Ethiopia and her history of the Horn: Which Way to the Sea, Please?

Ethiopia and her history of the Horn: Which Way to the Sea, Please?

Which Way to the Sea, Please?

With a resurgent Ethiopia, integration of the Horn of Africa, and renewed Ethiopian desire for access to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean with navy forces and naval bases on the headlines, we look back at history, the history  of Ethiopian Kings and Emperors to establish access to Somalia seas and their failures thereon.

But let us stay with Menelik. Stand warned and firm: don’t ever be surprised by Menelik who writes, “Formerly, the boundary of Ethiopia was the sea … our frontiers on the sea coast fell into the power of the Muslims.”

We shall note one thing: that at this stage, the sea remains so far unnamed, the coast as well. The boundary of Ethiopia was the sea. When? What sea? And when did the frontiers of Ethiopia (if even we accept the concept as Menelik had), specifically the frontiers on the sea, fell into the power of the Muslims? But who are the pagans that surround him? The Somalis? The Gallas) The Eritreans? And had he considered it his duty as a Christian to carry the pharos of Jesus Christ to the heathen peoples of the coast? I am afraid we shall have no answer from him. But we have this; we have a mention of intentions; we have Menelik’s word for it:

  • At present, we do not intend to regain our sea frontiers by force but we trust that the Christian powers guided by our Saviour, will restore to us our sea coast-line . .. at any rate, certain parts of it.

Eritrea or the Benadir coast. Ethiopia lusted after any coast, any water-way, be it the Somali coast, the Eritrean, Lake Nyanza (Victoria) or the Nile. Year after year, whether men or governments change, whether the claims are altered, Ethiopia needs a coast, a watery expanse – however contradictory the claims, however unconfirmable the dates they offer. Nothing. Promise after promise. No progress. Negotiations after negotiations. No port. In fact, Ethiopia is herself an Italian colony. We are in the second World War. Italy is on the losing side, and Haile Sellassie has enlisted the help of Britain whose Royal Air Force showers leaflets of propaganda proclamations on the Italian colonies. We read:

Eritrean people and the people of Benadir! You were separated from your mother Ethiopia and were put under the yoke of the enemy and under the yoke of the enemy, you still remain.

I have come to restore the independence of my country, including Eritrea and the Benadir whose people will henceforth dwell under the shade of the Ethiopian flag.

In this struggle, We are neither alone nor without arms. We have the help of Great Britain, therefore I summon you to strive to deliver yourselves from the alien slavery 

Eritrean soldiers in the ranks of Italy, do not fire a single shot against the British who come to help us.

Remember what his predecessors have said. Remember what has been quoted above. Eritrea now. Benadir later. But what happens if Eritrea isn’t given to Ethiopia? Neither Eritrea nor Somalia would subsist as separate entities (according to the Emperor). [30] Further, if either isn’t given to his country…

Will Mengistu request the Russians and Cubans to take the ports of Zeila and Berbera, keep them for themselves or give them up to Ethiopia? Russia would certainly love to take full possession of the port of Berbera again.

In the meanwhile, the war goes on. And the world looks on with sufficient indifference.

Click below for the full journal

Which Way to the Sea, Please?

By Nuraddin Farah

Horn of Africa – Journal, October/December 1978

Volume 1, Number 4, Pgs 31-36

Republished by Wardheer News March 4, 2015


  • Ahmed 1 month ago

    The Above claiming history and as seen the map is totally fiction and absolutely is disrespectful. Historically Somalia was Unique People having thier own traditions, believes customs and different political structure having thier territory from the Abyssinain border to the sea.

    Somali people have a historical resistance of unbeat and have inspiration to defend their torritory and people no matter that they are a failed state but still they can’t be controlled and conquered.

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