African Journal of
History and Culture

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Hist. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6672
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJHC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 168


Why Somalis cried at President Nasser's death

Enas Fares Yehia
  • Enas Fares Yehia
  • Tourist Guidance Department, Faculty of Tourism and Hotels, Minia University, Egypt.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 26 July 2016
  •  Accepted: 24 August 2016
  •  Published: 31 August 2016


African unity was one of the most important matters discussed during the fifties and sixties. The Egyptian President, Nasser had a great role in this matter, by his support for the liberal movements in Africa, including Somalia. There have been commercial relations between Egypt and Somalia since ancient times. The relationship between the two countries continued until recent days. The most important phase of the relationship between Egypt and Somalia was during Nasser's era in which Egypt’s role as a member of the United Nations Advisory Council in Somalia began. After the death of President Nasser, the Somalis declared mourning in their country, because Nasser affected their lives widely. They regarded Nasser as their favourite hero. This article discusses the reasons why they love Nasser this way and whether he deserved their trust or not. Nowadays, Egypt seeks to return to leadership in Africa, so it is important to reveal her role in supporting African countries.

Key words: Africa, Egypt, Nasser, Somalia.


Throughout Egyptian history, power and charisma have often gone together; such was the case with Nasser. Nasser was a son of a humble postman from often underprivileged Upper Egypt, this made him close to the Egyptian poor, and gave him a popular appeal which few other leaders down through Arab history have possessed. Nasser was respected even by his enemies, and many of the Egyptians loved him.

Nasser's funeral was the greatest in Egypt's modern history, more than five millions lined in all Egypt's streets crying. In this funeral ever witnessed all over the world, the Egyptians asked in the funeral "who will lead us Gamal". It is an easy matter to know why the Egyptians cried in this way, he gave them the gift of independence from Great Britain who occupied Egypt from 1882, he generated both the economic and social changes, and he was close to the poor in Egypt. He was a unique leader in Egypt's Modern history.

It is impressive to know that, not only the Egyptians and the Arabs who were affected by Nasser's death, but also the Somalis. The scene began in Somalia, the news ofthe death of President Nasser, struck Mogadishu as a bitter blow, and following an extraordinary meeting of the Revolutionary Council, various steps were taken to express the sorrow of General Siad (chairman of the Somali Revolutionary Command Council) and his colleagues, to arrange for suitable mourning in the Mogadishu. General Siad left for Cairo to attend the funeral. A message sent by the president of Somalia to the vice-president of Egypt, which expressed the general attitude of the administration, read as follows:

68 "With the death of Nasser, a great figure disappeared sincere leader of the U.A.R., of the African world and the progressive forces, and a fighter for Arab unity. Somalia lost also a powerful and sincere friend, and an ally in faith and in principles. Also, the Third World lost one of its strong supporters of the desirability of equilibrium between the blocs and the maintenance of peace in the world (FCO 31/665, 29 September 1970) (Jacke, 1997). 

The words of this letter reflect the position of Nasser in the hearts of the Somalis. They described him as their powerful and sincere friend. Said also went to Egypt to attend President Nasser's funeral. Nasser was the only Egyptian leader the Somalis cried for. This presented an important question of exactly why Nasser and what he presented to them to them cry this way, it is important to know here, the nature of the relationship between both Egypt and Somalia during Nasser's years, to reach the answer.

Somalia-Egypt relations started from ancient times, when Queen Hatshepsut sent her famous expedition to the land of Punt to bring back incense, wood, and ivory. This famous expedition decorated her famous temple El Dier El Bahary at Luxor. The Somali Punt was so important for the Ancient Egyptians because of its luxury goods; it was no threat to Egypt. Punt was one of the few areas which had commercial relations with Ancient Egypt. Despite its luxury goods, Egypt never considered invading it.In modern Egypt, Mohamed Ali extended his position in Asia, but he was stopped by the Europeans, so his son Ibrahim Pasha said the future of Egypt was in Africa. Khedive Ismail started his expansion policy in Africa. He sent many missions to discover the African countries. To discuss the results of these missions, he founded the Khedival Geographical Society. Its first mission to Somalia was in 1875. Mekillop, the British officer was appointed by the Khedive as head of this mission, which discovered the area and its products, such as ivory, gum, ostrich feathers and sheep (Abd El Aleem, 1999). The Egyptian missions to Somalia increased its trade due to safeguarding its roads, and caring for breeding sheep (Sabri, 1939).

