I Have chosen as my title for this talk “Somaliland’s Last Year as a Protectorate” — I emphasize the words “last year” partly because I do not wish to join or appear to join the ranks of those who speak and write about Africa without the knowledge to do so.

By Sir Douglas Hall, K.C.M.G.

The late Governor of the Somaliland Protectorate gave the address that follows to a joint meeting of the Royal African Society and the Royal Commonwealth Society on December 1, 1960. Sir Theodore Pile, K.C.M.G. took the chair.

I Have chosen as my title for this talk “Somaliland’s Last Year as a Protectorate” — I emphasize the words “last year” partly because I do not wish to join or appear to join the ranks of those who speak and write about Africa without the knowledge to do so. I do not claim to know much about Somaliland, and the only period of the history of that country about which I can claim expert knowledge is its last year as a protectorate. Having said that, I now go on to say that I must suggest something of the background to this period in order that the talk about the last year may make sense.

Many of you who are here today know Somaliland better than I do, but for the sake of those who have not been there, I will give my impressions of my first few weeks in Somaliland during July of last year. I found a dry country, much of which is aptly described as semi-desert. But in parts, particularly towards the east, I found some of the most magnificent scenery I have ever seen anywhere. I found great contrast; one can stand on the fringes of a cedar forest, over 6,000 feet above sea level, with a tendency to shiver, and look down through the clouds to the sea below; and one can drive down to that sea and, in a couple of hours, enjoy a bathe in water which is so warm as hardly to be true. I found a race of people who have the most marked characteristics of physical endurance, good looks, pride, and a tendency to flare-up at what sometimes appears to be the smallest provocation. A tendency which is accompanied by complete immunity, from sulking, and a code of manners which is as attractive as it is strictly obeyed.


With it all, I found that desire for independence which is now almost universal throughout the continent, and which was supported by a deep-felt conviction, stemming from the pride which runs through the race, that they could go it alone. When I say “alone”, of course, I do not exclude Somalis who live in other countries.

Somaliland's Last Year As A Protectorate
Sir Douglas Hall served as the last Governor of the British Somaliland Protectorate before its independence, from 11 July 1959 to 26 June 1960

Last, but not least, I found a small but highly efficient Civil Service composed of ex-patriates, both European and Indian, together with their Somali colleagues. My previous service had been in a large colony with a big civil service and I was at once impressed by the amount of work which fell on the shoulders of the more senior civil servant.

We had plenty to do in Northern Rhodesia and I certainly do not look upon my time there as a rest cure, but those of us in the higher posts did have a large staff to help, particularly with the routine work. And I was shocked in Hargeisa to see the amount of routine work which had to be done by such officers as the Chief Secretary, the Attorney-General, and the Financial Secretary, not to mention the heads of Departments; particularly at a time when these men had so much in the way of high policy to think about and put into action and so little time to do it all in. That they succeeded so well is much to their credit and to the way in which the country had been run in previous years and my look at you, Mr. Chairman, is deliberate.

Before I talk about the stage of development which had been reached by July of last year, perhaps I might mention a criticism which has been aimed at both Her Majesty’s Government and the Protectorate Government by both Somalis and by people in this country–in each case, I think sometimes for political reasons-that so little had been done in the way of preparation for what was inevitable, as soon as the promise of independence for Somalia in 1960 was made, ten years ago. The short answer to this criticism appears in the result of independence; I doubt that anyone has any evidence that the Deputy Prime Minister and the Ministers of Defense, Education, and Agriculture, all of whom hail from the Northern Region, the old Protectorate, are any less able than their colleagues. And as far as civil servants are concerned, my latest information is that many of the best from the old Protectorate have been transferred to what we used to know as Somalia. The last thing I want to do is to decry the training provided by our Italian colleagues, but I do maintain that our training, provided in the past–and I am not now talking about the last year—though different in form, may at least have proved equally effective in the result. We should remember also that what may have appeared so inevitable in 1959 was by no means a certainty in 1958 and was anybody’s guess in 1950.

