Italian Somalia before the World War Part II

By | December 15, 2021

The ItalianAbyssinian incident of Lugh and the battle of Baqallè. – In December 1907 the serious accident of Lugh occurred, caused by raids by Ethiopian troops, which had been sent against the again restless Mullah and had then ended up attacking and robbing tribes subject to the Berdale (near Lugh) wells. Italy. The captains Molinari and Bongiovanni having intervened with 200 men of Somali troops and 115 Eritrean askari to obtain the return of the booty by peaceful means, and having failed the negotiations, they decided to attack the Abyssinian forces although much superior in number. They got the worst of it and the officers and almost all the soldiers left their lives in the field (Baqallè, 15 December 1907). Negus Menelik was asked for immediate satisfaction. The negus recognized that the leaders had acted arbitrarily and, after a difficult negotiation, then concluded, on May 16, 1908, a treaty with Italy for the delimitation of the borders between Italian Somalia and Ethiopia. These had been roughly indicated by Dolo north-east to Uebi Scebeli, from here to English Somalia.

The Lugh incident gave rise to numerous interpellations to the Italian parliament, which reacted vigorously by approving the law of April 5, 1908 on the Italian Somali system. It was a vast program of works, however subordinated to an increase in military forces intended to guarantee the tranquility of the works themselves. To this end, Major Di Giorgio was appointed commander of the colonial troops of Somalia. For Somalia 2003, please check

The occupation of the lower Shebeli. – Reinforcements arrived from Eritrea and the recruitment of indigenous people brought the availability of armed men to over three thousand men. With these, Di Giorgio decided to operate in the lower Uebi Scebeli to the detriment of the Bimàl who had resumed their hostile activity, and also with the aim of taking over the region, key to the occupation plan that the government of Rome had by now established. to implement.

After having defeated the rebels in Mellét (11-12 July 1908) and having freed the encircled Merca, the small expeditionary force headed to Merca where Bimàl forces and Somali dervishes were concentrated in large numbers; he set fire to the village, chased the rebels for a good distance, occupied Afgoi on 2 September and the following day accepted, with a solemn ceremony, the submission of the Sultan of Gheledi and 5,000 of his soldiers. Leaving a company of Arab askari and a company of Eritrean askari in charge of Afgoi, Di Giorgio’s body returned the following day to Mogadishu, from where it moved again, following the order of the governor Carletti, to operate beyond the lower Scebeli. against large nuclei of Bimàl still wandering not far from Afgoi. The passage of the river was made in the night of 23 September; on the morning of the 24th a clash with the rebels took place in Araré, who were advancing in sparse formation. The square formation managed to disperse the opponents after half an hour of fire.

Towards the end of 1908 (22 and 27 November) the fights of Bulalò and Sengagle led by Major Rossi, who succeeded Di Giorgio, closed the operations for the possession of the Basso Scebeli. The Bimàl made an act of submission.

The Mullah resumes action. – While the Bimàl were sidelined, the hostilities of the Mullah became more and more aggressive, rekindled in the spring of 1908. The Mullah after the Ilig agreement had ceased to attack the Italians and the English directly, but in return it was dedicated to an intense clandestine policy of stirring up and arousing the various tribes. His apparent submissiveness, however, soon ended and the attacks, especially against the Italian and English proteges, were such and many as to force England to keep three battleships (Fox, Philomel and Diana) on a continuous cruise and to keep on war footing four thousand troops.

Excursions in Italian and British territory had given the fiery chief severe lessons. Both England and Italy provided support for the struggle. The British governor encouraged and helped the subject tribes to defend themselves; and effective sea bombardments were carried out in the Italian territory.

Meanwhile, in 1910 Giacomo de Martino was appointed governor of Italian Somalia, who – mainly assisted by Iacopo Gasparini – began an intense political action to prepare for the Italian occupation of the entire colony recognized by the treaties up to the Ethiopian border. This action had two aspects: an external one against the Mullah and the Mullah’s dervish movement (which led to the organization of the armies of the protected sultans of Obbia and the Migiurtini, who were soon able to put up a firm resistance to the dervishes beating them in bloody clashes) and an internal one, that is, the political empowerment of the Somali ethnic groups so that the ancestral organization of the tribe was able to resist the leveling action of the Mullah’s Muslim fanatic movement. In this way Italy was able to peacefully occupy the Middle Uebi region and the whole area between the Uebi and Juba from 1912 to 1914, closing, even in the south, every outlet to the dervish movement: this was a serious blow to the Mullah, all the more so because the areas of southern Italian Somalia soon became bases, from which armed bands left for daring forays into the territories still controlled by the Mullah. The essential contribution of Italy to the defeat of the Dervishes must be kept in mind. Meanwhile, the Mullah wanted to take advantage of the inexplicable relaxation of the English, who had left their colony unscathed, reduced to the garrison of a hundred indigenous armed men. The scanty troop was moving in a trap (August 1913) near Del Madoba, when the Mullah attacked and destroyed it.

Italian Somalia before the World War Part II