HISTORY OF SOUTHWEST SOMALIA (SWS) OR (AZANIA)
Located at the juncture of the Arabian and
African tectonic plates, the Eastern (Great) Rift Valley, Southwest Somlia is
one of the oldest regions of the Horn of Africa. There are Paleoanthropological
excavations in SWS, where the most significant sites are in the Doi region such
as Buur Heybe “the mountain of the clay sand,” referring to the abundant clay
materials available in the area. Historically, Buur Heybe has been an important
political and religious center of the area. The oral tradition of the Doi belt
suggests the existence of pre-Islamic dynasties using Buur Heybe as their
Headquarters. In the 1930s, archaeologists found partial skeletons of
Australopithecus Afarensis in rock shelters, dating back to 3 million years
ago. The pre-historic aspect of Buur
Heybe is also evident in the history of pottery production in the region and
the survival of prehistoric form of hunting practiced by the Eyle (hunters with
dogs) even today.
The region had commercial ties with ancient
Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Persians, Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Indians and
Polynesians. Mesopotamians called it “Black land of Meluha,” and Egyptians
called it “the land of gods,” the Arabs named as “Bilad al-Zanj,” and the
Greeks referred as “SWS,” just to mention some. The navigational value of the
monsoon winds boosted the trade in the Indian Ocean particularly with the rise
of Islam. Azania ports of Mogadishu, Merca, Brawa and Lamu flourished. Muslims
of SWS established also some powerful hinterland states and emirates such as
Lug, Bali, Hadya and Harar just to mention some.
During the colonial times, the region
suffered from colonial partition. South of Juba River “Oltre Juba,” fall under
British and incorporated with Kenya where the Inter-riverine areas, between
Juba and Shabelle, went with Italy amalgamated with the Hawiya and Darood
territories of Hiran, Mudug and Mijurtinia, today Puntland. The northwestern
parts went with Ethiopia. Under these diverse colonial administrations, the
Reewing suffered a lot from colonial exploitation.
From independence to the fall of Mohamed
Siad Barre the region and its people started losing their historical identity.
Under the name of nationalism and homogeneity their culture eroded; their
languages were banned and they were marginalized. Their historical regions were
repartitioned and broken down into several regions to accommodate the Hawiye
and Darood expansion and migration. Out of resettlement schemes of 1973/74, new
regions were carved such as Gedo for Marehan, Middle Juba and Bakool for
Ogaden, Lower Juba for Harti. The historic Banadir was scrambled to become
Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle and Mogadishu for both Hawiye and Darood.
In March, 1995, in the midst of the Civil
War, the Reewing established their own autonomous state, the Reverine State,
with two houses; an elected house of representative presided by Dr. Hassan
Sheikh Ibrahim “Hassey,” and the House of elders chaired by Malak Mukhtar Malak
Hassan, the traditional Chief of Chiefs of the Reewing people. However, in
September 17, seven months later, this initiative was aborted and the Riverine
State was overthrown by Mohamed Farah Aideed. In 1997, the Somali Peace and
Reconciliation Conference, held at Sodere, Ethiopia recognized that, the
Reewing or Digil and Mirifle will have the same political claims as the Hawiye,
Darood and Dir in Somali governance. At Mbeghati, Kenya, in 2004, one of their
languages Af-Maay was acknowledged as another official Somali language.
SWS falls in six regions: Shibeely
(Shabelle), with capital Afgoy;Doi,
with capital Bur Hakaba; Dehy (Banadir), with capital Mogadishu; Jubba, with
capiatal Lug; Adybly (Adable), with capital Bardhera; and Gol, with capital
capital city of Azania is Baidoa.
MAJOR ECONOMIC RESOURCES
This include, agriculture resources such as
grain, corn, sesames, bananas, mango; diverse marine resources; livestock and
minerals i.e. gold and uranium.