The colonials take advantage in Djibouti

Ethiopia is landlocked. However there are trading posts on the coast that have been there forever. Controlling them goes a long way to benefiting from Ethiopian trade. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

Todays stamp shows a Mosque in a French colony. In doing show it goes along way to describing the colonies purpose. Getting products into and out of African and Christian Ethiopia has long been a job of Arab traders. However progress meant that railroad construction would be helpful. To get that done, the French were invited in by the Arabs. Hence the area becomes French Somaliland and there is little effort put toward Christianizing. The target was Ethiopia.

Todays stamp is issue A24, a 3 Centimes stamp issued by French Somaliland in 1940. It shows the Sunni Mosque in Djibouti city. It was part of a 33 stamp issue in various denominations. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents mint or used.

The area had been ruled into antiquity by Arab sultans who pledged their allegiance to Egypt. The villages on the coast of the Red Sea were transshipment points  for camel trains of goods in an out of landlocked Ethiopia. Ethiopia was Christian and fairly uniquely in that period, African ruled. The trade in coffee and other goods was quite lucrative. It was thought that a train line from Ethiopia through the Ogaden dessert would be lucrative and the French were invited in to get one built.

The train was initially successful  with Djibouti experiencing a population and trade boom at the expense of other trading posts in British and Italian Somaliland. The new population however was largely Somali and therefore African and Muslim.

Eventually a second train line opened up through Eritrea to the coast and the train line to Djibouti failed requiring a French government bailout. When Somalia got it’s independence there was a push to join that was resisted. Eventually Djibouti achieved a measure of independence under a one party state headed by the French selected President and now his nephew. Independent Somalia did not fare much better after plunging into war with Ethiopia over the Ogaden desert.

The Sunni Mosque on the stamp still stands. The country of Djibouti today is 96 percent Muslim and it is the state religion.

Well my drink is empty and to me the French come across fairly badly for getting sucked in to build the railroad. I doubt any profit from it ever made it back to France. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting

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