Horn of Africa: Somaliland, Aden, Djibouti, Yemen. Straits Bab-el-Mandeb. 1920.
Republique de Djibouti: The French Territory of the Afars and the Issas (French Somaliland) became Djibouti in 1977.
Djibouti occupies a very strategic geographic location at the mouth of the Red Sea and serves as an important location for goods entering and leaving the east African highlands.
Djibouti lies at a major global crossroads where, some 100,000 years ago, early humans migrated from Africa to the Middle East. Livestock herding, which remains important to Djibouti’s people, was introduced to this region by nomads more than 10,000 years ago.
The ancient region’s small ports, inhabited by the ancestors of the Afars, hosted merchants from Persia, Arabia, Ethiopia, and the Mediterranean. In the first centuries ad, a series of kingdoms dominated the region and its rich trade, paying tribute to the powerful inland kingdom of Aksum, in what is now Ethiopia.
Arab traders brought Islam to the coastal ports by the 9th century and founded the Islamic sultanate of Adal at Zeila, a port to the southeast in what is now Somalia. Somali people moved into what is now southern Djibouti by the 14th century.
By 1500 Adal ruled Djibouti. Starting in 1527 Ahmed al-Ghazi, the ruler of Adal, led Afar and Somali troops in a holy war against Christian Ethiopia. The Muslims won a major victory in 1529, destroying an entire Ethiopian army, and they went on to capture several Ethiopian provinces. However, in 1543 an Ethiopian force with Portuguese assistance defeated and killed Ahmed, and Adal collapsed.
Subsequently, small Afar sultanates, including Obock and Tadjoura, emerged on the northern side of the Gulf of Tadjoura. These sultanates still survive, though the sultans have little formal power. During the second half of the 16th century, European merchants began a lucrative trade in Ethiopian coffee and perfumes wit
In 1884-85, France expanded its protectorate to include the shores of the Gulf of Tadjoura and the Somaliland. Boundaries of the protectorate were marked out in 1897 by France and Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia.
France sought to challenge British dominance of the Indian Ocean trade by establishing a base at the strategic entrance to the Red Sea.
In 1862, the French established a coal-mining station at the site of Djibouti and the Italians settled in Eritrea.
Beginning in 1881 France set up a trading mission in Obock and concluded a series of treaties with other local rulers that recognized French control.
During 1888, the French and British confronted each other over their shares of the coast. The area around Djibouti became known as the "Cote Francaise des Somalis (French Coast of the Somalis), and the English stayed around Zeila and Berbera where they promised protection to various Somali clans. France chose the town of Djibouti as the colony’s capital in 1892 because it offered a good site for a rail link to Addis Ababa. The French completed the railroad in 1917, and the port of Djibouti grew rapidly. Large numbers of Somalis and Arabs migrated to the port to take advantage of the opportunities for employment and trade.
September 21, 1889, London Daily Mail, London, United Kingdom
FRANCE IN AFRICA
Her Struggles After a Colonial Empire
Daily Mail Special
There is perhaps no international subject of greater interest at the present moment than French progress in Africa, and two articles in the current number of the "Board of Trade Journal" will therefore have a special interest.
One of these articles relates to "the trade of the British, French, and German Possessions in West Africa," and is accompanied by a coloured sketch map of West Africa (a new departure for the "Board of Trade Journal"); the other article relates to the development of Djibouti, in East Africa.
From the first of these articles it seems apparent, judging from the trade figures given, that West Africa is decidedly not booming just now. With the exception of small increases in the exports from the Gold Coast and Gambia, British West Africa is under a commercial cloud; the German colony of Togoland is in a most serious way, the exports having declined from a value of 152,000 in 1895, to 39,000 in 1837; and French Guinea and Dahomey also report decreases in the reports of 1897 compared with 1896, though these decreases are more than compensated by increases in the exports from Senegal and the Ivory Coast,
But, notwithstanding the above-mentioned decline in the export trade of French Guinea, it is contended that the colony is, on the whole, in a condition of
the imports, at any rate, are increasing. French Guinea, it is well to bear in mind, is a standing menace to our own colony of Sierra Leone, the coast line of French Guinea is, roughly, about the same length as that of Sierra Leone, which it adjoins. But the convenient hinterland doctrine has been exploited to such an extent by the Frenchmen that their colony has enveloped the back regions of Sierra Leone, and includes the sources of the Niger, from which it shuts off the British colony.
France seems equally enterprising higher up the Coast in Senegal, where she is busy with the establishment of a coaling depot and port of call at Dakar; and the writer in the "Board of Trade Journal" apprehends that in consequence Dakart" is destined to become one of the most important ports on the West Coast of Africa. Nor has France forgotten tho eastern side of the Continent. In French Somaliland, on the Gulf of Aden, are the two ports of Obock and Djibouti, of which the latter is
THE MOST IMPORTANT
and from which a railway is being constructed to Harrar, whereby it is hoped to open up an important trade with the whole of Ethiopia.
According to the "Politique Coloniale," the population of Djibouti, which a year ago numbered 85 Europeans and about 4,000 natives, now numbers upwards of 1,400 Europeans and 8,000 natives; and if M. Beduel, of the French East Africa Company, is to be trusted, Djibouti is likely to continue its development. This gentleman declared Djibouti to be the only safe anchorage on the Red Sea, and of great importance as an outlet for the trade of that part of the African Continent.
