Friday, August 24, 2007

Ismaaciil Mire and Jaamac Cali Nuur

"On or about 21st March, 1935, the late Musa Adan head Illalo and 16 other Illaloes were sent to collect 28 camels from Hussein Abdi and Aidid Ahmed, Dolbahanta, Ali Gheri, Reer Gulaid Ali Gheri, in connection with a Political case. On the evening of 25 March news was received that Musa Adan had been killed."

So begins the story of Jaamac Cali Nuur and the events leading to his death, a death that provoked one of the most sustained and dogged pursuits of Somali tribal justice and became the inspiration for the composition of countless poems that have gained a place of high honour in the literary pantheon of the Somalis. the opening paragraph is an extract from a report written by the District Officer of Burco, Reginald Hopkinson (R.H.) Smith, the infamous Geelqaad who was the bane of the Somali pastoralists that were rearing livestock in the Northern Parts of Somalia during the Thirties and Forties.

In early April, 1935 a force of Illaloes led by R.H. Smith descended on the Dhulbahante settlements of western Nugaal and arrested three men of the Guuleed Cali Geri for the murder of Muuse Aadan (Habar Jeclo, Ba Gahayle). Muuse Aadan was the sixth Illalo member to be gunned down by the Cali Geri, a situation that caused consternation in the British administrative circles. Crucially, one of the Illaloes killed by the Cali Geri was Guuleed Garaad (Barkad), with suspicion falling on Jaamac Cali Nuur himself. It was the murder of the Barkad man that was to have the greatest ramifications, creating ill-will between the brother lineages of Barkad and Cali Geri.

The following three men were arrested for the murder of Illalo Muuse Aadan:

1. Jaamac Faadhyoon

2. Ismaaciil Abokor

3. Jaamac Cawl

The case against the latter two collapsed for lack of evidence but Jaamac Faadhyoon, a teenager, was convicted of the Illalo's murder after it was conclusively established that he was the man who pulled the trigger. R. H. Smith in his report recommended that the case should be treated as a political one rather than as a straight-forward criminal case. He argued that the ill-will and hatred for the British and their soldiers was stoked by the tribal elders of the Cali Geri and that the youngsters of the tribe were not to blame for carrying out the edicts of the tribal elders:

"I consider the whole of this affair is more of a tribal affair than an individual criminal act on the part of the accused. The chief blame rests with the elders of the Dolbahanta who for some considerable time have not ceased from propaganda against the Illaloes. In consequence of which the youths only consider they are playing the game by their tribe by obstructing and shooting at the Illaloes on every occasion."

The judge in the case, a Mr H. E. Long, concurred with the evidence presented by Smith and wrote that the violence against the Illaloes was "the result of of the propaganda preached by certain headmen of the Dolbahanta and some of the town dwellers which is responsible for the feeling which exists amongst the Dolbahanta generally in regard to the Illaloes."

He imposed fines on the Guuleed Cali Geri enacted under the Collective Punishment Ordinance. One hundred camels were given as compensation to the family of the murdered Illalo. One hundred camels were credited to the government funds. Additionally 25 rifles were confiscated from the Cali Geri. Jaamac Faadhyoon received a mild sentence. He was given a two year sentence in Berbera jail as political prisoner.

During the search for the three assasins who killed Illalo Muse Adan, R. H. Smith despatched forces to all the various settlements of the Guuleed Cali Geri. One group of Illaloes under the command of Ducaale Muuse "Qadhoon" (Habar Jeclo, Reer Yuusuf) were sent to Xargaga to patrol aggresively in search of the Reer Guuleed. They were joined at Yaaheel by Xidhkayoon Axmed Gawaafe who had some scores to settle with the Cali Geri in connection with the Barkad who was killed earlier by the Guuleed Cali Geri. They pushed on to Xidhgalool and there they spotted 7-8 men with several Kadins(kadin = 100 camels) and armed with rifles. The Cali Geri, according to Ducaale Qadhoon, started firing and after a sustained firefight one of the Cali Geri men was dead and two wounded. The others ran away despite the words of Jaamac Cali Nuur who was urging them to stand fast.

Upon questioning by the inquiry, held 13, April 1935, Ducaale Qadhoon stated that he shot Jaamac Cali Nuur in the left arm. He also admitted that Jaamac was alive after the initial firefight. But he refused to answer who actually shot Jaamac. It was left to the witnesses for the Cali Geri to furnish the missing details. Aadan Mirreh, a Qayaad man who was with Cali Geri men at the time of the fight, stated the following:

"One Illalo called Abdullahi Farah said it was good when Farah Diyeh fell down and said that was revenge for Musa but we didnt know what Musa he meant at that time. Jama Ali Noor was walking although he was wounded. One man came running from the Illaloes and stood in front of Jama Ali Noor and shot him again in the chest. He fell down dead. This man was Barkat man called Had Kayune. We all ran away and left the camels."

The Illaloes drove the camels back to Yaaheel and they were met there by Caaqil Maxamed Cali Bulay and 20 Barkad men mounted on ponies. Maxamed Cali Bulay was a respected and famous Dhulbahante elder and he is the father of the late Siciid Sheef (AUN), an outstanding public servant and once Governor of the Somali Commercial Bank among other high appointments. Maxamed Cali Bulay asked the Illaloes about all the firing. He agreed to give the Illaloes 2 messengers to take news of the firefight to the Hakim at Widhwidh asking the Illaloes to provision the men from the seized camels.

The Inquiry's findings were a complete whitewash. They found that the Cali Geri were at fault for starting the firefight. No fault was attached to the Illaloes for never identifying themselves. The cold-blooded murder of a wounded Jaamac Cali Nuur was dismissed despite the fact the fact that the evidence furnished by a Solamadow Illaalo who claimed that Jaamac was shot and immediately died from a shot by Ducaale Qadhoon was contradicted by Ducaale himself. The latter claimed that he merely wounded Jaamac Cali Nuur. No effort was made to check this incostistency against the account given by the Cali Geri. The evidence and testimony of the Cali Geri were summarily dismissed thusly:

As regards the evidence of the witnesses produced for the reer Ali Gheri it was obvious that they had been well tutored in the evidence they had to give. It was given so very correctly without hesitation that it was obvious they learnt it off by heart and I do not believe a word of it. It should also be noted that all the witnesses belong to the rer Gulaid Ali Gheri the section concerned in the death of Musa Adan, except one and he is connected by marriage.

