From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Giohar, Villabruzzi
Jowhar is located in Somalia
Location in Somalia
Coordinates: 2°47′N 45°30′E / 2.783°N 45.500°E / 2.783; 45.500
Country  Somalia
State Hirshabelle
Region Shebellada Dhexe Somalia
 • Type Mayor Axmed Meyre Makaraan
 • Total 10 sq mi (25 km2)
Elevation 300 ft (100 m)
Population (2015)
 • Total 70,000
Time zone East Africa Time
Area code(s) 061
Shebelle River

Jowhar (Somali: Jowhaar, Arabic: جوهر‎, Italian: Giohar, formerly Villaggio Duca degli Abruzzi or simply Villabruzzi) is the capital town of the Middle Shabelle region of Somalia. Along with Baidoa, it used to form the joint administrative capital of the Transitional Federal Government, which it captured from the Islamic Courts Union.

The town lies 90 km (50 mi) along a major road north of the national capital of Mogadishu.


During the Middle Ages, Jowhar and much of the surrounding area in southern Somalia was governed by the Ajuran Empire.[1] The town later came under the administration of the Hiraab Sultanate in the late 17th century after the collapse of the powerful Ajuran Empire. At the turn of the 20th century, Jowhar was incorporated into Italian Somaliland protectorate. After independence in 1960, the city was made the center of the official Jowhar District.

The Villaggio Duca degli Abruzzi was founded by a senior member of the Italian Royal Family, H.R.H. Principe Luigi Amedeo, Duca degli Abruzzi in 1920, who first came to the African continent in 1905 and liked the place. The Duke raised funds to build dams, roads, a railway, schools, hospitals, a church and a mosque. He eventually married a Somali woman and died in his village.[2]

Villaggio Duca degli Abruzzi[edit]

The village called Villaggio Duca degli Abruzzi (or Villabruzzi) was founded as an agricultural settlement in Italian Somalia experimenting with new cultivation techniques. In 1926, the colony comprised 16 villages, with some 3,000 Somali and 200 Italian inhabitants. It was commonly known as Villabruzzi.

Jowhar Albergo Hotel 1938

Situated in the Hawiye Somali clan strongholds between Galjecel, Abgaal, and Shiidle, the area is of strategic importance. It is also of considerable economic value notably due to its banana, cotton and sugar plantations.

Starting around 1911, Italians like the Duca degli Abruzzi started to take the local farmers and resettle them in specific new villages in an attempt to improve the economy of Italian Somalia. The area around Villabruzzi was the most agriculturally developed of Somalia before World War II and had some food industries.[3]

In 1940, Villabruzzi had a population of 12,000, of whom nearly 3,000 were Italian Somalis, and enjoyed a notable level of development as a small manufacturing area.

The Italians, who believed in the economic potential of the region, also built a railway system that linked Jowhar to Mogadishu for the next thirty years, and was used mainly to export bananas and coffee to Europe.

At independence, the vacuum created by the outgoing Italians was not filled by the new Somali élites in charge, as the latter deemed the cattle trade and urban assets more profitable.

After World War II[edit]

Political map of Somalia showing the location of Jowhar (here spelled "Giohar"), north of Mogadishu, with a red dot.

Jowhar changed name from the Italian Villaggio Duca degli Abruzzi to the current name in 1960, when Somalia gained its independence. Giohar is another spelling of the same name.

With a "socialist" regime in 1969, such a fertile land was nationalized and was only available to cultivators through fifty-year leases. The government fixed the prices of agricultural products and could purchase up to 80% of the harvests. Under Co-operative Act n°70 of 1973, petty farmers were expropriated again to leave place for the State orientated Fanoole Rice Farm, Mogambo Irrigation Project and Juba Sugar Complex.

Jowhar only became the regional capital in the mid-1980s when Mogadishu was taken out of Shabeellaha Dhexe to form its own region, Banaadir.

Administrative capital[edit]

As part of a 2004 agreement, Jowhar and the town of Baidoa were to form a joint administrative capital of the Transitional Federal Government, sited away from Mogadishu for security reasons. Continued fighting threatened to derail the peace process. However, in July 2005, President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed relocated to the town from his base in Bosaso, moving the process forward and joining Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi, who had already been resident in the town for a month. Part of the parliament became based in Jowhar, while some ministries were established in Mogadishu.[4] By February 2006, despite Ghedi's security concerns, the two leaders had left to Baidoa, where it was decided the parliament would convene.[5]

Recent history[edit]

On December 27, 2006, the internationally backed transitional government forces, united with Ethiopian troops, recaptured Jowhar from the Islamic Courts Union.[6]

On May 17, 2009, the Islamist al-Shabab militia took the town,[7] and imposed new rules, including a ban on handshaking between men and women.[8]

On December 9, 2012, Somali National Army forces assisted by AMISOM troops re-captured the city from the militants.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lee V. Cassanelli, The Shaping of Somali Society: Reconstructing the History of a Pastoral People, 1600-1900, (University of Pennsylvania Press: 1982), p.102.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-22. Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Interim Somali government to relocate to Baidoa and Jowhar, Voice of Africa, 23 March 2005
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Ethiopian, Somali Troops Regain Jowhar, FOX News, 27 December 2006
  7. ^ Somali militants capture key town, BBC, 17 May 2009
  8. ^
  9. ^ "In Somalia, African Union and gov't troops take town from Islamist extremists of al-Shabab". Associated Press. 9 December 2012. Retrieved 9 December 2012. [permanent dead link]


External links[edit]