Kismayu, circa 1889
“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)