Egypt's ties with the Horn of Africa largely collapsed after the fall of Khedive Ismail, as Egypt was colonized by the British and Somalia was carved up among several European powers. During Nasser's era, the best of Egypt’s relations among all the African countries were its relations with Somalia. Somalia lay within three circles described by Nasser in his philosophy of the revolution: Arab, Muslim and African. The Egyptian government faced problems with the French Union countries, fourteen countries which had been French colonies but which were then independent. The same was the case with the Commonwealth countries which had been British colonies before independence, like Nigeria, where the Jewish community had great influence, after Nigerian independence, it fit in with Israel's attempts to woo newly independent African countries south of the Sahara as a way to counter Arab hostility. The only African countries which had good relations with Egypt were Mali and Somalia. Regarding Mali, it left the French community in 1960 because it wanted to follow policies more independent of France, its former colonizer.

Somalia was the first African country that Nasser cared about. This was not only because of Somalia’s strategic location facing Aden’s port, but also because of Egypt's responsibility towards Somalia as Egypt was a member of the United Nations Advisory Council in Somalia (Fayek, 1984, p. 33).. Somalia was one of the territories which were put under the guardianship of the United Nations and Italy. The United Nations formed a board as a governing body for Somalia in 1950. 

In colonial times, Somalia had fallen victim to a struggle among several European powers, the most dangerous of these was the Italian. Italy acquired a colony in southern Somalia by reaching an agreement with the Sultan of Zanzibar who had nominal suzerainty over the coastal towns in this area (Abdi Sheik, 1977). The second colonial power in Somalia was Great Britain, which occupied part of Somali lands, known as British Somalia. In 1885, a British protectorate was established on the northern Somali coast, and the late nineteenth century saw the creation of a colony in what had come to be known as French Somaliland. (Njoku, 2013). The fourth power in Somalia was Ethiopia which was seeking annexation of the region; actually Ethiopia annexed the Ojaden province. With the withdrawal of Egyptian and Turkish forces from northern Somalia, Ethiopia occupied the inland Islamic centre of Harar in I887 (Al Asfhany, 1978). and thus formally entered the colonial scramble for Africa. The multiparty system which appeared in Somali - the parties reached twenty two by 1954- helped these powers form supportive sectors (Reyner, 1960).

Thus, partition by France, Britain, Italy and Ethiopia divided Somalia into five separate units: French Somalia, Ethiopian Haud and Ogaden, British Somalia, Italian Somalia, and the northern region of Kenya (Lewis, 1967). After the defeat of Mussolini's regime in World War II, on 16 April 1946, the United Nations General Assembly started discussing the Somalia problem. Given the density of Italian colonies there, there were many suggestions concerning this matter. Finally, they reached a decision to put Somalia under Italian guardianship in 1950, with these important terms (Abde Youssef, 2006).

1. Somalia is an independent country; this independence will be effective in ten years.

2. During these years, Somalia will be put under an international guardianship.

3. An advisory council will help Italy, comprising Egypt, Colombia, and the Philippines, to supervise the administrative system in Somalia, and to ensure that leading the country to independence would end in 1960.

4. The advisory council will negotiate with the rulers concerning the guardianship treaty project, and present it to the general assembly.

The choice of Columbia, the Philippines and Egypt is interesting, Columbia presumably to represent South America, the Philippines Asia and finally Egypt for the Middle East and Africa. Neither Columbia nor the Philippines would have had any obvious interests in Somalia, whereas Egypt clearly would and did.

Article three of the Trusteeship Agreement stated that the authority charged with the administration of Somalia had to encourage the development of political institutions, promoting the evolution of the Somalis towards independence (Tripodi, 1999). The role of the Advisory Council was to observe the situation, and present comments to the rulers to achieve independence. It was to be informed by the Administrating Authority on all matters relating to political, economic, social and educational advancements, of Somalia. Under Article 8, the Administrating Authority had to seek the advice of the Advisory Council on all measures envisaged for the inauguration, development and subsequent establishment of full self-government. The centre of the council was in Mogadishu to be close to life of the territory, and to prepare the Somalis for the new responsibility (Trusteeship, Agreement for the Territory of Somaliland under Italian Administration, 1950). Although, the Advisory Council had only consultative powers, it represented a guarantee for the Somalis. The relationship between the Italian administration and the Advisory Council remained good for the entire decade, and only occasionally did differences emerge between the Egyptian members of the Advisory Council and the administration (Tripodi, 1999).

