Nasiib Bunda, a forgotten Somali (1800-1900’s)

Nasiib Bunda, a forgotten Somali (1800-1900’s)

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I Just came across this Somali historical leader, and thought I should share. Apparently he was a notable Somali who sought to create a gosha state, and protect his people from slavery and injustices committed by the majority populace of Somalis. He also worked with Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan in fighting the Italian colonist. 
Here is an excerpt I found from the “African Frontier”, I am not sure how accurate it is, given their is little scholarly material on this guy.
Tradition attributes to Nassib Bunda many of the institutions and customs noted by the early colonial authorities in Goshaland. It is said that he sought to reinstate the practice of organizing villages along ethnic lines. He may also be responsible for the practice of appointing sagale to super-vise newly arrived immigrants and thereby ensuring his control of the burgeoning Gosha settlements. He established certain rules of land tenure: no non-bantu Somalis were allowed to settle in Goshaland, for example, and land abandoned for four years reverted back to the village gamas-its founding families. Finally, be is said to have established penalties for a number of crimes, Including rape, adultery, homicide, cannibalism (witchcraft?), and injury or insult to headmen or sagale (Zoli 1927:149-150, 181-182, 244-245, 25 3-259).

From the fragmentary evidence, one can infer some of the sources of Nassib Bunda’s power and the mechanisms he used to extend it over Goshaland. Some of these mechanisms dearly built upon existing beliefs of the settlers; others grew out of the peculiar circumstances of late nine-teenth-century Somalia and involved alliances with elements of the sur-rounding Somali society.

Nassib Bunda is remembered as a courageous warrior and military leader. Many stories speak of his success in defending his followers against their former Somali masters. A string of early successes against ******* and Biimaal raiding parties enhanced his reputation as both protector and magician; he was said to be able to summon the animals of the forest and river to his cause (Fieldnotes 1971, Rossetti I900). Age-classes do not seem to have been institutionalized in Goshaland, but all able-bodied males had to give military service and each village of the confederation had a military head responsible for its contingent of militiamen. With arms acquired from Zanzibari traders in the 1880’s, Nassib Bunda created a special force of musket bearers under his own command and it became the core of his fighting forces, supported by a second line of archers and spear bearers (Zoli 1927:198). Firearms enabled Goshaland to take the offensive in the last few years of the century: on one occasion, Nassib Bunda directed an attack against a Somali zariba (nomadic thorn enclosure) in retaliation for a Somali raid on a friendly caravan trader (Robecchi.-Brichetti 1899:209).

But it was not only military success that secured Nassib Bunda,s reputation. He was an acknowledged master of the mystical arts, combining Islamic and African practices In exercising his leadership. His reputed ability to command animals in defending Goshaland has already been -mentioned. Rather less popular was his supposed power over the crocodiles of the Juba, which he used against Gosha rivals; and he threatened family heads with gory death if they refused to give him their daughters in marriage.” Given the unfamiliar surroundings with Its un known spirits, it is not surprising that the settlers should emphasize their leader’s supernatural powers. Religious specialists often play an important role in frontier situations, as in the already noted instance of the Zigua mganga,s. What Nassib Bunda did was to combine supernatural expertise military prowess. His claim to Islamic mystical knowledge contributed further to his prestige among his overwhelmingly illiterate followers, for it suggested control in the world of their former masters. Islamic trappings also provided a source of political legitimacy that transcended ethnic ties. It is not surprising that after 1885 Nassib Bunda styled himself “sultan” of Goshaland- and was recognized as such by Zanzibar and, later, European authori-ties. In the 1890’s, an Italian traveler found in Nassib’s employ a learned Muslim secretary who served him as adviser and correspondent with Muslim authoritis in Baraawe and Zanzibar (cited in Rossetti I900:36).

Nassib Bunda’s policies were conditioned by the proximity of other political communities. A shrewd diplomat, he effectively used external alliances with neighboring Somalis and with Arab representatives of the su1tans of Zanzibar. In his earlier years, it appears, Nassib Bunda was hostile to all Somali clans save the Tunni, one of whom had rescued him from slavery and whose notables helped him gain recognition from the Egyptian expedition. Peaceful relations with the Tunni involved trade and the diffusion of Islamic learning. On at least one occasion, Nassib and some followers visited Baraawe, a center of the Qadiriya Muslim brotherh-ood and the main trading town of the Tunni (Rossetti 1900:33).

More surprising, however, is the apparent accord that Nassiib Bunda reached with segments of the Biimaal and Sheekhal Somali. These largely pastoral clans had occupied the coastal plains between Baraawe and the Jüba River about the time Nassib Bunda first settled in Goshaland, and they had periodically attacked isolated hamlets and taken the local people as slave. After several indecisive skrimishes, Nassib Bunda apparently decided to neutralize them. He agreed not to admit his territory any runaway slaves from these clans.

(Zoli 1927:1929). In exchange, Bii-maal and Sheekhal raids on Gosha people dimminished; the exchange of crops for livestock products became easier; and Nassib Bunda had perhaps secured external allies in his struggle for domination of the Gosha confed-eration Clearly, once Nassib had achieved internal Gosha leadership, its maintenance required other kinds of skills. Having built a reputation as an ardent foe of Somali domination, Nassib Bunda sought, after 1885, out-side recognition of his territorial supremacy. To do this, he needed a modus Vivendi with his neighbors. The task was greatly facilitated by the segmen-tary nature of Somali politics on the one hand and, on the other, by the desire of Zanzibar’s sultans now under increasing British influence-to promote peaceful trade in their vast East African dominions.

