Ajuuraan DynastyJune 19, 2007 at 6:50 am | Posted in somalia | 318 Comments
On the other side of East Africa in the 14th century the Ajuuran dynasty formed a centralized state in the lower Shabeelle valley, ruling over a territory that stretched as far inland as modern Qalafo and towards the coast almost to Mogadishu. Said S. Samatar, writing with David Laitin, notes that the Ajuuran sultanate “represents one of the rare occasions in Somali history when a pastoral state achieved large-scale centralization”, and notes that it grew larger and more powerful than coastal city-states of Mogadishu, Merka and Baraawe combined.
Hobyo the ancient port of Somalia was the commercial centre of the Ajuuraan Sultanate, all the commercial goods grown or harvested along the Shabelle river were brought to Hobyo to trade, as Hobyo remained the active mercantile pitstop of ancient times. The Ajuuraan rulers collected their tribute from the town in the form of sorghum (durra), making the port of Hobyo incredibly profitable for the Ajuuraan sultans.
trade between Hobyo and the Banaadir coast flourished for some time. So vital was Hobyo to the prosperity of the Ajuuraan Sultanate that when a local sheikhs successfully revolted against the Ajuuraan Sultan and established an independent Imamate of the Hiraab, the power of the Ajuuraan sultans crumbled within a century.
Due to Portuguese predations, internal discord, and encroaching nomads from the north, the Ajuuran sultanate disintegrated at the end of the 17th century. According to Said Samatar, almost a full century passed before a successor state emerged: the Geledi Sultanate, which was based in the town of Afgooye and ruled over the lower Shabeelle region. Meanwhile, the Sultanate of Oman of south Arabia ousted the Portuguese from the Benaadir coast, and ruled the Benaadir coast with what Samatar describes as a “light hand” until the European Scramble for Africa in the 1880s. “As long as the Somali cities paid their yearly tribute (which was by no means extortionate), flew the Omani flag, and accepted Omani overlordship, the Omanis allowed the Somalis to run their internal affairs. The role of the Omani governors in Mogadishu, Merca, and Baraawe was largely a ceremonial one. However, when Omani authority was challenged, the Omanis could be severe.”
In the 17th century, Somalia fell under the sway of the rapidly expanding Ottoman Empire, who exercised control through hand picked local Somali governors. In 1728 the Ottomans evicted the last Portuguese occupation and claimed sovereignty over the whole Horn of Africa. However, their actual exercise of control was fairly modest, as they demanded only a token annual tribute and appointed an Ottoman judge to act as a kind of Supreme Court for interpretations of Islamic law. By the 1850s Ottoman power was in decline.
Farther east on the Bari coast, two kingdoms emerged that would play a significant political role on the Somali Peninsula prior to colonization. These were the Majeerteen Sultanate of Boqor(king) Osman Mahamuud, and that of his kinsman Sultan Yuusuf Ali Keenadiid of Hobyo (Obbia). The Majeerteen Sultanate originated in the mid eighteenth century, but only came into its own in the nineteenth century with the reign of the resourceful Boqor Osman. Boqor Osman Mahamuud’s kingdom benefited from British subsidies (for protecting the British naval crews that were shipwrecked periodically on the Somali coast) and from a liberal trade policy that facilitated a flourishing commerce in livestock, ostrich feathers, and gum arabic. While acknowledging a vague vassalage to the British, the Sultan kept his kingdom free until well after the 1900s.
Boqor Ismaan Mahamuud’s sultanate was nearly destroyed in the middle of the nineteenth century by a power struggle between him and his young, ambitious cousin, Keenadiid. Nearly five years of destructive civil war passed before Boqor Ismaan Mahamuud managed to stave off the challenge of the young upstart, who was finally driven into exile in Arabia. A decade later, in the 1870s, Keenadiid returned from Arabia with a score of Hadhrami musketeers and a band of devoted lieutenants. With their help, he carved out the small kingdom of Hobyo after conquering the local clans.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia