This is the last of a series of reports begun in 1904 for submission to the Secretary of State for the Colonies by the British administration of the Somaliland Protectorate.


Report for the years 1958 and 1959

Somaliland Protectorate Report For The Years 1958 And 1959Published for the Colonial Office by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office

London, 1960






General Review


Chapter 1 Population

Chapter 2 Occupations, Wages and Labor Organization.

Chapter 3 Public Finance and Taxation.

Chapter 4 Currency and Banking.

Chapter 5 Commerce

Chapter 6 Production

Chapter 7 Social Services

Chapter 8 Legislation

Chapter 9 Justice, Police and Prisons

Chapter 10 Public Utilities and Public Works

Chapter 11 Communications

Chapter 12 Press, Broadcasting, Films and Government Information Services.

Chapter 13 Local Forces

Chapter 14 Archaeology


Chapter 1 Geography and Climate

Chapter 2 History

Chapter 3 Administration

Chapter 4 Weights and Measures

Chapter 5 Reading List


Appendix I Extract from Policy Statement by the Secretary Of State (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)

Appendix II Members of the Legislative Council

Appendix III (a) Statement of Assets and Liabilities at 31st March 1958.

III (b) Statement of Assets and Liabilities at 31st March 1959.

Appendix IV (a) Ordinances, 1958

Appendix IV (b) Ordinances, 1959

V (a) Persons dealt with by the High Court and District Courts, 1958

Appendix V (b) Persons dealt with by the High Court and District Courts, 1959

Appendix VI (a) Persons dealt with by the Subordinate Courts, 1958

Appendix VI (b) Persons dealt with by the Subordinate Courts, 1959

Appendix VII Power Supplies

Appendix VIII Customs Tariff.



This is the last of a series of reports begun in 1904 for submission to the Secretary of State for the Colonies by the British administration of the Somaliland Protectorate.

Following the period covered by this report, a new constitution was introduced which provided for a Legislative Council with 3 official members and 33 elected members, under the chairmanship of a Speaker, and for an Executive Council comprising the Governor and 3 ex officio and 4 elected Ministers. Elections under this new constitution were held in February 1960, on a universal adult male suffrage. The Somali National League and the United Somali Party obtained 20 and 12 seats respectively in the Legislative Council and formed a coalition. The Governor appointed four Ministers from this coalition.

In December 1959, the General Assembly of the United Nations had adopted a resolution that Somalia, under Italian Trusteeship, should become independent on 1st July 1960. The United Kingdom voted for this resolution.

The Protectorate Legislative Council met on 6th April 1960, and with the unanimous support of all the elected members passed the following resolution:

“That it is the opinion of this House that practical steps should be taken forthwith for the immediate unification of the Protectorate and Somalia; that prompt action is essential to achieve this most cherished aim, and can be fully justified by the special importance which popular feeling in this country attaches to its early achievement; that bold and definite action be taken and that the date of our independence and unification with Somalia must be 1st July 1960, the date when Somalia will attain its full freedom.”

Following the adoption of this Motion, the elected Ministers approached the Governor, requesting that they might pay an early visit to London to discuss independence with the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The Prime Minister informed the House of Commons of this request on 11th April. He said that Her Majesty’s Government understood the deep feelings underlying the Motion and that the Secretary of State would receive the elected Ministers to discuss independence.

A conference was held at the Colonial Office from 2nd to 12th May 1960, and its report was published as Cmnd. 1044. In the course of the discussions, the Somaliland delegation proposed, and the Secretary of State agreed on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government, that further constitutional steps should be taken to make possible the independence of the Protectorate by 1st July 1960. Subsequently, the elected Ministers proposed, and the Secretary of State agreed, that the date of independence should be 26th June 1960.

