Djibouti History - History


This strategically-located small region became important in 1869 with the opening of the Suez Canal. The French maintained their sphere of influence, called French Somaliland, through agreements with Ethiopia. After the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in the 1930s, tensions flared between the French and the Italians. With the outbreak of World War II, the territorial government initially sided with Vichy France, but shortly thereafter went with the Free French and the Allies. Though it became part of the French Overseas community in 1958, nationalist fervor was growing and in 1977, the republic was born.

A Short History of Djibouti

Arabian immigrants came to the country in 3 B.C. and from them descended the Afars who are today&rsquos Djibouti natives. The Somali Issas followed thereafter. After over 800 years, Islam was introduced to the country and it became the first country to adopt Islam in the African continent.

In 1843, French troops arrived in the country and signed a treaty with the Somali sultans, which makes the land their territory. The French gained interest in invading the land because of its strategic location &ndash the capital city&rsquos port serves as a port open to other ships crossing the Red Sea. Then, the administrative capital of the country was Obock.

In 1884, France expanded its territory to the Somaliland and Gulf of Tadjourah which is affirmed by its agreement with Ethiopia. A few years later, the capital city was changed from Obock to Djibouti which has ready access to the Ethiopian highlands. Its natural harbour also attracted traders from East Africa which made the country open to other travellers.

Then called French Somaliland, it joined the French community as their overseas territory, which entitled them representation in the French Parliament and French Union Assembly. However, French President Charles de Gaulle&rsquos visit in the country in August 1966 was bombarded by numerous public demonstrations demanding their independence. Governor General Louis Saget decided to hold a referendum to know if the people would like to remain under the French control or become independent. The following year, almost 60% agreed to stay under the French control. Later that year, its name was changed to French Territory of Afars and Issas.

Due to insistent public demand, the French government finally considered granting independence to the country. In June 27, 1977, the Republic of Djibouti was established with Hassan Gouled Aptidon as its first President.

Djibouti Recent History

City and port of East Africa, it was the capital of French Somalia. The government was transferred there in 1895, before it was Obock State. A very active market, it formed an important stopover for ships bound for the Far East and represented Ethiopia’s largest outlet to the sea. In 1917 an important railway of 784 km was completed. which connected Djibouti to Addis Ababa.

Despite belonging to French Somalia, France never developed an active participation in the trade of the port of Djibouti. The history of Djibouti is closely linked to the French colonial period, from which it was released on June 27, 1977, when the French territory of the Afar and Issa became an Autonomous Republic.

Already in its first moments of life the young republic had to endure serious tensions because of the secular rivalry of the two ethnic groups. The two representatives of the groups: the Head of State Hassan Gouled Aptidon (Issa-Somala) and Prime Minister Ahmed Dini (Afar) were always at odds with each other over the structure to be given to the state. According to Abbreviationfinder, an acronym site which also features history of Djibouti, Dini argued that the government should be similar to that of Lebanon, with the assignment of the highest offices in proportion to the importance of ethnicity. The concept of state for Hassan Gouled was clearly unitary, a concept also supported by his “Popular League for Independence”.

When an attack occurred in the capital on 15 August 1977, with deaths and injuries, Hassan Gouled took the opportunity to apply a ferocious repression against Dini and his supporters. Then he also managed to bring many Afar to his side, entrusting the leadership of the executive to another important leader of the same ethnic group: Barkat Gurad Hamadou. And with this combination: Hassan Gouled, president of the republic, and Barkat Gurad Hamadou, prime minister, began the journey towards a one-party government.

In 1979, the “Rassemblement Populaire pour le Progres” was formed as a presidential party and in 1981 it was recognized as the only legal political party.

The opposition, led by Dini, formed the “Djiboutian People’s Party” but never managed to effectively oppose the government of Hassan Gouled who, in the elections of April 24, 1987, was reconfirmed as president.

But in the meantime the economy had lost much of its ancient prosperity due to the persistent instability on the Horn of Africa. There were several collapses in the volume of commercial traffic, through the imposing railway and even industry never reached high levels, relying only on modest manufacturing plants and despite the free port. Some projects to improve and complete the port facilities were started in 1984 with the construction of a terminal for “containers” and even modest successes in the energy and banking fields could be registered.

Because of all these difficulties Hassan Gouled had to apply austerity measures which resulted in an attempted coup in 1991 and in the north of the country an establishment of a guerrilla regime, carried out by the “Front for the Restoration of Unity and of Democracy “.

Unable to allow such a precarious act, the president was forced to promise democratization measures and in January 1992, in fact, appointed a committee for the drafting of a new constitution.

