Mohamoud Ali Shire

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Mohamoud Ali Shire
محمود علي شيري
Sultan of the Warsangeli[1]
Sultan Mohamoud Ali Shire 2.jpg
Portrait of Sultan Mohamoud Ali Shire from 1905.
BornLas Khorey, present-day Somalia
Died1960
Badhan, Somalia
ReligionIslam

Mohamoud Ali Shire (Somali: Maxamuud Cali Shiire, Arabic: محمود علي شري‎, Mahmoud bin Ali Shirreh Maxmud bin Cali Shire) was a Somali elder of the Warsangali clan.[2] He bore the title Sultan[1] (also referred to as Senior Akil) of the Warsangeli.[3] He was centered at Las-Khorey.[4]

Reign[edit]

Warsangali Sultanate[edit]

Mohamoud Ali Shire, born Mahmoud bin Ali Shirreh (Maxmud bin Cali Shire[5]), served as Sultan of the Warsangali clan during the late 19th century and early 20th century.[6]

The Warsangali Sultanate was established in the late thirteenth century by the Warsangali subclan of the Darod. Located on the northern coast of Somalia, it evolved out of a tribally based emirate, which adopted an Islamic state structure and identity. Various similar tribal sultanates existed on this littoral for a millenium. These entities were centered on global maritime trade, but they sometimes also extended their realm to the nomadic hinterland.[7]

Dervish State[edit]

Shire was the father-in-law of Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, the Somali religious and nationalist leader whose Dervish State fought a two-decade long war against British, Italian and Ethiopian forces.[5] Shire already had four wives of his own.[8] He sought to marry Hassan's daughter Faṭmah, offering a bride-price (yarad) of ten camels loaded with draperies and silk, but Hassan refused to give her hand in marriage to Shire.[9] The two leaders regularly engaged in trade and political intrigue.[6]

In 1886, Shire and other elders of the Warsangali clan signed a treaty with the British Empire establishing a protectorate in his territory. This came following other protectorate treaties signed by the British Empire and other Somali clans (Habar Awal, Gadabuursi, Habar Toljaala, Habar Gerhajis and Easa).[10] During the subsequent power struggle between Hassan's Dervishes and British forces, Shire decided to throw the Warsangali's lot with the former polity. In January 1908, his men opened fire on a British ship that was about to land on their littoral.[11] After a quarter of a century of holding British forces at bay, the Dervishes were finally defeated in 1920 as a direct consequence of Britain's new policy of aerial bombardment.[12]

Exile in the Seychelles[edit]

Soon after the Dervishes' defeat, the British Secretary of State sentenced Shire to exile in the Seychelles for a period of seven years.[6] The justification for his deportation was that Shire had exerted his own form of "native authority".[13] His "independent policy, strength and indifference to the powers surrounding him, including the British [had] vexed London and led to his arrest and deportation".[14] Shire was apprehended and transported by vessel to Berbera, from where he later attempted to escape on January 5, 1920. On May 3, 1920, on board the HMS Odin, Sultan Shire was delivered to British authorities in the Seychelles from their colony in Bombay, India.[6] At the time of his arrival on the Seychelles archipelago, a number of other prominent anti-imperialist leaders were also exiled there, including Sa'ad Zaghloul Pasha, the former Prime Minister of Egypt, with whom Sultan Shire would soon develop a rapport.[15]

Shire lived in a house in the Anse Etoile district on the island of Mahé, which sat on a path near the public road. The colonial government had leased the land from Charles Mederic Savy. Under the leasing agreement, the renting party was allowed to collect coconuts, gather water from the river, and keep poultry and pigs. Shire also had to check-in three times every day at the local police station across the street. Although the terms of Shire's deportation allowed him to bring a spouse, he spent most of his time in exile alone, without relatives or companions.[6]

Shire wrote a number of letters to the colonial governors of the Somaliland Protectorate and Seychelles, which appealed for his release.[16] These epistles were characterized by wilfulness, exaggeration and overstatement on Shire's part, serving to mask his resistance strategies.[17] In the first such hyperbolic letter, sent in 1922, Shire pleaded to the Governor of the Seychelles to allow him to return to his family:

As my Master, Excellency, listen to my poor voice and let me return home. I shall be happy to see my country under the protectorate of the English people, I ask no more to be considered as a Sultan, all my firearms and ammunition shall be for the English. I will be satisfied to be the most humble servant of the English nation; what I most desire is the pleasure to be amongst my family, my children and wife, and that is my only dream. Pardon I am asking, I promise to be obedient and respectful towards the English people, I would not like any more to be a Sultan, what I should like is to be under the orders of an Englishman. I swear to what I have stated above, I swear and swear again to it[dubious ][18]