In order to meet wishes expressed by the elected Ministers that some of the officers at present serving in the Protectorate should continue to do so after independence, the Secretary of State proposed that there should be, for an interim period of six months after independence, a United Kingdom Aid Mission formed of such officers as the United Kingdom Government might appoint to be available in the Public Service of Somaliland at the request of the Somaliland Government. Similar arrangements were offered for the continued secondment of British military personnel to the Somali-land Scouts, also for an interim period of up to six months. The Conference recognized that the conditions and purposes under which such personnel could continue on secondment would have to be carefully defined, and the heads of an agreement for this purpose were approved.

The Secretary of State recalled the undertaking given by his predecessor, Mr. Lennox-Boyd that Her Majesty’s Government would, in the light of circumstances prevailing from time to time, be prepared to give sympathetic consideration to the continuation of financial assistance within the limits of the amount of aid being provided to the Protectorate. He proposed that subject to Parliamentary approval, the sum of £ 1.5 million should be provided in the first year after independence, of which half should be devoted to development expenditure. The elected Ministers informed the Secretary of State that it was their intention, as far as practicable, to maintain the level of economic and social services at present available to the people of the Protectorate. The Secretary of State said that, while Her Majesty’s Government would be glad to give financial help to the people of Somaliland for a period after independence, he would expect that in due course dependence upon the United Kingdom for financial assistance would diminish, and that to this end the level of aid would be subject to annual review.

As envisaged, the Somaliland Protectorate became independent as Somaliland on 26th June 1960. On 1st July Somaliland united with independent Somalia to form the Somali Republic.


General Review

BOTH 1958 and 1959 will be remembered as the most important years in the history of Somaliland, because of the rapid progress which was made in developing a representative and responsible Government. A Legislative Council, established for the first time in 1957, and which at the beginning of 1958 contained only six nominated Somali members, was developed to an extent that, at the end of 1959, registrations had been completed in preparation for a general election to be held some six weeks later, to elect a Council in which 33 of the 36 seats would go to elected members. It had been agreed, too, that elected Ministers would be in the majority in the new Executive Council. This rapid progress towards self-government derived from a statement by the then Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Alan Lennox- Boyd) when he visited Somaliland in February 1959.

Early in 1958, a Commission was appointed to examine the method by which unofficial membership of the Legislative Council could be made more representative. In its report, published in June 1958, the Commission recommended that the Council should include not less than 12 Somali members. After constitutional talks held in London between the Governor and the Secretary of State, a bill was presented to the Legislative Council in December 1958, which provided for elections to be held the following March to elect 13 Somali members, one for each of thirteen constituencies, with provision for the Governor to nominate additional members if necessary. As a preliminary to these elections, registrations to prepare electoral rolls were held in the three main towns where voting was to be by secret ballot, but because the Somali members were still to be in the minority in the new Council, one of the main political parties urged its members to boycott the registrations and only 2,508 names had been entered in the registers when registrations ended.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd’s visit occurred before the elections were held. At the end of this visit, Mr. Lennox-Boyd issued a statement, an extract from which is given at Appendix I (page 60), in which he promised that the Protectorate would achieve ministerial government before the end of 1960 and that thereafter such steps as were necessary would be taken to lead to early self- government. Referring to the frequently- expressed wish for closer association with Somalia he also promised that if, after Somalia became independent, the Protectorate Legislative Council resolved that talks should take place between the two countries on this subject, Her Majesty’s Government would assist in arranging suitable negotiations. This was generally well-received by the Somali people.

The elections which took place in March 1959, passed without incident but they were still boycotted by the Somali National League, and all the seats in the new Council went to the National United Front and the Somali Youth League. The expanded Council, consisting of the Chairman, 15 official, and 14 unofficial members, met for the first time in April 1959. Simultaneously, in accordance with another undertaking given in the Secretary of State’s statement, a Commission was appointed to make recommendations on the composition and method of selection of future Councils. This Commission published its findings in June 1959, and they were accepted by the Legislative Council at its meeting in November 1959. The Commission recommended that the future Council should consist of 36 members, 33 of whom should be Somali elected members.

