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[TRINITARIAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARIES IN SOMALIA]
[Album with 137 Original Photographs of the Trinitarian Mission in Jilib, Somalia].


Ca. 1910-1924. Folio (ca. 37x20 cm). 50 grey card leaves (27 blank). With 137 gelatin silver prints, the majority (123) of postcard size, the rest are from ca. 14,5x10,5 cm (5 ¾ x 4 ¼ in) to ca. 8x5,5 cm (3 x 2 ¼ in). Twenty-one photos with period manuscript captions in black or golden ink starting with: "Somalia Italiana. Gelib". Ten photos with period ink manuscript text or inscriptions on recto or verso; two with French and Italian postal stamps dated "1924". Original light green cloth album with two elaborate art nouveau metal vignettes on the front cover. A number of leaves with minor damage, about a dozen photos faded and with minor creases or losses on the corners, otherwise a very good album. Interesting eye-witness account of the early years of the Trinitarian Catholic Mission in Gelib (Jilib), Southern Somalia. Compiled by mission member, the album shows a small, but well maintained settlement with a church and a main mission's house, surrounded by a native village. The missionaries dressed in robes with distinctive Trinitarian red and blue crosses, are shown with children from the missionary school, while giving medical help to the locals (with one image showing a well equipped medical cabinet), working in fields, building wells, making mud bricks, visiting villages and even exploring the environs on a bike. The photos also show local villages and their inhabitants - farmers, shepherds with cows, Arab soldiers, elders, women with babies and numerous children, playing around or in the mission yard where swings had been constructed for them. There are also photos of the neighbouring Jubba River, and of a mosque in Jilib. Two images show the grave of the mission's founder Father Leandro dell'Addolorata (1872-1906); there is also a portrait of a missionary with Princess Hélène d'Orléans (1871-1951), Duchess of Aosta, who visited Jilib during her travel to Africa in the 1910s. The album was apparently compiled by a French member of the mission, some Padre Ludovic Richard, whose notes and comments present on seventeen photos and postcards from the album. The notes were addressed from "P[adre] Ludovico" to "Monsieur Antoin Richard" (apparently his brother), and dated 1918-1924, starting with the notes from Italy and finishing with letters from Jilib. P. Ludovic gace some comments on the mission's affairs and named several missionaries present on the photos. The Catholic mission in Jilib was opened in 1905 by Father Leandro Dell'Addolorata, a member of the Trinitarian religious order dedicated to liberation of Christians held in captivity. The main goal for the Trinitarian mission in Jilib was the protection of the local non-Muslim population of Bantu origin. Father Leandro "argued that most people living in the Jilib area declared themselves Muslim in order to strengthen their free status. <...> For several years, the Trinitarian fathers, an order dedicated to the defence of slaves, were prevented from entering Somalia by the Italian government, which feared that their activities would lead the Muslim population to rise in revolt. This prohibition adds weight to Father Dell'Addolorata's suggestion that the people living along the Jubba River were not Muslim; he endorsed the idea that evangelization was feasible" (The Invention of Somalia/ Ed. By Ali Jimale Ahmed. The Red Sea Press, 1995, p. 194-195). The Trinitarian mission in Jilib went under the jurisdiction of the Apostolic Prefecture of Benadir (later Diocese of Mogadishu) in 1924. After the beginning of the Somali civil war its state is unknown.

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