The State of Jubaland, Past and Present
The State of Jubaland, Past and Present
TO : The Special UN Representative to Somalia, Ambassador Nicholas Kay
The Special AU Representative to Somalia, Mohamed salah
The African Union and IGAD
The European Union
The United Nations
The United Kingdom
The Federal Government of Somalia
In this write up, names and terms referring to a certain Somali clan or sub clan is not in any way meant to exclude, offend or belittle other Somali clans or sub clans who are rightfully the co-inhabitants of Jubaland. References of clans/sub clans made here are purely based on historical records as quoted from sources. Furthermore, the references used here are based on Expedition 1 of 1898 and Expedition 2 of 1900 on Jubaland by the British Colonial Empire which was exclusively directed against the Ogaden Somalis, a sub clan of Darod.
The events currently taking place in the State of Jubaland have a direct historical relationship with events that had occurred in the 18th century during the era of British colonial Africa. The inhabitants of Jubaland said NO to a Sub Commissioner sent from London in the 18th century. Nearly two centuries later, the same inhabitants are saying NO to a Sub Commissioner, this time, sent from Mogadishu in 2013. Though Jubaland is not a colony any more, the overall objective of the two Sub Commissioners remains the same: to manage the internal affairs of the inhabitants of Jubaland. And in both occasions, the inhabitants of Jubaland object to this notion. Do they have a point here? To help find an answer for this question, late us briefly revisit the historical background of Jubaland.
Jubaland said NO to London in 1898 and in 1900
According to published records available in the National Archives of the British Government related to the historical events that took place in colonial British East Africa in the 18th century, a punitive expedition comprising forces from 4th Bombay Infantry Riffles commanded by major Quentin were sent to Jubaland to subdue an uprising made by the local inhabitants of the land. The expeditionary forces were sent to Jubaland after the Sub Commissioner of Jubaland, Mr. Arthur Jenner, requested reinforcement to bring the situation under control. The inhabitants who were mainly nomads raising cattle for their livelihood simply objected to the presence of foreign invaders in their land.
They had no riffles or automatic weapons to fight. They were primitive pastoral community equipped with only spears and knives to protect themselves and their livestock from wild animals and invading humans. Yet the mighty Colonial Empire of Great Britain brought in military forces armed with advanced weaponry to put down a mere civil unrest made by the Ogaden Somalis, a sub clan of Darod , who had to bear the brunt of the attack. They were massacred in their hundreds, their villages destroyed, their livestock looted and at times had their animals sprayed with bullets to deny them livelihood. The attacking forces sometimes settled around water holes for days to deny drinking water for the civilian population and their animals. The damage, both in terms of life and property, the colonial forces caused to these unarmed civilians cannot be quantified. These damages have not been compensated by the British Government to date.
At the end of the campaign of the expedition, records indicate that Royal Gallantry medals for East and Central Africa, with the clasp bearing the date “ 1898 “ were awarded to all the British and Indian officers who participated in the massacre. They were also decorated with 3rd and 4th Class Order of the Brilliant Star of Zanzibar.
It’s unfortunate to note that those British Officers were decorated with Gallantry Medals of the highest Order for just massacring poor, primitive and unarmed civilians who merely resisted the occupation of their land and said NO to the Sub Commissioner sent from London.
In the 1900, a much stronger second uprising by the Ogaden Somalis against the colonial British administration took place in Jubaland. A telegraphic dispatch equivalent to today’s ‘Breaking News’ was sent to London to report the incident to the highest authorities of the British Colonial Empire. The news which reverberated throughout the territories of the Great British Empire was published on Daily Telegraph newspaper on 27th of November, 1900. A digitalized form of the newspaper publishing the event under the topic“ Natives Rising in East Africa “can be found in this web link: ( http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=DTN19001127.2.23&e=——-10–1—-0– ) . During the wake of this uprising, the Sub Commissioner of Jubaland, Mr. Arthur Charles William Jenner, was killed.
The killing of the Sub Commissioner caused uproar and indignation in the British colonial establishment and an order was issued to take a strong and immediate punitive action against the Ogaden Somalis. An expedition codenamed “ The Ogaden Punitive Force 1900 “ was ordered to be assembled. Expeditionary forces comprising the following contingents from Bombay, Aden, Zanzibar and Central Africa were deployed to execute the operation:
- Aden Camel Corps, under the command of Captain Scott.
- 16th Bombay Infantry, under Piers Richard Legh
- East Africa Riffles, under Colonel GP Hach
- Armed Porters, under Lieutenant PGR Barclay
- N 46 Native Hospital, under Colonel John Maitland ( who was later killed in the campaign)
- A Transport Facility comprising 550 camels,714 porters, carts, donkeys and oxen, under Captain Justice of East Africa Riffles.
