SOMALIA – Past & Present

Author : Mohamed Osman Omar

Year : 2007

SOMALIA Past & Present Chapter 5: Abyssinian Invasion and Occupation of Harrar

The Acting Consul for the Somali Coast, Captain Sealy reported on 10 July 1883 to the British Consul General in Cairo, Sir E.B. Melet, that Menelek of Shoa “is about to march on Harrar with 60,000 men.” This information was given to him by Abubakr Pasha of Zaila. One of his sons was in Shoa. Sealy said that he was not sure whether there was any truth in the news and asked for information on the subject and the cause of the threatened attack. Later, in August, Melet informed the Government that there was no foundation for the earlier report that King Menelek of Shoa was about to march on Harrar.
But the rumours regarding Menelek’s march did not die. Four years later, on 22 January 1887, Major Hunter, who was the official who had made the Somalis sign the Protectorate Treaties a year earlier, reported that Menelek of Shoa “was within three days’ march of Harrar, and that the Emir had gone out with all his force to fight the Abyssinians, who were to be accompanied by several Italians.”
Jebril Marijou, interpreter of Menelek, who had been in Zeyla for some days past, informed M. Estemios Moussaya that at the instigation of the French, the King was about to attack Harrar. In fact, the rumour was a screen behind which the real action was going on. An army of 15,000 men of which 5,000 were cavalry and reminder infantry and artillery were on the move to invade Harrar.
After invading and occupying Harrar, on 8 January (20 January 1887) Menelek wrote the following letter to the British Consul at Aden:
“From Menelek, King of Shoa and of all the Galla, good and bad,
“To the English Consul at Aden,
“How are you”
“By the Grace of God, I am well. Amir Abdillahi would suffer no Christian in his country.
“He was another “Gragne” but by the help of God I fought him, destroyed him and he escaped alone on horseback.
“I hoisted my flag in his capital and my troops, &c., occupied his city, Gragne died: Abdillahi was in our days his successor.
“This is not a Mussalman country as every one knows”.

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