The Somali of East Africa and Diaspora
Population: 16-20 million
Location: Somalis live in East Africa and around the world.
History: Somalis have lived in the Horn region of Africa for millennia. Rock painting found in Somaliland date back 5000 years. Somalia was part of the Silk Road- supplying frankincense, myrrh, and spices to Ancient Egypt and others.
Somali sailors were influenced by Muslim traders across the Red Sea in the early centuries of Islam. Somalis were among the first people to convert to Islam in Africa.
In the Middle Ages several powerful Somali empires dominated regional trade. In the late 19th century, they were able to repel colonial forces for 25 years, until the British used airplanes to bomb the capital in 1920.
The territory was eventually divided among colonial powers: French Somaliland, British Somaliland, Italian Somaliland.
British and Italian Somaliland gained their independence in 1960 and united as the Somali Republic. The Haud and Ogaden, traditionally occupied by Somalis, were ceded to Ethiopia by the British in 1948 and The Northern Frontier Distict, also Somali, was given to Kenya by the British in 1960.
French Somaliland gained its independence in 1977 and became The Republic of Djibouti.
In 1969 Mohamed Siad Barre led a military coup and established a socialistic state. He became an oppressive dictator. War with Ethiopia in the late 70s led to over one million displaced Somalis living in refugee camps in Somalia. Resistance movements against Barre began in the North in the late 80s. He responded ruthlessly- 50,000 people were killed between 1988 and 1989 in the North. Civil war broke out in 1991. 1 million people lost their homes in the war. Many hundreds of thousands fled to refugee camps or abroad. 350,000 people died of disease, starvation, or war. Barre was ousted as President, leaving a power vacuum and civil war continued for a decade.
A Transitional National Government was formed in 2000 with UN peace keepers support. A Transitional Federal Government was established in 2004- 2012. Al-Shabaab opposed the government and began attacking in 2007 to the present. The Federal Government of Somalia was established in 2012 and continues in power.
Culture: The name Somali is derived from the words ‘soo’ and ‘maal’ meaning “go and milk”. Many Somalis are pastoralists, caring for herds of camels, goats and sheep. Somalis love poetry and are known as a ‘Nation of Poets’.
Diaspora: Large populations of Somalis can be found in the UK, Europe, Canada, and the US.
Latest Prayer Updates:
At our weekly Bible study with class 8 students, eight Som** girls chose to remain in class and learn with the other students.
We were studying ‘Jesus is Lord and Saviour’. We had two passages to read and when I requested a volunteer, one of the Som.** girls volunteered and this brought a lot of cheer and clapping from the other students. There was more cheer and clapping at the end of her reading 20 verses and we could see she was encouraged and happy.
Please pray with us that God would open the hearts of these Som.** students to recognize Him as Lord and Saviour and the only true living God.
Also pray that God will bring them back to the next Bible study.
This week after class when the students left, I stayed behind to wrap-up. Within a few minutes, Is***, an old student, walked in as he saw the windows open and knew there was someone indoors. He said he was just passing by to say hello.
Then he surprised me when he asked about the number of chapters in the Bible, and then went on to discuss about some of the people found in our Book and their book. He then said that there is very little difference between our faiths (which is not true!) and that it is important to find the truth (which is true!).
I suggested that we should both get time to have a study of the Books. He agreed but mentioned that he is currently busy with college work. Pray we could study together.
Please pray that God will open doors for time and opportunity to study His Word with my friend and that his eyes and heart will respond to the truth of the gospel.