- 4th Bombay Infantry, under Major Walter Quentin
- Mountain Battery Royal Artillery, under Lieut. Keith Gordon Campbell
- A naval detachment from HMS “ Magicienne”, under Captain WB Fisher, the senior Naval Officer East Coast of Africa, moved to the sea shores of Kismayo, Jubaland.
The first thing that comes to the readers mind is to express doubt about the accuracy of this information; that the Great British Colonial Empire did not deploy all these forces and armament to fight a few thousand bare footed primitive African warriors wielding spears and knives. Yet it’s a common knowledge that dossiers detailing these operations are available in the archives of No 10 Downing Street. And fortunately, Ambassador Nicholas Kay is well positioned, first as the focal man representing the Secretary General and the UN for the stability and democratic governance in Somalia, and secondly as a veteran of the British foreign office, to know the truth about the history of Jubaland buried deep inside those fat dossiers in his foreign office.
I would leave for the reader to judge the capability of those forces in Africa in the 1900, against untrained, barefooted, primitive men wielding only spears and dodging the bullet to wait for a close encounter, and put a figure and quantify the death, destruction, and damage the invading forces had caused to those poor men. It’s worth to note that the Ogaden Somalis targeted in these expeditions included only those who lived in Jubaland; other Ogaden clan members living elsewhere in East Africa were not involved.
Again, as was the colonial tradition, Bravery Medals of the highest Order were distributed among the British officers who took part in the campaign, for massacring civilians and causing mayhem to their livelihood. This time, the medals had the clasp bearing the date “1900 Jubaland ”. All those officers retired from the service years later as generals, major generals or colonels decorated with these medals.
The British Government has a moral obligation to compensate for the damage and destruction the Imperial Forces had inflicted on the poor inhabitants of Jubaland in the 1900. It’s morally unacceptable to deny admitting that unnecessary and excessive force had been used to subdue the civil unrest.
Though it’s outside the theme of this article, one can argue and deduce logical conclusions that the British Colonial Empire later on ceded other territories belonging to Ogaden Somalis to the neighboring countries because of their bad experience in Jubaland, coupled probably also with the bad experience the colonial empire had with the man they called the ‘Mad Mullah’ ( Sayed Mohamed Abdulla Hassan ) who led resistance against them in British Somaliland in the north of Somalia. The colonial authorities in Africa were known to reward those tribes they deemed friendly and yet chastise others whom they saw otherwise. In this context, it should be mentioned that the Ogaden Somalis in the neighboring countries are currently content with their present status. They have a federal system of governance in which they run their own affairs though they had a long period of turmoil in the past. And now they are watching events involving their fellow kinsmen across the border in Jubaland with great concern.
Jubaland says NO to Mogadishu in 2013
The latest version of Mogadishu’s expedition is currently underway in which the Federal Government of Somalia is all out in full force to exert control over the port city of Kismayo in Jubaland. Though Mogadishu is not a foreign power, and is not seen as such, compared to London’s colonial agenda in the 1900, the policy to remotely control the affairs of other people by sending emissaries binds similarity between them.
People from the city of Mogadishu and central regions of Somalia are known to have been the cause of instability in Somalia, specially in the southern regions, for the last 22 years. They seem to be in a constant mission of land grabbing campaign, land that’s not theirs, causing people in the south west regions to loss trust about anything from Mogadishu. Federalism has been seen as the only option available for the Somalis to come together and resurrect Somalia as a sovereign independent country. The current FDS government and the parliament were established after several years of relentless effort, mainly by the federal State of Puntland and other peace loving Somalis, to constitute a federal system of governance. The International Community and the UN made every effort to help Somalis help themselves for the last 22 years. They helped and facilitated for the Somalis to come together and constitute their own federal system.
A document was produced and agreed upon by all Somalis as a binding Federal Provisional Constitution and the UN co-signed to bear witness to the agreement. The current FDS government was entrusted to implement the agreed upon Federal Constitution and encourage regional administrations to embrace federalism. Unfortunately the FDS government team brushed aside all that was entrusted to them and started to undo the federal system from its root. They are alleged to have changed or modified the Federal Constitution to suit their designs without following appropriate legal procedures. Senior government officers including the president openly question the applicability of a federal system in Somalia. They started appointing regional administrators against the wish of the people when there were already administrators in place in the regions before they came to power. Instead of fighting the armed terror groups and reaching out the regions that helped themselves establish federal states, they saw those regions a threat to their very existence and started working against them. In short, they reverted to the old central system of administration in which they see beneficial to their own dubious private plan; a plan that has kept Somalia in a dark tunnel for the last 22 years.
