Somali Volunteers

(Somali Chiefs in Jubaland)

[The London Times, November 10, 1914]

We have received from a correspondent a copy of a petition signed by the principal Somali chiefs in Jubaland, praying that they may be allowed to fight for England. The terms of this interesting document are as follows:

To His Highness the Governor, Through the Hakim of Jubaland: Salaams, yea, many salaams, with God's mercy, blessing, and peace. After salaams,

We, the Somali of Jubaland, both Herti and Ogaden, comprising all the tribes and including the Maghavbul, but not including the Tulamuya Ogaden, who live in Biskaya and Tanaland and the Marehan, desire humbly to address you. In former days the Somali have fought against the Government. Even lately the Marehan have fought against the Government. Now we have heard that the German Government have declared war on the English Government. Behold, our "fitna" against the English Government is finished. As the monsoon wind drives the sandhills of our coast into new forms, so does this news of German evildoing drive our hearts and spears into the service of the English Government. The Jubaland Somali are with the English Government. Daily in our mosques we pray for the success of the English armies. Day is as night and night is as day with us until we hear that the English are victorious. God knows the right. He will help the right. We have heard that Indian askaris have been sent to fight for us in Europe. Humbly we ask why should not the Somali fight for England also? We beg the Government to allow our warriors to show their loyalty. In former days the Somali tribes made fitna against each other. Even now it is so; it is our custom; yet, with the Government against the Germans, we are as one, ourselves, our warriors, our women, and our children. By God it is so. By God it is so. By God it is so.

A few days ago many troops of the military left this country to eat up the Germans who have invaded our country in Africa. May God prosper them. Yet, O Hakim, with all humbleness we desire to beg of the Government to allow our sons and warriors to take part in this great war against the German evildoers. They are ready. They are eager. Grant them the boon. God and Mohammed are with us all.

If Government wish to take away all the troops and police from Jubaland, it is good. We pledge ourselves to act as true Government askaris until they return. We humbly beg that this our letter may be placed at the feet of our King and Emperor, who lives in England, in token of our loyalty and our prayers.

© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013

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