Besides emphasising that he simply wanted to rejoin his wife and children and asserting that he did not wish to be Sultan, Shire swore that he had disavowed his earlier political beliefs and promised to recognise the authority of the British government. These assurances were ineffective.[16] Shire continued to ask for repatriation, but the colonial governors routinely turned down these requests.[17] In order to avoid engendering anti-colonial sentiments, the colonial government imposed edicts which censored letters that exiled individuals sent to their family and compatriots back home. Shire regularly found a way around these controls by utilizing Somali sailors as couriers, with one of these missives arriving in British Somaliland via Ceylon. He and other prominent exiles employed letter-writing as major non-violent political tools of communication, through which they were able to describe their time in exile beyond the Seychelles.[19]

In early 1928, Shire brought in a sixteen-year old Seychellois girl as his concubine,[8] a young woman of Indian origin that he had introduced into his living quarters on New Year's Day to attend to his needs.[16] The police officer in charge of political prisoners quickly removed the girl from the premises.[8] He was, however, dismayed by this state of affairs. Fiennes, who was responsible for Shire's safe custody, argued that the Sultan would be more placated if his wife were with him.[6] In an unusual move for a policeman, the officer later penned a letter in which he urged the Governor to reconsider, writing about Shire that: "This man is still young and full of life. It is a pity that he has been sent over here without one of his wives".[8] The protectorate governor rejected this suggestion on the grounds that keeping the Sultan in exile was already costing the authorities R.100 per month.[6] He also suggested that the Sultan could "secure the services of a boy who can be both cook and attendant if he wishes to do so at our expense". Shire was dissatisfied with this compromise, and petitioned instead for what he termed "a respectable woman".[8]

Return to Somaliland Protectorate[edit]

In May 1928, after some lobbying on Shire's behalf by the Governor Byrne, Shire's period of exile in the Seychelles came to an end. He was transported to Aden on board the ss Karapara.[16] Shire returned to Somaliland, promising unwavering loyalty to the government and future good behavior.[20] He still commanded the loyalty of his people. Gradually, Shire reached an accommodation with the British administration. The colonial authorities recognised the influence that he could exert over his clan, and his Sultan status was eventually restored.[16]

Shire was later featured on the cover of History Today, appearing in a 1960 issue of the monthly illustrated history magazine.[21]

In 1960, he died peacefully during his sleep.[22]

Honors[edit]

In 1944, Shire was awarded the King's Medal for Chiefs.[23]