Apart from criticism about the lack of political development, one heard that little was done and that too late, in the way of education; and that water should have been found and provided throughout the territory. It should be remembered that the Mad Mullah held the country up for twenty years at the beginning of the century when other parts of Africa were entering the early but important stage of educational development. Largely as a result of his activities, it is less than twenty years since the first Director of Education for Somaliland was stoned for suggesting that education was a good thing. And as far as water is concerned, it is very very difficult to find it in many parts of the Protectorate–nor do the critics always suggest how the finding of it is to be paid for. In fact, a good deal of water has been found here and there, though a lack of it remains a major – if not the major–problem.

One of the most important statements in the history of Somaliland had been made a few months before I arrived there. In January 1959, in Hargeisa, Mr. Lennox-Boyd had told the people of the Protectorate that further and early steps could be taken in preparation for self-government, and that if the people of the Protectorate showed that they were anxious for a closer association with Somalia when that country became independent, and if the independent government of Somalia were agreeable, Her Majesty’s Government would take such steps as might appear desirable to enable negotiations of a suitable nature to take place. I was not there at the time, but I am told that the effect of this statement was immediate and most marked; that an atmosphere of unveiled hostility to Great Britain was changed, literally overnight, into a climate of friendliness and cooperation. I certainly found a friendly feeling when I arrived in July 1959.

As a result of this statement, a general election took place for a new Legislative Council, which was to have a number of elected members in addition to certain nominated Somali members, and a majority, still, of ex-officio members. At the same time, a commission was set up, composed of Somali members, with the Commissioner for Somali Affairs in the chair, to recommend about a more advanced form of Legislative Council to be set up early in 1960.

The Legislative Council which I found in July 1959 was only the second in the Protectorate. The first, which was started a few years before, had been composed of nominated members. The 1959 elections had found two main political parties in the field, the National United Front, under the leadership of Michael Mariano, which sheltered under its wing the Somali Youth League, the party in power in Somalia but which had a small holding only in the Protectorate; and the Somali National League, under the leadership of Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal, who was to become Prime Minister of Independent Somaliland during the five days between the obtaining of independence by Somaliland on the 26th June, and the amalgamation with Somalia on the 1st July–and who is now Minister of Defense in the government of the Republic.

But though these two major parties were in the field, there was no real conflict, as the Somali National League decided to boycott the election. The reason they gave was that they would have nothing to do with a legislative council which was to retain an official majority. Another possible reason, though this was obviously not put forward by the party, was that they were disorganized at that time and afraid of a heavy defeat. They may have felt that it was politically wiser to make no attempt to obtain power until the next legislative council, already foreshadowed, was being contested. If this is what they felt, they may well have been right from their own point of view but the immediate result was that the National United Front were without opposition in the elected seats of the Legislative Council.

Meanwhile, as I have said, a Commission had sat to make recommendations about the new Legislative Council. I will not go into details, but the most important conclusions were that there should be an overwhelming majority of elected members, no nominated members, and something very close to universal adult male suffrage. Because of the striking difference in the way of life of those Somalis who at the time were living as nomads, and those who at the time were living in the towns, it was suggested that different arrangements should be made for each class, and the constituencies divided accordingly. This in itself was not a new idea, but on this occasion, registration was proposed for the towns, together with a modest property qualification, while for the rural areas, it was proposed that there should be no registration, but that voters should be allowed to cast their vote wherever they happened to be on polling day.

The nomads life is such that he never knows where he will be from one day to the next. It all depends where the last rain has fallen, or, perhaps, on special occasions, on instructions from his political masters. And to have tied him to fixed constituencies would have been to disenfranchise him in many cases. One obvious difficulty presented itself; it would be possible for the town-dweller to cast his vote in the constituency where he was registered and then, later in the day, to vote again in a rural area. Similarly, it would be possible for the nomad to vote in more than one rural area. To overcome this difficulty the Commission recommended that a part of the right hand of every voter should be plunged in an indelible dye at the time that he voted. It would then be obvious to the officials at the polling booths if he attempted to vote a second time.