Arrangements were made for general elections for this, the first Legislative Council to have an elected majority, to be held early in 1960 and registrations for the preparation of new electoral rolls took place in December 1959. With the support of all parties, 37,540 names were entered in the registers in the five main towns. Voting was to be by secret ballot in all areas but registration was not required in country districts. The new Executive Council, to be appointed after this general election, was to have seven members, four of whom would be elected. The outcome of these elections, and subsequent developments, is summarized in the Foreword to this Report.

Among the problems brought to the fore by this accelerated political progress was one which had been the concern of the Government for some time. This was how to train sufficient Somali officials to form an efficient local civil service. The pace of general education meant that, until recently, few candidates were available for advanced training overseas with a view to taking over senior posts in the Government service. During 1958 expert advice was sought on this problem and in August of that year a Commissioner was appointed to recommend to the Government how the “Somalization” of the service could be speeded up. A White Paper was published in October 1959, summarizing the Government’s achievements in the past and its proposals for the future. At the opening of the November meeting of the Legislative Council, the Governor announced radical measures which were to be adopted to hasten the replacement of overseas officials by Somalis. These included the appointment of Somali supernumeraries to senior posts and proposals for the progressive retirement of overseas officials.

Among other measures adopted in 1959 to increase the efficiency of the Public Service were the establishment of a Public Service Board and of a Whitley Council.

The Governor, Sir Theodore Pike, K.C.M.G., left the Protectorate on retirement on 24th June 1959, and his successor, Sir Douglas Hall, K.C.M.G., arrived on 13th July 1959. The appointment of Mr. P. Carrel, O.B.E., to be Chief Secretary in place of Mr. J. R. Stebbing, O.B.E., was announced on 9th January 1959.

An important occasion for Somaliland was the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester in November 1958. Their Royal High-nesses arrived in Hargeisa on 19th November in a Heron Aircraft of the Queen’s flight and were met at the airport by eighty Somali horsemen who gave them the traditional welcome reserved for important guests, galloping towards the visitors at full tilt and then reining-in their ponies to an abrupt halt just before reaching them. During the ceremony to mark their arrival, the Duke opened Hargeisa’s new airport buildings and read a message of greeting from the Queen. On the following two days, the Duke and Duchess traveled to Burao, Sheikh, and Borama, returning to Hargeisa to meet over 2,000 guests at a durbar which had been arranged in their honor. They left Somaliland on 24th November.

Another important visitor was Dr. Charles Hill, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who spent two days in Somaliland in the course of a review of information services abroad in September 1959.

Dr. Hill held discussions with senior officials of the Government on the expansion of broadcasting and other information services in the Protectorate.

A war memorial containing the names of members of the Allied Forces who died in Somaliland during the Second World War, which was erected in the Hargeisa military cemetery by the Imperial War Graves Commission, was unveiled by the Governor in the presence of representatives of the Services and other visitors on 1st November 1958.

Among a number of visits exchanged between Somalia and the Protectorate, the most notable was that between members of the two Legislative Assembles. In November 1959, a delegation led by Mr. Aden Abdullah Osman, President of the Somalia Legislative Assembly, visited Somaliland and at the end of the year, this visit was returned by four members of the Somaliland Legislative Council.

The Protectorate Government prepared a stand for the Fifth Somalia Trade Fair which opened in Mogadishu on 5th September 1959. The opening was attended by the Governor and by other representatives from Somaliland.

Relations between Somaliland and its other neighbor, Ethiopia, continued to be somewhat uneasy as a result of difficulties over the operation of the Anglo- Ethiopian Agreement of 1954. Inside the Protectorate, the tribes lived at peace with one another for the whole of the two years under review.

Two oil companies were operating in Somaliland at the end of 1959 and a number of scattered showings of oil and gas had been encountered.

