Somalia Prehistory and History

By | December 15, 2021


From an ethnic point of view, apart from small minorities of Arabs, Bantu and others, the majority of the population is made up of Somalis (92%), a Cushitic-speaking ethnic group living in Somalia, in some regions of Kenya, Ethiopia and of Djibouti. In the 10th century. the Somalis converted to Islam calling themselves Sunnis. A series of migrations led them to settle in the current territories from which, in recent times and consequently to the persistence of the socio-political crisis, a migratory flow towards the Arabian peninsula in search of work has increased. ● The internal stratification of Somali society is very accentuated and is based on the distinction of rank between those (considered superior) who practice nomadic herding of camels, cattle and sheep and those who practice agriculture as their main form of livelihood (Southern Somalia), or those specializing in other professions: blacksmiths, hunters, craftsmen, fortune tellers and storytellers. The segmental model and the ubiquitous genealogical logic determine alliances and shape the relationships between different clans and tribes. At every level of the social organization, a council manages socio-political life. The offspring is patrilineal and, connected with marriage, the institutions of levirate and bride-price are contemplated. ● The diet is traditionally based on dura (farmers), milk (shepherds) and meat. The characteristic clothing consisted of a large cotton (marò) draped in various ways. The introduction of Islam influenced social customs and caused the disappearance. For Somalia political system, please check


The most ancient prehistoric testimonies refer to evolved forms of the Acheulean, present in the northern part of the country. More widespread is the so-called Northern Stillbayano, characterized by beautiful spikes, scrapers and denticulates. A late form of Stillbayano, called Magosian, is also known in the southern Somalia If these industries find points of comparison in other African countries, original aspects show the Doiano, with delicately pressure-worked artifacts. More recent are the microlithic industries, referring to the Wiltonian and Capsian, perhaps lasting in Somalia until the late Holocene.


The introduction of Islam

At the base of the history and origin of the populations living in Somalia are the relations with the Arabian peninsula, from where the founders of the great families or clans that make up the nation came in an unspecified period.Somali and the preachers who introduced Islam (11th-13th century). The national home of the Somalis was probably located on the coast of the Gulf of Aden, from where a great migration towards the south developed from the year 1000 to the plains of northern Kenya. The first city-states arose on the coast or in the immediate vicinity, to take advantage of the opportunity of trade over long distances. The events of the Muslim potentates constituted in the low coastal lands of the Horn of Africa, who fought against the Abyssinian empire, fall into Somali history. Starting from the 16th century, the movements of the Somalis forced the Galla population to migrate and occupy Ethiopia. From the 17th century. much of Benadir was incorporated into the possessions of the Sultanate of Oman, then in those of Zanzibar. With this last sultanate both Italy and Great Britain negotiated when they divided, together with France, the country of the Somalis.

Foreign occupations

The French presence in the region dates back nominally to 1859, with the occupation of the port of Obock, which was followed in 1884 by the establishment of the French Somali Coast (➔ Djibouti, Republic of). In 1885 Italy concluded a trade treaty with Zanzibar, followed by the protection treaties signed with the sultans of Obbia and Migiurtinia (1889). After the occupation of the village of el-Athale (1891), he rented the ports of Brava, Merca and Mogadishu (1892-93) from the sultan of Zanzibar. In 1894 Rome and London agreed to delimit their respective areas of influence; British penetration had begun in the same year with the occupation of the ports of Zeila, Berbera and Bulhar and led to the proclamation of Somaliland Protectorate in 1886. The British project to establish a colony capable of self-financing was prevented by the nationalist revolt of M. ‛Abdille Ḥasan (➔ Mad Mullah), which from 1899 and for about 20 years kept the Somalia Britannica and, partially, the Benadir in agitation with its dervish knights. ● In 1905 the government of Rome directly took over the management of its colony; in 1908 an approximate delimitation of the borders with Ethiopia was reached and the colony of Benadir was renamed Somalia Italiana. In the 1920s, fascism decisively promoted the so-called pacification of the territory, in practice its effective subjugation, which was followed by the settlement of settlers and the exploitation of the best lands for intensive cultivation; in 1925 the Italian possessions expanded with the acquisition of Oltregiuba from Great Britain and in 1936, after the conquest of Ethiopia, Somalia Italiana (to which Ogaden, inhabited by Somali populations had been united) became part ofItalian East Africa (➔ # 10132;). ● Defeat on the battlefield in 1941, with the Treaty of Paris of 1947 Italy lost its colony, subject to the military administration of Great Britain; not without some hesitation the latter returned the Ogaden to Ethiopia and tried to prevent the return of Italy to the region; nevertheless, in 1949 the UN assigned its former colony to Rome as a territory under trust for the period 1950-60.

Somalia Prehistory