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Apostolic Prefecture of Benadir

African prefecture

Benadir, PREFECTURE APOSTOLIC OF, in Africa, lies between 8° and 12° N. lat., and between 42° and 51° 16′ E. long. It comprises the whole territory of Italian Somaliland, the area of which is a little more than 192,800 square miles, or nearly twice that of Italy; and its boundaries are identical with those of the Italian possessions in East Africa, namely: on the east, the Indian Ocean; on the north, the Gulf of Aden from Cape Guardafui to the boundary of British Somaliland; on the west, the same British boundary as far south as the Juba River; and on the south, the course of that river from Lugh to the Indian Ocean. The longest meridian within this territory measures 776 miles, while the greatest width is 559 miles.

The commercial company which had been formed for the exploitation of El Benadir (i.e. “The Ports”, now the littoral region of Italian Somaliland) found it to its own interest to call the Church to its aid, and asked for missionaries, to whom it assigned a subsidy of 10,000 lire ($2,000) per annum. Propaganda, by a decree of January 21, 1904, entrusted the mission to the Discalced Trinitarians, for which order the redemption of captives is a special tradition, and the first prefect Apostolic, Father Leander of the Seven Dolors, embarked within the same year. However, the presence of a religious who would jealously watch the slave trade, and denounce infractions of the treaties, might become inconvenient; the governor, therefore, forbade Father Leander to enter his territory, and the prefect Apostolic, excluded from his mission, was obliged to take refuge in the British territory to the south. The governor’s order was rescinded in May, 1906, and Father Leander then entered upon his prefecture; but on the 10th of July, 1906, he died at Gelib, nearly 250 miles from the coast. Towards the end of that year Father Guglielmo da San Felice was sent as successor to Father Leander, taking with him five religious of his own order. At the present writing (1907) too short a time has, of course, elapsed to permit of obtaining any information as to the actual progress of missionary work in Italian Somaliland.

The residence of the prefect Apostolic is at Brava, while the headquarters of the colonial government are at Mogadishu (Mogadoxo, or Mukdishu). The population of the whole territory is estimated at 3,000,000, almost all Mohammedans. Slavery is practiced, and the efforts of the Anti-Slavery Society to suppress the slave trade, by representations to the Italian Government, have so far had no result.

ALBERT BATTANDIER


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