All the major recommendations of the Commission were accepted. And at the same time, proposals were worked out by the Protectorate Government for other important changes in the Constitution, particularly the form of the Executive Council, which so far had been entirely ex officio; the position of the Governor and the control of the public service. It was agreed that the Order in Council should allow for an elected majority in the Executive Council. The Chief Secretary would remain a member and be responsible to the Governor for law and order, defense, and external relations. The Attorney General would continue with his responsibility for legal affairs and the Financial Secretary would continue to control finance. The civil service would still remain the ultimate responsibility of the Governor. Other responsibilities would be looked after by four elected members, who would hold the Portfolios of Local Government, Works and Communications, Natural Resources and Social Services-that is, health, and education. These four elected members would be appointed by the Governor after he had consulted the member of the Legislative Council who, in the Governor’s opinion, was most likely to command a majority in the Legislative Council.

The Executive Council would remain advisory to the Governor, but the Governor would be bound by that advice, except in the most exceptional circumstances, when he might use his reserve powers. The Governor would not be bound to consult his Executive Council on matters concerned with defense and external affairs. I might add that I did not, on any occasion, find myself having to use my reserve powers.

At the same time that all this was going on, there was much thought and consultation about the necessary rapid increase in the number of Somalis filling top positions in the civil service. The terrible word “Somalisation” was invented. Here again, a Commission had made recommendations, but the tempo increased so rapidly that these were out of date before they could be acted upon. The familiar problem of balancing political expediency against administrative efficiency was there all the time, together with the all-important need to assure a square deal for the ex-patriate civil servants, who were so soon to be out of their jobs. An early step was to appoint a number of Somalis as super numeracy deputy heads of departments, and to other senior posts; a device which enabled Somali civil servants to serve for a time alongside their ex-patriate colleagues and gain experience, before having to take full responsibility for their post. It was a scheme which relied heavily on good relationships, but which worked out quite well in the event.

As far as the position of the ex-patriates was concerned, we received invaluable help from a senior officer of the Colonial Office, who visited the

Protectorate for a fortnight and held endless meetings with staff associations, politicians, and others, including myself. I think the service will agree with me that they were very fairly treated.

We had now reached the point where a general election had to be planned and I must emphasize that right up to the election, and for a few weeks beyond it, nobody expected Independence to come as soon as it did. And when I say nobody, I include the leaders of the political parties. It may well be that we were all foolish in this respect, but the hard fact remains that none of us really expected that there would be a shorter time than two or three years for final preparations. I do not propose to divulge what went on in private conversations between myself and political leaders during the last month or two of 1959 and the first part of 1960. But I can and do say that I am sure they were being sincere. And that when it became obvious that the period before Independence was likely to be so short, some of the political leaders were as surprised by the turn of events as anybody else. Nevertheless, the speeding up was of their own making, inasmuch as it sprang from promises lightly made on political platforms. Whether in the event it was such a bad thing that the program should have become so rushed is a matter for conjecture, and the full answer may not be clear for some years to come. I shall return to this point later, but now I shall return to the general election.

In deciding on the date for this, we wanted to avoid undue delay while, at the same time, leaving the bare minimum of time which was needed for the preparations, including the all-important Order in Council. We also had to keep Ramadan free from election campaigning, which does not go well with an empty stomach. In the end, the 17th of February was chosen. During the weeks before this, the tempo gradually worked up, until in Hargeisa at least no evening passed without at least one, and usually two or three, political meetings. It was at these meetings that the promise of immediate independence was so freely given, but it was not until the Somali National League published its manifesto that the promise was committed to writing-if one excludes rude remarks chalked up on the walls of buildings.