Undoubtedly France intends, by means of her possessions in Somaliland, to cultivate dose commercial relations with Abyssinia and the Eastern Sudan, and to drive a wedge of French virtual or actual possession across the widest part of the African Continent, in rivalry to England's Cape to Cairo scheme.
January 22, 1898, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
Seeking the Favor of Menelik.
Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia. 1859. Colton, Cartographer.
Abyssinia has been more prominently before the world since the black Emperor demonstrated his power by crushing the armies of Italy at Abba Carima mid Adigrat, and the personality of Menelik has become a very captivating actuality. England and France have both hastened to gain, at his hands, favorable recognition of their overtures for amity and friendship, and even Russia has made advances in that direction, the object of which are not so apparent, however, as in the case of the two other nations. Their object is well understood. It is the control of the vast and fertile country of the Eastern Soudan and along the upper Nile. To this end England has already wasted over a hundred million pounds sterling in futile attempts to force her way up the Nile to Khartoum and thence south to the lake region, whither she has already carried a railroad from the Zanzibar coast.
The French have been steadily approaching from the Congo coast on the other side of the continent and now seem to have gotten the best of their rivals, and this by the grace and favor of the Abyssinian monarch. His country, lying high and healthy between the Red Sea and the Eastern Soudan, offers the shortest and most feasible entry to that coveted region. Hampered by no bitter recollections of unfair treatment or unfriendly contact In the past, they have been able to make rapid advances and have been graciously received by the Negus and his followers.
Large privileges and concessions, with grants of land, have been made to them, under which, quickly acting, they have laid and nearly completed from Djibouti on the Gulf of Aden to Harar the first section of a railroad which it is Intended to carry on to Gondar and thence across the Nile and the Soudan to connect with one coming east from French Congo. On the other hand the English, bringing with them the yet fresh memories of Sir Charles Napier's invasion of their country and the bloody field of Magdala. have made but little advance in the favor of either the Negus or his subjects. While Ras Makonnen was receiving, with the most friendly demonstrations, the French envoy, and conducting him with every mark of consideration to the court of his sovereign at Adis-Adaba, the English mission was yet halted near the coast almost unnoticed.
M. Legarde was received at Harar with a salute of twenty-one guns, and the French flag was Boated at the side of the Abyssinian standard. No such reception was accorded his rivals on entering tho Abyssinian territory.
With Menelik's permission and assistance. M. Bauchamps pushed on with a well-equipped expedition across Abyssinia to Fashoda. on the Nile, there to meet the Marchand expedition coming from the Congo, plant the standard of France and actualize her possession of an unbroken connection from the Red Sea to the Atlantic. These movements have caused the greatest concern in England. She sees the Nile country and Ethiopia slipping from her possible grasp, and is powerless. All the expenditure in this direction promises to be without fruit. France has outgeneraled her and holds the position of vantage, whose future value cannot at this time be even estimated.
If the whole conduct of the matter the French have evinced much shrewdness and discretion. Instead of approaching Menelik with an air of offensive condescension, as is the wont of their neighbors across the channel in dealing with dusky potentates, they have not only accorded the fullest recognition of his imperial dignity, acknowledging his right as a sovereign and independent monarch to sit in the hereditary rulership of his people, but have done their best to make him appreciate their attitude of respect and enhance the splendor of the evidences of his power and personality.
With the sanction and at the expense of the Government M. Legarde had made and carried with him on his late return from Paris to the Abyssinian court many presents of rich design and costly workmanship. Intended for the personal use and adornment of the Emperor and his consort, Taltou. The principal one consisted of a throne of very particular design, which Is Intended to serve both as a seat of justice and a couch of reception.
On the days of audience the sovereign, "The Lion of the Tribe of Judah,." as he styles himself, claiming descent from King David, seats himself "a la Turque" between the two cushions, while the dignitaries admitted to the reception pass before him. This throne is of fine wood, overlaid with gold, with the points panels relieved with green ami red, the colors of Abyssinia. The curtains are of purple silk damask, ornamented with fringe and tassels of finely worked gold thread of the highest richness. The cushions and front piece are likewise of silk damask finely ornamented.
With the throne went collars and crosses of gold set with jewels for Menelik and the members of his family, those for himself and the Empress being of particular richness and splendor, the first being set with amethysts and garnnets, and the other embellished with sapphires, pearls atid turquoises. This collar is composed of three chains interwound, and weights over one and a quarter pounds. Each of the four children received a collar and cross, also of commensurate worth. M. Legarde made careful study and left nothing undone to further the success of his mission.
December 3, 1899, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
France Demands Cables for National Defense
PARIS. December 2.— The absolute dependence of France upon England for news of the Transvaal war, owing to the fact that the cables are under the control of the English, has greatly irritated press sentiment. The Colonial Commission has urged the Government to take immediate steps to equip France with cable communication with her colonies in the following order:
A line uniting France with Senegal, another with Madagascar, and a third connecting Tonquin with the Danish company's cables.
These, the commission say, are an urgent necessity, and afterward will be needed lines between Senegal, Konakry, Grand Rassam, Kotonoa and Congo, while another should connect Indo-China with Djibouti and Madagascar. The commission also strongly advises watchfulness in the Pacific, so that French possessions maybe brought into cable communication with the metropolis by means of American and German lines.
One hundred and twenty-five million francs ($25,000,000) would be needed to carry out the project. An increase of commerce is expected to cover the outlay, but with true French logic, it is claimed that whether trade warrants it or not, the work should be undertaken for the purpose of national defense.