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Obock

The meaning of «obock»

Obock (also Obok, Afar: Hayyú) is a small port town in Djibouti. It is located on the northern shore of the Gulf of Tadjoura, where it opens out into the Gulf of Aden. The town is home to an airstrip and has ferries to Djibouti City, while mangroves lie nearby. The French form Obock derives from Arabic "Oboh", deformation of Oboki, a name given to the Wadi Dar'i in its middle part, upstream of its coastal delta.

The fishing village was originally built on the plateau of Dala-h Húgub near the Dar'i Wadi, with some houses constructed of mud and stone and Daboyta. Most of the inhabitants earned their living through animal husbandry, fishing, commerce and used a well for drinking water. During the Middle Ages, Obock was ruled by the Ifat Sultanate and then the Adal Sultanate. The Sultans of Raheita emerged from the Adal Sultanate. Although nominally part of the Ottoman Empire since 1554, between 1821 and 1841, Muhammad Ali, Pasha of Egypt, came to control Yemen and the sahil, with Zeila and as far as Harar.[1] On the 14 April 1884 the Commander of the patrol sloop L’Inferent reported on the Egyptian occupation in the Gulf of Tadjoura.[2] The Commander of the patrol sloop Le Vaudreuil reported that the Egyptians were occupying the interior between Obock and Tadjoura. In actuality, however, Egypt had little authority over the interior and their period of rule on the coast was brief, lasting only a few years (1841–62). The Egyptian garrison was withdrawn from the area.

During the Scramble for Africa, growing French interest in the area took place against a backdrop of British activity in Egypt and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Between 1883 and 1887, France signed various treaties with the then ruling Somali and Afar Sultans, which allowed it to expand the protectorate to include the Gulf of Tadjoura.[3][4] Obock was originally significant as the site of the first French colony in the region, established by treaty with the local Afar rulers on March 11, 1862.[5] The French were interested in having a coaling station for steamships, which would become especially important upon the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. (Up to that time French ships had to buy coal at the British port of Aden across the gulf, an unwise dependency in case of war.)

The site was not the subject of any occupation, just visited by the ships of the naval divisions assigned to the Indian Ocean, until the installation of trader Pierre Arnoux in 1881, followed by Paul Soleillet. Obock became a true colony in 1884 with the arrival in August of Léonce Lagarde, who established an administration and extended French possession in the Gulf of Tadjoura, forming the Territory of Obock and outbuildings, with Obock as its capital. By 1885, Obock had 800 inhabitants and a school. However, the anchorage was more exposed than the site of Djibouti on the south side of the Gulf of Tadjoura, and the colonial administration moved there in 1894. The population of Obock subsequently declined.[6]

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