Internationally, the Djiboutian government remained in close contact with France, which still maintains a military garrison of thousands of soldiers, and remained politically equidistant from both Somalia and Ethiopia despite its initial pro-Somali tendency. And precisely because it was part of the Arab League, as early as 1977 Djibouti was able to act as a mediator in Somali-Ethiopian issues.

Djibouti entrusted international trade and financial intermediation with the country’s economic take-off so as to be able to definitively eradicate unemployment and existing political hardships.

In September 1992 a new Constitution was launched but this was not considered right by the opposition, which contested the undisputed high power that it attributed to the president. Despite everything, Gouled was confirmed in office even with the presidential elections of March 1993. But he had to face the guerrillas triggered in the north of the country by the “Front”.

The president then also found himself in difficulty with the position taken by the French government which proposed peace negotiations with the insurgents. And because the pressure from the French was strong, Gouled had to sign an agreement with the Front in December 1994. It was established:
– administrative decentralization
– a more equitable distribution of power between the different ethnic groups
– an integration of part of the military forces of the Front into the national army
– entry of some members of the Front into the executive (what happened in June 1995).

In fact, the Front itself turned into a political party in March 1996. Despite all the economic situation did not improve and popular demonstrations took place. The economy was made even more precarious by the return to home of over 10,000 refugees from Ethiopia and the presence in the country of 25,000 other refugees, almost all of them from Somalia.

In December 1997 the legislative elections decreed an overwhelming victory for the ruling party. The only two existing opposition parties did not even acquire a seat. The last presidential elections in April 1999 were the legacy of Ismael Omar Guelleh, a candidate supported by the outgoing president.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Djibouti has no tradition of urban architecture. The indigenous architecture of earlier centuries is found in the capitals of the sultanates of Raheita and Tadjoura, with their old mosques and town centers. Djibouti City was designed by French town planners with a grid street plan and government institutions placed close to each other in the center. The town grew fast, with new neighborhoods added in a less planned fashion. There is a camel market on the outskirts.

In the urban culture, traditional social and cultural features of the indigenous populations tend to fuse and create new forms. In the countryside, the herders' seasonal migrations and transborder crossings of Afar, Issa, and Gadabursi pastoralists show the mobility and free use of space necessary for the survival of humans and herds. These people have huts and furniture that can be easily packed and moved.


Here is a list of famous people from Djibouti. Curious if anybody from Djibouti made it our most famous people in the world list? Read the aformentioned article in order to find out.

Hussein Ahmed Salah

Hussein Ahmed Salah is a former long-distance runner from Djibouti, best known for winning a bronze medal in marathon at the 1988 Summer Olympics. He also won silver medals in this event at the 1987 and 1991 World Championships. In addition, he won the 1985 IAAF World Marathon Cup.

Abdourahman Waberi

Abdourahman A. Waberi is novelist, essayist, poet, academic and short-story writer.

Dileita Mohamed Dileita

Dileita Mohamed Dileita is a Djiboutian politician who was the Prime Minister of Djibouti from 7 March 2001 to 1 April 2013. He was Vice-President of the People's Rally for Progress, the governing political party, until 2012. He has also served as President of the Union for the Presidential Majority, the governing coalition.

Ahmed Daher

Ahmed Daher, is a Djiboutian international footballer who plays as a striker. Daher is the leading scorer for the Djibouti national football team and debuted against Uganda in 2007. He played in three qualifying matches for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Barkat Gourad Hamadou

Barkat Gourad Hamadou was the Prime Minister of Djibouti from 2 October 1978 until 7 March 2001.

Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed

Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed is a Djiboutian politician who has been Prime Minister of Djibouti since 2013. A longtime member of the ruling People's Rally for Progress, he previously served as Minister of Agriculture from 2005 to 2011 and as Minister of Defense from 2011 to 2013.

Yacin Elmi Bouh

Yacin Elmi Bouh is a Djiboutian politician. He was Minister of Finance from 1997 to 2005 and has been Minister of the Interior and Decentralization since 22 May 2005.

Mohamed Dini Farah

Mohamed Dini Farah is a Djiboutian politician. He is a former minister and President of the Parliamentary Group of the People's Rally for Progress, currently serving as a deputy in the National Assembly of Djibouti. Farah was born in Tadjourah. He was Minister of the Civil Service and Administrative Reform from 8 June 1995 to 19 April 1997, then Minister of Public Works. Farah was elected to the National Assembly in the December 1997 parliamentary election as the second candidate on the joint candidate list of the RPP and the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy in Tadjourah Region. Following this election, he was appointed as Minister of Justice, in charge of Human Rights, on 28 December 1997. Farah was subsequently appointed as Minister of Health on 12 May 1999. He was re-elected in the January 2003 parliamentary election as the second candidate on the candidate list of the governing coalition, the Union for a Presidential Majority, in Tadjourah Region. In the National Assembly, he became the President of the RPP Parliamentary Group. In addition to serving on the RPP Central Committee, Farah was elected to the RPP Executive Committee as the party's National Secretary for Youth on 3 July 2003. He is also Honorary President of the RPP National Youth League as of 2003.

