Monday, April 9, 2012


the Bimaal

Feuding hostilities led to several confrontations between Italy and the Somali tribes. Eno reveals, “Merca, Jilib, Jesira and Dhanane are some of the notable battlefields where the Bimaal (Hawiye) pastoral tribe engaged colonial soldiers constituting Somalis.”27 Nevertheless, revelations such as by Italian naval officer Gaetano Bossi had already done the damage. He recommended the pertinence of a more organized government role. Commander Onorato di Monale who undertook an investigation upon the early announcements of the Benadir Coast slavery scandal wrote another equally discrediting report. Some excerpts of the report, including information given by the local chiefs and other outstanding figures of the community, read:

…not only did slaves enter Benadir ports, but that the last slaves to enter the town date back only to last December. Slaves are bought and sold in the Benadir towns, not only under the eyes of Italian authorities…but according to registry of the cadis of Mogadishu…with the sanction of those authorities. In the Benadir, a slave can be bought, sold, imprisoned, inherited, given as a gift, exploited, and rarely liberated. Far from taking steps towards the gradual disappearance of domestic servitude, the company is perpetrating it and aggravating the condition.28

In a gesture to consolidate its colonial activities firmly, Italy succeeded in the purchase of the Benadir ports for the estimated amount of 3,600,000 Italian Lira , the equivalent of 144,000 British pounds, an achievement seen as a step forward. But within the colony, as Italy was aware, resistance was unavoidable since some tribes were discontented by the abolition policy.

The Somali slave owners, as is paradigmatic of the nomadic psychology, tinted the abolition policy as a religious issue in a bid to gain legitimacy for their cause of war and sympathy from other clans, under the philosophy of Jihad (holy war). Mohamed Abdulle Hassan, the Mad Mullah and leader of the Dervish, assisted the Bimaal cause to that end. The colonial administration recruited soldiers to face the arrogant and unabiding Bimaal. When the battle erupted, several Bimaal villages were torched off. The Bimaal, in retaliation, forged several attempts to overrun the Italian askaris in Dhanane, situated between Merca and Mogadishu. They were all in futility until the Bimaal were relentless subdued.

In a diplomatic move to step up the scale of ‘pacification’, the colonial officials approached chiefs and notables of the various tribes to win their support and maintain good relationship between the colonists and the colony. The Somali pastoral tribes seized the opportunity. The two ensuing reasons were for access to the colonial officials (as a medium between the Italians and the community), and secondly for the payroll which displayed a recognition of their social status as the leadership. The Sultan of the Geledi was one of such leaders who subscribed wholeheartedly to this kind of colonial appeasement.29

Skirmishes between the Bimaal and the Italians continued for quite some time, though

intermittently.30 The colonial troops got a breakthrough and eventually penetrated the towns of Bariire, Malable, Audegle (Aaw-Dheegle) in the Dhoobooy area of Merca, and Afgoi a few kilometers from Mogadishu. The event has finally tamed Bimaal resistance, widening the aspiration for peace and liberty.

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