This caused great bitterness among the Cali Geri and they vowed revenge on the Illaloes and the Barkad. Feelings against the Illaloes were running high to begin with and this bloody intervention only exacerbated the situation. In the ensuing years many Illaloes were killed and the bad blood between the British and Dhulbahante reached its zenith when 11 Illalo members were shot by the reer Hagar at Harawaati.

In regard to the case of Xidhkayoon and his cold-blooded murder, it was agreed among the Cali Geri that they should treat with the Barkad and seek compensation for Jaamac Cali Nuur who was cold-bloodedly murdered by Xidhkayoon. This entirely reasonable proposition was rejected by the Barkad who argued that Jaamac Cali Nuur already had Barkad blood on his hands. This was an explosive development and tensions reached fever pitch even before a man called Maxamed Deyl stepped into the fray. Maxamed Deyl composed a poem, a graveside testimonial that affected to channel the dead spirit of Jaamac Cali Nuur. He said:

Inay maytiyuhu qayliyaan ma anan moodayne
Malkadii la dhigay Jaamac baan maray socdaalkiiye
Anigoo maqlahayuu i yidhi Maxamedow joogso!
Malmaleeyey oo waxaan gartaa midab wanaagiiye
Maalkaan dhaqaayiyo dadkii maaragtuu yidhiye
Waxaan idhi macnaha ay yihiin waanan marinayne
wuxuu yidhi miciin kama sugayn midhaha Guuleede
Cabdinaasir haysaga manqaxo maanso iyo jiibe
Sidii nimaan adeerkii la mudin haw makaabiro e
Ha maddaysto ceelkuu fadhiyey maalkii reer Debey e
Ilma Ciise aqal moolo weyn hays maldhiqiyeene
Magaalada Widhwidha rodol qaxwaa ha iska miisteene
Maadhiinka baas iyo gacmaha ha isla maadsheene
Naftana haw marwoodeen sidaan meleg haleelayne
Miyaan Khayr-Mataan iyo Shawana murugo ii haynin
Moolkii Warfaa iyo miyuu Gorodkii mawtooday
Ismaaciil ma moog yahay inaan muranna lay geysan
Cali Geriga kale sow ma maqal mag iyo aar waaga!


I learnt today that the dead could talk indeed
Walking past the grave, where Jaamac lay
I heard him call and beckon me to his side
As I beheld his face, he extended his hand
I had doubts, but the handsome face was his
He asked about the wealth and people he left behind
I could not bring myself to tell him the truth
He said, did I expect help from the seed of Guuleed?
Let Cabdinaasir entertain himself with lyrical song
As if his beloved uncle was not cut down
Let him enjoy the fruit of this world
Let the sons of Ciise enjoy their fine houses
In the town of Widhwidh let them drink sweet tea
Let them carry Martine rifles to no deadly end
Let them be afraid of death, death never comes?
Do any of the Khayr and reer Shawa grieve my loss?
Have the abundant Warfaa and Gorod all perished?
Does Ismaaciil know that none argued on my behalf?
Do the Cali Geri at large know that neither vengeance
Nor compensation was sought on my behalf?

This poem caused tensions to rise even further. It is a received wisdom that poetry in Somali culture was used for peace-making purposes. But it is also true that poems had a role in inciting violence and deepening conflicts. They widened the scope of the conflict and generally made the disputants more intransigent since no one was willing publicly to lose face.

It was in this fraught atmosphere that Ismaaciil Mire one day found himself in a coffee shop in the town of Widhwidh. The town was booming because of the British administrative and military detachments based there. Ismaaciil Mire was accosted by the same Ducaale Qadhoon who wounded Jaamac Cali Nuur in the firefight. Ducaale Qadhoon who was entirely unaware of the loathing and anger within Ismaaciil Mire came over and engaged in the usual Somali banter. Ducaale Qadhoon suggested that Ismaaciil compose a poem about some trivial issue or the other. He was heedless of the darkening mood of Mujaahid Ismaaciil Mire. Ismaaciil was struck by the difference in attitude between the carefree and jesting Ducaale Qadhoon and the desolation and despair within his heart at the loss of his great friend and cousin, the formidable and beloved Jaamac Cali Nuur. It was at this point that he composed the poem that became one of the most famous poems in the Somali language, a philosophical take on the contrasting fortunes, the difference in attitude between Two Solitudes, inextricably linked yet unaware of each other. The ferocity of the poem and the intent behind it shook Ducaale Qadhoon who was intelligent enough to realize the intent of the poem; and the tragic consequences it presaged:

Isma oga Ismiidh iyo ninkii, ayro foofsadaye
Isma oga arbaha weerka iyo, adhiga goosmaaye
Isma oga waraabaha amliyo, awr la laayacaye
Isma oga atoor qadow bartiyo, uubta loo qodaye
Isma oga nin urugaysaniyo, iilka kii dhigaye
Isma oga dhillida uunsatiyo, awga taa'ibiye
Isma oga aqoon xume dhergiyo, Meleg Arsaa'iile
Isma oga agoon iyo ninkii, aabaheed dilaye
Isma oga askari qooqaniyo, nimaan afbuux siine
Isma oga abeer qalabliyo, inanka doonaaye
Isma oga ugaadh iyo libaax, adamiyaystaaye
Waxba gabaygu yuu ila ordine, waxaan ku soo ooday
La illow nin Aakhiro tegoo, iilka hoos maraye.


