There were other campaigns against, for instance, smallpox in 1943 and 1959 in the rural areas. The 1943 vaccination campaign against smallpox met with minor resistance. The Sultan of the Habr Awal (Isaaq) was suspicious of the campaign, and told the public that the vaccination campaign “was part of a design to make the population impotent.”196 The Sultan was arrested and deported to Zeila. His intervention did not radically change the people’s attitude towards the campaign, because of the “confidence and desire for western medicine.”197 Of course, such “confidence” in western medicine was limited. The people of the mountain escarpment, for instance, were reluctant to show their watering areas and pastures to the 1958 survey team. In 1945 and 1951, moreover, riots erupted throughout the country in reaction to the treatment of the land with poison to control locust invasions. Nonetheless, the suspicions directed against western medicine were to some extent mitigated by the complex attitude of the people towards therapy. As Feierman and Janzen put it, the “history of therapy” in Africa “is a history of multiple healing traditions.” People attend to their sickness by consulting different traditions: colonial, Islamic, or traditional.198 Even the traditional therapeutic system is differentiated.199 The public health department, therefore, met with suspicion and resistance but to a limited degree. In 1959, for instance, the administration waged an active vaccination campaign against smallpox, yellow fever, cholera, and typhoid200 without any resistance. There were no epidemics of such diseases (except smallpox), but the department sought to prevent the incidence of the diseases, and so waged the vaccination campaigns. Such vaccinations were indeed an annual event throughout the country, as medical reports noted in the 1950s. The various vaccination campaigns, as well as other medical programs that have already been discussed (control of prostitution, drug use, public hygiene, eradication campaigns against relapsing fever, malaria, and tuberculosis, public education through the radio, posters, lectures, films, posters, and plays, and formal curative institutions such as hospitals, clinics, and dispensaries), played an important role in controlling diseases in the towns and the rural areas. To a great extent, the relatively peaceful state of the country and the region also limited the introduction of new strains of epidemic diseases and so mitigated the impact of the diseases on public health.

Public health policies were not concerned only with the control of diseases. They also had a political dimension: the popularization of colonial rule, and the administration of the population. As one of the most effective of the “superior magical powers”201 of the colonizer, it played a role in the control of diseases and the improvement in public health as well as in the “consolidation of imperial hegemony.”202 Science, and particularly colonial medicine, has always been “an instrument of state policy.”203 Colonial medicine always “occupied a central place in the ideological as well as the technological processes of colonial rule.”204 In colonial ideology, a well-run hospital was considered as more powerful and effective way of winning the cooperation of colonized peoples than a battery of armaments.205 Administrators directly pointed to the political and social uses of colonial medicine. They considered it as the “first essentials to the progress”206 and the popularization of colonial rule. Colonel F. R. W. Jameson, the Civil Chief of Staff of the East African Command, stated that colonial medicine must be given special priority because of its potential in “popularising the Government, and identifying the administration with the people’s welfare.”207 G. T. Fisher, the Governor of Somaliland from 1943 to 1948, went a step further and stated that “hygiene and public health are an important part of the administration of the country.”208 Public health policies, then, had both utilitarian and political objectives: to control diseases, to popularize the administration, and to discipline the population.


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