A short time before the election, a new political party appeared called the United Somali Party. It had been said that political awareness had taken the place of tribalism, but there is no doubt that political wishes were fathers to the thought. The United Somali Party, which drew its members from both the main parties, was frankly tribal in its constitution and indeed was born as a result of a feeling on the part of certain tribes that they were of sufficient importance to have their own party, and should not be merely tagged on to parties in which other tribes held dominating positions. There is little doubt that the birth of this new party was an embarrassment to both the Somali National League and the National United Front. Each saw it as a menace to a large number of votes which had been thought safe. But each reacted differently. The Somali National League kept their thought largely to themselves, at any rate in public, while the National United Front published their displeasure in speeches.

It was not long before the new party showed signs of seeking an association with the Somali National League, and a short time before the election a formal alliance was made. This was followed rapidly by the publication of an association between the National United Front and the small number of members of the Somali Youth League. The stage was then set for a straight contest between two pairs of parties, one member of each pair being considerably larger than the other, but not a great deal of difference lying between the combined contestants.

The election presented some thorny and worrying problems of maintenance of law and order. There were to be over 150 polling stations, any one of which could become a major danger point at short notice, especially if either the fall of rain or plain politics should result in last-minute movements of nomads of opposing parties or tribes. Every policeman and every soldier in the Protectorate was deployed; and I would like to pay tribute to the efforts made by the political leaders to ensure that their supporters behaved themselves.

One of our main worries was how the women would behave. They had no vote, but they were surprisingly politically conscious, and there is nothing that an administrator dislikes more than a riot of women. However, the Somalis themselves decided that the election should be orderly, and it was. There were no incidents worthy of the name and for the whole of February 17th, not a woman was to be seen. They had all been kept at home by their husbands.

Somaliland's Last Year As A Protectorate
The Somaliland Protectorate Constitutional Conference, London, May 1960 in which it was decided that 26 June be the day of Independence, and so signed on 12 May 1960. Somaliland Delegation: Chairman of the delegation H.E Haji Ibrahim Nur Jama (United Somali Party USP), Deputy Chairman Ali Garad Jama (United Somali Party USP), Secretary Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal,(Somali National League SNL) and Member Ahmed Haji Dualeh, and From the Colonial Office: Ian Macleod, Douglas B. Hall, H. C. F. Wilks (Secretary)

Nearly 82,000 men cast their votes, a number which is at least 80 percent and probably more than nearly 90 percent of the total adult male population. The result was unusual and unexpected in detail. The Somali National League/United Somali Party combine secured approximately 56,000 votes as against 25,000 won by their opponents. But the votes of the winners gained them 32 out of the 33 seats. It cannot often happen that a party which can claim nearly one-third of all the votes cast gains one seat only as a result. The detailed results showed twenty seats for the Somali National League, twelve for the United Somali Party, and one, Michael Mariano himself, for the opposition.

Immediately after the election, Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal was formally acknowledged as the Leader of both the Somali National League and the United Somali Party, and I was left in no doubt as to whom I should consult about the appointment of elected ministers. He gave me his advice on 26th February, and I appointed him as Minister of Local Government, Ahmed Haji Dualeh as Minister of Natural Resources, and Ali Gerad Jama and Haji Ibrahim Nur as Ministers of Works and Communications and Social Services respectively. I also appointed Yusuf Ismail Samatar as an Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Social Services.

The first two were members of the Somali National League, and the second two were members of the United Somali Party. The Assistant Minister belonged to the Somali National League. With one exception, all were fluent speakers of English and had had considerable formal education. Haji Ibrahim Nur, although not completely happy in English, was a fluent speaker and writer of Arabic and, as a successful trader, had a fund of experience which he quickly began to put at the disposal of the government of which he had become a part.

It was not long before the promises about immediate independence, which had been made in pre-election speeches and in the Somali National League manifesto, began to catch up on their makers. I do not imply that there was any feeling against the attainment of Independence; but a number of Somalis – politicians, civil servants, traders, and elders – believed that there would be a great advantage in a short period of consolidation and the gaining of experience before the next and the biggest step was taken. But they were in a small minority, and it was not possible for them to come out into the open with pleas for delay.