Here appeared the first point in which the Somalis are affected by Nasser. Before the outbreak of the July 1952 revolution in Egypt, the Egyptian role in the Advisory Council was limited. Egypt's position in Somalia changed completely after the 1952 revolution. Nasser decided to bear his responsibility in Somalia, took advantage of the existence of the Egyptian deputy on the board, and started to fight to protect the national movement there. In fact, Nasser was motivated by securing Egypt's strategy which aims to fight the colonial activities in Africa, and opening an economic cooperation with all the African countries, which is a part of his policy to fight colonialism in the Arab and Asian worlds as well, as shown by his leadership in the Non-Aligned Movement. He gave political advice, and helped the Somalis to counter resistance exercises which aimed to delay the handover of power to the nationalists. The supportive party of Egypt in Somalia was the Youth Unit Somali Party. Nasser supported the ideas of this party, but did not deny the other political parties in Somalia, the religious leaders, and the sheep merchants who formed an effective centre of people’s influence.

Nasser asked Naguib as the leader of the revolutionary command council, to concentrate on the future of the Somalis. This led the Somalis to send a letter to Mohamed Naguib, the first Egyptian president, demanding Egyptian support on the Council in order to achieve the expected independence. In this letter also, the Somalis asked to transfer the guardianship to Egypt in the case of a prolonged period of guardianship (Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Documents, 6 July 1953). Actually, their words reflect their trust in Egypt's ability to achieve their independence. It was Nasser's suggestion to strengthen the role of Egypt in the Council, the government appointed Kamal Al Din Salah as a delegate to the Council, and this was a turning point in Egypt's role towards Somalia. He was the most active Egyptian delegate on the Council, and was aware of his responsibility in this phase. He presented a note to the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, demanding establish an Egyptian consulate in Somalia, which would, in turn, bring a lot of benefits for Egypt's role in the region (Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Documents, 22 July 1954). At this time, Italy was slowing down the procedures of handing authority to the Somalis, preventing them from forming an administration, and parliamentary representation. The Italians neglected the Arabic language, and sent missionary missions to spread the Italian language in Somalia. Nasser asked the Egyptian delegate in Somalia to concentrate on his duty, and prepare the Somalis for independence.

Here, Nasser gave his orders to the Egyptian delegate in Somalia, to stop the Italian trials by all means. These news reached the Somalis who in turn sent many appreciation letters for Nasser because of his stance towards their independence. Nasser confirmed to them that he would never leave them before getting their independence, not only this, but also he would help them in preparing their country for the new phase after independence. They were sure of his ability to help them; they trusted him a great deal Figure 1.

By this, it clearly appeared that Nasser supported the Somalis reaching independence. He took advantage of the existence of Egypt on the Advisory Council, and started to fight to achieve complete independence for Somalia by the determined date. He succeeded in the matter, as Somalia got her independence in 1960 at the end of the ten years. The former Italian and British Somaliland were united to form independent Somalia, but that French Somaliland (later Djibouti) voted to stay with France.

Nasser supported Somalia to get her independence, as he saw that the independence of the African countries, included Somalia, was so important and consolidate Egypt's independence, so he did his best in the matter. The next point in which Nasser appeared in the Somali's life, was his role in the problem of border disputes between Somalia and Ethiopia. Encouragement for Somali separatists in Ethiopia and Kenya was broadcasted by Radio Cairo in its Somali language programmes (Touval, 1999). Actually, Ethiopia and Somalia have been rivals throughout their history, and Ethiopian interventions in Somalia have been common in the past and have caused many wars. Somalis have traditionally viewed Ethiopia as an expansionist colonial power (Scheuer, 2008). For Nasser however, Ethiopia was part of his African circle, particularly after the oriental disconnection of 1959 (Erlich, 2002). Nasser's African circle was no less a revolutionary sphere than his Arab circle. Nasser's Africa was to be a major theatre for his anti-colonial, anti-western and anti-Israeli visions. Nasser supported Somali claims to land held by Ethiopia, supplying arms to Somali fighters. However, his desire to play a role in the newly formed organisation of African unity led him to moderate his position in Ethiopia.