Unmindful of each, Smith and the man who raises camels
Unmindful of each, The killing jackal and the sheep that stray
Unmindful of each, the hungry hyena and the neglected camel
Unmindful of each, The hungry antelope and the baited trap
Unmindful of each, the aggrieved victim and the culpable criminal
Unmindful of each, The fragrant whore and the absolving cleric
Unmindful of each, the satiated fool and the angel of death
Unmidful of each, the orphaned child and his father's assailant
Unmindful of each, The arrogant soldier and the guilty without bribe
Unmindful of each, the rebuffing maiden and her young suitors
Unmindful of each, the wild game roaming and the hungry lion
Do not let long words overwhelm my poem, I finish by saying
We soon forget the departed, firmly interred inside a grave

That was the first time that Ismaaciil Mire waded into the controversy using the poetic devise. His next intervention was when he counselled a young man named Saleemaan Caabbi against rash behaviour. Saleemaan was getting ready to assemble a force against the Barkad when Ismaaciil Mire stopped him. He explains his reasons for caution. Axmed Faarax Cali "Idaajaa", the great Somali historian and prose stylist whose writings I am greatly indebted in composing this historic account, wrote that Ismaaciil Mire's poem bears resemblence to the poem by Sayid Maxamed who was counselling Ismaaciil Mire himself against rash action. Such is the circle of life and wisdom:

Tixda gabay ina Caabbiyow tuducba waa meele
Tahantoog ma huro meel haddaan tuba la qaadsiine
Tollaala'ayda iyo qayladaad tolatay waa yaabe
Tiiraanyo iyo ciil rag qaba turuqday boogtiiye
Oday talada lama dhaafiyee iga ta'wiil qaado
Durba lama tallaabsado haddaad tooggo leedahaye
Tol baxnaani baa igu jirtiyo tacab rasaaseede
Haddaan dunida taambuug cammirin tani ma joogteene
Wallaan tuurta loo wada degeen tawllanoo maqane
Ismiidh baygu taagane intuu tegayo ii kaadsha!
Nin tayiiso maaggani inuu telelo waw ceebe
Tayaaqadu digniin kama taggana laysu tebiyaaye
La turba oo tilmaansada nin raga tuush ma aargudo e
Tuulada markaad ugu tagtaan taaha ka ogaada
Salaanaan tolnimo hoose jirin midigta taabsiiya
Tagoogada miday kaga jabaan toogta la ogaada
Inta taranta reer Cali fadhido tacaddigii raadsha
Tollaala'aye aarsada sidii tabaxsayow aarka!


O Caabi, poems, each touches a particular point
They go wayward unless care is taken
Your loud proclamations were very astonishing
They wounded men nursing bitterness and grief
Harken to the counsel of a wise old head
Never take a hasty step when intent on revenge
I await to turn the dithering ones, and arming myself
But for the soldiers, we would not be in these straits
Peacably we live with the assailants of Jaamac
Wait till he departs, Smith is breathing down our neck
It is shameful to advertise your plans
Revenge never comes with enemies forewarned
Play cards with them, put them at their ease
Mark the best among them, killing fools is unworthy
Extend the hand to them, A hand without friendship
Shoot them where it hurts most
As long as one Cali Geri is alive, seek your recompense
I beseech thee, seek revenge like a lion attacking

The next poetic exchange between the Barkad and Ismaaciil Mire came when Xareed Duubi Deero, himself a Mujaahid Darwiish veteran, composed a poem that was degrading to the memory of Jaamac Cali Nuur. In particular Ismaaciil Mire took exception to the line "Xidhkayoon intuu dhaartay buu dhoocil noo dilaye". Ismaaciil Mire retorted sharply to this disgraceful poem and in kind. The final lines ran this way:

Dumbuq sumuca waa kuula iman duubley aan sido e
Dillaamada horeetay maryaha dacalka kaa qoyne
Dabadana adkee dhayllin baad dir u lahaydeene!

One day, Ismaaciil Mire chanced to see a crying boy who was the son of the late and much lamented Jaamac Cali Nuur. The sight of the boy sent Ismaaciil Mire into despair and he composed this poem full of pathos:

Wiilyahow ilmaa igaga timid aragtidaadiiye
Qalbigaa i oogsaday markaad tidhi adeerow e
Abtirsiimo reer Cali haddii Eebbe kugu raacshay
Ararsamana kuu xigo nafluhu kala ayaan roone
Asaan anigu odayoobayoon anafadii daayay
Ashahaaod mooyee haddaan eebo ridi waayay
Allaa igu og inaan aabbahaa cidi u aarayne
Ha ii iman hana i soo ag marin oohir tariddaada


O young man, you brought tears to my eyes
It shook my spirit when you cried out 'uncle'
If God has made you Cali Geir, Ararsame a closest kin;
Fortune is always unevenly apportioned
I am old and renounced martial pursuits
But for saying my devotions, I am idle
God knows your father will never be avenged
Never come by, walk by me, Your tears are dejecting

Things were at a standstill but Ismaaciil Mire did not entirely give up on a peaceful end to the impasse. To that end he travelled to The Barkad settlements and there he was met by the Chief Caaqil of the Barkad Maxamed Cali Bulay. Ina Cali Bulay flatly rejected any compensation for the killing of Jaamac Cali Nuur and swore the divorce oath that not one single animal would go to the Cali Geri. Ismaaciil Mire was moved to say this:

Ragba Maxamedow horay tashiga ugu heshiin waaye
Hindise iyo toy kala kaxee tan iyo Haabiile
Halka soo mar iyo kayga maqal hiif ku kala raacye
Hantida looma qaybsheen hadduu helayo tawfiiqe
Haadaantu niman bay tahay hilinkii toosnaaye!


O Maxamed men never agree in great affairs
Ambition and greed kept men apart since Abel's time
"Heed my words" and "Take my way" ever leads to conflict
Laws would not be needed if "the better way" was readily taken
Crooked ground , to some, feels like the straight path

Many poems were composed by Dhulbahante poets who jeered at Ismaaciil Mire. Aadan Carab composed a jesting poem ridiculing the peaceful posture of the Cali Geri. But Ismaaciil Mire took it harder when Cali Dhuux wrote a poem of exaggerated praise for Jaamac Cali Nuur intended to needle the Guuleed Cali Geri. Ismaaciil Mire recognized the ruse and sent a rebarbative answer to Cali Dhuux that forced him to withdraw.