I have heard it said that we officials in the Government did not know what was happening and which way the wind was blowing. This was not true. I think we saw the way the picture was forming before some of the political leaders.

Events soon started moving rapidly; a motion asking for Independence by 1st July was passed in the Legislative Council and visits were paid to Mogadishu by leading political figures, who returned to Hargeisa with assurances from their colleagues in Somalia that amalgamation of the two countries was a mutual wish. Then followed the London Conference; the main results of this have already been published. And it was, of course, at this Conference that the Secretary of State announced that the protectorate might obtain its Independence on 26th June.

When we got back to Hargeisa in the middle of May, there were just six weeks left before Independence to do all the things that had to be done; and what a lot there is to be got through on these occasions. Few of the problems had nice, straightforward precedents on files to guide one. The Somalis were all extremely cheerful and excited about the result of the Conference and, during the second half of May, the relationship between Somali and British could not have been better.

But it was not long before the bad hats started making a certain amount of trouble again. They had been prophesying for so long that Her Majesty’s Government would never grant independence freely and that it would have to be fought for, that the contradiction of everything they said irked them. They had to think of new lines, and one was to pass rumors round that the expatriate officers, who were leaving in advance of independence-a steady trickle had already started-were taking with them large quantities of government property.

They also put it out that although it had been agreed that the British officers of the Somaliland Scouts Regiment might stay on for a time, the Regiment would be rendered powerless by the removal of its equipment. This rumor gained strong ground quickly and was coupled with a story, which was as absurd as it was widely believed, that the Ethiopians would invade Somaliland during the five days between Independence and Union with Somalia. The truth is always more difficult to put across than the wildest rumors, and the first part of June was an anxious time, though great help was given by the more responsible political leaders and senior Somali civil servants. By this time, incidentally, all the district commissioners were Somalis, a development from one only in July 1959. They proved well up to their jobs and blossomed under responsibility.

As the end of June drew nearer, the rumors started to fade and during the last week the happy relationship, which was such a feature of the actual time of Independence, was well founded. There were many farewell parties and high tributes were paid to the ex-patriate civil servants, many of whom had served the country so long and so well and whose efforts were very genuinely appreciated. The ground was laid for the United Kingdom Aid Mission, a device by which a number of British and Indian civil servants were to stay on for six months, working for the Independent Government, but with all their conditions guaranteed and paid for out of a contribution of £1,500,000, which Her Majesty’s Government was making to the Independent Government for the first year of its life.

I left on the morning of 25th June and Philip Carrel, the Chief Secretary, became Acting Governor for a period of fourteen hours and one minute.

The next few days were taken up with celebrations and the passing of the necessary legislation to allow the union of the two countries to take place on 1st July. That really is the end of the story. It is early yet to be sure how it will all work out, but I think we can say that it has got off to a good start. It is rather remarkable how little about the new republic has appeared in the press, and that, surely, is as good a sign as any.

Earlier on, I mentioned the speed of the operation and said I would return to that point later. I think it must be admitted that Independence and union with Somalia was bound to have come by 1962. How much has been lost or gained by the loss of those two or three years? It is true that there were a number of thoughtful Somalis who felt that 1960 was too early. It is equally true that they were in a small minority. We could of course have continued to govern the country by using the necessary amount of force. I am not one who believes that force should never be used in government, but I do believe there should always be a very good reason for it. It seems to me that the only reason for our staying on would have been to attempt to make the Somalis more ready for the responsibility of Independence. But how much could have been done in an atmosphere of hostility and non-cooperation is very open to question.

One thing is certain: we should not have parted in 1962 the good friends that we are now. Although I am disappointed that we did not have more time, I am sure that in the event the right decision was taken.

