked with grey-green bush and the ghost of grass, with hardly a road, a modern installation, or a house that is not a hut. Worse still, for all veining of the surface with watercourses, none of these, except the two rivers of the former Italian Somalia, carries permanent water. The writer, who once lived in the first European house built in Hargeisa and trekked among the Somalis along the unexplored Ethiopian border, took the impress of the hard life of searching for water and grazing for their camels and sheep, that has given a fierce belligerency to the tribal unit.
The urge of the new African state is, inevitably perhaps, towards centralization form the capital. But Mogadishu will not find it easy to impose its will, however beneficent, upon these strong nomadic units. The new political parties, for all their modern-sounding names, are still closely linked to tribal realities. And, for all efforts of both the administrating Powers, local government as the basis of a modern state does not easily take root among a shifting population, for the character and customs of nomads are as tough as their spare, sinewy bodies.
Another problem, though not on so deep a level, lies in the sudden of two colonial systems, the British and Italian. It is true that, because of the conservatism of the pastoralist, foreign influences have bitten less deep than the settled and more prosperous African populations. And Italian Somalia had a period of British military administration. Yet the new state has to coordinate two different systems of rule with the concepts and methods which govern them. They have to harmonize two laws and two adopted languages and at the same time decide how to employ their own unwritten tongue in public life.
Of all the internal problems, poverty is the most intractable. The population is small. The 500,000 “British” Somalis are uniting with the 1,250,000 of the “Italian” zone. Both territories have had to rely heavily on grants-in-aid from the colonial Powers amounting for most of the period to about half their revenues. British Somaliland’s total revenue in 1958 to 1959 was 1,653,000 and 41% of this was provided from Britain, without counting Colonial Development and Welfare grants. Italian figures of the same kind can roughly doubled. Both god-parents have come forward with gifts in money and kind to tide over infant state for the immediate future, but the long-term prospect remains alarming. Independence is never a cheap experiment. It arouses expectations of social betterment that few apprentice politicians dare refuse. Yet the Somalis confidently look to the world and especially to their old protectors to keep them, and if their human need deserves help form the west.
The Horn may seem a barren triangle, but it is a land surface of great strategic importance. Two threats of trouble hang over it. One is the very natural Somali irredentism. The innocent looking white star of the new flag which decorates the streets of Mogadishu today has five points. Two represents Somaliland and Somalia, but the other three point in dangerous directions, towards the million or more Somalis who live in northern Kenya, in French Somaliland, and in the Ethiopian Ogaden. This last is the most immediately dangerous because the Somalis refuse to recognize the line drawn by treaty which not only divides Somali from Somali but which must annually be crossed by a large proportion of former British Somalis in search of essential seasonal water and grazing. It would be madness for the new Somalia to challenge Ethiopia or even to try to assert its strength by building expensively from the nucleus armed strength left by the “British” Somali scouts and the “Italian” police force.
What is needed, and needed immediately, is a large effort by the western Powers, in cooperation with Ethiopia and Somalia, to work by modern methods of hydrology and conservation of pasture to solve the stubborn and dangerous poverty of the pastoralists. If this effort is not made there are plenty of neighbours near and far who will take a hand in this sensitive area.
In face of problems and poverty it is wonderful to see the rapture of the Somalis as they face the unknown. They have shown the usual passionate desire to cut short the brief months of probation. As one watches their joy, and is indeed irresistibly drawn in to it, the thought arises how we in Britain, for all our constitutional liberalism and all our experience, still underestimated the passion for equality and fro freedom from alien rule. There is a respect and even affection here for Britain but less perhaps for what we have done for this people than for our readiness to cease doing it. This people, high spirited, gifted, exposed to almost every danger, makes a confident demand not only for our continuing economic help but for the most practical and human expressions of our friendship and understanding.
Police Guns Halt Somalia Protest
By JAY WALZ
The New York Times
July 02, 1960
One Killed and 32 Wounded in Freedom Day Clash
Mogadishu, Somalia, July 1 – Demonstrators of three Opposition parties were forced back by police today as they attempted to march on the Parliament Building, where the National Assembly of the new Republic of Somalia was sitting for the first time.
One person was killed by police fire and thirty-two persons, including eleven policemen were wounded.
The outbreak on the first day of Somali’s independence took Mogadishu by surprise, although though it was known yesterday the three groups had asked to parade during the independence festivities and that the police had refused permission.
The Republic of Somalia came into being at midnight, setting off four days’ celebration. Multitudes danced in the streets, whistled, shouted and threw firecrackers back and forth.
The police shooting of 3,000 to 5,000 began to form in downtown Mogadishu shortly after the national Assembly met at 8 o’clock to elect a President of the republic and to approve an act uniting the former Italian Somaliland with the former British Somaliland protectorate.
