Moyale is a market town on the border of Ethiopia and Kenya, which is split between the two countries: the larger portion is in Ethiopia (in the Oromia Region), and the smaller is in Kenya (the capital of the Moyale District). There are four disputed locations within the Moyale district between the Somali and Oromo regions.
Moyale is the main border post on the Nairobi-Addis Ababa road, lying north of the Dide Galgalu Desert. It is known for its traditional architecture.
An early settler at Moyale was a Greek by the name of Zaphiro, who had a station which he had named "Fort Harrington". When C.W. Gwynn visited in 1908, Zaphiro's station consisted of a garden that covered several acres and his house, located on a spur projecting from the Boran highlands, and providing access through the line of cliffs that run along the border. "This route may well become some day a considerable trade artery," Gwynn predicted. "Fort Harrington is therefore well placed as a healthy administrative post and as a possible commercial centre."
During World War II, both parts of the town was captured by Italians from Ethiopia in 1940, and retaken by the British on 15 July 1941. Tensions rose in the Kenyan side of Moyale in early 1999, after an Imam was shot dead during an Ethiopian raid across the Ethiopian-Kenyan border in pursuit of rebels of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). The Kenyan residents of the town, held demonstrations condemning the action, which they attributed to Ethiopian security men who believed he was a sympathizer of the OLF.
In November 2009, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi announced plans to extend the Ethiopian railroad to Moyale. This would facilitate Kenyan plans, which at the time were at an advanced stage, to develop the port of Lamu and connect it to the Kenyan side of Moyale with a tarmac road.
For the Ethiopian share of Moyale, based on figures from the Central Statistical Agency in 2005, it has an estimated total population of 25,038 of whom 13,665 are men and 11,373 are women. The 1994 Ethiopian census reported that the Ethiopian side of Moyale had a total population of 13,962, of whom 7,411 were men and 6,551 were women. (This total also includes an estimate for parts of the town of Moyale, which were not counted; for these parts of the town, it was estimated there were 3,419 inhabitants, of whom 1,752 were men and 1,667 were women.) The five largest ethnic groups reported in Moyale were the Oromo (37.94%), the Burji (16.85%), the Amhara (16.42%), the Welayta (4.82%), and the Silt'e (4.28%); all other ethnic groups made up 19.69% of the population. Other groups reported in Moyale include the Borana Oromo and the Garre Somali. Oromiffa was spoken as a first language by 49.53%, 21.76% spoke Amharic, 9.96% spoke Burji, 3.96% spoke Welayta, and 3.62% spoke Silt'e; the remaining 11.17% spoke all other primary languages reported.
The Kenyan part of Moyale has an urban population of 9,276 (1999 census).
Reviewed by GEOFFREY ODIDI AUM
Updated 1189 days ago
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