Mogadishu: Images from the Past

Kismayu, circa 1889

Posted in 1800 - 1900, Maps, X: Other locations by rickjdavies on 3 January, 2014

kISMAYUThe map comes from ” The Earth and its Inhabitants: Africa (South and East Africa)”, authored by Elisee Reclus and published by the D. Appleton and Company. 1889. Pages 407-409

KISMAYU-BRAVA.-MERKA.

“Kismayu,  or Kisimayau is the last  anchorage   on the  Somali coast, going  north­ eastwards   in  the   direction   of  Cape  Guardafui,  to  which  the   term   port  can  be applied.     But  even this place is little  used except  as a harbour  of  refuge,  so little developed is the movement  of exchanges  along this inhospitable  seaboard.    Nevertheless, Kismayu  is the  natural  outlet  of the  vast basin of  the Juba, which  reaches the  sea about  12 miles to the north-east.     In  1869 this  town did not yet exist,  but in that  year  some Somali emigrants   from  the   Upper   Juba   Valley,  and especially from the neighbourhood   of  Bardera,  or Bat  Tir, the  chief  market  of  the  interior, established   themselves   at  this  favourable  point   of  the   coast, and  opened  direct commercial  relations  with  Zanzibar.     Later  some  members  of  the  Mijurtin   tribe, the  most  energetic   traders   on  the whole  seaboard,  also settled  in the  same place, the  population  of  which  had  already  risen  to  eight   thousand   six  hundred   in  the year  1873.    At  that  time the  suzerainty  of the  Sultan  of Zanzibar was represented in  Kismayu   by  some  Arab   traders   and  a  small  Baluchi   garrison.     In   1870  a Marseilles   commercial house had hoisted  the  French  flag in this port,  but after  the battle  of Sedan the Sultan  of Zanzibar  hastened  to  reassert  his  authority   over the place.

Bardera   is  inhabited   by  Mohammedans,  who  if not  actually  Wahabites,   are fully  as  fanatical   as those  troublesome   sectaries.     They  neither   smoke  nor  take snuff, and  display  an  almost  rabid  zeal  in  their   efforts  to  enforce  their  peculiar views  on  the  surrounding    Somali  populations.     Hence  insurrections,   massacres, migrations.  of  tribes,  and  disorders  of  all sorts.    In  the  year   1845, the  town  of Bardera  was utterly  destroyed  by the  enraged  inhabitants   of the district,  who slew all   the   men   and   sold   the   women   and   children     into   bondage.       A few   fugitives, however,   contrived    to break   through    the  fiery  circle  closing   round   the  doomed   city, and  going   northwards     to the  Ganane  country,  founded  a town on the  left bank   of the Webi,  which  has flourished,  and is now a great  centre  of trade.     Bardera  also again  rose from its ashes, and with  it was revived  the old spirit  of religious  intolerance.    Here  were massacred  in  1865 the  two travellers  Link  and Von der Decken The  vessel  with   which   the   unfortunate    explorers   had  navigated   the  river, and which  the  natives  had  succeeded  in  recovering  from  the  rapids,  was till  recently used by them  as a ferry-boat  between  the two banks of the Juba”

The full text of the book is available online here (in a big .pdf file)

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