A wide variety of development schemes was financed from Colonial Development and Welfare funds during the two years and in July 1959, it was announced that the Colonial Development and Welfare allocation for Somaliland for the next two years had been increased to £1 million. This would enable expenditure on development to be maintained at the rate of about £800,000 a year. Two of the main schemes to be completed during the period were the development of Berbera harbor to enable coastal steamers to come alongside, with deep-water berths for larger ships, and a survey of Hargeisa’s water sources, undertaken as a necessary preliminary to any possible improvement of water supplies in the area. The need for such improvement was demonstrated during the spring of 1959, when, following the failure of the winter rains, there was an acute water shortage in the district and emergency measures, which included the mobilization of transport for the carriage of drums of water to the interior, and the establishment of water-distribution points in the town had to be introduced.

The shortage of candidates for advanced training, referred to above, made it necessary for the Government to send forward all possible candidates from within the civil service and this inevitably resulted in a serious depletion of certain staff, notably in the clerical service. To help to build the clerical branch back up to strength, a scheme for the local training of clerks was established in 1958 with the assistance of a Colonial Development and Welfare grant.

A scheme for the control of tuberculosis, financed from Colonial Development and Welfare funds, was put into operation in 1958 and was gradually expanded throughout the period. By the end of 1959, the scheme was operating at nearly full strength.

A malaria survey by the World Health Organization was started in April 1958, and is expected to continue until the end of 1960.

A Revolving Loans Fund, under which individual Somalis may obtain short-term loans to “establish new industrial and agricultural enterprises or to increase the productivity of existing enterprises”, was established by means of a U.S. International Cooperation Administration grant, in August 1959.

In the west of Somaliland, the first community development schemes to have any real success were introduced during 1958 and 1959. With minor assistance from the Government in the form of advice, tools, and rations, local village communities began to undertake considerable soil-conservation, road-building, well-digging, and other works.

The first two newspapers to be established under private ownership, The Horn of Africa and Al Liwa (the Flag), began publication during October 1958. Both are weeklies and both are published in Arabic.

The British Council began work in the Protectorate in August 1959. A Centre was established in Hargeisa, containing a library, reading room, and facilities for teaching English to selected groups. Occasional lectures, accompanied by films and filmstrips, were given on various aspects of British life, such as local and parliamentary government, social services, agriculture, education, etc. Films and other visual material were made available for loan to educational institutions and presentations of books and magazines were made. During 1959 a party of notables visited the United Kingdom on a study tour arranged by the Council.


Chapter 1: Population

No census has ever been taken in Somaliland and it is possible that earlier population estimates of about 650,000 may have been too high. Apart from a few hundred European and Indian Government officials and traders, and perhaps a thousand Arabians, the population is now estimated to consist of about half a million Moslem Somalis. Of these the Isaaq are the dominant tribal group in Somaliland, but, with the Mijertein in Somalia and Ogaden to the south, the Darod are by far the largest tribal group of the Somali peoples. Since about 90 percent of these people are nomadic stock herders, population figures for an area mean little. The tribes range with their stock from a locus of dry season wells which is their homeland base, grazing up to a hundred miles or more away according to the season, the year’s rainfall, and other minor factors, ignoring man-made boundaries but tending to follow a traditional pattern of movement over a cycle of years. When the highland tribes go south in the summer rains, their place is largely filled by lowland tribes who come up for the hot weather, so that the northern zone of the plateau with its permanent wells tends to be overgrazed continuously. A minority of the people are engaged in agriculture, mostly in this same upper plateau zone, and usually combining agriculture with stock raising.

Perhaps 10 percent of the population in recent years have become fairly permanent town-dwellers, developing many of the varied characteristics of townsmen. Town-dwellers increase to about 15 percent of the population in the dry season: Berbera 15,000-30,000, Hargeisa 30,000-40,000, Burao 5,000-8,000, and a few other townships up to a couple of thousand in the dry winters.

Sparse and uncertain seasonal grazing and water amongst the nomadic Somalis breeds a race of virile independent intelligent men, following strictly their own code of religious and social behavior, and friendly to those whom they consider their equals. The country is poor, and in a bad year deaths from disease following semi-starvation are numerous.