Mumin Gala

Olympic Track and field Athlete

Mumin Gala is a Djiboutian runner. He competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in the 5000m event and placed thirteenth.

Yasmin Farah Hassan

Olympic Table Tennis Player

Yasmin Farah is a Djiboutian table tennis player. She is competing for Djibouti at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Ali Abdi Farah

Ali Abdi Farah is a politician in Djibouti. Farah served as diplomatic attaché to the President of the Republic, as head of general administration and consular affairs at the Ministry of External Affairs, and as First Adviser to the Embassy of Djibouti in Tunisia. He was appointed as Minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Resources on June 8, 1995 and was elected to the National Assembly in the December 1997 parliamentary election as the ninth candidate on the joint candidate list of the RPP and the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy. He was subsequently moved to the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in charge of Relations with Parliament on May 12, 1999. In the January 2003 parliamentary election, Farah was the 11th candidate on the candidate list of the ruling coalition, the Union for a Presidential Majority, in the District of Djibouti. Farah is a member of the ruling party, the People's Rally for Progress, and as of 2003, he is a member of the RPP Executive Committee, responsible for external relations. In the government named on May 22, 2005, Farah was moved to the post of Minister of Communication and Culture, in charge of Posts and Telecommunications, and Government Spokesman. In the February 2008 parliamentary election, Farah was the eighth candidate on the UMP's candidate list for the District of Djibouti.

Ougoureh Kifleh Ahmed

Ougoureh Kifleh Ahmed is a Djiboutian politician who served in the government of Djibouti as Minister of Defense from 1999 to 2011. He has also served as Secretary-General of the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy.

Zourah Ali

Zourah Ali is a Djiboutian runner. She competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in the 400m event, she was not qualified to the semifinals, she ran 400 meters in 1:05.37 minutes and ended the games in the 44th place. She was the flag bearer for Djibouti at the opening ceremony.

Ahmed Daoud

Ahmed Daoud is a Djiboutian footballer who plays for Djibouti national football team.

Abdourahman Osman

Abdourahman Osman is a Djiboutian swimmer specializing in freestyle. He competed 50 m event at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Ahmed Mahdi

Ahmed Mahdi is a Djiboutian footballer who plays for Djibouti national football team.

Ali Feiruz

Ali Abdi Feiruz, known as Ali Feiruz, was a prominent Somali musician.

Sally Faissal Abdourahman Raguib

Sally Raguib is a judoka from Djibouti.

Waberi Hachi

Waberi Hachi is a footballer for the Djiboutian soccer team. Hachi made his international senior debut against Malawi on May 31, 2008. He was part of the Djibouti squad for 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification.

Galal Ramzi

Galal Ramzi is a Djiboutian footballer who plays for Djibouti national football team.

Ali Yassin

Ali Yassin is a Djiboutian footballer who plays for Djibouti national football team.

Mohamed Liban

Mohamed Liban is a Djiboutian footballer who plays for Guelleh Batal.

Hussein Yassin Miguil

Hussein Yassin Miguil is a Djiboutian footballer who plays for Societe Immobiliere de Djibouti.

Moussa Hirir

Moussa Hirir is a Djiboutian footballer who plays for Kartileh DjibSat.

Ahmed-Idriss Moussa

Ahmed-Idriss Moussa is a politician from Djibouti who served in the French National Assembly from 1962-1967. He was the main opposition candidate in the 1999 presidential election.

Hassan Djama Ilyass

Hassan Djama Ilyass is a Djiboutian footballer .

Darar Aboubaker

Darar Aboubaker is a Djiboutian footballer .

Said Riyad

Said Riyad is a Djiboutian footballer who plays for Djibouti national football team.

Abchir Houssein

Abchir Houssein is a Djiboutian footballer who plays for Djibouti national football team.

Taliq Abdelharam Sharif

Taliq Abedelharam Sharif Statesman, Sudanese National, pirate and Entrepreneur who has risen to worldwide fame through his efforts to keep the peace in his native Central Africa. He has recently come under severe criticism under false accusations of aiding the notorious Janjaweed rebels in the Sudan.

