Somalia – The Problem Child?

​In September of 1977 Mesfin Wolde Mariam published "Somalia: The Problem Child of Africa", near the outset of the Ogaden War (which lasted from July 1977 to March 1978). As much as I respect Mesfin Wolde Mariam, this is a problematic book. Essentially, Mesfin challenges the claims that Somalis make with regard to their right of nationhood, some of which are valid. They are given no agency in the decision making process, history rather deems that their land must Ethiopian. The book is highly politicized and presents a highly biased Ethiopian perspective. For a person who is, at least in theory, arguing for the Somali region of Ethiopia to be included in the country, he speaks very poorly of the people and their livelihoods (e.g. p. 54-55). The 'problems' of Somali, as Mesfin describes them, are all external (Italian colonialism, British colonialism, apparent British inculcating of Somali nationalism). No mention is made of how Somalis in Ethiopia have been treated in Ethiopia, their lack of inclusion in the nation (except then they when needed), that they have been neglected from the state, and during many periods of history persecuted because of their faith. Instead, Mesfin tells us that the dreams of a Greater Somali are all of colonial origin and that Somali's have no claim to the Ethiopian Somali region. With reference to this historical moment, the book may be useful for those interested in Ethio-Somali relations, and specifically the rhetoric revolving around the Ogaden War.

The History of Ethiopian – Indian Relations
Fictions of Feminist Ethnography

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