Emirate, Egyptian, Ethiopian: Colonial Experiences in Late Nineteenth-Century Harar
In October 1875, two months after the takeover of the Somali coastal town of Zeila, an Egyptian force numbering 1,200 soldiers departed from the city to occupy Harar, a prominent Muslim hub in the Horn of Africa. In doing so, they turned this sovereign emirate into an Egyptian colony that became a focal meeting point of geopolitical interests, with interactions between Muslim Africans, European powers, and Christian Ethiopians. In Emirate, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Ben-Dror tells the story of Turco-Egyptian colonial ambitions and the processes that integrated Harar into the global system of commerce that had begun enveloping the Red Sea. This new colonial era in the city's history inaugurated new standards of government, society, and religion. Drawing on previously untapped Egyptian, Harari, Ethiopian, and European archival sources, Ben-Dror reconstructs the political, social, economic, religious, and cultural history of the occupation, which included building roads, reorganizing the political structure, and converting many to Islam. He portrays the complexity of colonial interactions as an influx of European merchants and missionaries settled in Harar. By shedding light on the dynamic historical processes, Ben-Dror provides new perspectives on the important role of non-European imperialists in shaping the history of these regions.