Yusuf Ali Kenadid

Yusuf Ali Kenadid (Somali: Yuusuf Cali Keenadiid) was a Somali Sultan. He was the founder of the Sultanate of Hobyo in the 1870s. Along with Sultan Mohamoud Ali Shire of the Warsangali Sultanate and King Osman Mahamuud of the Majeerteen Sultanate, Yusuf Ali was one of the three prominent rulers of present-day Somalia at the turn of the 20th century. He was succeeded atop the throne by his son Ali Yusuf Kenadid. The army of Yusuf Ali Kenadid conquered the local Hawiye clan and established Sultanate of Hobyo in 1870s.[1]

Yusuf Ali Kenadid
Yuusuf Cali Keenadiid
1st Sultan of the Sultanate of Hobyo
Reign1870s-early 1900s
SuccessorAli Yusuf Kenadid
IssueAli Yusuf Kenadid, Osman Yusuf Kenadid
Yuusuf Cali Keenadiid


Yusuf Ali Kenadid was born into a Majeerteen Darod family. He is the father of Osman Yusuf Kenadid, who would go on to create the Osmanya writing script for the Somali language.[2] Yusuf Ali's grandson, Yasin Osman Kenadid, would later help found the Society for Somali Language and Literature.[3]

Yusuf Ali was not a lineal descendant of the previous dynasties that governed over northeastern Somalia. He independently amassed his own fortune, and would later evolve into a skilled military leader commanding more senior troops. "Kenadid" was not his surname, but rather a title given to him by his rivals.[4]

As per custom among the period's prominent urban traders, to ensure commercial success in the interior, Kenadid married a local woman. While traveling to the coast in his capacity as a merchant prince, he would thereafter entrust his business affairs to his second wife, Khadija. Her duties during her husband's absence included maintaining the extant commercial transactions with the local population, collecting debts, securing loans, and safeguarding merchandise stock that had been acquired during previous journeys.[5]

Yusf Ali's son, Ali Yusuf, succeeded him as Sultan of Hobyo.

Majeerteen and Hobyo SultanatesEdit

Initially, Kenadid's goal was to seize control of the neighboring Majeerteen Sultanate (Migiurtinia), which was then ruled by his cousin Boqor Osman Mahamuud. 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 Sultanate of Obbia.[6]

Majeerteen-Italian treatiesEdit

In late 1888, Sultan Kenadid entered into a treaty with Italy, making his Sultanate a protectorate known as Obbia Protectrorate later annexed to the Italian Somaliland in 1922 along with the territories of the Greater Kingdom Of Migiurtinia.[7] His uncle and rival Boqor Osman would sign a similar agreement vis-a-vis his own Majeerteen Sultanate the following year. Both Sultan Kenadid and Boqor Osman had entered into the protectorate treaties to advance their own expansionist goals, with Kenadid looking to use Italy's support in his ongoing power struggle with Boqor Osman over the Majeerteen Sultanate, as well as in a separate conflict with the Sultan of Zanzibar over an area to the north of Warsheikh. In signing the agreements, the rulers also hoped to exploit the rival objectives of the European imperial powers so as to more effectively assure the continued independence of their territories.[8]

The terms of each treaty specified that Italy was to steer clear of any interference in the sultanates' respective administrations.[8] In return for Italian arms and an annual subsidy, the Sultans conceded to a minimum of oversight and economic concessions.[9] The Italians also agreed to dispatch a few ambassadors to promote both the sultanates' and their own interests.[8]


However, the relationship between Obbia Sultanate 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 Mohammed Abdullah Hassan's Dervish forces.[10] 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.[11] However, unlike the southern territories, the northern sultanates were not subject to direct rule due to the earlier treaties they had signed with the Italians.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Lea, David; Rowe, Annamarie (2001). A Political Chronology of Africa. Europa Publications. p. 378. ISBN 1857431162.
  2. ^ Diringer, David (1968). The Alphabet: A Key to the History of Mankind, Volume 1. Funk & Wagnalls. pp. 235–236. ISBN 1452299374. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  3. ^ Samatar, Said S. (1979). Poetry in Somali politics: the case of Sayyid Maḥammad A̓bdille Ḥassan, Volume 2. Northwestern University. p. 31. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  4. ^ Corpo di stato maggiore, Ufficio storico (1938). Somalia: Dalle origini al 1914. Tipografia regionale. p. 55.
  5. ^ Reese, Scott Steven (1996). Patricians of the Benaadir: Islamic Learning, Commerce and Somali Urban Identity in the Nineteenth Century. University of Pennsylvania. p. 201. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  6. ^ Helen Chapin Metz, Somalia: a country study, (The Division: 1993), p.10.
  7. ^ Hess, Robert L. (1966). Italian Colonialism in Somalia. University of Chicago Press.
  8. ^ a b c Issa-Salwe (1996:34–35)
  9. ^ Hess (1964:416–417)
  10. ^ The Majeerteen Sultanates
  11. ^ Sheik-ʻAbdi (1993:129)
  12. ^ Ismail, Ismail Ali (2010). Governance: The Scourge and Hope of Somalia. Trafford Publishing. p. xxiii. ISBN 1426983743.


External linksEdit