The crust of the problem is that the president and the people around him do not want genuine peace and stability in the country as they still follow the policy of land grabbing, which is contrary to the fundamentals of peace making. The people in Mogadishu see peace and normalcy a threat to their livelihood as it forces them to relinquish properties they have already grabbed through illegal forceful means. They do not want genuine law and order to take root; they are occupying properties and farm lands belonging to poor people in the regions of Lower Shabelle and Middle Shabelle for the last 22 years. In these regions, the invader’s own militias, drafted as Federal Government forces, act as judges and prosecutors at the same time, and side with their own kinsmen when local residents rightfully protest against injustice.
The regions are only 100 km away from the capital Mogadishu and the so called Federal Government turns a blind eye to the plight of these poor people. Properties forcefully taken from their owners are still occupied by the same group in the city of Mogadishu itself, which is the seat of the Federal Government. The capital city’s 16 Municipal Administrative Zones are all headed by the same group as though they are the sole residents of the city. When all this is happening in and around the capital of Mogadishu and the terrorist group Al Shebab is daily targeting the UN and AMISOM personnel in the city, the government is working overtime since they came to power to destroy the State Administration of Jubaland. They have used the money, donated by the International Community to help rebuild the country and fight the terror group, for enriching themselves and for fighting against the people who liberated their own regions from Al Shabab. This clearly shows that the land grab policy of the group, from the central regions and Mogadishu, is still in full force and they are determined to bring the liberated port city of Kismayo and Jubaland under their fold.
In Jubaland, the Federal Government appointed ‘Sub Commissioners’ are fighting alongside Al Shebab terrorists and it looks that the Federal government has reached an understanding with the terror group to be comrades in arms as long as they have a common objective of destroying the Administration of the State of Jubaland and defeating the AMISOM forces there, whom they see as an obstacle to their objectives. Reinforcement militias and arms sent from Mogadishu to back up their ‘Sub Commissioners’, who were recently purged from the city of Kismayo, are freely passing through territories controlled by Al Shebab. The area to which Mogadishu’s henchmen defected to is controlled by the Al Shebab terror group and it has been a no go area for any other group. This clearly shows that there is a bilateral relationship between the Federal Government and the Al Shebab terrorists operating in the area.
The people of Jubaland are united in their quest for a State under the Federal Government of Somalia. They have assembled more than 500 clan elders representing district constituents from all over the regions of Jubaland and sat for several months to negotiate and exchange ideas to come up with a solution that satisfied each and every clan that has a stake in the formation of the State of Jubaland. They repeatedly invited the Federal Government to participate and play its legal role, but the FDS was busy to scuttle the assembly by trying to buyout the loyalty of some of the State’s clan members using the money donated by the International Community. Several senior government officers were sent to Kismayo for the implementation of this objective, and some stayed months to create chaos and misunderstanding among the clan members. They smuggled arms and ammunition into the city to use force if all else fails. And when they failed and the State of Jubaland was promulgated, they started using violence and creating insecurity, which was their plan B of sabotaging the birth of the new State. Plan C, which is collaboration with Al Shebab terrorists, is now under way and the young State of Jubaland is determined to botch down this last hurdle, and say NO to Mogadishu with loud voice to its ugly and shameful land grab policy.
In conclusion, the International Community is reminded that Somalia has not gone out of the dark tunnel yet. On the contrary, its alleged that those entrusted to pull the country out are pushing it back further into the tunnel. The money donated by the International Community for the purpose of rebuilding the country and help the displaced poor is being used to cater clan interests, war mongering, buying out loyalty of clans and individuals for subversive purposes, inciting and financing proxy wars among clans to perpetuate hatred and mistrust, and enriching cronies and kinsmen. There are not genuine Federal Government forces yet; clan militias are given uniforms and operate in their clan sectors serving clan interests. Arms sold or given to the Federal Government may fall into the hands of the militias operating around the capital Mogadishu alone, who belong to a single clan. This could further destabilize the situation in Somalia and exasperate other clans whose militias are not getting the arms purchased or donated on their behalf, for fear of being used against them. It’s therefore advisable for the International Community to make sure, that until true reconciliation among Somalis is done, funds donated for Somalia are not misused, and that Mogadishu and its militias alone should not get arms, training and funds as they do not represent all of Somalia.
The international Community should also intervene Somalia to ensure the federal system as enshrined in the Provisional Constitution and agreed upon by all Somalis is implemented by the Federal Government of Somalia, and that emerging federal states are supported and encouraged rather than fighting and suppressing them as is the modus operandi in the current administration.
By Eng. Abdirahman Ali
References for expedition 1 and 2
- British East African Protectorate 1898-1901 (Major Wallace Blake)
- The Geographical Journal, vol.41 No 6 (June, 1913) pp. 554 – 561, the journal is currently pub.by The Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers).
- Jubaland And Its Inhabitants, By F.Elliott
- Brigadier General Trevor Patrick Ternan’s memoirs in “Some Experiences of an Old Bromsgrovian” pub.1930.
- Europeans in British Administered East Africa – 1889-1903