Nationalism : Issues And Achievements

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Derek Proto
Nationalism: Issues and Achievements

To embark on Djiboutian nationalism, we must start with that of the nationalism of Somalia and Ethiopia, since Djibouti is now an enclave within these two large countries. Somali political consciousness and aspirations for a national united front began when Italy invaded Ethiopia in October of 1935, but internal conflicts are creating turmoil, which encompass contemporary politics in Djibouti. As with any post-colonial African country, nationalism may be difficult to garner since there often lacks a coherent idea of the particular political framework and cultural consciousness. A concrete idea of what nationalism is then, degrades to an “us versus them”
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Once Independence was won for the Somali state, they sought to include all territories with Somali speaking peoples. Thus, revanchist proponents of the Issa held a formidable opposition in government in the following years when representation was crucial to oppose, or strengthen, French involvement in the region. To lessen the representation, the French in 1963 reorganized districts in what some may term “gerrymandering”, with the Issa feeling like the carpet was pulled from under their feet. But the French saw the Pan- Somali sentiment of the Parti du Mouvement Populaire was disenfranchising Afar influence. Thus, Issa majority dropped from eighteen to fourteen in the assembly, while Afar increased from five to eleven. This encouraged the participation of the previously neglected rural population in the life of the colony. The Parti du Mouvement Populaire led a movement in 1966 when Charles du Gaulle supported the Issa demands upon his arrival, which led to the direct involvement of Ethiopia. Halie Salassie then claimed that Djibouti was an integral part of the Ethiopian Empire. This was merely a strategy toward geopolitical interests.
Before French withdrawal, suffrage rights were amended to include only individuals over the age of 21. This automatically gave the Afars the political leverage they needed. The vote of 1960 called for continued French presence,
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