Somali Anti-Colonial Struggle and How July 1st Came To Be

This article summarizes Somali anti-colonial struggle and how July 1st came to be known as the National Day.

The Somali people are among the nations of the world who have long struggled to find a way out of foreign colonialism and to achieve freedom, unity and modern nation-building in Somalia.

July 1 is a national holiday celebrating the independence of the southern regions and the unification of the two northern and southern regions, and is a sign of the restoration of life independence and other developments halted by the powers colonialists who took control of the country.

In 1884, European colonialism launched a new strategy to divide African countries, especially in the Horn of Africa, and the Somali people became aware of foreign powers coming into the country to pursue their own interests in the form of modern colonialism.

As early as 1899, war broke out in Somalia, particularly in the northern regions controlled by the British, for 20 years, led by dervish forces led by Sayid Mohamed Abdille Hassan and some community leaders from the northern regions.

Also in the southern regions, there were wars with Italy at this time in many regions, such as Lafole, Marka and Mogadishu, and these wars became the start of the movement to drive the colonialists away.

In 1941-1949, liberation movements officially began in Somalia against the British who then controlled both northern and southern parts of the country, following Italy’s defeat in World War II.

These political movements were launched in 1943 by the Somali Youth Club, which in 1947 adopted the name SYL (Somali Youth League), and was able to briefly spread the idea of ​​independence to all parts of the country and to other areas inhabited by Somalis, such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti

Meanwhile, within the SNL (Somali National League) in the northern regions, the intellectuals of the organization, from the end of the 1940s, worked tirelessly against clan divisions and the unification of Somalia submitting a declaration calling for the unification of the “five Somalis” with the British administration.

In 1949, the SYL succeeded in submitting a memorandum to the United Nations on colonialism in Somalia, and on April 1, 1950, the transfer of control of the southern regions to Italy was approved to administer a 10-year period of accession to independence.

After Britain failed to retain control of all of Somali-populated territory, it chose to retain control of the northern regions. In 1955, they donated the Hawd region of Western Somalia to Ethiopia, and later in1960 the NFD territory to Kenya, and the border with French occupied Somali Coast (Djibouti) was signed off.

SNL and SYL, with the help of religious leaders, traditional chiefs, women, workers and educated people, succeeded in the years 1950-60, by continuing the dialogue between the organizations, in overthrowing colonialism and in achieve unity and solidarity in Somalia.

The most important agreements that led to the unification of the two northern and southern regions took place between 1956 and 1960, when the southern regions had local administration, while the northern regions had their own supervised local administration. .

It is a fact that many fighters including Ahmed Gurey, Sayid Mohamed Abdille Hassan, Mohamed Osman Dhagahtur, Hawa Taako and others sacrificed their lives and their property in order to free the nation from foreign colonialism who came to take advantage of the country’s natural resources. .

It was on June 26, 1960 that the northern regions were the first to hoist the blue flag with the white star, but it was on July 1 that not only the southern regions gained their independence but is the birth of a united Somali nation and the first state administration.

Therefore, July 1st is the greatest event in the golden pages of Somali history and the hearts of the people, which has led to the annual celebration of the independence days of the southern regions and the unification of the two regions of the south and the north, after the long struggle for independence and the rejection of colonialism.

As a sign of rebirth, the commemoration of July 1, after 25 years of neglect, received the honors of yesteryear, after a rehabilitation of historic monuments in memory of independence activists.

Undoubtedly, July 1st constitutes a reflection of the fruits of the collective political struggle waged by all segments of Somali society, especially the youth, who are the only force at any time to save the people.

The ambitious goals of the historic commemoration of national holidays are to expose the traces left by the heroes who played a major role in the quest for freedom, so that future generations can relive and know the efforts of their predecessors.

Given the difficult situation the country is going through these days and the country’s slow development following the Civil War, it is appropriate that young people and intellectuals mobilize to unify the country and restore Somalis’ lost confidence of Somalis in their institutions.

Omar Salad

Omar is an IT specialist based in Mogadishu.