Ba'da maanso Cali Aadanow bili laguu saarye
Bushimaa nin kala qaada waa u badisaaye
Markayse bawdo gacalkaa jabtaad boogta damaqdaaye
Buug digasho ah baa kuugu jira baaddinkaa sare e


In the arts of poetry Cali Aadan is king
Of all men who sing poetry, you are peerless
But when disaster befalls your kin
You bring out a book of taunts and reproaches

Cali dhuux took a conciliatory tone and composed this answer:

Ba'da gabay Ismaaciil Miraa buuni ku ahaaye
Beyduu akhriyay weli ma odhan yaa beddela kaase
Maantuuse runtii baal maray bilaha iideede
War bal baaruuda foorari inaan kuugu bogi waayo


NIsmaaciil Mire, you are the sage of poetry
A line composed by him, never needed revision
But on this festive day, you strayed from the truth
I beseech thee, lower your guns
The greater I may admire you

Nine years after the murder of Jaamac Cali Nuur, his killing was avenged when Xidhkayoon Axmed Gawaafe, his companion and the latter's wife were all killed outside Widhwidh. It brought to a conclusion a highly charged and festering tribal animus that defied all peaceful settlement. Ismaaciil Mire and other elders who were suspected of masterminding the murder were taken to Mandheera jail. But Ismaaciil Mire was heedless of incarceration and openly rejoiced:

Isagoo xunnaafyaynaya oo xeeshii samir mooday
Xidhkayoon inaan ku arko wayla xaraarayde
Hadday xuuri shalay feenatay oo xawga laga gooyay
Xaraashkiyo xigaalada luntiyo xadhigu yeelkiisa


Strolling about, he mistook patience for surrender
Seeing Xidhkayoon unscathed was bitter to me
Now that the winged 'xuur' has devoured his corpse
Heedles I am, of detention and forfeited wealth

Samatar Baxnaan, the great poet of the Reer Hagar, heard of the death of Xidhkayoon and composed a famous poem to commemorate the 'victory' of the Cali Geri and the way they reclaimed their dignity. It is a tribute to the martial past of the Cali Geri and their immense contribution to the Darwiish cause during the long years of struggle against the British and Italian colonialists:

Wax libaaxu duurkaa galoo doqon la moodaaba
Goortii la daaruu dhegaha wax u dilaacshaaye
Daraawiishta nimankii ahaa dooxatada miidhan
Kuwii daarihii Nuur Cismaan wada daqiiqeeyey
Dalal iyo Ogaadeen kuwii Deero ka eryooday
Ee laga durkaye noogu yimid Doh' iyo Gaa­roodi
Dekedahii Berbera wiilashii duhur rasaaseeyey
Dulcas iyo Aboorey ku waan daaqi kari weynay
Darbad culusta nimankii Hawiye dakharadaw gaystay
Dayax weerar nimankii ku dilay ama ku daanduunshay
Dubka lagu xanuunsado kuwaan laga dugaalaynin
Maaraha digleeyiyo kuwii duubcad wada qaatay
Doofaarka gaalka ah kuwii dilay waxii raacay!!
Digriga iyo shareecada kuwii diirka ka cadeeyey
Dabiinkoodu nimankuu ahaa duqa Ismaaciil ah
Dab kaloo bidhaama kuwaan duni ka soo waayey
Markii laga daldalay Jaamaca dahar sidiisa ah
Awleba waw dareen qabay inay diillin dhiga­yaane
Dadow maqal degmiyo beel dhan bay damug ka siiyaane

Weekend after this, I shall conclude this series with some closing thoughts on the life of the great Mujaahid.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

History of Ismaaciil Mire, Part 4

In the middle of year 1918 Sayid Maxamed moved the Darwiish headquarters from Taleex to Sanaag. It was felt necessary that the Daraawiish should have bases close to the Maakhir Coast in order to facilitate their access to the sea for trade and re-armament purposes. As well, the Darwiishes were under immense pressure with constant raiding, ambushes and looting from the Gadhcas Majeerteen, ruled by Boqor Cismaan, their king based in Boosaaso. Boqor Cismaan was heavily armed by the Italians and was under instructions from them to make life difficult for the Daraawiish in Nugaal region. Sayid Maxamed gathered his senior Qusuusi counselors and many alternatives were broached. Some advised a move towards the Riverine areas of the south and join the Darwiish forces already based there Hiiraan and Qalqallooc. Others counselled a retreat to Illig and Eyl on the Indian ocean, formerly the Darwiish headquarters. But the Sayid plumbed for Sanaag citing the above-mentioned reasons and it would turn out to be a fateful decision.

The Daraawiish already had 4 forts in the region(Jiidali, Surad, Badhan and Gal-baribuur) and the initial plan was to use Jiidali as the Darwiish headquarters. Jiidali was a well-built fort that served the Daraawiish very well over the years. The Darwiishmen used to sing:

Haddaan jiq ka siiyo Jiidaliyeey
Xaggee kufri joogsan doonaa eey

Libaax laba jeeni dhiig ku lehoo
Badweyn ka jibaaday baan ahay!


Now that I have built Jiidali fort
The Infidels will never have rest

Like a lion, red in tooth and claw
From Badweyn, we roar like thunder

Be that as it may, it was decided that Jiidali lay exposed in in the plains and a new fort was commissioned to be built in Midhishi, next to streams nestled inside two mountains. The Daraawiish came to Sanaag with vast ambitions after the movement hit the doldrums ever since the destruction of the Shimbibiris fort. The destruction of that fort, despite the heroic resistance of its defenders, was a great blow to the morale of the Daraawiish. Colonel(Later General Lord) Ismay who was part of the British force that destroyed the fort was mightily impressed with the quality of the Daraawiish fighters who defended the fort. In his memoirs published in 1960, he wrote, “All our efforts to dig out the defenders were in vain. I was sorry they had fought well.” Sanaag was intended to renew the movement and great initiatives were proposed to bring that about. The Darwiish fort at Galbaribuur was intended to be the link to Arabia and preparations were made to cut large amount of timber to construct dhows to carry Darwiish trade from Maydh and Xiis.

However there were were also many conspiracies afoot and there were fissures within the movement. There was barely concealed hatred and loathing between the leading members of the Darwiish leadership on each side of the Sayid's lineage(Maternal and Paternal). It is narrated that Oogle Seed Magan proposed the following three points to the Sayid. He later used to boast that his proposal was a deliberate plan to undermine the Darwiish movement and lead to its destruction:

1. Cutting off all contacts and travel between Berbera and all Darwiish bases.
2. The discontinuation of all farming that was carried out by Daraawiish.
3. Raising doubts about the loyalty of Caamir Sheekh Xasan (Cagoole), the Sayid's uncle. Oogle Seed argued that Caamir had designs on Darwiish leadership at the expense of the Sayid.

His advise was followed and all Darwiish contacts with the English-held areas ceased. Caamir Cagoole was marginalized and his wise and fearless counsel was lost to the Daraawiish. Both had a large impact on the outcome of the final Darwiish-English confrontation because the lack of Darwiish intelligence on British intentions and war plans exacerbated the psychological damage inflicted by the appearance of the British Air Force over Darwiish areas.