He received further honors from the British Empire when he was presented with a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) during the 1953 Coronation Honours.[24] In his capacity as Senior Akil of the Warsangeli tribe, Shire was one of two individuals from the Somaliland Protectorate to be designated Honorary Members.[3] Queen Elizabeth II officially decorated Shire during a royal visit to Aden the following year, in 1954.[25]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sessional papers. Inventory control record 1, Volume 56. Great Britain Parliament, House of Commons. 1905. p. 42. Retrieved 24 February 2018. Osman Mahmud, Sultan of the Mijjertain, from Ali Yusuf, Sultan of Obbia, and from the Warsangeli Sultan[...] Sultan of the Warsangeli
    • Great Britain Parliament, House of Commons (1905). Parliamentary Papers: 1850-1908, Volume 56. H.M. Stationery Office. p. 42. Retrieved 24 February 2018. Osman Mahmud, Sultan of the Mijjertain, from Ali Yusuf, Sultan of Obbia, and from the Warsangeli Sultan[...] Sultan of the Warsangeli
  2. ^ Lewis, I. M. (1999). A Pastoral Democracy: A Study of Pastoralism and Politics Among the Northern Somali of the Horn of Africa. LIT Verlag Münster. pp. 204–205. ISBN 3825830845. Retrieved 4 March 2018. in the Protectorate, the Garaad of the Warsangeli, the most celebrated and strongest of northern Sultans
  3. ^ a b Great Britain Colonial Office (1953). Corona: The Journal of His Majesty's Colonial Service. H.M. Stationery Office. p. 246. Retrieved 17 February 2018. Senior Akil of the Warsangeli tribe
  4. ^ Africa, Volume 32. Istituto Italo-Africano. 1977. p. 360. Retrieved 23 February 2018. Mahamuud 'Aali Sire, the Sultan of the Warsangeli in Laas-qorai
  5. ^ a b Skelly, Joseph Morrison (2009). Political Islam from Muhammad to Ahmadinejad: Defenders, Detractors, and Definitions: Defenders, Detractors, and Definitions. ABC-CLIO. p. 98. ISBN 0313372241. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g McAteer, William (2008). To be a nation: being the third part of The history of Seychelles, 1920-1976. Pristine Books. pp. 37–38. ISBN 9993180920. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  7. ^ Ahmed, Abkar (2013). The Thistle and the Drone. Brookings Institution Press. p. 147. ISBN 0815723792. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d e Thomas, Athol (1968). Forgotten Eden: a view of the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean. Longmans. pp. 148–149. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  9. ^ Journal of the African Society, Volume 19. African Society. 1920. p. 222. Retrieved 15 February 2018. Sayyid Muḥammad ibn 'Abdallāh refused to give his daughter Faṭmah as wife to the son of 'Ali Šīré, Sultan of the Warsangali tribe. The latter had bespoken her, promising a "farad" of ten camels loaded with silk and draperies.
  10. ^ Omar, Mohamed Osman (2001). The scramble in the Horn of Africa: history of Somalia, 1827-1977. Somali Publications. p. 568. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  11. ^ Lewis, I. M. (2002). A modern history of the Somali: nation and state in the Horn of Africa. James Currey. p. 74. ISBN 0852554834. Retrieved 12 February 2018. The Warsangali clan within the British protectorate on the eastern coast who under their spirited leader Garad Mahamud 'Ali Shire had now decided to throw in their lot with the Dervishes and in Jan 1908, fired on a British dhow as it was landing on their coast.
  12. ^ Samatar, Said Sheikh (1982). Oral Poetry and Somali Nationalism. Cambridge University Press. pp. 131, 135. ISBN 0-521-23833-1.
  13. ^ Hunt, John Anthony (152). A general survey of the Somaliland Protectorate 1944-1950. John Anthony Hunt. p. 152. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  14. ^ Kothari, Uma (June 2012). "Contesting colonial rule: Politics of exile in the Indian Ocean Author links open overlay panel". Geoforum. 43 (4): 701–702. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2011.07.012. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  15. ^ McAteer, William (2008). To be a nation: being the third part of The history of Seychelles, 1920-1976. Pristine Books. p. 37. ISBN 9993180920. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  16. ^ a b c d e McAteer, William (2008). To be a nation: being the third part of The history of Seychelles, 1920-1976. Pristine Books. pp. 40–41. ISBN 9993180920. Retrieved 13 February 2018. he still had a loyal people and, as is so often the way with those who at first rebel, Shirreh gradually reached an accommodation with the British. They recognised the influence he could exert over the Warsangali, and his status of Sultan was eventually restored.
  17. ^ a b Kothari, Uma (June 2012). "Contesting colonial rule: Politics of exile in the Indian Ocean Author links open overlay panel". Geoforum. 43 (4): 704. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2011.07.012. Retrieved 13 February 2018. Shirreh, similarly persisted in his requests to be repatriated but was repeatedly refused[...] In these letters, ‘wilfulness, exaggeration and overstatement’ (Said, 1993) were characteristics of being in exile and constituted covert strategies of resistance.
  18. ^ Thomas, Athol (1968). Forgotten Eden: a view of the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean. Longmans. p. 148. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  19. ^ Kothari, Uma (June 2012). "Contesting colonial rule: Politics of exile in the Indian Ocean Author links open overlay panel". Geoforum. 43 (4): 704–705. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2011.07.012. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  20. ^ Millman, Brock (2013-12-04). British Somaliland: An Administrative History, 1920-1960. Routledge. ISBN 9781317975441.
  21. ^ History Today. 1960. p. 513. Retrieved 14 February 2018. Sultan of the Warsangeli tribe
  22. ^ McAteer, William (2008). To be a nation: being the third part of The history of Seychelles, 1920-1976. Pristine Books. p. 41. ISBN 9993180920. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  23. ^ Millman, Brock (2013). British Somaliland: An Administrative History, 1920-1960. Routledge. p. 131. ISBN 9781317975441. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  24. ^ Noel Anthony Scawen Lytton Lytton (4th Earl of) (1966). The Stolen Desert: A Study of Uhuru in North East Africa. Macdonald & Co. p. vii. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  25. ^ McAteer, William (2008). To be a nation: being the third part of The history of Seychelles, 1920-1976. Pristine Books. p. 41. ISBN 9993180920. Retrieved 9 February 2018.

External links[edit]