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Chapter I: Geography and Climate


On the African shore of the Gulf of Aden, between French Somaliland at the southern end of the Red Sea, and Somalia on the Indian Ocean, Somaliland lies between 42° 35′ and 49° East longitude and 8° and 11° 27′ North latitude. Part of the horn of Africa, which is almost exclusively inhabited by Somali tribes, the country extends about 400 miles along the Gulf of Aden, and inland 80 to 200 miles to the boundary of Ethiopian Somaliland. It has an area of 68,000 square miles.


Briefly, Somaliland may be divided into three parts:

(i) The Coastal Lowlands (including some outlying hills up to 5,000 feet), narrowing from 60 miles in the west to 15 in the east and rising from the sea to the foot of the main scarp at about 3,000 feet.

(ii) The Main Watershed Range with an abrupt north-facing scarp towards the lowlands. This watershed is a spur from the Harar Plateau, 7,900 to 4,000 feet high, but breached by the 3,000 foot Wireg Pass in the east. There are rougher passes near the western frontier and between Berbera and Hargeisa, and roads have been engineered through Sheikh to Burao, and from Mait to Erigavo. This range, broken by the Karin Bosaso Pass, continues east-north-east through Somalia to die out in Cape Gardafui at the tip of the horn.

(iii) The Plateau south of the watershed, dipping gently south and south-east from 4,000 to 2,500 feet, cut by three drainage channels, the Daror and Nogal discharging spatewater into the Indian Ocean, and the Bokh southward into the Mudug area.

The lowlands consist mostly of stony, sandy, barren soil or dunes with hills of limestone and sandstone, low flat-topped lava plateaus, and some areas of granitic basement or salty gypsum. In the short north-flowing river beds there are comparatively plenty of water wells in the sand, and some short reaches of permanently flowing water, and there is a line of hot springs at the top of the coastal plain.

The main watershed range is a faulted scarp of granitic and metamorphic basement below, and cavernous massive limestone cliffs above, separated by a ledge and softer sandstones, which narrows from west to east as to the sandstone lenses out. The individual limestone cliffs are above 200 feet vertical, overlain by softer limestones which from rounded hills down to southern dip-slope. Wells, springs, and short lengths of flowing water, are well distributed in these mountains on the north side, and where not overgrazed the soil is good.

Southwards the Plateau is mostly waterless, sandy in the west and center and gypseous with a few hills in the east. A line of wells marks the westward trace of the gypsum through El Der, Burao and Odweina to Hargeisa, and in the gypseous areas, there is plenty of water, valuable for stock but unpalatable to man. South again is the Haud waterless plain with reddish sandy clay soil and good stock grazing, but only seasonal rain pools, or water transported from the wells, 80 miles from the central Haud. The natural grazing-control caused by seasonal drying up of the pools results in the Haud being the best stock grazing in the country, and if permanent water supplies are developed, unless they are very well distributed, they will have to be controlled to prevent overgrazing.


Climatically the year is divided into summer and winter.

(i) The summer, from April to September, starts with the main rains from April to June with some highland rains in July and August. After a calm in April, the southwest Monsoon blows till early September reaching a crescendo in June.

(ii) The dry winter from October to March after the September calm is the period of north-east Monsoon with minor rains in October and early November, some rain in December in the north-east mountains, and in February to March in the western highlands. Rainfall is sporadic in distribution and variable from year to year, but on average 20 inches or more falls above 6,000 feet altitude, 15 above 5,000, 6 to 10 above 3,000, 3 to 6 above 2,000, and 0 to 3 inches below 2,000 feet. A maximum of up to 50 inches in the highlands and up to 20 inches in the lowlands occur locally in some years. Relative humidity is low, generally between 40 percent and 70 percent and shade temperatures range from 60° to 115° F. on the coast with a diurnal range of 10° to 15°, and in the hills from 32° to 100° F. with a 20° to 25° diurnal range.

