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Thwarting Ethiopia's Continuing Game Plan In The Horn

Issue 351
Front Page
News Headlines
USAID   Announces New   Emergency Food Aid   Contribution to   Somalia
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Over 100 Somalis Drown In The Gulf Of Aden After Smugglers Forced Them Overboard
NATO Agrees To Send Ships Vs Piracy - Diplomat
Somali Troops Free British Oil Worker; 1 Killed
UN Security Council Backs Force Against Pirates
Kenyan Lawmakers Urge Probe of Weapons Seized by Pirates
Navy Chief Wants Ships To Hit Back At Pirates
New ‘Mega-Projects' Announced as Gulf Markets Tumble
Recognizing Somaliland Will Help Security Of The Horn
International News
Former Finland President Wins Nobel Peace Prize
Obama Opens 5-Point Lead On McCain
Ex-President Carter Slams Bush On Market Crisis
G-7: 'Urgent Action' Needed
Features & Commentry
Written Answers From UK Parliament
South African Navy Ready To Tackle Somali Pirates
Hijacked Tanks 'For South Sudan '
Muslim World Precedent: Female To Perform Marriages
Thwarting Ethiopia's Continuing Game Plan In The Horn
The American Elephant Gored By The Horn Of Africa


The Kulmiye Wonderful Drama
Hargeysa Readers' Club: Time to appreciate


Introduction to Parts One and Two

Part 1 shows part of the first map of Africa ever made. It was engraved by Jacopo Gastaldi of Venice in 1564. The purpose of including this map is to show that Abyssinia, or Ethiopia as it is known to-day, did not extend its borders, as Ethiopia claimed latterly, to include access to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean . Let alone Ethiopian claims to parts of Somaliland , Kenya and Sudan (see letter enclosed addressed to Drysdale from the British Museum in 1962).

These territorial claims were known internationally following a Circular Letter sent by Emperor Memilik II to Heads of European States in 1891 (see map of boundaries and text of the Circular Letter).

Part 1 also includes the text of Emperor Haile Selassie's leaflets air-dropped in 1948 by the Royal Air Force for the people of Eritrea and Somalia (then known as Benadir). The Emperor maintained in the leaflets that he was ‘restoring the independence of my (sic) country … You were separated. from your mother, Ethiopia ', he wrote.

Part 2 of this essay, to be published in a week, continues to address Ethiopia 's territorial claims to ‘an extensive coastline along the Red Sea and Indian Ocean ', in a memorandum, this time, to the United Nations in 1948. The response was jointly submitted by the then Somali Youth League of Somalia and the Somali National League of the now Somaliland . It requested the United Nations Trusteeship Council ‘to decide questions relating to the formation, boundaries and administration of a Somali Trust Territory to be known as Somalia , this territory to consist of all areas at present predominantly populated by Somalis'.

A map showing these areas is included.

Part 2 also suggests that if Ethiopia still has an eye on territorial expansion to the coasts of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, Somalis should prepare to restore their pride again in the formation of a Greater Somalia, provided Somali-occupied territories were given their independent sovereign political status, as Somaliland now insists upon.

The essence of this proposal is outlined in Part 2 of this essay.

John Drysdale.




Thwarting Ethiopia 's Continuing Same-Plan in the Horn

Letter to John Drysdale from R.A. Skelton (1962) about Gastald's Map

1. Gastaldi's map of Africa, which served European cartographers as a prototype for nearly 200 years, was engraved at Venice in 1564, in 8 sheets, the mean scale being about 1-8,000,000. The first draft of the map may have been prepared by Gastaldi about 1550.

2. The east coast of Africa and the Red Sea coasts were well known to the Portuguese by this date; and Gastaldi's relatively accurate coastal outlines are undoubtedly copied from Portuguese charts, in which he could also have found the names of some kingdoms and settlements of the littoral. For the interior of North east Africa, Gastaldi—like all other cartographers before the Jesuit surveys in Ethiopia at the end of the 16 th century—had to base his representation almost entirely on textual sources.

3. These sources are known: they are the report of the Portuguese embassy to Ethiopia in 1520-26, written by Francisco Alvares and published at Lisbon in 1540, and Asia, Decada I, by the Portuguese chronicler Joao de Barros, published at Lisbon in 1552. Italian translations of both these works had been printed by Gastaldi's friend G. B. Ramusio in this Navegationi et Viaggi : Alvares in Vol. I (1550), Barros in Vol. II (1554).

4. For Ethiopia and the countries adjoining it, almost all Gastaldi's information came from Alvares' narrative, and it consequently relates to the years 1520-26, before the invasion of Ethiopia by Gran. The map has the defects to be expected in one compiled from textual data which include few reliable distances or bearings: thus Gastaldi extends Ethiopian place names as far south as the latitude of Mozambique . In his location of the states lying near to the coast, for which he had other controls, Gastaldi is however relatively correct.

5. Following the coastline on Gastaldi's map, from the mouth of the Red Sea by the horn of Africa to Malindi, we find the following names of territories:

The modern names corresponding to these are: (1) Danakil, (2) and (8) Ifat, (3) Bali, (4) Somali, (5) [Zingi], (6) Dawaro, (7) Mogadishu , (9) Fatagar, (10) Malindi. Apart from the transposition of Bali and Fatagar, the countries named are correctly placed on the map in relation to one another.