I feel that I must make a brief and very general mention of the relationships between the Somalis and Ethiopia. I think it is important to realize that the feelings the Somalis have for the Ethiopians and vice versa are understandable, even if at times they are exaggerated. Somalis look upon the Haud and the reserved areas as part of Somali territory. Even though some understand the true legal position, they make the point that they had no say in the matter. Their very existence depends on the use of these areas for grazing, and there is a resentment against us that, as they put it, we gave this country away in 1897. At the same time, and just as naturally, the Ethiopians dislike the presence of foreigners who often flaunt the law of the land of their hosts. Even more do they dislike the provisions of the 1954 agreement, even though it was freely signed by them at the time, which allowed British liaison officers to function in Ethiopian territory.

As an interjection, I might clear up a common misunderstanding. It has been said in the press that with Independence the right of the Somalis to graze in Ethiopian territory would come to an end. That is not so. That right is enshrined in the 1897 Treaty which runs with the land; the same treaty, incidentally, which lays down the international boundary. It is only the subsequent provisions of the 1954 Agreement which have lapsed with Independence, particularly the arrangements about British liaison officers.

The other bone of contention is the Greater Somalia conception. Once again, it is natural for the Somalis to dream dreams of a time when all members of their race would be united. It is just as natural that the Ethiopians should be dismayed at any suggestion which might threaten their territorial sovereignty. It is my belief that the biggest cause of bitterness was the existence of the 1954 Agreement, although I also believe that at the same time, it was the best arrangement that could be made and it was for the great advantage for the Somalis. Nevertheless, with our departure, and the consequence lapse of this agreement, it is possible that better feelings may be born. A great deal of patience and understanding on the part of both sides will be needed.

The Somalis are a great people, with great potentialities. Like all new nations, the Somali Republic will have many difficult problems to tackle, but I do not believe that any of these are beyond their capabilities and I look forward to their future with confidence.


QUESTIONER: I would like to know why the Colonial Office, and other interested parties here, at home, had reason to believe that independence in the Somaliland Protectorate should be delayed beyond the date for Independence in Somalia.

LECTURER: First of all, I feel that in fairness I should make it clear that anything the Colonial Office may have thought during the last year was because I thought it. I don’t think they should carry any more responsibility than that.

Talking strictly of the last year, I thought it because I genuinely believed – and still believe – that that was the thought in the minds of the leading politicians. They felt that they would prefer to have two or three years more experience. Perhaps they did not realize that what they said so lightly in pre-election political speeches would carry so much weight. As I said, I don’t want to divulge the details of conversations I had during that year, but that was the basis of my belief, and, therefore, the basis of the Colonial Office’s belief.

QUESTIONER: Has the Somali Republic any designs on North Kenya?

LECTURER: I know very little about what the new Government of the Somali Republic is thinking of doing; I have had very little information. But the Greater Somalia concept of course does include the Northern frontier province of Kenya. I think that as far as what is now known as the Northern Region is concerned-what used to be the Protectorate-they were so taken up with joining up with Somalia, and with wondering how on earth they were ever going to join up with their colleagues in Ethiopia, that the Kenya problem did not loom very large in their minds, although it was there in the background.

QUESTIONS: Is it the opinion of Sir Douglas Hall, that the present Somali Republic is economically viable or will it have to amalgamate with other areas in the future to achieve that viability?

LECTURER: There is no doubt at all that the new Somali Republic is not viable in its own right at the present time. It is, of course, getting assistance from us, and I understand that it is negotiating for assistance from Italy. I think the Somalia part was, before I left. As regards the future, it is very difficult to prophesy, but there are people looking for oil in the country. That of course, if it should be found, would make all the difference in the world. On the other hand, if it isn’t found, it seems to me that they will go on needing help for quite a long time to come. I find it difficult to believe that the Somalis, who are a proud people, would ever want to join up with anybody else who were not Somalis if they could possibly avoid it.

QUESTIONER: Could Sir Douglas Hall tell us what the relations between the politicians in the Northern Region, that is the old Somaliland Protectorate, and the Southern Region, which is old Somalia, are likely to be after the first flush of Independence is over?