21 January, 1920 saw the attack on Galbaribuur and Midishi fort by the British from the air and the ground. Douglas Jardine writing in his book was full of admiration for the defenders of Galbaribuur describing them as the "bravest of the brave" and the English did not capture the fort until the last defender expired in service to his country and faith. Midhishi was under constant bombardment for 3 days and it is said that 30 people died there including the discredited Caamir Cagoole, the Sayid's uncle and Mujaahid Afqarshe(Aadan Naalleeye).

The appearance of the British airplanes created chaos and confusion far exceeding the actual military damage effected by the bombs they were dropping. Darwiish leadership came to the conclusion to withdraw eastwards back to the Taleex fort which was by far the biggest of all Darwiish strongholds. Many of the leading Dhulbahante personalities counselled that they should separate from the movement and in order to save the tribe, under pressure from British reprisals, and its livestock that they should head for the deep Hawd. Thousands of Dhulbahante perished in the aftermath of the British operations with thousands more children who were orphaned dying of neglect or being kidnapped by the enemy.

A Group of Dhulbahante leaders headed by Ismaaciil Mire and which included Xirsi Jeedlade, Xirsi Cartan Boos, Ducaale Ileeye left Midhishi on the 24th of January headed towards the Hawd. Unfortunately they ran into a British force led by Colonel Ismay who detained them. When the British recognized that they had captured the Legendary Darwiish Mujaahid Ismaaciil Mirel he was immediately transferred in custody to Berbera suffering great ill-treatment for such a distinguished prisoner.

He was brough before a British magistrate to state his case but he kept looking at the floor silently even when spoken to. The Isaaq interpreters told the Darwiish to look up and regard the British magistrate fully in the face. Darwiish Ismaaciil said:


"The face that beheld The Sayid shall not look upon an infidel"

The Isaaq interpreters were greatly panicked by this show of defiance and, trembling with fear, told him to speak up and address the magistrate as SAHIB, a degrading, deferential form of address used by the Somalis who worked with the colonialists, to address the British.

The Somalis have a saying "haddaad dhimanayso dhareerka waa layska duwaa" and the English believe "in defeat, defiance". So the Englishman was aware of Darwiish Ismaaciil's intent when the Darwiish said:


"The Tongue that uttered Sayidii will not say Sahib"

When they asked him to clarify whether other prisoners were affiliated with the dervishes or not Darwiish Ismaaciil replied:

"Daraawiish ninkii soo ambaday eed ka geli maayo"

"A stray Darwiish will not be denounced by me"

Although he was sentenced to death in abstentia in 1915 for his role in the raid on Berbera, Darwiish Ismaaciil was released after 18 months when the Darwiish movement was conclusively destroyed. The British had no intention of martyring him.
Upon his release Ismaaciil Mire retired to the Dhulbahante country where he dispensed his wisdom and the history of the Darwiish struggle. He recalled in one poignant poem, addressed to his friend and relative Jaamac Cali Nuur, the bitterness that accompanied his arrest at Badweyn, bereft of the Dhulbahante who sought refuge in the Deep Hawd from the vengeful British::

Diyaarado qablami maalintii lay dul marinaayay
Darmaan xoodan maantaan Badweyn duhurka soo taagay
Habraha duubmay iyo maalintuu doqonku ii baanay
Dadkii Cayn fadhiyay maalintaan dooc ka garan waayay
Kun dirays gashani maalintay damacday dhiigayga


When flying airplanes were roaring over my head
Reaching Badweyn on the back of an emaciated colt
When old women and fools were exultant at my plight
When the people of Cayn were unrecognizable to me
A thousand in battle dress were craving my blood

A few short years after the defeat of the Daraawiish, Ismaaciil Mire was travelling with his confidant and great friend Xaaji Maxamed Cawl when they came upon a solitary settlement. An old lady recognized Ismaaciil and lamented that all her children were killed by Ismaaciil and his daraawiish and all her livestock looted by them. Mindful and aware of the destruction that was wrought upon the land by the holy anti-colonial struggle, and unwilling to shoulder the entire blame for the horrors that took place, a pained Ismaacil Mire composed the following poem that night:

Gumburo iyo cagaarweyne iyo geedkii Daratoole,
Goobtii Jidbaaliyo Xargaga guuldarradii joogtay,
Gembigii ka dhacay Ruuga iyo gudurigii haagay,
Gabooddeeda Beerdhiga wixii la isku gooraamay,
Maydkii gabraday seerigay Good ku tumanaysay,
Gawarkaad maraysaba laftaad galayaxaa mooddo,
Ogaadeenka gaanka ah wixii geydho laga qaaday,
Iiddoor cayuun godan wixii gelin la waydaarshay,
Shirshooraha gudbani cayr wuxuu gorof la meeraystay,
Garcas iyo Majeerteen wixii guuyo laga dhaarshay,
Gob ninkii ahaan jirey wuxuu gibil madoobaadey,
Giddigiis naflaa'iga wixii gobolba meel aaday
Gumburo and Cagaarweyne and the Daratoole tree


At the battle of Jidbaale and the disaster that was Xargaga
The horrors of Ruuga and the satiated vultures
Beerdhiga, were blame and denunciations were rife
The corpses that littered the fields hitherto grazed by camels
Everywhere bones protruding from decaying bodies
The proud Ogaadeen who lost all their livestock
The Iidoor, numberless camels lost in half a day
The whole of Shirshoore reduced to poverty
Gadhcas and Majeerteen, forbidden to own camels
The face of every nobleman, darkened by impotent rage
All creatures scattered to the four winds by conflict

He begs the old lady, for the sake of her eternal soul, not to put this heavy and intolerable burden on his shoulders alone.

In the early thirties, the British commissioned a group to gather intelligence on the surviving Darwiish generals. They found and compiled reports on the activities of many Darwiish elders such as Ismaaciil Mire, Seeraar Shawe, Xirsi Cartan Boos (all Dhulbahante), Aw Yuusuf Dheere (Ogaadeen, Bah Geri) and Nuur Xaashi (Warsangeli). All of them were leading peaceful lives as village or town elders and British took no further interest in their activities.

