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Merca ( so, Marka, Maay: ''Marky'', ar, مركة) is a historic port city in the southern
Lower Shebelle Lower Shabelle ( so, Shabeellaha Hoose, ar, شبيلي السفلى, it, Basso Scebeli) is an administrative region (''Administrative divisions of Somalia, gobol'') in southern Somalia. Overview It is bordered by the Somali regions of Banaadir ...
province of
Somalia Somalia,, Osmanya script: 𐒈𐒝𐒑𐒛𐒐𐒘𐒕𐒖; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal Republic of SomaliaThe ''Federal Republic of Somalia'' is the country's name per Article 1 of thProvisional Constitutio ...

Somalia
. It is located approximately to the southwest of the nation's capital
Mogadishu Mogadishu (, also ; so, Muqdisho or Xamar ; ar, مقديشو, Muqadīshū ; it, Mogadiscio ), locally known as Xamar or Hamar, is the capital city and most populous city The United Nations uses three definitions for what constitutes a city ...

Mogadishu
. Merca is the traditional home territory of the
Bimal The Bimaal or Bimal, ( so, italic=yes, Biyomaal) is a sub-clan of the major Dir (clan), Dir clan family. This clan is widely known for leading a resistance against the colonials in southern Somalia for decades which can be compared to the war of t ...
clan and was the center of the Bimal Revolt or Merka Revolt.http://www.landinfo.no/asset/2736/1/2736_1.pdf Marka is the traditional home territory of the Dir clan Biimaal (Lewis 2008, p. 5).


History


Antiquity

The city of
Essina Essina ( grc, Εσσίνα) was an ancient Proto-Somali Marketplace, emporium located on the southeastern coast of Somalia in the Horn of Africa.Ptolemy's Topography of Eastern Equatorial Africa, by Henry Schlichter Proceedings of the Royal Geograp ...
is believed to have been the predecessor state of Merca. It used to be an ancient
Proto-SomaliProto-Somalis were the ancient people and ancestors of Somalis Somalis ( so, Soomaalida) are an Cushitic peoples, East Cushitic ethnic group native to the Horn of Africa who share a common ancestry, culture and history. The Somali language is the ...
emporium
emporium
city-state. It is mentioned in the ''
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea The ''Periplus of the Erythraean Sea'' ( grc, Περίπλους τῆς Ἐρυθρᾶς Θαλάσσης, ', modern Greek '), also known by its Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of ...
'', a Greek travel document dating from the first century AD, as one of a series of commercial ports on the Somali littoral. According to the ''Periplus'', maritime trade already connected peoples in the Merca area with other communities along the Somali Sea coast.


Medieval Period

According to 12th century author Al-Idrisi the
Hawiye The Hawiye ( so, Hawiye, ar, بنو هوية, it, Haouia, en, Hawiye) is a major Somali clan. Members of this clan traditionally inhabit central and southern Somalia Somalia,; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal ...
occupied the coastal areas between
Ras Hafun Ras Hafun ( so, Ras Xaafuun, ar, رأس حـافـون, it, Capo Hafun), also known as Cape Hafun, is a promontory in the northeastern Bari, Somalia, Bari region of Somalia. Jutting out into the Guardafui Channel, it constitutes the East Africa, ...
and Merca, as well as the lower basin of the lower
Shabelle
Shabelle
river. Al-Idrisi's mention of the
Hawiye The Hawiye ( so, Hawiye, ar, بنو هوية, it, Haouia, en, Hawiye) is a major Somali clan. Members of this clan traditionally inhabit central and southern Somalia Somalia,; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal ...
is the first documentary reference to a specific Somali group in the Horn. Later Arab writers also make references to the
Hawiye The Hawiye ( so, Hawiye, ar, بنو هوية, it, Haouia, en, Hawiye) is a major Somali clan. Members of this clan traditionally inhabit central and southern Somalia Somalia,; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal ...
clan in connection with both Merca and the lower Shabelle valley.
Ibn Sa'id Abū al-Ḥasan ʿAlī ibn Mūsā ibn Saʿīd al-Maghribī ( ar, علي بن موسى المغربي بن سعيد) (1213–1286), also known as Ibn Saʿīd al-Andalusī, was an Arab The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ...
(1214–74), for instance, considered Merca to be the capital of the Hawiye, who lived in fifty villages on the bank of a river which he called ''the nile of Mogadishu'', a clear reference to the Shabelle river.
Yaqut al-Hamawi Yāqūt Shihāb al-Dīn ibn-'Abdullāh al-Rūmī al-Hamawī (1179–1229) ( ar, ياقوت الحموي الرومي) is famous for his great "geography", ''Mu'jam ul-Buldān'', an encyclopedia of Islam written in the late Abbāsid era and as muc ...
, another thirteen-century Arab geographer also mentions Merca, which he says belonged to the ''Black Berbers'' considered ancestors of modern
Somalis The Somalis ( so, Soomaalida 𐒈𐒝𐒑𐒛𐒐𐒘𐒆𐒖, ar, صوماليون) are an Cushitic peoples, East Cushitic ethnic group native to the Horn of Africa who share a common ancestry, culture and history. The Somali language is the ...