LECTURER: My short time in Somaliland tended to show me that the Somalis never have rows in public, whatever may go on in private. There will, I think, be differences of opinion, probably pretty severe ones; there probably have been already in private. But I believe they will succeed in keeping these private and not showing differences of opinion to the world. There is just one point which perhaps makes it a little bit easier than the questioner may have thought, and that is the very good knowledge of English that a very large number of Somalis in old Somalia have. So that, quite apart from the fact that they have got a common language in Somali, many of them have got a common language in English as well.

QUESTIONER: Could Sir Douglas Hall tell us about the condition of the pensioners from the old Somaliland Protectorate; are the conditions worse than those obtaining in East and Central Africa?

LECTURER: I am afraid I find this question rather difficult to answer because as far as I know, all the ex-patriates who left have got the same pension that they were earning at the time. I mean there was no change made. Possibly those who are complaining feel that there have not been the same number of increases in pensions that there have been in some other colonies where, from time to time, with the cost of living rising, increases are made. I am afraid I have really no particular information on that point, but there was certainly no loss of pension when they left. There may not have been – in fact, I do not think there were – the same increases in Somaliland which always has been, of course, a poor country, as there have been in some of the more wealthy countries.

QUESTIONER: How far are the women of the Somali Republic included in the educational system?

LECTURER: As happens in so many territories in Africa, women’s education has lagged seriously behind men’s education and it is – or was when I was there, and I have no doubt still is – a serious problem. It is always a difficult problem to tackle because one is up against the parents who, in the first place, are invariably against education for their daughters. That was being overcome and there was one very flourishing intermediate school when I was there, which was showing signs of being likely to give birth to others by its example. Where we had support in education for the women was from the young educated men, who of course, wanted to have educated wives.

QUESTIONER: Could Sir Douglas Hall tell us whether the position of the Ethiopian border on the North and on the Kenya border in the South is not likely to be dangerous in the future; and secondly, whether in his opinion the new Somali Republic will tend to gravitate towards the Western block or towards the Eastern block?

LECTURER: I have no information which makes me believe that the position on the boundary is any more dangerous or difficult than it was when we were there; in fact, I tried to imply in my talk that it was possible that our departure might make things a little easier. I am afraid I have no knowledge about the Kenya boundary – of course, that did not affect us in the Protectorate; it was a border with Somalia. I have no knowledge of that either while I was there or since I have left. But I cannot imagine that there is likely to be any serious danger there. I think that answers the first part of the question.

As far as the second part is concerned, I would be surprised myself to see any very deep foreign influence taking place with the Somalis. They are a very independent people and would be extremely quick, I think, to recognize too much interest by Russia, or Cairo, or anywhere else, that might be given. There was surprisingly little interest shown in other foreign countries when I was there.

QUESTIONER: Does Sir Douglas Hall think that the Somalis tend to have natural allies (whether with Egypt or Sudan) more than with other African countries?

LECTURER: To some extent yes, because of the religious link; Muslims naturally tend to hang together to some degree. As far as Sudan is concerned, there is another link in that so many of the Somalis who are now holding important positions, either as politicians or as senior civil servants, or in business life, had a good deal of their education in Khartoum, at Gordon College. I did have it said to me by one Somali, who shall be nameless, but was in a very important position, that the link with Egypt was a religious link. He left it at that – he did not say any more – possibly because he had got no more to say, but it may be that he meant to imply that was the only real link. I should say that their links with Sudan are a good deal closer, but I do not feel I am on very sure ground in answering these particular questions. It is always very difficult to know exactly what people are thinking in those ways. That is my impression.

QUESTIONER: Have the Mullahs retained their influence in Somaliland? They rather seem to be losing it in other Mohammedan countries.

LECTURER: I should say that their influence is still pretty strong. There were meetings of Mullahs whenever anything important was happening. But I would also say, with my small experience of the country, that it is probably not as strong as it was.

QUESTIONER: Could the speaker say something more about the fusion of the two territories; which form of law is likely to take precedence between the two, or whether they are likely to remain distinct?

