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June 22, 2007 at 7:00 pm | Posted in New Book | Leave a comment

Book Review: SOMALIA – Past & Present

The BookThe Book
Book Review:
Author: Mohamed Osman Omar

Format: Paperback, 265 pages, including foldout maps

Publisher: Somalia Publications Pvt Ltd, Mogadishu

Review by: William Hawke, Pres, Indo-African Society

Accomplished author and Somalia’s Ambassador to India, Mohamed Osman Omar has done it again. He has published another informative book about his beloved Somalia. This time the title is “SOMALIA Past and Present.”

When His Excellency asked me to review his book I must admit that I had a feeling of, ‘Here we go; a bunch of belly-aching about how the international community and the UN have betrayed the people of Somalia, without the turning of eyes inward (towards the perpetrators of Somalia’s afflictions within the country). As I delved into the book, my skepticism (or you might say pessimism) was soon alleviated.

This is a well researched chronicle of how this relatively small African country, at the pointy end of the Horn of Africa, was trampled upon, sliced up, parceled out and abused before achieving independence. It goes on to describe the suffering of the Somali people through an abusive dictatorship, which was ousted by internal factions with a common mission (to oust the dictator), but no common vision as to the future of this war stricken country. This led to internal brinkmanship of warlords, disastrous international intervention (Did anyone not see Black Hawk Down) and the state of Somalia today.

Specifically: The new book covers the history of Somalia from the 19th to the 21st century including the establishment of the new government and the Aden Declaration, which brought together the rival groups of the state institutions and the first meeting of the Federal Parliament in the country after 14 months of disagreement as to the location of the seat of the government and parliament.

It covers the history of the past and the present Somalia very well, dealing in detail with the early occupation of foreign powers of Somali territories and the struggle of the Somali Hero, Mohamed Abdulle Hassan against colonial rule and the reason for his tragic end. The UN Trusteeship period starting from 1950 until independence of the former British and Italian Somalilands in 1960 is also covered. The history of the occupation of former French Somali Coast from 1862 until it gained its independence on 27 June 1977 is vividly recorded. The unilateral declaration of independence of the breakaway region of Somalia, former British Protectorate is also taken up in the book.

The birth, the rise and the fall of the famous “Bloodless Revolution” or “Kacaankii Barakaysnaa” and the end of the father of the 21 October 1969 Revolution, General Mohamed Siad Barre and the failure of the factions who forced the “Revolutionary Government” out of power and the hardship they caused to the people and the country is widely discussed in the book. The book also details the other missing Somali territories and Islands – the bone of contention between Somalia and its neighbours, particularly Ethiopia and Kenya.

The question of deployment of foreign forces in Somalia, particularly the objection of a large section of the Somali society to the inclusion of peacekeepers from frontline states which caused disagreement within the government institutions has been widely covered in the book.

Finally, at the end of the book, and before its biding, the dramatic events occurred in Somalia in early June of 2006. Unexpected as it was, the news of the victory of the Union of Islamic Courts over the despotic warlords, who held hostage the capital city of Mogadishu and some parts of the country, for over fifteen years, killing and maiming, looting and raping, caught the world on the wrong foot. As it was a very important and highly significant event, the author stopped the binding of the book and included a chapter as Postscript at the end of the book.

This is an ideal book for those who are interested in Somali history and particularly for the young generation in the country and abroad who are interested in learning the past and presents events of their motherland. It gives a glimpse of Somali history to whoever is interested in knowing about this turbulent corner of the continent of Africa and its people which so harshly suffered in the hands of both foreign and internal forces.

I sincerely believe that this book will be beneficial to those who will have time to read it. The author (Mohamed Osman Omar) tells me that a Somali version of the same book will be published very soon. Earlier books of Mohamed Osman Omar include: The Road to Zero – Somalia’s Self Destruction; SOMALIA: A Nation Driven to Despair; The Scramble in the Horn of Africa; and, SOMALIA Between Devils and Deep Sea. For further information about Somalia Past and Present, or any other of his books, please contact the author at: or


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