Youssouf Abdourahman

Youssouf Abdourahman is a Djiboutian footballer who plays for Djibouti national football team.

Daher Mohamed Kadar

Daher Mohamed Kadar is a Djiboutian footballer who plays for Djibouti national football team.

Hannad Sheikh

Hannad Sheikh is Djiboutian footballer who plays for Djibouti national football team.

Moussa Warsama

Moussa Warsama is a Djiboutian footballer who plays for Guelleh Batal.

Abdallah Mohamed

Abdallah Mohamed is a Djiboutian footballer .

Mouhoumed Ahmed-Id

Mouhoumed Ahmed-Id is a Djiboutian footballer .

Daoud Bouh Samatar

Daoud Bouh Samatar is a Djiboutian footballer.

Omar Elmi Aboubaker

Omar Elmi Aboubaker is a Djiboutian footballer .

Hassan Abdoulrahman

Hassan Abdoulrahman is a Djiboutian footballer who plays for Djibouti national football team.

Abdi Hassan Mohamed Kadar

Abdi Hassan Mohamed Kadar is a Djiboutian footballer.

Miad Charmare

Miad Charmare is a Djiboutian footballer who plays for Djibouti national football team.

Daoud Wais

Daoud Wais is a Djiboutian footballer who plays for Djibouti national football team.

Egueh Mahdi

Egueh Mahdi is a Djiboutian footballer who plays for Djibouti national football team.

Hassan Ali Daher

Hassan Ali Daher is a Djiboutian footballer who plays for Djibouti National Football Team.


In 1991 it was decided to continue the one-party state. However, under the pressure of the civil war – and of France – Gouled initiated a democratization process in 1991. A multi-party constitution was passed in 1992, but limited the number of parties to four. FRUD was among the parties that were not approved, and the RPP government won all 65 seats in the National Assembly. Parts of the opposition boycott the election. Gouled won the first presidential election with more than one candidate in 1993 – after being re-elected without a candidate in 1987.

New battles erupted in 1993, including an extensive government offensive in northern and central Djibouti, when the FRUD headquarters were conquered. As a result of the fighting, 80,000 people were displaced from their homes.

In 1994, FRUD was split, and Ali Mohamed Daoud was appointed new leader. Former leader Ahmed Dini Ahmed formed a rival organization in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Negotiations between the government and FRUD came to an end in 1994, and after mediation from France, a peace agreement was signed in December 1994, which laid the foundation for establishing a coalition government and distributing power between the peoples groups and the regions.

FRUD members were granted amnesty and guerrilla members were included in the national defense. In return, FRUD undertook to give up the military fight. Some clashes still took place in 1995-96, but in 1996 FRUD was legalized as Djibouti’s fourth political party.

FRUD was split again, and only in 2000 a final peace agreement was signed. The following year, FRUD surrendered its weapons to the government for destruction. Also in the government party RPP there was a shelling when the RPP – Groupe pour la demokratie de la republic (RPP-GDR) – was created in 1996. Together with the National Democratic Party (PND) and the Front Uni de l’Opposition djiboutienne (FUOD) established RPP-GDR in 1996 opposition alliance Coordination de l’opposition djiboutienne.

At the 1997 parliamentary elections, a coalition between RPP and FRUD took all 65 seats. The coalition again met all the representatives after the 2003 elections. The opposition gathered in the Union pour une alternance démocratique (UAD). For the first time in the country’s history, female MPs were elected.

Hassan Gouled Aptidon, president since independence, resigned in 1999 his relative and close associate Ismail Omar Guelleh (RPP / FRUD) became the new president after the election that year. Political repression has continued in Djibouti even after the peace agreement with FRUD and under Guelleh, and several members of the opposition have been taken into custody. The same applies to FRUD members deported from Ethiopia. Trade union leaders and journalists have also been taken into custody, newspapers are closed and torture reported.

Djibouti - History

Somali (Issa) and Afar herders, nomadic, Muslim and Cushiticspeaking, lived in and around Djibouti for hundreds of years before European explorers in the 19th century brought the region to the attention of the modern West. Obock and, later, Djibouti city were recognized as ports of great usefulness on the sea routes to India, Mauritius, and Madagascar. The Italians and British were active colonizers farther south along the Somali coast, and Britain was gaining control in what are now Yemen, the Sudan, and Egypt. France decided to establish its colonial foothold in 1862 along what is now the northeastern coast of Djibouti. This tentative venture became in 1884� the protectorates of Obock and Tadjoura, which were merged to form French Somaliland.

