Juang indicates that the revolt was gradually put down by the British use of the Camel Corps led by Richard Corfield.[61] It would be interesting to understand the events that led to the overcoming of ‘Mad Mullah.’ The latter had a band of about 3,000 dervishes whose attacks made the British to deploy to Berbera, the Central Africa Rifles, 2d Battalion, which included 16 British officers, 1 British warrant officer, 30 Sikh, and 862 African troops.[62] This was to prevent ‘Mad Mullah’ from crossing into British Somaliland from his base in eastern Ethiopia. Between 1900 and 1904, the British launched four unsuccessful campaigns against ‘Mad Mullah.’ After 1904 ‘Mad Mullah’ moved to Italian Somaliland and by the time he returned to British Somaliland in 1909, the colonial administration had reinforced the 6th Kings African Rifles (KAR) with Indian battalion. This, however, failed to beat ‘Mad Mullah’ in 1910 resulting in the withdrawal of the British to the coast and disbanding the 6th KAR and the standing militia[63]. For the next two years, British administrators in Somaliland argued for a more assertive policy. This led to the June 1912 approval by the British government for the formation of the 150-man Camel Corps, which operated within an eighty-kilometer radius of Berbera. This was to counter ‘Mad Mullah’s’ hit-and-run tactics. There were also 320 Aden troops and 200 Indians from a disbanded contingent of the 6th KAR to support the Camel Corps which was later to be reorganized into the Somaliland Camel Corps. In 1920 a combined British land and air offensive – which included the Somaliland Camel Corps, Somaliland Police and elements from the 2d and the 6th KAR and an Indian battalion – finally defeated ‘Mad Mullah’s’ army. Despite this defeat, many Somalis continued to hail ‘Mad Mullah’ as a warrior hero and the source of modern Somali nationalism.[64]

Stokes’ analysis is that before ‘Mad Mullah’ came into the scene; Britain took little interest in its Somaliland protectorate, instead of regarding it as a supply point for its Aden colony.[65] He adds that Britain invested very little in infrastructure during the two decades it tried to suppress ‘Mad Mullah’ whereas the Italians in Southern Somalia made considerable investments as they sought to establish an agriculturally productive colony over the same period. It is this imbalance that would later lead to the dominance of the south in the post-independence period and can be seen as one of the causes of the later Somali civil war.[66] Lulat agrees with this notion going by the fact that in British Somaliland of the post-World War II era, there was practically no higher education comparable to that being developed by the Italians, other than a teacher training institute and one or two vocational schools. Lulat concludes that the principal determinant of this parsimony in education provision appears to have been the decision by the British to govern British Somaliland as cheaply as possible.[67] In fact, Dumper and Stanley argue that British Somaliland was a poor excuse for a colony and should have been abandoned. They add that Winston Churchill made this point when he visited Berbera in 1907 where, as undersecretary of state, he recommended that the protectorate be abandoned, since it was unproductive, inhospitable, the people were hostile to the occupation and that the governor’s residence “was unfit for a decent English dog.”[68]

British Somaliland was a very small part of a far larger empire, and it attracted minimal attention or investment. Roberts and Oliver affirm that most of the population (350,000 in the mid-1930s) were herdsmen, though by 1920 some clans of the Ise and Gadabursi had adopted plough cultivation from Sufi communities at Hargeisa. They add that the imposition of peace from 1920 enabled both human and animal populations to recover, and many herdsmen migrated to Ethiopia in order to escape interference by the British.[69] In 1921 there was the introduction of direct taxation and this met such resistance in the camel corps and among officially backed clan elders that troops had to be called in from Kenya and Nyasaland.[70]


According to the Europa World Year Book, during the World War II, British Somaliland was conquered temporarily by Italian troops, but in 1941 it was recaptured by a British counter-offensive, which also forced the Italians to withdraw from Eritrea, Italian Somaliland, and Ethiopia.[71] A British military administration was then established in British and Italian Somaliland. Under the provisions of the post-war treaty of February 1947, Italy renounced all rights to Italian Somaliland. In December 1950 however, the pre-war colony became the UN Trust Territory of Somalia with Italy returning as the administering power for a ten-year transitional period prior to independence.[72]

Contini posits that until 1957, the Governor in British Somaliland exercised full executive and legislative powers, and the only participation of the local inhabitants in the administration of the Territory on the national level was through an Advisory Council of appointed members representing all sections of the Somali community.[73] In 1957, as a result of increased demands for self-government, a Legislative Council was established, consisting of eight official and ex officio(British) and six unofficial (Somali) members.[74] The latter was appointed by the Governor from a panel of candidates prepared by the Advisory Council. In March 1959, for the first time, the unofficial members were elected rather than appointed and their numbers were increased to thirteen and that of the official and ex officio members to seventeen.[75]

Rao notes that a nationalist party in British Somaliland desired merger with the Italian Somaliland[76] and in the ensuing election aftermath the British agreed for the union of the two Somalilands to form Somalia.[77] Prior to this, Seddon and Seddon-Daines point out that the Trust Territory’s first general election held in March 1959 saw the Somali Youth League (SYL) win 83 out of 90 seats in the Legislative Assembly.[78] McEwan and Sutcliffe affirm that having opposed Pan-Somali tendencies, the British surprised everyone, including the Somalis, by timing British Somaliland’s independence to coincide with that of Somalia.[79] A movement in French Somaliland in favor of accession to Somalia had been circumvented two years earlier when that territory’s assembly voted in favor of remaining a French Overseas Territory. Hatch posits that after the passage of the loi cadre, elections were held in French Somaliland and they were won by Mahmoud Habri, who was unable to secure more than a quarter of the votes for his proposed rejection of membership of the Community.[80] Shortly afterwards, Habri fled to Cairo and was deposed by the French, who organized new elections in which the Assembly was returned which voted for continuing status as an Overseas Territory. The latter was eventually to become Djibouti. When the independent Somali Republic was declared in June 1960, the president of the Southern Legislative Assembly was proclaimed Head of State and the two legislatures merged to form a single National Assembly.[81]

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.