6. Gastaldi uses the term REGNO indiscriminately for provinces or states subject to the Crown of Ethiopia (e.g. “Xoa”, “Barnagasso”) and for those independent of it (e.g. “Quiloa”, “Melinde”). To determine the status and allegiance of the countries of the Somali littoral and hinterland in the period (1520-26) to which Gastaldi's map relates, it is necessary to refer to the text of Alvares, to which the map serves as a graphic index. From this, supplemented by other sources, it is clear that: --

(a) the kingdoms named by Gastaldi and listed above (para.5) were all Moslem;

(b) only one of them (Fatigar) was, at the time of Alvares' visit, a tributary of Ethiopia and lay within the effective boundaries of Lebna Dengel's kingdom;

(c) the largest of these kingdoms, Adel, had been engaged in intermittent warfare against Ethiopia since the early 14 th century and had invaded the country annually from about 1516. This demonstrates that Adel did not admit Ethiopian suzerainty. In this connection, “Adel” in the Ethiopian records may sometimes be used collectively to designate the Moslem states in general or a group or combination of them


Superintendent, Map Room,

British Museum .

® JohnDrysdale


(See text below)

CIRCULAR LETTER* sent by Emperor Menelek to Heads of European States in 1891†

Being desirous to make known to our friends the Powers (Sovereigns) of Europe the boundaries of Ethiopia , we have addressed also to you (your Majesty) the present letter.

These are the boundaries of Ethiopia :-

Starting from the Italian boundary of Arafale, which is situated on the sea, the line goes westward over the plain (Meda) of Gegra towards Mahio, Halai, Digsa and Gura up to Adibaro. From Adibaro to the junction of the Rivers Mareb and Arated.

From this point the line runs southward to the junction of the Atbara and Setit Rivers , where is situated the town known as Tomat.

From Tomat the frontier embraces the Province of Gedaref up to Karkoj on the Blue Nile . From Karkoj the line passes to the junction of the Sobat River with the White Nile . From thence the frontier follows the River Sobat, including the country of the Arbore, Gallas, and reaches Lake Samburu .

Towards the east are included within the frontier the country of the Borana Gallas and the Arrusi country up to the limits of the Somalis, including also the Province of Ogaden .

To the northward the line of frontier includes the Habr Awaz, the Gadabursi, and Esa Somalis, and reaches Ambos.

Leaving Ambos the line includes Lake Assal , the province of our ancient vassal Mohamed Anfari, skirts the coast of the sea, and rejoins Arafale.

While tracing to-day the actual boundaries of my Empire, I shall endeavor, if God gives me life and strength, to re-establish the ancient frontiers (tributaries) of Ethiopia up to Khartoum , and as far as Lake Nyanza with all the Gallas.

Ethiopia has been for fourteen centuries a Christian island in a sea of pagans. If powers at a distance come forward to partition Africa between them, I do not intend to be an indifferent spectator.

As the Almightly has protected Ethiopia up to this day, I have confidence He will continue to protect her, and increase her borders in the future. I am certain He will not suffer her to be divided among other Powers.

Formerly the boundary of Ethiopia was the sea. Having lacked strength sufficient, and having received no help from Christian Powers, our frontier on the sea coast fell into the power of the Mussulman.

At present we do not intend to regain our sea frontier by force, but we trust that the Christian Power, guided by our Savior, will restore to us our sea-coast line, at any rate, certain points on the coast.

Written at Addis Ababa , the 14 th Mazir, 1883 (10 th April 1891)

(Translated direct from the Amharic)

Addis Ababa , 4 th May, 1897

* Addressed to Britain , France , Germany , Italy and Russia .

† Public Records Office ( London ), Foreign Office 1/32 Rodd to Salisbury , No. 15, 4 th May, 1897.

Ethiopian Government Pamphlet is distributed By Air To Eritrea and Somalia

During the British advance in Eritrea , the Royal Air Force, at Emperor Haile Selassie's behest, showered leaflets over Eritrea with this Proclamation.22

‘Eritrean people and people of Benadir!23 You were separated from your mother, Ethiopia , and were put under the yoke of the enemy, and under the yoke of the enemy you still remain.

‘Our cruel enemies, the Italians, have taken your green and fertile land: they prevent you from ploughing it and from grazing your cattle on it.

‘But now the day has come when you will be saved from all the ignominy and hardship.

‘I have come to restore the independence of my country, including Eritrea and the Benadir, whose people will henceforth dwell under the shade of the Ethiopian flag.

‘In this struggle we are neither alone nor without arms. We have the help of Great Britain , therefore I summon you to strive to deliver yourself from the alien slavery….'

22 Quoted, together with a photographic copy of the Ethiopian National Flag ‘which appeared on the leaflets', by Miss Sylvia Pankhurst in a pamphlet entitled British Policy in Eastern Ethiopia, the Ogaden and the Reserved Area, Privately published (undated). See also Pankhurst, E. S. and K. P., Ethiopia and Eritrea , 1953, p. 23.

23 Benadir is a Somali Province with Mogadishu as its administrative center; but in this context, according to Miss Pankhurst, it purports to describe former Italian Somaliland


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