The administrative capital of French Somaliland was moved from Obock to Djibouti in 1896, a year before the boundaries of the colony were officially demarcated between France and Ethiopia. In 1898, a French consortium began building the narrow-gauge railway that finally reached Addis Ababa in 1917. During the Italian invasion and occupation of Ethiopia in the 1930s and during the early part of World War II, there were constant border skirmishes between French and Italian forces. In December 1942, French Somaliland forces joined the Free French under Gen. Charles de Gaulle.

After World War II, French Somaliland gradually gained a measure of local autonomy. In 1957, it obtained a territorial assembly and a local executive council to advise the French-appointed governor-general. The following year, the voters of French Somaliland opted to join the French Community as an overseas territory, electing one deputy and one senator to the French National Assembly. In late 1958, the first elections to the local assembly were held under a system of proportional representation. In the second elections, held in 1963, plurality voting based on party lists in seven districts replaced proportional voting. The result was the election of an Afar leader as head of the executive council the more numerous Issas felt they had been prevented by the new electoral procedures from gaining control of the council. In 1967, 60% of the voters in a special referendum opted to retain the colony's association with France, but the Issas again complained that the franchise lists had been unfairly restricted in a way that favored the Afars. After the referendum, French Somaliland became known as the Territory of the Afars and the Issas.

The country's independence movement had been led throughout the postwar period by the Issas, but their movement

had been opposed by Ethiopia (which wanted French control to continue) and by the Afars, who feared Issa domination. Finally, in 1975, the French began to accommodate increasingly strident demands for independence. The territory's citizenship law, which had favored the Afar minority, was revised to admit more Issas. In a referendum in May 1977, the now-enlarged Issa majority voted decisively for independence, which was officially established on 27 June 1977, as the country officially became the Republic of Djibouti. Hassan Gouled Aptidon, the territory's premier, had been elected the nation's first president by the territorial Chamber of Deputies three days earlier. Although Gouled, an Issa, appointed Afar premiers and the cabinet was roughly balanced, the dominance of the Issas in administration led to political conflict, including cabinet crises. Gouled was reelected without opposition by universal suffrage in June 1981 and April 1987. A one-party Chamber of Deputies list, elected without opposition in May 1982, consisted of 26 Issas, 23 Afars, and 16 Arabs. Only 12 seats were won by newcomers in the April 1987 election of a one-party list.

A new constitution was voted on in 1992, although the vote was boycotted by opposition parties. In December, legislative elections were held, which, according to the constitution, were to have been open to all parties. Due to administrative restrictions and opposition resolve not to participate, by election time only two parties had been officially allowed to contest seats: the ruling People's Progress Assembly (RPP) and the newly formed Democratic Renewal Party (PRD). Due to the anti-democratic nature of the electoral process, more than half the electorate refused to vote. The RPP was said to have won all 65 seats.

Presidential elections were held in March 1993. Five candidates contested the elections for president. The leader of the PDR, Mohamed Elabe, was Gouled's main opponent. But, again, fewer than half the electorate voted, and Gouled was reelected with officially 60% of the vote.

Dissatisfaction with Gouled grew in the late 1980s and contributed to an uprising by Afar guerrillas of the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD) in late 1991. FRUD gained control of some areas of the north and west. In February 1992, France deployed forces in Djibouti, and the Afars declared unilaterally a cease-fire. Yet, fighting continued and a government counteroffensive checked the FRUD by July. Rebel bases in the north were occupied, and many opposition leaders were imprisoned, including Ali Aref Bourhan, for an alleged coup attempt. He was released in December 1993. By the end of 1993, about 35% of the central government's budgetary expenditures went toward maintaining "security" that is, the military occupation of the north by troops of Somali origin.

In 1993, the FRUD suffered severe losses to a government offensive. In 1994, its leadership split over the issue of negotiations with the government. A more moderate wing then entered into negotiations and called a cease-fire. In March 1995, in compliance with the peace accords signed in December 1994, the majority of the FRUD disarmed, and the military integrated a segment of the insurgents into its ranks. Two FRUD leaders accepted ministerial posts. In March 1996 the FRUD was given legal recognition as a political party. A radical wing of the FRUD, (FRUD-Renaissance) led by Ahmed Dini, remains opposed to the cease-fire. Djibouti and Ethiopia jointly attacked the FRUD rebels in October 1997, and skirmishes continued in 1998.

The human-rights record of the authoritarian Gouled regime came increasingly under attack in the late-1980s and 90s, with allegations of beatings, rapes, arbitrary, prolonged, and incommunicado detentions, extra-judicial killings and disappearances of political/ethnic opponents of Gouled, and union leaders. Journalists have also been harassed, intimidated, and detained.