But circumstances forced Ismaaciil Mire prominently back into the picture when 3 years later his old friend and beloved cousin Jaamac Cali Nuur was cold-bloodedly murdered at Xargaga by a force of British Illaaloes. Ismaaciil Mire mounted a campaign that eventually ended with the killing of Jaamac Cali Nuur's assassin and that also saw Ismaaciil Mire taken once more to the Mandheera jail; for incitement to violence.

We will take up that story in our next installment of the Ismaaciil Mire history.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Murtidii Garaad Wiilwaal

Waa tuducyo aan ka soo xulanay murtidii qiimaha badnayd ee Garaad Xirsi Garaad, waana kuwo u noqon kara ummada guubaabo iyo tusaale inagoo ka shidaal qaadanayna marxalada aynu maanta ku suganahay

Wadaad iyo ninkii waran lahow dirir u weel qaada
Wiil iyo walaal wada socdoo waano qaba yeesha
Wacadkaad isugu dhaarateen waafi ha ahaado
Wadankeenu waa fiicanyee cadowga Weydaarsha
Walbahaarka dhiga geesibaan waabasho aqoone

Galiilyada i haysee hurdada gama'a ii diidday
Gulad iyo gacmaba waa qabnaa lagu wax goostaaye
Gaashaanka dhiiga ah warmaha la isla gaafaayo
Goormaan ku ciilbixi tashiga yaan la gaasirine

Saturday, August 11, 2007

History of Darwiish Ismaaciil Mire, Part 3

In 1910 the colonial authorities in British Somaliland protectorate adopted a policy of coastal concentration after their lack of success in subduing the Darwiish movement. Realizing that this policy would be expose their protected tribes and put them at the mercy of the Daraawiish they decided to arm the civilian population of the protectorate. This move led to an "appalling internecine warfare" among the tribes friendly to the British as they began settling old scores with the modern arms and ammunition that they received from the English. A British official conceded that he could "could not see any good in concealing the fact that during this period, it is estimated that about one-third of the male population of the friendly tribes of this Protectorate was exterminated in inter-tribal fighting. We can see how the rash actions and lack of foresight of the British led to this holocaust. By the end of the 1912 the Protectorate administration took steps to change this situation by creating a mobile force mounted on Camels and Horses named the Camel Constabulary. It was headed by Mr. Richard Corfield, a man of considerable political and military experience in the Somali theatre. From November 1912 to March 1913 the force met with great success in restoring order but at the cost of losing the confidence of some friendly tribes because of the harsh methods of Collective Punishment that he adopted. There is a story of a man named Ina Weysaxume, a victim of Corfield's injustice, who composed a maledictory poem wishing the death of Corfield for his unjust ways and the suffering, poverty and misery that he brought on the poet's family:

Sayidkoo wax galay raacdadoo la isku soo gaadhay
Adiga iyo gubniga aad wadaa goobataal noqoye
Girligaanku kaa joogsay oo guuxa kaa damiye
Ku googooste nimankii kufriga gaajaduu qabaye
Afkuna "gaw" ku yidhi xaajadaad gees u badisaaye
Guga ha gaadhin adigaa reer tolkay gaajadaa badaye


The Sayid on the warpath, on the trail of his enemies
May the your corpse and those of your soldiers litter the field
May your heavy guns break apart and fall silent
May you be torn apart by the men who thirst for infidel blood
May you not reach the springtime in safety
For you have misery and pain on my kinfolk

Corfield's mounted Constabulary became as feared as the Darwiishes and order among the friendly tribes was restored. The incident that cost him his life however began with an aggression against a darwiish caravan without escorts.

The caravan was sent by Khaliif Sheekh Cabdille from the Qorraxey fort and it was bringing necessary supplies of arms, ammunition and clothing to the Darwiish forts.The caravan was intercepted near Beer by a force that was sent from Burco, heavily armed, led by a man named Axmed Ilkacase and they managed to loot the Caravan. When news reached the Xarun of this terrible disaster the Sayid personally took charge in mobilizing a force. Every member of the qusuusi was ordered to open his arsenal and hand over the last bullet to retrieve the Darwiish caravan and punish the people who attacked the Daraawiish.

A force of 1000 men was readied comprising of members of 5 Darwiish divisions: Shiikhyaale, Golweyn, Taargooye, Miinanle and Ragxun, all of them under the overall command of Yuusuf Sheekh Cabdille. Ismaaciil Mire was commanding the elite Shiikhyaale division, exclusively Dhulbahanante(Cali Geri, Baharasame, Qayaad and Xasan Ugaas).The Daraawiish recovered much of the goods that were in the caravan and they also looted a very large stock from the various settlements tp whom the caravan raiders belonged. On 6, August 1913 the British received alarming reports of heavy Darwiish activity between Idoweyne and Burco, their operations extending to within 3 or 4 miles of Beer. Deputy Commissioner of Somaliland Protectorate Geoffrey Archer was in Burco, coincidentally, at the time and was surprised by the extraordinary Darwiish attack. He may have suspected, even though he did not write so, that he was the primary object of the Darwiish attack:

"Upon that very morning I had been listening in durbar for four hours to the representations of the friendlies - representations to the effect that, unless Government would come to their assistance and protect them with an adequate force, their annihilation at the hands of the Darvishes would be complete within a year or two. I admit therefore, that at first I was sceptical as to the imminence of danger represented as pressing at 1:30pm of the same day. The dervishes had not attacked the locality in force for two years; and that they should have selected this very time, when I happened to be present, to arrive on the scene, from the Haroun (Xarun), 170 miles distant as the crow flies, --and I need scarcely say that we can get no reliable information, of course, of dervish intentions in advance --appeared to me to be too extraordinary a coincidence to be credited. However, after a discussion on the situation with Mr Corfield, I adopted the view that some action was obviously indicated, even though I still regarded the information as likely to be without foundation in fact, and supplied by their friendlies merely to impress me with the extreme seriousness of their plight. I, accordingly, ordered a strong reconnaissance by the Camel Corps in the direction of Beer to ascertain the facts, and instructed Captain G.H. Summers, Indian Contingent, to accompany the force with a view to forming his own conclusions and advising me later on the military situation before I decided on future action."