The vegetation generally follows the same contoured pattern as the rainfall, complicated by saline and gypseous soils along the coast and in the east and southeast. Above 5,000 feet are relict forests of Juniper, Box, Euphorbia, and Acacia etbaica, the last named dominant from 5,000 to 4,000 feet. On the plateau from 4,000 to 3,000 feet are open savannahs of Acacia (bussei, spirocarpa, mellifera, arabica, etc.), Commiphora species, shrubs and grasses (Chrysopogon, Sporobolus, Andropogon, etc.). In the gypeous plateau are tracts of salt grazing (Suaedia, Limonium, Statice), studded with clumps of Cabada and Zygophyllum. In the lowlands is a flora similar to that in the plateau but impoverished with more bare soil, no shrubby acacias, the ubiquitous Acacia spirocarpa, herbs such as Indigofera replacing most of the grass, and below 1,000 feet Balanites orbicularis, coarse grasses in the river beds, and a few palms (Dom, Hyphaene, Phoenix). Along the coast are bushes of Suaedia and in a few places mangroves. Gums grow in the eastern hills, especially on dolomitic cliffs facing north, and Conocarpus in the eastern lowlands.

Most of Somaliland is a grazing country for the estimated 3,000,000 camels, 10,000,000 sheep and goats, and some cattle, horses, and donkeys. About 5 percent of the country is cultivated where rainfall suffices in the highlands, or in inland deltas irrigated by seasonal spates. There is some forest conservation, mostly of Juniper, and some planting of Conocarpus lancifolius.

There are valuable fisheries along the coast, an abundance of game birds, birds of prey, three known herds of wild ass, and eleven species of antelope from the Kudus and Oryx to the Dikdik, and including the rare Beira and Clarke’s gazelle. Lion, cheetah, lynx, hyaena and jackal are common carnivora. Malarial mosquitoes are endemic in some localities, locusts are a pest in some years, and termites are important soil-makers except in gypseous areas.

Many areas are overgrazed owing to maldistribution of stock or clearing and abandoning of arable land. The stock however is barely sufficient to maintain the increasing population.

Chapter 2: History

The history of the Somaliland Protectorate dates from the conclusion of various treaties (1884-86) between the British Government and the tribes on the Somali coast. A Protectorate was proclaimed in 1887.

It is generally considered that the ancestors of the Somali peoples who at present inhabit the country migrated from Southern Arabia in the 13th or 14th century, mixing with, and slowly displacing, the Galla peoples who then inhabited the area.

The incense-bearing areas of Somaliland probably formed part of the land of Punt to which reference is made in ancient Egyptian writings. It is now thought that Punt was the generic name for these areas and the country around Dhofar in the Hadramaut.

An Arab Sultanate was established in Zeilah (still known as Audel) by emigrants from the Yemen in the 7th century A.D. and by the 13th century it had become the powerful “Empire of Audel”. Its capital was moved to Harar in the 16th century, but it was weakened by the constant incursions of Galla invaders and disintegrated. Zeilah became a dependency of the Yemen and the “Empire” eventually broke up into a number of small emirates and sultanates under Somali chiefs.

Somaliland was not generally adopted as the name of the country until the early years of the 19th century when its connection with the British was developing. The first British treaty with a Somali tribe was signed in 1827 after a British ship had been attacked off Berbera, its cargo plundered and a number of its crew murdered. In 1840 various further treaties were concluded with the Sultan of Tajura and the Governor of Zeilah, with the object of affording unrestricted harboring facilities for ships of the East India Company.

In 1875 the Khedive of Egypt claimed jurisdiction over the entire Somali coast as far as Cape Guardafui in the east. Egyptian forces and officials occupied the ports of Tajura, Zeilah, Bulhar, and Berbera and the hinterland town of Harar. But in 1885 during the Mahdi revolt in the Sudan, Egyptian garrisons were withdrawn. The British occupied Zeilah, Berbera, and Bulhar and sent officials from Aden to administer these ports.

By 1887 a series of treaties guaranteeing British protection had been concluded with various Somali tribes, and in the following year, the limits of the British and French spheres of influence were defined by agreements with Italy in 1894 and Ethiopia in 1897.

