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A Passage to Africa

George Alagiah

Europeans became interested in Somalia during the nineteenth century, beginning with its exploration by British adventurer Sir Richard Burton in 1854. Interest grew when the Suez Canal opened in 1869, and in 1887 Britain declared the northern Somalia coast a protectorate, known as British Somaliland. The French claimed the far western coast (now Djibouti) at about the same time, naming it French Somaliland. Italy took control of southern Somalia, including Mogadishu, in 1889, naming it Italian Somaliland.

In 1899 Somali Islamic teacher Muhammad Abdullah Hasan (18561920), known to the British as "the Mad Mullah," gathered an army. They hoped to gain the Ogaden region of Ethiopia for Somalis and to drive out the nonIslamic Europeans. Hasan and his army, called Dervishes, fought the Ethiopians and later the British from 1900 to 1920. At the beginning of World War II the Italians drove the British from northern Somalia. The British recaptured Somalia and drove out the Italians in 1941.

In 1949 the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly awarded Italy administrative control over southern Somalia as a trust territory for a ten-year period that would then lead to Somalia's independence.
British Somaliland was awarded its independence on 26 June 1960 and united with Italian Somaliland to establish the Somali Republic on 1 July 1960.

Although united as one nation in 1960, northern and southern Somalia had for years functioned as two separate countries, with separate school systems, taxes, currencies, police, and political and legal administrations. As early as December 1961, northern Somali military leaders pushed for separation of the north and the south. At the same time, most Somalis wanted to unite the regions outside of Somalia that were populated with many Somalis, such as Ethiopia and Kenya. Somalia was engaged in the Ogaden War with Ethiopia in 19771978. Defeated, Somalia suffered an economic decline, and different clans tried to take control. Various attempts at peace failed throughout the 1980s and in 1990, the United Somali Congress (USC) stormed Mogadishu and defeated the Red Berets, who were the army in control. The USC's leader was appointed president, but Hawiye subclan leader also claimed power. The two disagreed on forming a central government for Somalia, and civil war began.

Somali civilians suffered the most in the unstable years that followed. It was estimated that some three hundred thousand Somalis died between 1991 and mid-1993. Although international relief organizations sent food and supplies, much was stolen by bandits and warring clan members before it could reach those who needed it most.

The United States led Operation Restore Hope in 1992, and U.N. countries sent food and supplies, along with soldiers to ensure that they reached the people. In mid-1993 the U.N. Security Council resolved to turn the operation into a "nation-building" effort that would include disarming militias and restoring political and civil institutions. The operation deteriorated as Somalis and U.N. troops committed acts of violence against one another. U.S. troops were pulled out of Somalia in early 1994, and the last U.N. troops left in March 1995.

What sort of tone does he use?

Why is the first paragraph so powerful and makes us want to read on?

Why tell us about the instructions to get there?

What impact does the third paragraph have on the reader? Concentrate of the language used.

Why was the smile so important?