Despite his scepticism when discounting the reports of Darwiish activity, Deputy Commisioner Archer did not take chances with his life and immediately retired to Sheekh, seeking safety in distance. The Darwiishes after the death of Corfield were singing songs that included lines alluding to the cowardice of Archer after he fled from the theatre:

Markaan Koofil coobigii jaray miyaa kufrigii calaacalay
Markaan Caarshe weeraray miyuu baqa Ceeri kala dhacay
markaan ku callaqay rasaastii miyuu habas candhaaqsaday

The Camel Constabulary set out of Burco at 3 pm on the 8 of August led by Corfield, Assisted by Captain Dunn and Captain G. H. Summers with 116 soldiers. Corfield had intelligence that the Darwiish forces were bivouacked at Ulasan 30 miles southeast of Burco and proceeded in that direction. On their approach the Camel Constabulary could hear some shots fired and the dervish fires illuminating the night sky. Friendlies who reconnoitred the Darwiish forces estimated its strength at 2000 riflemen, with 150 horse. The numbers may be unreliable. Now let us take a look at some passages from the Ismaaciil Mire's Poem on the "Death of Corfield":

Habeenkii fardaha waw tudhnaye taag ku sii miranay
Tun biciida lagu qoofalyow xamashka loo taabay
Talaaduhu markii ay dhaceen telelay oo reemay
Tixda gabay markii aan akhriyay toose niman jiifay
Tiraabkaygu meeshii uu ka baxay la isku soo tuumi
Salaadii markii aan tukaday yaarka kaga teednay
Togga Ulasameed dooyadii horay u tuuryaynay
Intay timacad noo soo arkeen marada noo taage


Mindful of our horses we pastured them at night
Gently we hobbled them, and let them eat lush fronds
When the Triplet Stars began to set I stirred and Sang
And when I chanted my poem, the sleeping awoke
Gathering around the place where my voice sounded
And when I said the Dawn prayer, we saddled for the march
By the Ulasameed rivulet I sent out the scouts

The die was cast and an engagement between the British and the Darwiish Mujaahids became inevitable. The British high command did not wish to engage the Darwiishes but Corfield was a rash man and disregarded his orders. Archer later wrote that Corfield disregarded express orders not to engage the enemy:

"My standing orders communicated to you as an enclosure to my secret despatch of the 23rd of June, and duly approved by your despatch of the 18 of July, gave, as you are aware, no discretionary powers whatsoever, in the matter of engaging the dervishes, or even proceeding on these extended patrols;"

It was fated that the two forces would meet and on 9th of August at 5 30 am Corfield and his men left Dharkaynle and proceeded to Magaalayar to cut off the Darwiishes. At 6 45 am the Darwiishes, having earlier spotted the British movements, 'severely attacked' the Constabulary and the attack continued for the next five hours. Archer wrote:

"At 7:15 am Mr Corfield, fighting gallantly was shot through the head and died instantly. The bodies of his interpreter Xaaji Jaamac Geelle, a well-known and loyal servant of this protectorate, and his two personal servants were found during the action lying close beside him."

The Darwiish forces, realizing the automatic fire of the British Maxim gun posed the greatest danger to themselves, made the gun's destruction a priority. As a result the Maxim gun was put out of action by the Daraawiish from the outset. It was later reported that the Maxim position drew heavy darwiish fire and was put out of action by Darwiish shooting after firing little more than three belts. Of the five-man team serving the gun, one man was killed and three were wounded. Having achieved that initial objective the Darwiishes wanted to capture it and began moving in on the position. On one occasion hand-to-hand fighting ensued and a darwiish was shot by Captain Summers, actually within the british stronghold.

The Darwiishes were intent on annihilating the small force and capturing their heavy guns but the British force fought tenaciously in their strongholds and around midday the Darwiish force ran out of ammunition and decided to retire with their looted stock before finishing their adversaries.

At 3:30 pm, Mr Dunn, the only Englishman who was unscathed, started organizing the British retreat back to their garrison in Burco, after ascertaining that the Darwiishes had drawn off.

Darwiish Ismaaciil Mire had this to say about the episode:

Sida teyse roob oo onkoday tininigtii yeedhay
Girligaanka meeshuu tarquday lagu tunsii geela
Tirsan mayno uunkii tirmiyo tulushle Iidoore
Turjubaanadii iyo halkaa Koofil lagu toogay


We rumbled into battle roaring like thunder
Our camels trampled where he held the Maxim gun
The dead littered the field including the toadying Iidoor
There, Corfield and his interpreters were slain

The British casualties were 33 killed and 17 wounded. The official inquiry into the Dulmadoobe fiasco placed Darwiish casualties at 200. Prevost-Battersby claims 375. No one can be certain about Darwiish casualties but those inflated numbers were surely fabricated by the officers who blundered by taking the small force into action. The Daraawiish celebrated Ruuga, as they named the battle, as a massive victory that destroyed the meddling Camel Constabulary and avenged the men who were killed when the Darwiish caravan was looted.

Deputy Commissioner Archer lamented the fact that many of the tribes on the frontier were not more engaged in the Anti-Darwiish efforts of the British by fighting proactively against them. The Darwiish attack on the friendly tribes that precipitated the engagement had reduced the hardline anti-Darwiish tribes at the sharp end of the frontier to destitution after the looting of a stock conservatively estimated at: 6000 Camels, 20,000-30,000 sheep. The looted tribes were:

Habar Yoonis, Muuse Ismaaciil
Dhulbahante, Barkad, Reer Hagar and Khaalid
Habar Jeclo, Reer Yuusuf.

About 300 members of those tribes rode along with Corfield and the Camel Constabulary in a bid to recover their looted stock but they melted away at the start of the fight.

The Daraawiish consolidated this victory by expanding their influence into Togdheer by building 3 forts at the Shimbibiris Wells that are strategically located and protected by commanding heights on all sides. That left a strong Darwiish force only 28 miles from the largest British Garrison in the area, Burco. Shimbibiris was supplied from the coast, 160 miles north.

This proved unacceptable to the British and a year later, 17, November 1914, the British mounted an expedition to destroy Shimbibiris. The Daraawiish received intelligence of the impending attack and sent their herds easwards and prepared for battle. After an 11 hour battle the British withdrew after failing to dent the impregnable defenses of the forts. A new plan was developed by the British calling for the destruction of the fort using explosive charges at the base of the forts instead of bombardment. In February, 1915 the British finally succeeded in dislodging the Darwiish forces from Shimbibiris using the the explosives. All the Darwiishes inside perished fighting valiantly to the last man. They punctuated every volley from their rifles with the chant: gaalo qudhunley, qiiq ma kaa karay.