Among the Somali, frequent feuding among lineage’s and clan seg-ments encouraged a politics of limited alliances that achieved temporary balance of power in districts where resources had to be shared. Nassib adapted this system to his own needs By allying himself with certain Somali clans, he reduced the threat to Goshaland’s insured a certain respect from other Somali clans who strength that such alliances could bring. Thus, while internally the Gsha polity was built on social, political, and religious principles shared by the most of the settlers, its external relations had to borrow from the pragmatic’ Somali model. There is no evidence of any ritual sanctions or explanations of these alliances.

Nassib Bunda’s accommodation with the Zanzibar regime upon his short-lived recognition by the Egyptian expedition which bar saw as a direct challenge to its supremacy in East Africa. N policy used Zanzibar’s official efforts to end the slave trade and subs~, trade in other commodities. Sultan Barghash’s efforts to establish trading stations along the Somali coast had found little Somali support and frequent Somali hostility. The emergence of the Gosha enclave held out to Zanzibar the prospect of a new market and a commercial corridor to interior. Hence, by the 1880’s, Nassib Bunda was able to secure Zanzibar’s recognition of his authority (together with supply of firearms and ammunition) in exchange for his acceptance of the Sultan’s right to t up the Juba, a trade that never amounted to much.

Part 2

When, in 1890, British and Italian authorities moved to respective claims to what were to become the two Somalilands, 1 sought support of the “Sultan of Goshaland” by promising aim a stip However, while the European powers were interested in creating a pa zone from which they could move out to subdue rebellious Somali clans the hinterland, Nassib Bunda was concerned with maintaining his control over the segments of his confederation. As old rivals like Songollo Mafulla threw in their lot with the British, Nassib appears to have immersed himself even more in the anti-European politics of the surrounding Somali. followers began covertly to supply food (and perhaps firearms) to ******* Somali, then in revolt against the British. On the Italian side of the Juba, he continued to attack Somali traders, leading the Italian resident to threaten him with imprisonment. By 1903, it was reported that a belligerent Nassib Bunda was corresponding with Mohammed Abdille Hassan the so-called “Mad Mullah” who was waging a holy war against British and Italian infidels in northern Somalia and was looking for allies in the south (Chiesi 19o9:631-634). Nassib Bunda’s importance in the region may be gauged from the fact that Gosha at the time reprensented a force of 800 to 1,000 guns. excluding thousands of archers and spear bearers.

Nassib appears to have immersed himself even more in the anti-European politics of the surrounding Somali. followers began covertly to supply food (and perhaps firearms) to ******* Somali, then in revolt against the! British. On the Italian side of the Juba, he continued to attack Somali traders, leading the Italian resident to threaten him with imprisonment.

By 1903, it was reported that a belligerent Nassib Bunda was corresponding with Mohammed Abdille Hassan the so-called “Mad Mullah” who was waging a holy war against British and Italian infidels in northern Somalia and was looking for allies in the south (Chiesi 1909:631-634). Nassib Bunda’s importance in the region may be gauged from the fact that Gosha at the time represented a force of guns. Excluding thousands of archers and spear bearers.

Later Nassib Bunda was captured by Italians and he was arrested and died in a Mogadishu prison in 1906, Italian did not said what was caused of his death, but The Gosha Community believes, Nasiib was poisoned by Italian, because of his Italian resistance. A powerful figure of his life-time, Nassib Bunde also provided a focus of historical identity for all Goshaland after this death. 

Preapared Moment Media IQRA

King Nasib Bundo, the freedom fighter

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Moment Media IQRA

Ache Makangila Ache Zamani aka Nasib Bundo, was the first Somali man to seek for freedom or libaration for a Somali region.

He frequently visited several countries in the region, specially Zanzibar, where he met the rulers of Zanzibar, including the Sultan.

In this photo, King Nasib Bundo had just returned from a visit to Zanzibar in 1911, where he sought a support for full independence for his country, Goshaland or Jubbaland.

Late in the 19th century, Egypt, Zanzibar, Italy, and Britain recognized this haven (Jubbaland) as an independent entity. In that period King Nasib Bundo was the ruler of Goshaland.

King Nasib Bundo was later on arrested by the Italian forces, since he opposed the western colonial powers, who favoured the nomad Somalis during their stay in Somalia.

King Nasib Bundo died in the Italian prison and its believed that he was poisoned by the colonial powers and the Somali mercenaries.

The colonial powers abolished the kingdom of Goshaland, and Gosha people were put under discrimination and apartheid rule led by Somali nomad people with the help of colonial powers.

The people of Gosha are advised to take up the arms and fight for their rights, so that they can eliminate the discrimination subjected to them.

This struggle will enable Wagosha people to be respected and treated equally as other Somalis in the country.

Moment Media IQRA – Movement of Somalia

Apparently Miskiin made this topic before back in 2005. useful info

Interesting history there. The man should get a statue.

Thanks for this, SP. I’ve come across mentions of Nasiib Bunda before but never this much information. I haven’t read “The African Frontier” yet but Igor Kopytoff is a famous anthropologist and his work is quite influential in African Studies, so I trust the accuracy of his research.

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