n Journal of Somali Studies : Research on Somalia and the Greater Horn of African Countries - The externally defined Somali national identity

Volume 1, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 2056-5674
  • E-ISSN: 2056-5682


The Somali political system is largely the product of the Italian colonial administration. There are few, if any, traces of the British system of government left in either the Somali system of governance or the country's political practice. From the very beginning, the Italian colonial vision of Somalia entailed dividing the society into two separate parts: nomadic pastoralists freely roving within and beyond the country's boundaries and sedentary agriculturalists who could eventually provide a servile labor-force for the colonial enterprise. This dubious categorization of Somali society was instituted by representatives of the eighteenth-century Omani Sultanate of Zanzibar in the Benadir region. The sultans of Zanzibar brought Somalia into the sphere of Indian Ocean slavery, which ultimately led to the enslavement of hundreds of thousands of indigenous Somalis and other Africans.

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