LECTURER: Taking the legal side of it first, the way that things have started off is that both kinds of law are carrying on side by side; Roman Law in what used to be Somalia, and English Law in what used to be the Protectorate. And I should not be at all surprised if that does not continue. We have, indeed, a pretty good precedent that can happen, shown in the two Rhodesias. As far as the administration is concerned, it is difficult to be sure how things will settle down in the long run, but such information as I have indicates that the English methods of administration are still being carried on in the Protectorate. I have not recent information on that point from Somalia, but my guess would be that they would still use Italian methods and that there will be, at any rate for many years to come, a contrast between the two methods of administration-although it is all one country. I think there will always be a northern region and another region.

QUESTIONER: What was the percentage of literacy in British Somaliland at the time of Independence, and in Somalia at the same time?

LECTURER: I am afraid I must confess myself defeated. I can only say it was a lower percentage than it should have been–we would have liked to have seen it much higher. There is of course a growing number who are literate in Arabic as a result of the religious schools which cover the whole country.

Source: African Affairs, Vol. 60, No. 238 (January 1961), pp. 26-37
Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal African Society


About Douglas Hall, 14th Baronet

Somaliland's Last Year As A Protectorate

Sir Douglas Basil Hall, 14th Baronet, KCMG (1 February 1909 – 8 April 2004) was a British colonial administrator. He served as the last Governor of the British Somaliland Protectorate before its independence, from 11 July 1959 to 26 June 1960. He was also a lifelong radio enthusiast.

Hall was born on 1 February 1909, the son of Captain Lionel Erskine Hall and Jane Augusta Reynolds. Though raised in England, he was a descendant of Sir John Hall and his son Sir James Hall, who each had a footnote in the history of Scotland.

He was educated at Radley College and Keble College, Oxford, graduating to earn an MA. He married Rachel Marion Gartside-Tipping in 1933 (d. 1990) and they had four children, the first of whom died in infancy.

Hall developed an interest in home-built radios and electronics at age 15 when he built his first receiver, a detector unit, in 1924. Beginning with an article in Practical Wireless of December 1943, Hall subsequently published over 100 articles with circuits, construction advice and commentary in magazines like Radio Constructor and Radio Bygones.

Northern Rhodesia

Hall joined the Colonial Administrative Service in 1930 and served in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) for almost 30 years. He was a District Officer from 1932 to 1950 and Senior District Officer from 1950 to 1953, he was promoted Provincial Commissioner in 1953 and Administrative Secretary in 1955. Hall concluded his service in Rhodesia as Secretary for Native Affairs (1956–1959).

Hall was made Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (CMG) in 1958 and knighted as a Knight Commander of the same order (KCMG) on 19 January 1959, on taking up the position in Somaliland.

British Somaliland

In 1959, Sir Douglas was appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief of British Somaliland (1959–1960).

He was the last person to hold this office, as the territory gained independence and united with Somalia the following year.

Hall retired to Ringmore, Devon, where he became a magistrate, and was a member of the Devon and Cornwall Police Authority from 1971 to 1979.


Sir Douglas Hall, Kt., had himself been knighted for some two decades when, in later life, he inherited his family′s baronetcy, to become, in addition, Sir Douglas Hall, Bt.. The Scottish baronetcy – a baronetcy in the Baronetage of Nova Scotia – of Hall of Dunglass dates from 1687. Douglas descended from a junior branch and would not have expected to inherit, but the senior line died out and the inheritance passed to his own branch. By then, his father Captain Lionel had died but each of his three sons gained the title in turn: Sir Lionel became the 12th Baronet, inheriting from his kinsman in 1974; Sir Neville outlived him and succeeded the following year, holding the title for three years, before passing on the line to the third brother, Sir Douglas, in 1978.

Douglas Hall′s first child died in infancy, but his surviving son, Sir John Hall, is the current holder of the title and has issue.

Sir Douglas Hall died in Derbyshire, England on 8 April 2004 at age 95.

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