The ancestors of the Somali people were wealthy maritime and nomadic traders. Somalis were converted to Islam through a peaceful process over a few centuries, the process being complete by 1100 ad. The peaceful nature of the conversions is likely due to the fact that Somalis were not Christian. Somalis have maintained their paganism together with Islam, ancestral worship is still strong among modern day Somalis.
During the European colonisation of Africa (1880s onward) three nations laid claim to Somali territory. French Somaliland became Djibouti. In British Somaliland a national uprising was defeated using British Air bombers (1920s).
Italian Somaliland was lost to British control following WW2. These colonial conflicts have resulted in civil wars from the 1990s continuing to the present day.
Up to 70% of Somalis still live a nomadic lifestyle. Nomadism is greatly misunderstood by people who live in the settled world, looked down upon as primitive and inferior. But in Somalia it is the noble clans who maintain the most nomadic culture. Modern Somali nomads are now taking advantage of mobile phone technology. They are able to communicate with families in different locations to find out where good pasture and water is. Previously they had to send out a scout for days to weeks to find a good location and then come back to get the rest of the clan. Now they use technology to plan their trips in advance.
The gospel has not largely engaged Somali nomads, who have been known to say, “Show me how I can carry your church on the back of my camel before you talk to me about your Jesus.” The gospel does not contradict the nomadic way of life, but rather the sedentary interpretation of the gospel fails to communicate effectively to nomads.