In December 1950, the United Nations General Assembly indicated that this point would be resolved by negotiations between the two sides. In the case of failure of these negotiations, a mediator from the United Nations would participate in the matter. In December 1954, the United Nations General Assembly issued a decree that, in the case of the failure of the negotiations until July 1955, they should resort to arbitration. When this problem was discussed in front of the advisory council in 1955, the Egyptian delegate emphasised the danger of this solution. He put forward an alternative solution, that involved looking at the borders of 1935.  Ethiopia should have the right to have its land, as it was before this date, but it was not logical to obtain lands with a different language, religion, and beliefs, so he advised using self-determination for the inhabitants of these regions. (Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Documents, 10 September 1955).

During the tenth meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in December 1955, the Egyptian delegate to the Advisory Council sent a note to the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, demanding the Egyptian delegation in the United Nations resist any project aimed at solving the border problem between Ethiopia and Somalia on the basis of the temporary border line which was put in place by Great Britain, and pointing out that the problem should be solved according to the previous borders of 1935, which means before the Italian occupation of Ethiopia. He pointed out the importance of Somali participation in solving the problem (Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Documents, 2 October 1955).

As a result, orders were issued from Nasser to the members of the Egyptian delegation to the United Nations, to block any project aimed at solving this problem on a basis inconsistent with the Somali borders of1935 (Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Documents, 22 October 1955).

The Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs also sent a note to the Arab League in 1955 in an attempt to solve the border problem. Mohamed Hafez Ghanem, the permanent Egyptian representative in the United Nations noticed that there was no progress in this matter, despite the suggestions presented by the Advisory Council (Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Documents, November 1955). Nasser sent a mission to Somalia to find a solution to the border problem between Ethiopia and Somalia. This mission was formed of technicians who studied the case in great detail, and presented a report to Nasser of the result of their discussions in Somalia (Al Ahram Newspaper, 25 September 1961). Nasser insisted on solving the border problem for the Somalis, as he considered that it was their right. The Somalis realized that Nasser was the one who helped them in the matter.

The third point, Nasser's support for nationalists in Somalia. The nationalists in Somalia trusted Nasser and respected him after his victory in the Nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956, it meant a lot for all the African countries. In 1957, the Democratic Somali Party merged with the Somali Youth Party. In 1958, a new party appeared, The Great Somalia Union Party, under the leadership of Al Hajj Mohamed Hussein, this party was known by its leanings towards Egypt, which appeared clearly in the meetings held between Al Hajj Mohamed Hussein and the Egyptian delegate in Mogadishu. (Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Documents, 22 January 1959). Nasser’s support was for Somali independence only, not for any of the political parties there, this appeared clearly following a demand, presented by Mohamed Hussein to the Egyptian delegate, to support him in the elections. Nasser said that" it would be better for him to lose the elections, and not expose the independence of Somalia to danger" (Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Documents, 27 January 1959). The Egyptian delegate to the Advisory Council sent a note to the Egyptian government in which he demanded the delay of the constitution until after independence, as only Somalia had the right to put their constitution in place, not Italy (Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Documents, 28 April 1959).

The fourth point, culturally, Nasser accepted all Salah Al Din’s suggestions: presenting Arabic films which explored important matters in agriculture, health and society, to help the Somalis in solving their problems; building a mosque in Mogadishu, which would of course support Egypt's position in Somalia; and sending medical help to the Somalis. It is worth mentioning here that the Egyptian delegate to the Advisory Council received a letter from the director of the Advisory Council in Somalia on 18 February 1956, asking him to send the Egyptian cotton experiment of Mohamed Safi Al Din Al Marashle to Somali (Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Documents, 18 February 1956). Before independence, the Somali office in Cairo served as a political platform for Somali exiles. Cairo Radio supported the cause of Somali nationalism (Yitzhak, 1960, p.549).

Nasser gave orders to spread the Arabic language in Somalia; he sent about 25 Egyptian teachers to Somalia as well as eight teachers from Al Azhar. Actually, this was not an easy matter for the Egyptian government, as the Italian administration in Somalia put many obstacles in the way of these scientific missions. So, the Egyptian delegate asked Nasser to put pressures on Italy to prevent it from spreading Latin, alphabet instead of Arabic one. (Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Documents, 2 November 1955). Emphasising Nasser's role in Somalia, he also accepted about 150 Somali students to lean at various Egyptian institutions, without any fees. This act affected the Somalis widely, they saw in this situation that Nasser was keen about their future, and he was nearer to them than their leaders.

