Somali Independence Week
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Somali Prime Minister Abdurashid Ali Shermarke (R), and Somali President Aden Abdullah Osman Daar (L), shake hands 26 June 1960 in Mogadishu Somalia. On 1st July, 1960 the Republic of Somalia was proclaimed. Abdirashid Ali Shermarke was the Prime Minister (from 12 Jul 1960 to 14 Jun 1964), when Aden Abdullah Osman Daar was President (from 1 Jul 1960 to 10 Jun 1967). Ali Shermarke was elected President 10 Jun 1967 and was assassinated 15 Oct 1969 by one of his bodyguard.
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 five-part Series of news coverage that relate to the Somalia of the 1960s.
Somalia: No more Hyenas
Africa Confidential, No. 1, pg.7
January 10, 1964
Foreign Minister of Somalia, M. Abdullahi Issa, addressing the General Assembly this afternoon in the continuation of the general debate. October 05, 1961. United Nations, New York.
Ethiopia and Kenya have moved fast to counteract Somalia`s military build-up. In December they ratified a mutual defence pact. (This came just after Somalia had turned down an offer of military aid to the tune of L6,4oo,ooo from the US, Germany and Italy in favour of one of Li 1-14 m. from the USSR.) Mr. Kenyatta was expected in Addis on Christmas Day to discuss joint measures of dealing with the Somali disturbances—but his flight was put off at the last minute. Instead, an Ethiopian military delegation arrived in Nairobi. Kenyatta is expected in Addis later this month.
Meanwhile Moscow got worried about the political implications of its pro-Somali line. The Russians have moved fast too.
1. The USSR Ambassador to Ethiopia assured the Emperor that the supply of arms was grossly exaggerated.
2. Heat turned on the Somalis to try to get an assurance that the arms were to be used for defence purposes only and not against other African states.
In Mogadishu the Somalis claimed that the Kenya-Ethiopian defence pact was contrary to the spirit of the OAU. To mark the end of their propaganda broadcasts—an agreement they had reached with Kenyatta—Mogadishu radio toned down its war songs. The line by Sufi Ali “0 God, the land of our brothers is being devoured by hyenas” was re-drafted to read “tribalism does damage.”
Africa Confidential, No. 3, pg.4
February 07, 1964
Chou En-lai was in Mogadishu this week; Mr. Jacob Malik, the Soviet Deputy Minister, was there the week before—so much attention for such a small desert country with a population of barely two million. Yet this is the 1964 line in an Africa which has in vain tried to keep out of the cold war. [“Promised” Soviet-Somali aid runs to /J20 m. 1954-63, Chinese to JJ8 m] In Mogadishu, Chou preached peace and friendship towards one`s neighbours just at a time when the Somali radio resumed its war cry: “Freedom is not achieved by remaining seated, it is achieved by throwing bombs. If you are brave men … rise against the hyena who is picking flesh from your bones.” [See AFRICA 1964, No. 1] It is true he had just visited Emperor Haile Selassie and was on his way home—but in Africa none of the jig-saw puzzle bits quite fit.
A correspondent in Mogadishu writes:
Somalis hoped that China`s finger in the Zanzibar coup and Chou En-lai`s subsequent cancelled dates in East Africa would reduce interest in his visit here, which they regard with mixed feelings.
For a start, the Russian aid programme is now going so well that they don`t want to become any more involved in the Sino-Russian dispute than they can avoid. Then too, they were reading foreign newspaper reports on Chou`s impending visit at least six weeks before the Chinese officially informed them it was going to take place. Furthermore, now that the flurry of excitement which accompanied the announcement of the aid agreements has died down, the Somalis realise that the Russians are doing more for them than the Chinese. Although Chinese experts are investigating possibilities, no concrete development projects have been agreed.
