Olol Dinle

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Sultan Olol Dinle (Somali: Suldaan Olol Diinle) (?-1960s)[1] was a Somali sultan who ruled Kelafo as the head of the Ajuran clan. He successively offered allegiance to the Kingdom of Italy in the 1920s and was named "Sultan of Sciavelli (Shabelle)" in the early 1930s.


The Ajuran clan, under the Gareen Dynasty, had once ruled a powerful Imamate in the Somali region of Ethiopia centered at Kelafo. Following the peace agreements between Ethiopia and Italy in 1896, Ethiopia was granted parts of the Somali region.

The Gareen empire had collapsed during the 16th century, and a slow decline had set in over the centuries, leading to the eventual demise of the Ajuran state during the 18th century and the end of strong central leadership amongst the Ajuran. Ajuran tribes lived and still live throughout Somali inhabited lands in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.

According to some Ajuran traditions, Olol Dinle was related directly to the Gareen Dynasty, Olol Dinle carved a new Ajuran Sultanate out of the upper reaches of the Wadi Shabelle, centered at Kelafo, the traditional capital at the turn of the 20th century.

Olol Dinle and his sultanate became embroiled in the politics of the day, aligning himself with the Italian colonial authorities. In 1915, Sultan Olol Dinle of Kelafo, Sultan Ali Yusuf Kenadid of Hobyo, and the Italian Somaliland government attempted to dislodge the Darwiish forces of Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, who had conquered territory near Beledweyne in their rapid advance southwards.

Conflict with Ethiopia

The expansion of Ethiopian control deep into the Ogaden during the 1920s led to the capture of Kelafo, leaving Olol Dinle with a very small patch of territory on the Ethiopian side of the border between Ferfer and Kelafo. This tiny patch of land along the Shabelle River was strategically critical however, as any invasion of Ethiopia from central or southern Somaliland would have to go through this area. Sultan Orfa was placed in control of Kelafo, but Olol Dinle's attacks against Ethiopian forces were so serious that Ethiopian government intervention was required to avoid famine along the Shabelle.[2]

In recognition of Italy's alliance with Olol Dinle, he was dubbed the "Sultan of Sciavelli (Shabelle)" in the early 1930s. Olol Dinle was only too happy to receive Italian aid against Ethiopia, as his father remained in an Ethiopian prison and the Ethiopian flag flew above his people's ancestral capital of Kelafo.

Ethiopia took to supporting Omar Samatar's raids into Italian Somaliland, the former general of the Sultanate of Hobyo seeking a similar goal as that of Olol Dinle in that he sought to reinstate Majerteen clan rule in Hobyo.

In 1931, the Dejazmach ("Commander of the Gate") of Harar, Gebremariam, to whom the Ogaden had been assigned, attacked and destroyed Olol Dinle's fortress at Mustahil and menaced the Italian Rezidenza at Beledweyne, though Gebremariam avoided armed confrontation and withdrew.[3]

To prevent further raids by Olol Dinle, a large force under Balambaras ("Commander of the Fortress") Afawarq Walda Samayat was deployed in Kelafo from Jigjiga in 1933, as Olol Dinle's forces of roughly a thousand Dubat cavalry had grown to pose a serious threat to Ethiopian control of the Shabelle River area.

During the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, Olol Dinle's forces along with the Italians under then-Colonel Luigi Frusci invaded Ethiopia from Hiraan, and attacked the forces of Dejazmach Beine Merid (also spelled Beyene Merid) at Goba.

Forces loyal to Sultan Olol Dinle pushed 350 kilometers inside Ethiopia, attacking the forces of Dejach Beyene Merid at Goba, and destroying all the villages supporting the Ethiopian government.[4]


Olol Dinle was apparently executed during the early 1960s in Addis Ababa. However, oral history suggests he died in 1978.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b Zitelmann, Thomas (1990). "Refugee Aid, Moral Communities and Resource Sharing: A Prelude to Civil War in Somalia". Sociologus. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot. 41 (2): 130. ISSN 0038-0377. LCCN 55017613. Retrieved September 11, 2012. When asked … when he had arrived as a refugee, he answered: '1978, the year Olo Dinle died'. Olol Dinle was once a famous Somali nationalist in Ethiopia. He had collaborated with the Italians during the 1930's, but was executed in Addis Abeba in the early 1960's. 
  2. ^ "Local History in Ethiopia" (pdf) The Nordic Africa Institute website
  3. ^ Mockler, Anthony (2003) [1984]. Haile Selassie's War. New York: Olive Branch. ISBN 1-56656-473-5. 
  4. ^ Aleme Eshete. "The failure of fascist "Legge Organica" to kill Shoa: rising patriotism in spite of brutal repression, mass execution, wholesale burning and gas poisoning". Tecola W. Hagos. Retrieved 2012-04-30.