Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)


(British Somaliland + Italian Somalia)

Capital : Mogadishu

Size: 246 000 sq m Popn: 9 204 000


Muslim sultanates were formed from trading posts established along the Somali coast between the C7th and C12th and the nomads of the interior were converted to Islam. The British protectorate of Somaliland was established in 1884-7 and the Italian protectorate, Somalia, in 1889.

Muhammed Addilla Hassan (the Mad Mullah of Somaliland) instigated a major rebellion against colonial rule in 1899 and continued the resistance campaign until his death in 1921. After 1927, Italian Somalia became a colony and was incorporated into Italian East Africa in 1936. Italy occupied the country in 1940 and despite being defeated by the British who had military control from 1941-50, was granted a 10 year trustee-ship of her former colony by the UN.

In 1960 British Somaliland became independent and joined with the former Italian section to become the Somalia Democratic Republic with Aden Abdullah Osman as the first President. He was succeeded in 1967 by the leader of the Somali Youth League, Dr Abdirashid Ali Shermarke. The border with Ethiopia was doubtful due to the region being inhabited by nomads. All Somalis demanded self-determination although some had settled outside Somalia in Ogaden which was part of Ethiopia and in north-eastern Kenya. The dispute with Kenya led to the suspension of diplomatic relations with Britain from 1963-8.

Shermarke was assassinated when Major General Mohammad Siad Barré seized power in 1969. He suspended the constitution of 1960, dissolved the national assembly, banned political parties and formed a military government. In 1970, Somalia became a socialist state and the largely Western-orientated country turned to the Soviet block for aid but later expelled all Soviet advisors and withdrew military facilities. In 1976, the junta gave power to the newly formed SRSP and in 1979 a one-party state was formed. Barré increased his clan's influence and reduced that of his northern rival although he met with violent opposition.

In 1982, the Somali National Movement was formed but the government instituted oppressive counteractions and many thousands of civilians were killed or became refugees in Ethiopia. Despite surviving an army coup in 1987 and serious riots in 1989, Barré fled the capital in 1991 after intense Government/rebel fighting. Ali Mahdi Mohammed became president after discussion between various groups, a transitional government was established and free elections were promised. The secession of NE Somalia as the Simaliland Republic was agreed in May 1991 and a ceasefire between the four main rival factions was agreed in June but this had failed by September and more severe fighting broke out around Mogadishu. A serious famine in 1992 affected about a quarter of the population of 6 million and led to a huge US relief operation helped by other Western nations although this was held back by further political instability. The US Marines took control of Mogadishu airport and harbour in December and France and Italy also agreed to send troops. This led to the two dominant warlords, Ali Mahdi Mohammad and General Mohammaed Farah Aideed, both of the USC, agreeing to a truce.

The entirely Somali population had no written form of their language until Barré's 1972 decree that Somali would replace English, French and Italian as the official language and, despite the country being entirely Islamic, it is written in Roman Script.

Somali Names


Abdelahi Abdi Abdikarim Aberashid Adirizak Ali
Ayan Barre Dalmr Ghedi Hadji Jwahir
Kalif Korfa Labaan Mahdi Mohamed Nadif
Nuruddin Raxman Roble Sherif Shermarke Siad


Amina Aziza Deka Dekah Dekka Dolie
Fowsia Nadifa Naja Obax Rhaxma Walasma
Waris Zeinab        


Abdelrashid Barre Bile Dirie Farah Garane
Maalin Mattan Muhammed Shermarke    

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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