Gouled became ill in December 1995 and spent several months in hospital in France. During this period there appeared a succession struggle between Ismael Omar Guelleh and Ismael Godi Hared, both close advisors of the president. In part to cut down on inter-party fighting, Gouled elected to remain at the helm after his convalescence. In February 1999 he announced his intention to retire and that he would not be a candidate for the scheduled April 1999 elections. At that point the RPP named Guelleh as its candidate. The FRUD, in alliance with the RPP, accepted Guelleh as its candidate, as well. An opposition coalition, which included the PRD (Democratic Renewal Party), the PND (National Democratic Party), and (unofficially) the FRUD-Renaissance slated Moussa Ahmed Idriss as their candidate. An estimated 60% of the electorate participated, with Guelleh garnering 74% of the votes cast to 26% for Idriss. There was no official boycott of the elections, for the first time since Djibouti's independence from France in 1977. In January 2003, an RPP-led coalition won all 65 seats in the National Assembly.

The election of Guelleh, a key advisor and chief of staff to the former president for over 20 years, coupled with the landslide parliamentary victory of the RPP, signals little change in the status quo. The Issas with the President's sub-clan, the Issa Mamassans, continue to wield disproportionate political and economic influence, and the opposition's accusations of elections fraud have fallen on deaf ears. In early 2003, a US State Department report cited evidence of on-going human rights abuses by the government, but given US interest in Djibouti as a strategic ally in the Middle East and for the war on terrorism, donors were unlikely to apply strong pressure for reforms. There is no independent electoral commission.


Menelik was born in August 1844. His father Haile Menekot, was king of Shewa from 1847 to 1855. Haile Menekot died in 1855 after losing a battle to emperor Tewodros (Prouty, C. and Rosenfeld, E. 1982, 129). Menelik was set to be the next ruler of Shewa but was taken away by Tewodros to Magdala. In his place, Tewodros had made Ato Bezabeh governor of Shewa (Gabre-Sellassie, Z. 1975, 19). At Magdala, Menelik was treated like a prince. He was raised alongside Tewodros' own sons and was given education and training befitting a child of a ruler. Menelik said of Tewodros: "he always loved me as a son" (Marcus 23).

Ten years later, in 1865, Menelik escaped Tewodros' imprisonment and, with the help of family and friends, became the ruler of Shewa. He would remain the ruler of Shewa for another 24 years before he became emperor upon Yohannes' death in 1889 (Pankhurst, R. 1998, 176).

Ato Bezabeh fled upon the return of Menelik to Shewa in 1865. Menelik was officially recognized king of Shewa in August of that year. In April 1868, when the British came to dethrone Tewodros in Magdala, Menelik sent an army to Magdala hoping to claim the imperial throne upon Tewodros' fall. Menelik had asked the British to help him in his plan, but the British did not really care who became the next emperor so they denied him of any assistance. At the last minute, Menelik changed his mind and had his army back off, making the excuse that he would not have his men do battle on Easter. After the British left Magdala, Wagshum Gobaze, the ruler of Amhara, Wag, and Lasta, took Magdala and proclaimed himself emperor. Menelik had lost his first chance at the imperial throne to Gobaze and will still have to wait until Yohannes' death to become emperor (Gabre-Sellassie, Z. 1975, 19-21).

Wagshum Gobaze, now calling himself Emperor Tekle Giyorgis II, remained emperor for only a short three years, from 1868 to 1871. When the British had stormed Magdala in 1868, they had done it with the cooperation of a certain Kassa Marcha of Tigray. After the British finished their campaign, they awarded Kassa Marcha for his cooperation by giving him a number of weapons. When the current emperor, Tekle Giyorgis, attacked Tigray because Kassa had refused to submit, Kassa was able to crush the imperial army because his troops, although outnumbered, were better equipped. Kassa went on to become the next emperor in 1872 with the name Yohannes IV.

During Yohannes' nearly two decade rule, Menelik was mostly faithful. Menelik would respond when Yohannes asked him to suppress a revolt and he respected territorial boundaries carved out for him by Yohannes. However, Menelik's ambition to become emperor was too great and was always looking for a way to dethrone Yohannes. In 1875 Menelik started communication with the khedive of Egypt hoping he could make them an alley. Through Egypt, Menelik hoped he could obtain access to the seacoast and a supply of firearms. Later that same year, the Egyptians tried to make Menelik part of their plot against Yohannes, but before real measures were taken, the Egyptian's plan failed by their own undoing (Gabre-Sellassie, Z. 1975, 57-59). In 1876, Menelik had his aspirations on the French. He wanted to open a trade route to Obock, a French-ruled seaport located in what is today Djibouti. Menelik sent a draft treaty to France and he made it know a substantial amount of land in Shewa would be available for a French settlement (Gabre-Sellassie, Z. 1975, 85-86). Nothing came out of this attempt either but Menelik's most daring move was still ahead of him.