Concerning Nasser's philosophy in this matter, he saw the importance of Education in Africa, who were prevented from it because they were Muslims, he felt that this is Egypt's responsibility as it is the oldest Islamic country in Africa, and it is the utmost country which could present such aid, this may explain the reasons for Azhar development during Nasser's years.

The Somali Minister of Information, Ali Mohamed Hirave visited Cairo in November 1960, and concluded an agreement on exchange visits and the exchange of radio programmes in all fields. (Yitzhak, 1960, p. 551). Then, Nasser promised that Egypt would assist the Somalis to establish new schools, cultural institutions, and religious centres under the supervision of Al Azhar University (Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Documents, 14 July 1960). Many scientific missions were sent to Somalia. Firstly, an Egyptian cultural missionary visited cultural institutions in Mogadishu and Hargeisa. One of the members of this mission was the chairman of Al Azhar who decided to leave in Somalia, a number of teachers of Arabic. Another missionary was sent from the Egyptian Ministry of Education to celebrate the opening of the first secondary school in Somalia by Egyptian hands. (Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Documents, 23 August 1960).

In 1961, the Somali Minister of Education visited Cairo, and signed an agreement with these terms: strengthen cultural association between the two countries, technical assistance to Somali schools and institutions, setting up Egyptian cultural centres in Somali, exchange visits, publications and books, and scholarships for Somali students inside Egyptian institutions (Al Ahram Newspaper, 2 January 1961). In an important report by Kamal Al Din Salah, he was astonished by the Somali's love for Nasser, and their trust in Nasser's ability to solve their problems. Before this, he explained the importance of Somalia to Egypt, as it is close to the Nile headwaters, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda (Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Documents, 2 May 1955). He added in his report that, Somalia is not a poor country, but it is rich, it just needs experiments to help them get the benefit from their resources Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Documents, 10 September 1955).

The increasing Nasser's role in Somalia was not satisfactory for some inside Somalia, or even outside it. The New York Times newspaper wrote "the Somalis demanded the United Nations stop Egypt when alone" (New York Times Newspaper, 13 June 1956). It seems that the newspaper wanted to denigrate Egypt's role in Somalia, and present a distortion of it in front of the international public. An important incident happened in Somali in 1957, the murder of the Egyptian representative in Somalia, Kamal Al Din Salah, who was one of the best Egyptian diplomats. The Italians were accused in this matter, although a Somali person called Mohammed Sheikh Abd El Rahman was the murderer. As a result of this incident, Nasser asked Mohammed Fayek, the Director of African Affairs in Egypt, to travel to Mogadishu to investigate the matter. Because of his activities there, the Italian administration demanded his departure within 48 h. Nasser answered significantly, saying, "the Italian ambassador can consider himself out of Cairo immediately, in the case of the exile of the Egyptian delegate from Mogadishu". So, Italy changed her decision concerning the exile of Mohamed Fayek (Roz El Youssef Newspaper, 16 February 1976). This of course consolidated Egypt's position in Somalia and increased the popularity of Nasser there. 

Nasser decided to support the Egyptian mission in Somalia, and increase the number of the Egyptians inside the Consulate. This meant that the Italians did not achieve their aim in this incident which was to exclude the Egyptians from Somalia. Nasser was wise in this matter, and he appointed a new representative in Somalia, Mohamed Hussein El Zayat, who worked there with the same enthusiasm as his predecessor. It is worth mentioning here, that the Somali students issued a decree accusing the Italians of this incident, and described the incident as a blow for the Somalis in this phase. This indicated the important role of the Egyptian delegate who affected the Somalis a great deal.

This means that Nasser insisted on forming the nucleus of Somali culture, and presented all facilities and offers help to the Somalis in the matter. He was sure of the ability of the Somalis to build their new country, with a little aid in the matter. It was clear now that the Somalis found Nasser beside them in realty and not just by words.