The police ordered the crowd to halt about two blocks from Parliament. When the demonstrators pushed on, the police charged with clubs and then began shooting into the air. Fire trucks arrived and hoses were turned on the marchers.
The demonstrators were stopped at the square half a mile from the Parliament Building. The newly elected President Aden Abdulle Osman, prepared to appear before the demonstrators, but the police decided against it.
The demonstrators belonged to the Liberal party, the Somali Democratic League and the Greater Somali League. All are opposed to the Somali Youth League, which is the majority party forming the new Government.
The Greater Somali League headed by Haji Mohammed Hussein, has pressed for the union of Somalis in Kenya, Ethiopia and French Somaliland as well as those in the two territories forming the new republic.
On of the first acts of the new Somalia National Assembly this morning was to elect Mr. Osman President of the republic. He had been President of the Legislative Assembly.
The Assembly also quickly approved the act binding the two Somalilands together. It ratified a new constitution, subject to a popular referendum later.
Left unclear for the time being was the future status of Abdullahi Issa, who served as Premier of Somalia under Italian trusteeship. Mr Issa, 38 years old, was ineligible to stand for the Presidency, which the new Constitution requires to be filled by a man at least 45.
Some observers feel Mr. Issa might be continued as Premier because of his experience and knowledge as Somalia’s domestic and foreign affairs. Yet Mr. Osman might be pressed by deputies for the former British protectorate to give the Premiership to Ibrahim Egal, who headed the Somaliland Government during its five-day period of independence.
80 Arrested in Somalia
The New York Times
July 03, 1960
Mogadishu, Somalia, July 2 – Eighty persons were arrested in demonstrations yesterday that married the opening day of celebrations marking Somalia’s independence from Italian rule.
The demonstrations clashed with the police as they attempted to march on the Parliament building where the national Assembly was holding its first meeting. One demonstrator was killed by police fire Most of the thirty-two who were wounded were released from the hospital after having been treated for the minor injuries. A dozen policemen were pelted by stones and a number of civilians were bruised by police clubs.
Later in the day many of the same demonstrators paraded through the streets of the capital unresisted by the authorities. Several hundred men, women and children marched. They wore skull caps bearing the initials G.S.L., standing for the Greater Somali League and carried signs saying “Long Live Somalia.” Some carried banners denouncing racial discrimination in South Africa.
The Greater Somali League seeks the Union of all Somali-speaking people at once and opposes the moderate approach to the objective taken by the Somali Youth League, the party that controls the Government of the new republic.
Calm Patriot of the Horn of Africa
June 29, 2009
It has often been said of the Somali people that they are impetuous, unpredictable and much given to the arts of war and oratory. At present, however, when a sober assessment of African personalities is of great practical importance, generalizations of this kind are dangerous and misleading. They are certainly wide of the mark in the case of Abdullahi Issa, the Prime minister of Somalia, who is expected to emerge as the prime minister of the new Somali Republic after the union of Somalia and the newly independent Somaliland.
He is calm, patient and polite, and has no gift of oratory. His progressive outlook inspires loyalty among many young Somalis, but he has opponents, who are numerous and who accuse him of dictatorial tendencies. With the rapid political changes in the Horn of Africa it would be unwise to try to predict his career. Though recognized as a great patriot, he is a controversial figure. Much will depend upon how the new constitution is put into operation and effect on the present delicate balance of pressures behind the scenes in Mogadishu.
Abdullahi Issa was born in 1922 in Afgoi, in the agricultural district of central Somalia, but when he was a child his father died and his mother moved to Mogadishu, the capital. He was sent to a Quranic school and then to an Italian Government school. (Somalia was an Italian protectorate). At 15 he entered the Italian Government service and he remained in it till 1942, when the British Military Administration took over after the East African campaign.
At the Junction
He then went into business at Belet Uen, which is situated at a road junction connecting the agricultural south with the pastoral north and Somalia with Ethiopia. From Belet Uen one gets a wider and quieter view of the Horn of Africa than from the coastal town of Mogadishu.
In May, 1943, the first effective Somali political party, the Somali Youth League, was formed. Abdullahi Issa joined the League a year later. In 1945, he was asked to start a branch of the League at Belet Uen and after two years, at the age of 25, he became secretary-general of the whole League. It was in this capacity that he took part in talks when the Youth League presented its views to an inquiry committee of the Four-Power Commission in 1948.
After this experience of Somali national politics he now entered a wider sphere. In the autumn of 1948 he went to Paris as one of the representatives of the League for the debate on Somalia in the General Assembly, where his knowledge of both Italian and English was an undoubted asset. Elections in 1956 brought him the office of Prime Minister and Minister of Justice. It was in the Belet Uen constituency that he won his seat in 1959 and he again became Prime Minister, combining the office with that of Minister of Interior.
