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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Zeila::Ancient City in Somalia-Part_Last

Ottoman period

 Flag of Ottoman Zeila

Although nominally part of the Ottoman Empire since 1559, between 1821 to 1841, Muhammad Ali, Pasha of Egypt, came to control Yemen and the sahil, with Zeila included.After the Egyptians withdrew from the Yemeni seaboard in 1841, Haj Ali Shermerki, a successful and ambitious Somali merchant, purchased from them executive rights over Zeila. Shermerki's governorship had an instant effect on the city, as he maneuvered to monopolize as much of the regional trade as possible, with his sights set as far as Harar and the Ogaden. In 1845, Shermerki deployed a few matchlock men to wrest control of neighboring Berbera from that town's then feuding Somali authorities. This alarmed the Emir of Harar, who, having already been at loggerheads with Shermerki over fiscal matters, was concerned about the ramifications that these movements might ultimately have on his own city's commerce. The Emir consequently urged Berbera's leaders to reconcile and mount a resistance against Shermerki's troops. Shermerki was later succeeded as Governor of Zeila by Abu Bakr Pasha, a local Afar statesman.In 1874-75, the Egyptians obtained a firman from the Ottomans by which they secured claims over the city. At the same time, the Egyptians received British recognition of their nominal jurisdiction as far east as Cape Guardafui. In actuality, however, Egypt had little authority over the interior and their period of rule on the coast was brief, lasting only a few years (1870–84). When the Egyptian garrison in Harar was evacuated in 1885, Zeila became caught up in the competition between the Tadjoura-based French and the British for control of the strategic Gulf of Aden littoral. I.M. Lewis mentions that "by the end of 1885 Britain was preparing to resist an expected French landing at Zeila." However, the two powers decided instead to turn to negotiations.

British Somaliland

In 1888, the Ottoman Empire and Britain concluded an agreement defining the boundary between their respective protectorates. As a result, Zeila and its eastern neighbor Berbera came to be part of British Somaliland.
The construction of a railway from Djibouti to Addis Ababa in the late 19th century continued the neglect of Zeila.At the beginning of the next century, the city was described in the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica as having a "good sheltered anchorage much frequented by Arab sailing craft. However, heavy draught steamers are obliged to anchor a mile and a half from the shore. Small coasting boats lie off the pier and there is no difficulty in loading or discharging cargo. The water supply of the town is drawn from the wells of Takosha, about three miles distant; every morning camels, in charge of old Somali women and bearing goatskins filled with water, come into the town in picturesque procession. ... [Zeila's] imports, which reach Zaila chiefly via Aden, are mainly cotton goods, rice, jowaree, dates and silk; the exports, 90% of which are from Abyssinia, are principally coffee, skins, ivory, cattle, ghee and mother-of-pearl".

 

Present

In the post-independence period, Zeila was administered as part of the official Awdal region of Somalia.
Following the outbreak of the civil war in the early 1990s, much of the city's historic infrastructure was destroyed and many residents left the area. However, remittance funds sent by relatives abroad have contributed toward reconstruction of the town, as well as the local trade and fishing industries.

 Ruins of the Adal Sultanate in modern Zeila.

Demographics

As of 2012, Zeila had a population of around 8,600 inhabitants.The broader Zeila District has a total population of 28,235 residents.The Awdal region in which the city is situated is primarily inhabited by people from the Somali ethnic group, with the Gadabuursi- Makahiil especially well represented.

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