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Sultan of the Sultanate of Hobyo, SOMALIA. Sultan Yusuf Ali Kenadid.

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Created: 13th May 2010
Modified: 13th May 2010
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Sultan of the Sultanate of Hobyo Sultan Yusuf Ali Kenadid.
Sultan Yusuf Ali Kenadid.
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Biographical Information
(At a Glance)
Gender: male
Place of Origin: Somalia

Yusuf Ali Kenadid

was a Somali ruler, and the founder of the Sultanate of Hobyo in the 1880s.

Yusuf Ali Kenadid was born into a Majeerteen Darod family, the uncle of Osman Yusuf Kenadid, who would go on to create the Osmanya writing script for the Somali language.



Yusuf Ali Kenadid was born into a Majeerteen Darod family, the uncle of Osman Yusuf Kenadid, who would go on to create the Osmanya writing script for the Somali language.

 Majeerteen and Hobyo Sultanates

Initially, Kenadid's goal was to seize control of the neighboring Majeerteen Sultanate, which was then ruled by his cousin Boqor Osman Mahamud. However, he was unsuccessful in this endeavor, and was eventually forced into exile in Yemen. A decade later, in the 1870s, Kenadid returned from the Arabian Peninsula with a band of Hadhrami musketeers and a group of devoted lieutenants. With their assistance, he managed to overpower the local Hawiye clans and establish the small kingdom of Hobyo.[1]

 Somali-Italian treaties

In late 1888, Sultan Kenadid entered into a treaty with the Italians, making his realm an Italian protectorate. His rival Boqor Osman would sign a similar agreement vis-a-vis his own Sultanate the following year. Both rulers had signed the protectorate treaties to advance their own expansionist objectives, with Kenadid looking to use Italy's support in his dispute with the Sultan of Zanzibar over an area bordering Warsheikh, in addition to his ongoing power struggle over the Majeerteen Sultanate with Boqor Osman. Both Sultan Kenadid and Boqor Osman also hoped to exploit the conflicting interests among the European imperial powers that were then looking to control the Somali peninsula, so as to avoid direct occupation of their territories by force.[2]


However, the relationship between Hobyo and Italy soured when Sultan Kenadid refused the Italians' proposal to allow a British contingent of troops to disembark in his Sultanate so that they might then pursue their battle against the Somali religious and nationalist leader Muhammad Abdullah Hassan's Dervish forces.[3] Viewed as too much of a threat by the Italians, Sultan Kenadid was eventually exiled to Aden in Yemen and then to Eritrea, as was his son Ali Yusuf, the heir apparent to his throne.[4]


The Majeerteen Sultanates

The Majeerteen Sultanate originated in the mid 18th century, but only came into its own in the 19th century with the reign of the resourceful Ismaan Mahamuud. For providing protection for the British naval crews that were periodically shipwrecked on the Somali coast, Mahamuud's kingdom benefited from British subsidies. It also enjoyed a liberal trade policy that facilitated a flourishing commerce in livestock, ostrich feathers and gum arabic. While acknowledging a vague vassalage to the British Empire, the Sultan kept his desert kingdom free until well after 1800.

By the middle of the 19th century, two kingdoms emerged farther east on the Bari coast, which would play a significant political role in the Somali Peninsula prior to European intervention: the Majeerteen Sultanate of Boqor Osman Mahamuud, and the Sultanate of Hobyo of his relative, Yusuf Ali Kenadid.

Osman Mahamuud's Sultanate was nearly destroyed in the middle of the 18th century by a power struggle between himself and his young, ambitious cousin, Kenadid. Nearly five years of destructive civil war passed before Boqor Osman managed to stave off the challenge of the young upstart, who was finally driven into exile in Arabia. A decade later, in the 1870s, Kenadid returned from Arabia with a score of Hadhrami musketeers and a band of devoted lieutenants. With their help, he carved out the small Sultanate of Hobyo after conquering the local Hawiye clans. Both kingdoms, however, were gradually absorbed by the extension into southern Somalia of Italian colonial rule in the last quarter of the 19th century.[1]


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