One of his recent prudent measures was the establishment of the Somali National Army, thus restoring the balance of power within the country, which previously had had only one armed body, the very well trained police force.
It is significant that meanwhile with the connivance, if not encouragement, of the prime Minister a sumptuously printed and illustrated handbook of Somali, Our Mother Tongue, has been published in the Roman script, which is violently opposed because of its associations with the West and Christianity. Abdullahi Issa does not share such prejudices and seems to be prepared to risk unpopularity for the sake of the obvious benefits which an internationally recognized script would bring to his country.
New Hotels House Guests of Republic for Ceremonies Scheduled at Midnight
The New York Times
Thursday, June 30, 1960
Mogadishu, Somalia, June 29 – Mogadishu, which history has had a way of bypassing through the centuries, is bathed in the glow of public notice.
Preparing for the proclamation of Somali independence tomorrow at midnight, this capital of 75,000 is gleaming with fresh whitewash. The new republic’s emblem of a blue field and white stars flies proudly from the public buildings alongside the Italian tricolor.
After Friday the blue and white flag will fly not only over the territories that for seventy years have been under Italian or British administration, but also over the former protectorate of British Somaliland which became independent Sunday.
The Somalis live on the eastern bulge of Africa between the Indian of Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.
To accommodate 400 important guests pouring in from capitals as far as Washington and Moscow, two new hotels have been rushed to completion. Named the Giuba [Juba Hotel] and Uebi Scebeli [Shabelle Hotel] after Somalia’s two rivers, the hotels are so new that the wine tumblers on the tables still bear the pasted stickers identifying the manufacturer.
Airport is busy
The tiny, unlighted airport that normally takes three or four flights a week has been abuzz all week with charter and scheduled aircraft bringing in well-wishers.
Yesterday saw the departure of the last vestige of Italian military might that Mussolini massed in Mogadishu twenty five years ago to invade Ethiopia. To the roll of Somali drums and bugles two sergeants respectfully carried the Italian military emblem aboard a plane bound for Rome.
Before Friday, after independence is proclaimed, the joint Assembly will meet to debate the draft constitution and elect a President. The President in turn will name a Premier.
There are two leading contenders for the presidency – the present Premier, Abdullahi Issa, and Aden Abdulle Osman, the president of the assembly. Under the draft constitution as it stands, Signor Issa, 38 years old, is ruled out because he is too young.
The Political Committee has recommended to the Assembly that the minimum age be 40.
Signor Issa, who sparked the independence movement through the Somali Youth League twelve years ago, is working to have the age rule modified. But his supporters are meeting resistance from opponents on two sides.
Still Signor Issa’s supporters feel he is the only leader who commands the respect of the majority of his own people and of the heads of foreign powers to whom Somalia must turn for aid during her early days. When the fireworks of independence day are over, the new leaders, whoever they are, must seek a foreign source for the $5,000,000 needed annually to balance the budget.
Some observers feel that if either Signor Osman or Signor Issa gets the presidency, he almost must certainly choose a premier form the former British Protectorate. In that case, the choice would undoubtedly fall on Mohamed Ibrahim Egal, who is the Prime minister in the Somaliland capital of Hargeisa during the five-day interval between independence form the British and union with Somalia.
East Africa Marks Two New Nations
The New York Times
Monday, June 27, 1960
HARGEISA, Somaliland, June 26 (Reuters) – A blue and White starred flag was hoisted here today after all-night celebrations ending seventy-three years of British rule in this East African Territory at the south end Red Sea.
Mohammed Haji Ibrahim Egal took an Oath on the Quran as Premier of the new nation of Somaliland.
Nearly 1,000 British-trained Somali troops were handed over to him by the retiring commandant; Brig. Gen. O. G. Brooks.
Mr. Egal welcomed a delegation from a neighboring Italian Somalia, scheduled to unite with Somaliland to form a republic of 2, 000, 000 population when Italy gives up her United Nations trusteeship Friday.
British Rule In Somaliland IS Ended
Monday, June 27, 1960
Independence Day Celebrations
HARGEISA, Somaliland, June 26, 1960 (Reuter): British rule ended here at midnight last night as fireworks and singing crowds heralded the Independence of Somaliland. Celebrations continued throughout the night. A big electric sign on a hillside carried the message: “Long Live independence.”
Celebrations in the capital were repeated in settlements and outposts throughout the territory. The rejoicing will continue tomorrow, which has been proclaimed a public holiday.
Early this morning crowds thronged the polo ground for the final act of independence. Mohammed Haji Ibrahim Egal, the Prime Minister of independent Somaliland, took an oath on the Quran to the new state and hoisted the blue and white, starred flag.
