The following article explores the role played by Major Frederick Mercer Hunter in the creation of the British Somaliland Protectorate between 1884 and 1887. A previously overlooked figure in imperial historiography, the article aims to demonstrate the decisive impact of Hunter’s personal leadership in the extension of British control over Somaliland during the scramble for Africa. As consul for the Somali coast, Hunter was responsible for British interests in Somaliland during the regional crisis caused by the outbreak of the Mahdist revolt in Sudan in 1881, and endeavored to capture Somaliland before it could fall into the hands of rival colonial powers. Operating at the fringes of British political control and consciousness, Hunter laid the crucial groundwork for the annexation of one of Britain’s African possessions, later serving as the first governor of British Somaliland.

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