The fifth point is Nasser's role in forming the Somali army.  Egypt  was  training   the   Somali   army.  Somalia wanted weapons for her army, and Al Sharmaky went to many European countries to get weapons, but he failed in this matter, as buying weapons is a political matter and not just a market product. Al Sharmaky on his return stopped in Cairo, he discussed the matter with Nasser. Speaking of this meeting with Nasser, he said it was a turning point in Somali history, as Nasser not only gave them weapons, but also decided to share Egyptian weapons with Somalia. From this point, Nasser became the favourite hero of the Somalis (Roz El Youssef Newspaper, 16 February 1976). Figure 2.

It is worth mentioning that after the outbreak of the Somali revolution, under the leadership of Siad Barre, a large number of the Revolutionary Command Council officers were trained in Egypt. The Somali revolutionists declared that their revolution was the legitimate daughter of the Egyptian revolution. Nasser's military revolution provided a powerful example for Barre, as well as several

Arab states to follow. In September 1960, the first Somali graduate of the Egyptian military college returned to Somalia to join the Somali army. Then several Somalis arrived Cairo on Egyptian scholarships to join both the military college and the air college (Yitzhak, 1960, p. 550). Figure 3.

Then Nasser presented light arms for 5,000 soldiers to Somalia, along with armoured cars, and two aircraft to be the base of the Somali air force. The astonishing thing here is that Nasser gives these weapons as a gift from Egypt to Somalia (Al Ahram Newspaper, 15 December 1960). So, the Somali Minister of Defence said that Egypt, with its hero Nasser, gave great support to Somalia (Akhbar Al Youm Newspaper, 6 May 1961). After Somali independence, Nasser's support was reconfirmed by the extension of military aid, as he continued to supply arms to the Somali Republic. Nasser saw from his experience, that any country have the right to obtain weapons which achieved its safety, so he did not hesitate in helping many African countries which were prevented from having weapons when fighting to get its independence. The Soviets arms deal to Nasser in 1955 helped him a lot in this matter. 

The sixth point was Nasser's role in supporting Somali's economy. The African countries realized that economic cooperation between each other, is a vital matter to reduce its dependence on the colonial countries, as a result all African Pacts confirmed the economic cooperation. When Somalia became independent, it turned to Egypt for assistance in economic affairs, defence and culture. By the end of 1960, agreements were reached in all these fields.Nasser ended the Italian pressure on companies in Somali. When Abd El Rasheed Al Sharmaky was appointed Prime Minister of Somalia, he joined the liberated countries; among these countries was Egypt. The Italians had accompanies monopoly for the marketing of the banana crop, the main Somali crop. It seems that these companies wanted to put pressure on Al Sharmaky to leave this policy in place, so these companies stopped buying Somali bananas and let the prices decrease. This meant catastrophe for the Somali economy. As a result, Al Sharmaky went to Cairo on a formal visit and explained the problem to Nasser.

Nasser promised Al Sharmaky that Egypt would buy the banana crop, and would sell it in Egyptian markets. The Somali Prime Minister was astonished by Nasser's offer which would secure the Somali economy. However, it seems that Nasser was sure this deal would not be achieved, as  when  the  news  of  the  deal  reached  the Italian companies, they would change their minds and buy the bananas; and this is exactly what happened. The Italian companies bought the crop, and as a result the Egyptian Somali deal was stopped. (Yitzhak, 1960, p. 550) Figure 4.

An Egyptian delegation led by Mohamed Fayek, the Minister of National Guidance went to Mogadishu for a five day visit. The Egyptian delegation had talks with General Siad, the two vice-presidents, and the Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs, Information and National Guidance, Planning, Coordination and Agriculture (FCO 31/665, 12 March 1970). Mohamed Fayek called on General Siad and handed him a personal message from President Nasser, the contents of which were not made public (FCO 31/665, 19 March 1970).

They toured the few things to see within reach of Mogadishu, namely the textile factory at Balad, the experimental farm at Afgoi, Merca port and the banana plantation at Genale. Official talks were held, presided over by the Somali Secretary for Planning and Economic and Commercial Relations (FCO 31/665, 19 March 1970). The visit seems to have been quite efficiently organised, and was not marked by any public speeches or official pronouncements, inflammatory or otherwise, except for a brief press conference by the Egyptian minister before his departure. The expulsion of the Peace Corps led to a request for more Egyptian teachers. Newly independent countries as Somalia pressured to align themselves with one superpower (United States and the Soviet Union), the Peace Corps started operations in Somalia in 1962, and it would be the connection between culture and nations. Because of the United States' involvement in Vietnam War, the government of Somalia expelled the Peace Corps as a convenient means of appeasing anti-American  sentiment. So in 19 December 1969, the Somali foreign secretary Omar Arteh announced the termination of volunteers in Somalia. Following the expulsion of a number of American diplomats, military attaches, and the Peace Corps, the United States terminated all economic aid to Somalia, from this point Somali asked for Egypt's aid. 