The Protectorate was at first administered by the Residents in Aden as a dependency of the Government of India, but in 1898 it was, transferred to Foreign Office control. The Colonial Office assumed control in 1905.

For 20 years, from 1901 to 1921, the peace of the Protectorate was disrupted by the activities of Mohammed Bin Abdulla Hassan, a fanatical Somali mullah who preached “Holy War” against the British. He raised large forces of ruthless dervishes and handled and administered them with great skill. They operated from various bases in the eastern and south-eastern areas of the Protectorate (where they were in the main recruited) and from Somali areas under Italian and Ethiopian control. They plundered mercilessly Somali tribes who remained loyal to the British.

Several military expeditions were undertaken against these forces but British successes in local engagements did not destroy them. In 1910 the British Government decided because of transport and communication difficulties, that control could no longer be maintained over the interior. British forces and administrators were withdrawn to Berbera, Bulhar, and Zeilah after having supplied friendly tribes with arms and ammunition with which they were expected to defend themselves against the dervish raids.

Chaos ensued as soon as the British withdrew. Old tribal feuds were reopened among the friendly tribes themselves. Raiding, looting and murder took place on such a scale that during the three years of coastal concentration from 1910 to 1913 it is estimated that one-third of the male population was done to death. Trade with the coastal towns was disrupted and Ethiopian exporters turned to the newly opened Franco-Ethiopian railway. This permanently weakened the position of Berbera and Zeilah as the traditional outlets for the products of the rich Ethiopian hinterland. In the grazing areas seasonal migrations of people and stock were dis-organized, and over-grazing led to soil erosion on a large scale from which some areas have never fully recovered.

In 1913, a Camel Constabulary of 150 men with a British Commander (Mr. Richard Corfield) was formed to protect caravan routes into Berbera and to attempt to restore order among the friendly tribes. This force was not intended to engage the dervishes or to infringe the principle of coastal concentration; but on the 9th August 1913, the constabulary encountered a raiding party of some 2,000 dervishes near Dul Madoba in the Ain Valley southeast of Burao. The Commander and half his force were killed but took heavy toll of the dervishes who withdrew after several hours of furious fighting.

This engagement was followed by greatly increased dervish activity and early in 1914 a night raid was made on Berbera by a contingent of horsemen. These events led to the abandonment of the policy of coast concentration; a military headquarters was re-established in Burao later that year and a military unit, the Somali-land Camel Corps, replaced the Camel Constabulary.

Dervish raids continued and desultory fighting took place from 1914-1920. During this time Mohamed Bin Abdulla Hassan built a formidable stone fort at Talleh, in the southeastern corner of the Protectorate, which became his headquarters. He also established subsidiary forts at other places in the eastern areas, notably at Medishe (a fertile valley with permanent running water northeast of Erigavo), where he established gardens which are tilled to this day. He was at Medishe when in 1920 a combined attack by air and land forces was launched against him. He fled south to Taleh, and when Taleh was bombed shortly afterwards he abandoned the fort and fled into territory administered by Ethiopia, where he died of influenza in February 1921. The fort at Taleh was blown up by military engineers but the extent of its ruins is a testimony to the genius of its builders; it was declared a national monument in 1947 (a photograph of the fort appeared in the Protectorate Annual Report for 1949).

During the ensuing 19 years, the Protectorate remained relatively calm. Population and stock increased substantially and trade improved. But on the 4th August 1940, the country was invaded by powerful Italian forces based on Ethiopia. Joint defense with the forces of French Somaliland had been envisaged but the collapse of France in June 1940, led to the establishment of a strictly neutral “Vichy” regime in Djibouti. The meager British forces withdrew before the Italians, after halting them during the heroic stand at Tug Argan, a pass on the main road from Hargeisa to Berbera, where an officer of the Camel Corps earned a V.C. and where a stone monument to their valor was unveiled in 1950. All troops and members of the civil administration were withdrawn to Aden from Berbera by 18th August 1940, and shortly afterwards the Italian flag was hoisted over Government House, which had been reduced to ruins by the shells of a cruiser of His Majesty’s Royal Australian Navy, H.M.S. Hobart.