While Yohannes was preoccupied with defending the country against the Egyptians, Menelik saw it as a perfect opportunity to expand his territory north. Menelik started in the summer of 1876 by invading Wallo. Early the following year, Menelik was in Begemdir. During this ordeal, Yohannes was camped at Adwa. It wasn't until March of 1877 that Yohannes finally left Adwa. Yohannes slowly advanced south and Menelik retreated back to Shewa. When Yohannes reached Shewa, Menelik was contemplating whether to do battle with the emperor or to submit. Yohannes was willing not to fight as long as Menelik submitted. Finally Menelik submitted to Yohannes on 10 March 1878. Menelik promised to pay annual tribute, to cease trade routes to European ruled territories, and to be faithful to the emperor. In exchange, Menelik got to keep his land and was anointed by the emperor as king of Shewa (Gabre-Sellassie, Z. 1975, 89-93).

Upon emperor Yohannes' suggestion, Menelik married Taitu Betul. Her brothers were imprisoned with Menelik in Magdala during Tewodros' rule. The wedding took place in the Church of Medhane Alem in Ankober in the spring of 1883. Paul Henze describes her as being "bright, energetic, patriotic, a devout Christian and unusually well educated for her time." (2000, 151).

For much of the 1880s, Menelik's expansion campaigning towards the south greatly increased the size of Shewa. Eastern Gurage was concurred without much resistance where as the western side required heavy fighting measures. Heavy fighting was also necessary to concur Arsi. After defeating King Tekle Haymanot of Gojjam in 1882, Menelik was able to occupy Leqa Naqamté, Leqa Qellem, Jemma, the Gibé states, and Illubabor. Later on, Menelik "took control of Kulo and Konta in 1889. He began the occupation of Kambata in 1890, occupied Ogaden, Balé and Sidamo in 1891, and gained control of Gofa and conquered Walamo . . . in 1894, and took Kafa three years later." One of his last great concur as king of Shewa was Harar. Paul Henze writes that "Menelik consciously extended his borders to include all the territories that had formed part of the medieval empire of Amde Tseyon." (2000, 152).

When the Egyptians evacuated Harar in May 1885, it was taken over by Emir Abdullahi. He was a Muslim fundamentalist who persecuted Christians. When Italian Christians were killed in Ogaden in April 1886, supposedly ordered by the emir, Menelik saw it as an excuse to interpose. Before Menelik attacked, he offered the emir autonomy. The emir refused the offer and opened attack on Menelik on 6 January 1887. Menelik's troops were far superior and the emir was defeated. The emir fled to the Somali desert to hide. Menelik appointed his cousin Makonnen as governor of Hara. The city would go on to become an economic center allowing Shewa a better access to the French Gulf of Tadjoura (Marcus, H. 2002, 83-4).

Yohannes was unexpectedly killed at the Battle of Matamma on 9 March 1889. The heir apparent was Yohannes' son, Megesha, but neither he or any one else could match Menelik's power. Menelik quickly began touring north receiving submission from local officials. Shortly afterwards, Menelik began negotiating with the Italians because he wanted them to officially recognize him as emperor of Ethiopia. On 2 May 1889, the Italians and Menelik signed the infamous Treaty of Wichale (Marcus, H. 2002, 87-9). There were two versions made the Amharic version gave Menelik the choice of "using Italy's good offices for contacts with other countries. The Italian version obligated Menelik to make all such contacts through Italy, thus making Ethiopian an Italian protectorate." (Henze, P. 2000, 161). When Menelik II discovered the misunderstanding, he immediately wrote to Britain's Queen Victoria, to the ruler of Germany, and to the president of France insisting that Ethiopia was still an independent nation. In 1893, Menelik II denounced the treaty and by 1895 Ethiopia and Italy were at war. On March 1896 Menelik's troops crushed the Italian army at Adwa, Ethiopia. Later, Italy did recognize Ethiopia as an independent nation.