A trend has been visible since1969, when a large Egyptian delegation primarily concerned with agriculture visited Somalia and the Egyptian government agreed to buy much of the produce of the meat-canning factory at Kismayu. Egyptian aid was not greatly prized in Somalia, but was sought when all else failed (FCO 31/665, 19 March 1970).

A three man official Egyptian delegation headed by the Under-secretary in the Ministry of Supply, Ahmed Fouad visited Somalia from 25 August to 1 September 1970 (FCO 31/665, 2 September 1970). This was a follow-up to the visit of a Somali delegation to Egypt at the end of April. One of its main purposes was to settle what had clearly become a row between the two countries over the price of tinned meat being sold to Egypt from the canning factory in Kismayu. According to the Somalis, the prices agreed upon in 1969, pre-revolution, did not cover costs and hence the transactions already completed constituted a loss for Somalia. After discussion which involved the Secretary of State for Industry and Commerce, Lt.Col. Ahmed Mohamed Farah, a member of the S.R.C. and the Egyptian ambassador, a new price was agreed to the satisfaction of the Somalis (1.58 Somali Shillings), instead of the previous 1.44 Somali Shillings, the new agreement envisaging the purchase of 6 million tons of beef (FCO 31/665, 2 September 1970).

Other imports discussed by the Egyptian government were goats, fish and incense, and by the Somalis, ointment, rice and cotton. Nasser gave Somalis a loan of five million Pounds payable over seven years (Al Ahram Newspaper, 15 December 1960). the argument here that Nasser wanted to prove that Egypt could protect her friends who refused to deal with Israel, as Israel was giving loans for some African countries as a kind of sneaking, then spoiled the relation between these countries and Egypt. From the reasons which encouraged Nasser in the matter is that most of the loans were spent in buildings and the Egyptian companies had the ability and power to do it.

Here, the scene is completed in Nasser's funeral, it seems that Somalis turned back their memories for these six points, which represented how he was a great man, how he supported them in all fields, and how he did for them. They asked themselves in the funeral who would help us next, who could support us like Nasser, and now we understand well why their tears appeared in the funeral like the Egyptians.

Egyptian-Somali relations were not ended by the death of President Nasser, but continued. Somalia supported Egypt during her struggle with Israel, the Egyptian government sent Mohamed Hafez Ghanem the Minister of Education to Mogadishu, his visit giving the opportunity for both the president of the Supreme Revolutionary Council (S.R.C.), and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to reiterate their support for the Arab cause and to scourge Israel and her imperialist supporters. It also gave another occasion for the Somalis to identify with the Arab nations; a proposition more in favour with the former, than the later. The visiting minister declared a public gathering  that,  after  his  talks with the president and the members of the S.R.C., he was convinced and satisfied that the Somali Democratic Republic is in a state of war with Israel and her protectors (FCO 31/945, 29 January 1971).


Nasser widely supported Somalia in all fields. He helped the Somalis to get their independence, he supported Somali nationalism, and he supported Somalia in its borders problem with Ethiopia. Culturally, he sent many scientific missions to Somalia to teach the Somalis the Arabic language, and to prepare them for rule after their independence. He sent them experts in all fields to help them in understanding culture. In the military field, he helped them a great deal, giving them weapons for free as a gift from Egypt to Somalia, training Somali students in Egyptian military colleges, and sending Egyptian officers to Somalia to train the Somali officers.

Economically, he supported the Somali economy, he bought his required products, sheep, bananas and incense from there, and he stood beside the Somalis in their economic crisis. He also gave a loan to the Somalis to help their economy. All that has been mentioned made Nasser their hero, so they cried at his death; sad to lose a hero who deserved that place by his works.


The author has not declared any conflict of interests.


The author deeply thank Professor Donald Malcolm Reid whose help and advice was invaluable.


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