Somalis
. During the Middle Ages, the area was one of several prominent administrative centers of the
Ajuran Sultanate The Ajuran Empire ( so, Saldanadda Ajuuraan, ar, سلطنة الأجورانية), also spelled Ajuuraan Empire, and often simply as Ajuran, was a Somalis, Somali empire in the medieval times in the Horn of Africa that dominated the trade in nor ...
. The polity formed one of the largest kingdoms in the
Horn Horn usually refers to: *Horn (acoustic), a conical or bell shaped aperture used to guide sound ** Horn (instrument), collective name for tube-shaped wind musical instruments *Horn (anatomy), a pointed, bony projection on the head of various anima ...

Horn
region. Various
pillar tombA pillar tomb is a type of monumental grave A grave is a location where a cadaver, dead body (typically that of a human, although sometimes that of an animal) is burial, buried. Graves are usually located in special areas set aside for the pu ...
s exist in the region, which local tradition holds were built in the 15th century, when the Sultanate's naa'ibs governed the district. According to
Ibn Sa'id Abū al-Ḥasan ʿAlī ibn Mūsā ibn Saʿīd al-Maghribī ( ar, علي بن موسى المغربي بن سعيد) (1213–1286), also known as Ibn Saʿīd al-Andalusī, was an Arab The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ...
in the thirteenth century described nearby Merca as one of the three most important cities on the East African coast along with
Mogadishu Mogadishu (, also ; so, Muqdisho or Xamar ; ar, مقديشو, Muqadīshū ; it, Mogadiscio ), locally known as Xamar or Hamar, is the capital city and most populous city The United Nations uses three definitions for what constitutes a city ...

Mogadishu
and
Barawa Barawa ( so, Baraawe, ar, مدينة ﺑﺮﺍﻭة ''Madīna Barāwa''), also known as Barawe and Brava, is the capital of the South West State of Somalia Somalia,; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal Republic o ...

Barawa
all serving as the commercial and Islamic centers for the
Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's five oceanic divisions, covering or 19.8% of the water on Earth's surface. It is bounded by Asia to the north, Africa to the west and Australia (continent), Australia to the east. To the so ...

Indian Ocean
. Following the decline of
Ajuran Sultanate The Ajuran Empire ( so, Saldanadda Ajuuraan, ar, سلطنة الأجورانية), also spelled Ajuuraan Empire, and often simply as Ajuran, was a Somalis, Somali empire in the medieval times in the Horn of Africa that dominated the trade in nor ...
. In the vicinity of Merca, a mysterious group known as the El Amir believe to be from the
Abgaal The Abgaal (Somali: Abgaal, Arabic: أبغال) is a major subclan of the Hawiye and the even larger Samaale clan. It is one of the major sub-clans of the Hawiye. The Abgaal have produced many prominent historical Somali figures including 3 pres ...
origin made its appearance in the late 17th century. According to an account collected by Guillain in 1847, a leader known as Amir formed a following which invaded the territory of Merca and expelled the Ajuran clan. The El Amir then ruled for thirty-four years until the
Biimaal The Bimaal or Bimal, ( so, italic=yes, Biyomaal) is a sub-clan of the major Dir clan family. This clan is widely known for leading a resistance against the colonials in southern Somalia for decades which can be compared to the war of the Sayyid i ...
expelled them and definitively occupied Merca.


Early Modern

One of the most powerful sultanates to have emerged from Southern Somalia called the
Geledi Sultanate The Sultanate of the Geledi ( so, Saldanadda Geledi, ar, سلطنة غلدي) also known as the Gobroon Dynasty was a Somali kingdom that ruled parts of the Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA) om, Gaafa Afrikaa, am, የአፍሪካ ቀን ...
centered in
Afgooye Afgooye ( so, Afgooye, ar, أفجويى, it, Afgoi) is a town in the southwestern Somalia Lower Shebelle (Shabellaha Hoose) region of Somalia. It is the center of the Afgooye District. Afgooye is the third largest city of South_West_State_of_Som ...
in the late 17th century. It incorporated the Merca territory into its kingdom until the
Bimaal The Bimaal or Bimal, ( so, italic=yes, Biyomaal) is a sub-clan of the major Dir clan family. This clan is widely known for leading a resistance against the colonials in southern Somalia for decades which can be compared to the war of the Sayyid i ...
rebelled in the mid-1800s for independence. The Sultanate of Geledi tried to attack and destroy the Bimaal clan many times to try and re-capture the coastal city of Merca. But the Bimal of Merca managed to defeat the Geledi Sultanate 2 times. In 1843 Yusuf Mahamud, Sultan of Geledi, vowed to destroy the Bimaal for once and for all and mobilizes the Geledi army. In 1848 the sultan of the Geledi, Yusuf Mahamud was is killed at Adaddey Suleyman, a village near Merca, in a battle between the Bimaal and Geledi Sultanate. His son Sultan Ahmed Yusuf tried to see revenge but was also killed in 1878 at Agaaran, near Marka by the Bimal. This caused a steady decline in the Geledi Sultanate.