Nearly 1,000 British-trained Somaliland Scouts were then handed over to the Prime Minister by Brigadier O. G. Brooks, the Colonel Commandant. After the ceremony, the crowds swarmed into the town, cheering and shouting freedom slogans.
At dusk last night the band of the 1st Battalion, the Royal Highland Fusiliers, beat retreat and the Union Jack was lowered.
The last toast to the Queen was proposed by Mr. P. Carrel, who was acting Governor until midnight, at a reception. He said: “This is the last occasion on which we British can offer best wishes for the future of the people of Somaliland and Somalia (the Adjacent Italian trust territory). May they have a happy life and prosperity for the rest of their days.”
Union With Somalia
The Prime Minister responded with a tribute to the British association, saying: “We have not always seen eye to eye, but we share a Common ideal in the simple things of life. This is not the end of British-Somali relations. These relations are simply taking another shape for the better.”
Somaliland plans to unite with Somalia on Friday when Italy gives up her United Nations trusteeship there.
A delegation from Mogadishu, including Adan Abdullah, who is likely to be the first President of the new republic of Somalia and Somaliland, has been greeted warmly by the crowds here.
Adan Abdullah was met by the Prime minister on his arrival at the airport. Police and Somaliland Scouts lined up to give a general salute and he was greeted by a fanfare of trumpets.
Adan Abdullah told the crowds that the people in Somalia eagerly awaited their independence on Friday. He said that there was no major obstacle in the way of union of both countries. There were difficulties in detail, “but there is no doubt that these will be resolved”.
The Queens Message
A message form the Queen was delivered in Hargeisa yesterday by Mr. T. E. Bromley. British Consul-General in Mogadishu, on the occasion on Somaliland independence day. The Message said: “I, my Government and my people in the United Kingdom, wish you well on this day of independence. The connection between our people goes back some 130 years and British administration of the Protectorate for 60 years. I look forward to a continuing and enduring friendship between our two countries.”
Somaliland Marks Independence After 73 Years of British Rule
The New York Times
Sunday, June 26, 1960
HARGEISA, Somaliland, Sunday, June 26, 1960 (Reuters): Crowds danced in the streets here, bonfires blazed from the hills and fireworks burst in the sky as last midnight spelled the end of Britain’s rule in Somaliland.
The country became independent after seventy-three years as a British protectorate. Political parties gave receptions to guests from all communities. The rejoicing was to continue tomorrow, a public holiday.
Newly independent Somaliland plans to unite with neighboring Somalia Friday when Italy gives up her United Nations trusteeship there.
The five-day hiatus between independence and merger was seen as a period of potential danger. There was fear of possible clashes with Ethiopian tribes along Somaliland’s ill-defined borders. [Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia said Friday he hoped for peaceful border adjustment with free Somalis soon.]
Thousands of Somalis turned out to say farewell to the British Governor, Sir Douglas Hall, and his wife. They flew to Aden.
A delegation arrived from Mogadishu, the Somali capital, led by the President of Somalia Legislative Assembly, Adan Abdullah. He said the people of Somalia were eagerly awaiting independence.
Somaliland’s Vote for Union
Tuesday, June 28, 1960
Ministers to Settle Details
Hargeisa, June 27, 1960 (Reuter): The Somaliland Legislative Assembly today unanimously approved a Bill endorsing plans to unite the country with Somalia. The Assembly met a day earlier than originally arranged, because Ministers are anxious to go to Somalia to settle a number of details in connection with the union.
Ibrahim Egal, the Prime Minister, paid tribute to the retiring British Speaker, Mr. W. F. Stubbs, to whom he said: “We have all been novices in the art of parliamentary government, and your assistance and guidance have been very highly appreciated.”
Agreements between Somaliland Ministers and the British Ambassador-designate, Mr. Thomas Bromley, cover interim arrangements for the Somaliland Scout Force, which was handed over to the independent Government yesterday. The agreements also provide safeguards for pension rights of expatriate civil servants and for a British aid mission to assist the public services for six months.
French Security Bar
All movement between French Somaliland and the newly independent state of Somaliland has been banned by the French authorities, but is expected to be resumed in a few days. The ban is regarded as a precaution against possible incidents during the Somaliland independence celebrations which began yesterday.
One of the first pronouncements by the Government of independent Somaliland was a broadcast warning against the illegal carrying of firearms, after reports that tribesmen had been seen in a number of towns with rifles. There has been a general ban on firearms and only a few have been issued in special cases – such as for shooting game. The warning said the law had not been changed with independence, and would be rigidly enforced.
Rome Votes Somalia Act
The New York Times
Saturday, June 25, 1960
ROME, June 24 (Reuters) – Parliament adopted today a bill ending Italy’s rule in Italian Somaliland. The Chamber of Deputies approved the measure by 403 to 33. It has already been passed by the Senate.