Pushing Marginalization: British Colonial Policy, Somali Identity, and the Gosha 'Other' in Jubaland Province, 1895 to 1925
Blaha, David Ryan
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Throughout the 19th century, large numbers of enslaved people were brought from southeastern Africa to work on Somali plantations along the Benadir Coast and Shebelle River. As these southeast Africans were manumitted or escaped bondage, many fled to the west and settled in the heavily forested and fertile Gosha district along the Juba River. Unattached, lacking security, and surrounded by Somalis-speaking groups, these refugees established agricultural communities and were forced to construct new identities. Initially these riverine peoples could easily access clan structures and political institutions of surrounding Somali sub-clans, which in pre-colonial Jubaland were relatively fluid, open, and—in time—would have allowed these groups to become assimilated into Somali society. British colonial rule however changed this flexibility. Somali identity, once porous and accessible, became increasingly more rigid and exclusive, especially towards the riverine ex-slave communities—collectively called the Gosha by the British—who were subsequently marginalized and othered by these new "Somali." This project explores how British colonial rule contributed to this process and argues that in Jubaland province a "Somali" identity coalesced largely in opposition to the Gosha.
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