Bimal Revolt

The ''Bimal revolt'', ''Bimal resistance'', or ''Banadir resistance'' was a guerrilla war against the
Italian Somaliland Italian Somaliland ( it, Somalia italiana, ar, الصومال الإيطالي ''Al-Sumal Al-Italiy'', so, Dhulka Talyaaniga ee Soomaalida), was a colony of the Kingdom of Italy The Kingdom of Italy ( it, Regno d'Italia) was a state which e ...
in southern
Somalia Somalia,, Osmanya script: 𐒈𐒝𐒑𐒛𐒐𐒘𐒕𐒖; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal Republic of SomaliaThe ''Federal Republic of Somalia'' is the country's name per Article 1 of thProvisional Constitutio ...

Somalia
. It was fought from the years 1896 to 1926 and largely concentrated in the
Lower Shebelle Lower Shabelle ( so, Shabeellaha Hoose, ar, شبيلي السفلى, it, Basso Scebeli) is an administrative region (''Administrative divisions of Somalia, gobol'') in southern Somalia. Overview It is bordered by the Somali regions of Banaadir ...
,
Banadir Banaadir ( so, Banaadir, ar, بنادر, it, Benadir) is an administrative region (''Administrative divisions of Somalia, gobol'') in southeastern Somalia. It covers the same area as the city of Mogadishu, which serves as the capital. It is bord ...
and
Middle Shebelle Middle Shabelle ( so, Shabeellaha Dhexe, ar, شبيلي الوسطى, it, Medio Scebeli) is an administrative region ('' gobol'') in southern Somalia Somalia,; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal Republic of Somal ...
. The war was centered around Merka and Danane. It is compared to the war of the Mad Mullah in northern Somalia. Named after the
Bimal The Bimaal or Bimal, ( so, italic=yes, Biyomaal) is a sub-clan of the major Dir (clan), Dir clan family. This clan is widely known for leading a resistance against the colonials in southern Somalia for decades which can be compared to the war of t ...
clan since they were the major element in the resistance. For more about Bimal or Merca revolt see:


Modern

In the 1930s a group of
Italian Somalis Italian Somalis ( it, Italo-Somali) are Somali descendants from Italian colonists, as well as long-term Italian residents in Somalia Somalia,; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal Republic of Somalia, is a country i ...
established residency in Merca. The Port of Merca was the oldest port in
Italian Somalia Italian Somaliland ( it, Somalia italiana, ar, الصومال الإيطالي ''Al-Sumal Al-Italiy'', so, Dhulka Talyaaniga ee Soomaalida), was a colony of the Kingdom of Italy The Kingdom of Italy ( it, Regno d'Italia) was a state which e ...
and was nicknamed the "port of bananas" due to its status as a key exporter of bananas from Somalia to
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest ...

Europe
. In the city of Merca there was a huge economical development in the 1930s, due mainly to the growing commerce of the port of Merca connected by small railway to the farm area of Genale. Merca was abandoned by government forces and captured by Al-Shabaab (militant group), Al-Shabaab in February 2016. It was recaptured by the Somali National Army along with African Union Mission to Somalia, African Union troops, a few days later. A small battle was fought in which a Somali soldier, several militants, and four civilians died.


Demographics

According to the UNDP in 2005 Merca had a population of around 63,900 inhabitants. it is primarily inhabited by Somalis from the
Bimaal The Bimaal or Bimal, ( so, italic=yes, Biyomaal) is a sub-clan of the major Dir clan family. This clan is widely known for leading a resistance against the colonials in southern Somalia for decades which can be compared to the war of the Sayyid i ...
sub-clan of Dir (clan), Dir.


Transportation

Merca has a jetty-class seaport, the Port of Merca. The nearest airport to the city is the K50 Airport in the
Lower Shebelle Lower Shabelle ( so, Shabeellaha Hoose, ar, شبيلي السفلى, it, Basso Scebeli) is an administrative region (''Administrative divisions of Somalia, gobol'') in southern Somalia. Overview It is bordered by the Somali regions of Banaadir ...
province.


Notable people

*Asha Jama, social activist, and former TV reporter and journalist. *Sheikh Abdi Abikar Gafle, Sheikh Abibakar Gafle, described as one of the best known resistance leaders in Southern Somalia and from Merca. *Ali Maow Maalin, the last person known to have been naturally infected by ''Variola minor'' smallpox


See also

* Port of Merca *
Mogadishu Mogadishu (, also ; so, Muqdisho or Xamar ; ar, مقديشو, Muqadīshū ; it, Mogadiscio ), locally known as Xamar or Hamar, is the capital city and most populous city The United Nations uses three definitions for what constitutes a city ...

Mogadishu
*
Barawa Barawa ( so, Baraawe, ar, مدينة ﺑﺮﺍﻭة ''Madīna Barāwa''), also known as Barawe and Brava, is the capital of the South West State of Somalia Somalia,; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal Republic o ...

Barawa


References


External links


Marka, Somalia
{{Authority control Ajuran Sultanate Populated places in Lower Shebelle Populated coastal places in Somalia