After the Battle of Adwa, Menelik refocused his attention to expanding Ethiopia's territory further south and west. One of the first major acquirement was of Kefa in 1897. One major obstacle was the British they were in control of regions that are today Kenya and Sudan. The threat was not going to hinder Menelik he continued expanding into territories the Europeans believed were theirs. As well as expanding Ethiopia's frontiers, Menelik did much to modernize the country. During his reign, electricity, the telephone, and indoor plumping where introduced. Advancements in health and education were made and Ethiopia become a member of the International Postal Union. His most outreaching achievement was the construction of the railway from Addis Abeba to Djibouti. It was instrumental in connecting the country to the outside world as well as increasing trade commerce (Marcus, H. 2002, 104-8).

In 1906, Menelik had a stroke related to a disease which would eventually take his life. In 1907 he institutionalized a ministerial system to the government. The ministry would later become vital when Menelik fell seriously ill. In May 1909, Menelik named his grandson, Iyasu, his successor. Because Iyasu was a minor at the time, Ras Tasamma Nadaw was named regent. However, the most powerful person in Ethiopia at the time was Taytu, Menelik's wife. Her reign was short-lived for she had far more opponents than supporters. Her opponents, includeing the regent, used the imperial army, the church, and other political means to bring Taytu down. In 1910, Taytu was forced out of power. She fled to Saint Maryam at Entotto, where she retired until her death (Zewde, B. 2001, 111-120).

Iyasu took over power in 1911 when regent Ras Tasamma Nadew passed away. Thus began the short reign of Iyasu, which ended in 1916. Menelik died in December of 1913 and the country fell into a period of uncertainty. The next true leader, Haile Selassie, was not crowned until 1930.

Marcus, Harold G. The Life and Times of Menelik II: Ethiopia 1844-1913. The Red Sea Press, 1995.

Djibouti History, Language and Culture

Inhabited at least since the Neolithic age, Djibouti is one of the cradles of human civilisation and is a likely contender to have been part of the region known to the Ancient Egyptians as Punt as long ago as 2500BC.

Somali and Afar ethnic groups in the area were early adopters of Islam and for much of the medieval period the land we now know as Djibouti changed hands between a variety of Muslim sultanates and the more powerful Ethiopian emperors.

Once the French established a permanent administration in the city of Djibouti in the early 1890s they created French Somaliland in the surrounding region, affording it 'overseas territory' status in 1945. That lasted until 1967 when it was blessed with the catchy moniker, the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas (TFAI).

Tensions between the Afars, the Issas and the French led to sporadic outbreaks of violence during the late 1960s and early 1970s until in 1977, the French agreed to withdraw and the country achieved independence with Hassan Gouled Aptidon as president.

A sizeable French military presence in the country guaranteed the Gouled regime, which was threatened by organised opposition – both inside the country and abroad – and by the instability of its larger neighbours, Somalia and Ethiopia and, later on, Eritrea.

In 1991, Afar tribesmen launched a major assault on the regime, under the rubric of Le Front pour la Restauration de l'Unité et la Démocratie (FRUD). After two years of fighting, the rebellion was quashed with French support and, in May 1993, Gouled was re-elected as president.

After a major split within FRUD, part of the movement formed an alliance with the government and the ruling Rassemblement Populaire pour le Progrès (RPP).

Gouled resigned in the spring of 1999 after 22 years in office. Gouled's nephew and former security chief, Ismail Omar Guelleh, replaced him and comfortably won the April 1999 poll.

Apart from a failed coup in December 2000 – orchestrated by a disaffected former police chief – Djibouti has since enjoyed a welcome spell of domestic calm.

In April 2005, Guelleh won a second-term in a one-man presidential election, a feat he repeated in 2011 and 2016 with 80 per cent and 86 per cent of the respective votes cast.

• An incredible 88 per cent Djibouti's largest forest, the Day Forest, has been lost in the last 200 years – more than 20 per cent in the last 50 years.

• Somali love songs in the Balwo style are popular in Djibouti.

• The Djibouti francolin bird is critically endangered and is only known in two locations.

Religious Minorities

The remaining 6% of the population identify as one of the several Christian denominations. The majority of these individuals are made up of Ethiopian Orthodox or Roman Catholics of Ethiopian and European descent. A very small percentage of native Djiboutians are Christians. The Orthodox religion has been introduced by Ethiopian immigrants. The Catholic religion was introduced a little over 100 years ago by Franciscan Capuchins who built health and educational facilities. Since public proselytizing is not common, and actually prohibited by Christians, Muslims and Christians share an environment of religious tolerance. The majority of newcomers to these faiths are immigrants to the country. Given the recognition of Christianity, these individuals can easily find Christian religious centers to practice their faith and meet up with others of the same beliefs. Very few Muslims convert to Christianity, and when they do, their families often ostracize them. To avoid this, they practice their new found faith in secret. Upon their deaths, the families practice traditional Muslim burial customs rather than Christian.

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