On 16th March 1941, British Forces, including an expedition from Aden which seized Berbera, returned to the country, defeated the Italians, and set up military administration. During the military administration, appreciable efforts were made to expand public services notably in the field of health and education, with the assistance of Colonial Development and Welfare grants and grants-in-aid from the Imperial Exchequer. In November 1948, the Colonial Office resumed responsibility for the Administration.

An Anglo-Ethiopian agreement signed in November 1954, reaffirmed Ethiopian sovereignty over the Haud and Reserved areas, grazing areas used by the Somalis, to the south of the Protectorate.

These areas had been administered by a British military administration since 1941. The Agreement recognized the right of the Protectorate tribes to cross the border between the Protectorate and Ethiopia to graze their stock, and it provided for a staff of British Liaison Officers to look after the interests of these migratory peoples in Ethiopia.

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Extract from Policy Statement

(Issued by the Secretary of State for the Colonies on the 9th February 1959, at Hargeisa)

Somaliland Protectorate Report For The Years 1958 And 1959
Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, inspecting a guard of honor of the Somaliland Scouts during his visit to Somaliland in February, 1959

“Last November the Governor announced certain constitutional advances and after the forthcoming elections the Protectorate will have for the first time, a Legislative Council which includes elected members, and some of those elected members will be making themselves familiar with the work of some departments of government.

“When he made his statement, the Governor made it clear that further constitutional progress was being planned. In considering this matter, Her Majesty’s Government have thought it right to pay special regard to the fact that the neighboring territory of Somalia is due to become independent, when the trusteeship agreement between the United Nations and the Italian Government comes to an end in December 1960. In these special circumstances, Her Majesty’s Government think that there is justification for proceeding with constitutional development in the Protectorate at a faster pace than they believe to be suitable or advantageous in more normal circumstances elsewhere. I can now say that it is the intention of Her Majesty’s Government that by the end of 1960, there shall be an elected unofficial majority in the Legislative Council, together with the ministerial system under which a number of unofficial members of the Legislative Council will become members of the Executive Council with executive responsibilities in Government.

“These changes will raise important issues which will need to be considered. The Governor intends shortly to appoint a Commission to make recommendations to him on the number of representative members in the next Legislative Council, the method of their selection, constituencies, and similar matters. This commission will also be asked to consider the place of the traditional tribal authorities in relation to the Legislative and Executive Organs of Government and how these authorities may best be associated with the future working of the constitution.

“The changes foreshadowed for 1960 will also involve a re-organization of the Government machine and some adjustment of the present budgetary arrangements. The Governor proposes to set in train the necessary examination of these problems at once so that in due time recommendations can be made to me about any changes which should be made in the present arrangements.

“By the end of 1960, there will thus be an unofficial majority in the Legislative Council and Somalis with executive responsibility in the Government. Thereafter, it is the intention of Her Majesty’s Government to arrange such further constitutional steps as may be necessary to lead to early self-government.

“Her Majesty’s Government is aware of the desire expressed by many Somalis of the Protectorate, that there should be a closer association between this territory and Somalia. If, therefore, when Somalia has become independent, the Legislative Council of the Protectorate formally resolves that negotiations with the Government of Somalia be instituted to determine the terms and conditions on which a closer association of the two territories might be achieved, Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom would be ready to transmit this resolution to the Government of Somalia and enquire whether that Government would be willing to enter into negotiation. If so, Her Majesty’s Government would arrange for negotiations of a suitable nature to take place.

“Whatever the eventual destiny of the Protectorate, Her Majesty’s Government will continue to take an interest in the welfare of its inhabitants, and will, in the light of the circumstances prevailing from time to time, be prepared to give sympathetic consideration to the continuation of financial assistance within the limits of the amount of aid at present being provided to the Protectorate.”

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