By contrast, the Russians are getting on well with their agricultural projects, and large quantities of machinery, including much-needed tractors, are arriving. Admittedly, few arms have yet arrived under the well-publicised £ 11-14 m. Russian military agreement of October, but go officers have been flown to Moscow for training and Somalis are greatly pleased that Russia will now enable them to have an army of 20,000 if they want it. No one has given much thought yet to how the high recurrent costs of such an army will be paid. Enough that the Ethiopian threat can be faced.
So the Russians now stand high in Somali estimation. They are also becoming more relaxed, unlike the cautious and reserved Chinese. They appear more in public, crack jokes and even, unknown perhaps to Somalis themselves, are realistic about local shortcomings. One Russian diplomat, asked by a Western confrère if he did not miss the many theatres of Moscow, replied smiling, “Not at all. Why should I when this country is one huge theatre.”
However, the Russians, even in their new mood, fail to appreciate repeated Somali references to having sought Communist aid only because the West did not meet their demands. This is true; Somalia always did ask the West first and is still pro-Western at heart. The Americans give as much encouragement to this sentiment as they can within the limits of Congressional approval. The final $3 m. has just been allocated for the port of Kisimayo construction whilst other schemes, including a very practical one for selling local tuna fish on the US market, are maturing. But there are obvious reasons for the Government to worry. It has become outwardly so committed to the East, whilst within Africa it has produced only vituperation from countries that are themselves just as busy negotiating with Communist sources of trade and supply (not least in East Africa).
From the African side the fears are all over possible Communist aid for the rebels in the Ogaden and the shifta in the NFD.* The Kenya-Ethiopia Defence Pact is but one reaction to this fear. But in fact for the Somalis this is a period of reflection. Now that Kenya is independent, the Somalis accept that there should be a new approach, and vigorously deny the degree of complicity in the shifta raids with which Kenya credits them. Unfortunately, they are poisoning the more favourable atmosphere created between the two countries during the visit over independence of the Foreign Minister, Abdullahi Issa. In Mogadishu a surprisingly humorous play is enjoying great success. It shows the British and American Ambassadors selling the NFD, played by a young girl, to Haile Selassie and Kenyatta. The Emperor dupes everyone. As soon as the Briton has tied the girl`s hands, Kenyatta makes a pass at her but she still has enough freedom of movement to slap his face repeatedly. The audience laughs its head off at this and applauds references to the filthy Kukes. But just as in the play the noble Somali youth who wants to defend the NFD never gets as far as attacking Kenyatta, so in real life the Somali Government is doing nothing hasty at present.
The coming General Election, slated for about March 15, may have something to do with this. In the municipal elections, the first of any kind since before independence, the Government won about 80 per cent of the seats. The opposition parties claim this was due to the high turnout of electors, for instance 96,000 votes were cast in one constituency of only 6,000 inhabitants and so on. Allowing for a similar degree of rigging in the General Election, they claim they will still get a significant number of seats, and with no nepotism would win. A realistic estimate is that the Government Somali Youth League party will win 70-80 seats of the total 123, the Somali National Congress (which recently merged with the United People`s Party) 30 or more, the Somali Democratic Union, 10. Three minor parties might get a seat each. Several of the present Ministers may not be returned at all. There was a proposal to introduce proportional representation in the North but this was defeated by Parliament just before it was dissolved on January 9. Despite the allegations of malpractice Somalia is further removed from being a totalitarian state than most in Africa, communist-aided though she is. It is also worth noting, now that Kenya`s first deportation of a European has been made, that the only person Somalia has yet felt obliged to remove was a Ghanaian diplomat who tried to stir up race hatred in Somalia.
Since then the Somalis have become more and more cynical about African unity, though the possibility that the new Government elected in March will decide to put the frontier disputes before the OAU cannot be ruled out.
In the meantime Somalia will be increasingly preoccupied with the election campaign. As in all democracies, policy decisions will be on ice, though there is nothing to indicate that the Somalis of the NFD and the Ogaden will stop fighting—on the contrary.
* Kenya`s Northern Frontier District.
Read: Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V
Somali Independence Week Series – Part I
Somali Independence Week Series – Part II