The destruction of the fort and the death of the glorious Darwiish mujaahids who perished in its defense was a shocking development that filled the Daraawiish movement with anguish and sorrow. They turned their grief into action and they immediately started organizing a small elite force to attack Berbera in order to strike a blow against British rule of Somalia by attacking the very heart of their authority. At all events to strike chaos and fear into the British and the inhabitants of Berbera with the message that they could not feel safe anywhere.

40 Cavalrymen were selected for this mission headed by Darwiish Xaaji Mursal Aw Saacid with Ismaaciil Mire as the second in command of the assault. In early March, 1915, the group of forty Darwiishes set off for Berbera guided by Mujaahid Seeraar Shawe who had specialized knowledge of the terrain and on 8 March they reached Cillaan Bidoole where they set up a bivouac, getting some rest and watering their horses. They left the plains behind safely without being spotted and reached the cover of the mountains. It was here that they found their passage blocked by a British garrison that was guarding the mountain passes. This development caused great trepidation among the Darwiishes and some of them even counseled that the mission should be aborted. Ismaaciil Mire was dismayed by this and he managed to change their minds by stiffening their resolve and reminding them of the rightness of their ultimate cause; and their obligation to endure its pangs and toils. He also suggested a practical way, short of frontal assault, to solve their dillema. It was agreed that they should use the cover of night travel to elude the English sentries and in this they were succesful. He composed the following poem for the occasion:

Nin wahsaday Wacaysow ma helo war iyo liibaane
Nimankaa wadada jiifsadee laga wayiigaayo
Ee siday wax dilayaan qalbigu inaka waansheeyey
Walaahaan ku dhaartaye naagahaa igala waawayne
Waddadaan ku diifaynayaa walahsayow Boode
Walaabiga dhashiisaa fardaha loo wanaagsadaye
Waagoo guduudtaa Berbera lagu wadhaayaaye
Rabbi wuxu ka qaybshaba wallee wegeredkuu jiiday


O' Wacays, an indolent man receives neither blessing and nor increase
The men who are on the road who have filled us with dread
And who have unsettled our spirit as if they were conquering lions
I will swear by Allah that women are more formidable than they
I shall set Bood(his horse) on the warpath, towards Glory
It was bred to kill the Children of Filth
At daybreak will their corpses litter Berbera
Whatever portion Allah has decreed for us
I shall tighten the girth-strap on my Stallion

On the afternoon of 13 March, 1915 the 40 Darwiish Horsemen furiously rode into town shooting in all directions and destroying property. One of the casualties that day was a citizen of Berbera who used to boast that the Darwiishes will only discomfit those people who choose to herd camels in the interior of the country. He composed a comical poem to emphasize that point which ran this way:

Ninkii Teeyo dhaqay baa darwiish kala tegaayaaye
Haddaan tiro riyaa leeyahaan tuulada ag joogo
Ma tunkay i soo qaban haddaan Timirlahaa dhaafin


A man who raises camels will lose it to the Darwiishmen
If I herd a small number of goats and hew to the town
How will they reach me If I never stray past that date tree?

This hapless man was one of the people who died that day at Berbera. This assault caused consternation among the British authorities and it necessitated the withdrawal of all non-essential personnel from Berbera.

We will take up our story next time at the denouement of the Darwiish struggle and continue onto the story of the murder of Jaamac Cali Nuur.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Northern Harti and Isaaq: Political Enemies

Many times we have heard that the Northern Harti and Isaaq have a natural affiliation. This explanation is trotted out by supporters of Somaliland to explain why the Northern Harti should join them in the Somaliland secession. This idea has been repeated so many times that it has become received wisdom. Even right-thinking and rational Southern Daaroods have repeated this insidious lie that has no basis in reality or facts. While it is true that Warsangeli and Dhulbahante live alongside some lineages of the Isaaq and extensively intermarry with them, this is also counterbalanced by the fact that the Northern Harti share large borders with other Daarood factions and some Hawiye and intermarry with those neighbours extensively as well. It is time to examine some history in order to set the record straight.

Let us first look at the relationship between the Isaaqs and the Dhulbahante by way of an example, in terms of tribal connections in the rural and traditional setting. In 1962 I. M. Lewis, an English anthropologist who did extensive research among the Northern Somalis published an essay on Somali Marriage customs. Most of his research was conducted among the Dhulbahante. In a survery of 89 marriages contracted by Dhulbahante men, Dr Lewis found the following statistical facts:

55 (62 per cent) were with women of Dulbahante primary lineages other than those of their husbands; 30 (33.7 per cent.) with surrounding clans of other clan families (with the Habar Yuunis, 10; Habar Tol Jaelo, 18; and Hawiye, 3); and 3 (4.3 per cent.) with other clans of the Daarood clan-family (Majeerteen, 2; Ogaadeen, 1).

Notice how small the incidence of intermarriage between Isaaq and Dhulbahante despite the bias of all the smaller tribes, as noted even by Lewis, to marry outside their primary lineage. There were many small Dhulbahante lineages that had binding tribal Xeer that levied a punitive fine on any man who contracted a marriage within his own primary lineage. As well the sample of this survey was limited however to Dhulbahante lineages living in the Buuhoodle district within the British protectorate borders. It doesnt take into account the most easterly Dhulbahante lineages such as the Ugaasyo, Qayaad, Baharasame, Nuur Axmed, sections of the Naaleeye Axmed and many others whose primary marital relationships are formed with other Dhulbahante or with other Daarood tribes such as the Majeerteen, Mareexaan or Ogaadeen and Hawiye. If the total numbers of marriages contracted by Dhulbahante men in all the tradional lands of the Dhulbahante were totalled, Dhulbahante-Isaaq marriage would account for a very small percentage. Intermarriage between Isaaqs and Daarood was further reduced in the 1950s when the introduction of Berkado led to a decrease in tribal interactions when every Dhulbahante lineage formed semi-permanent settlements in the Hawd with access to water provided by Berkado in the deep Hawd.

By far the area where the greatest intermarriage between Isaaq and Daarood could be found was in the cities among the educated Protectorate Government civil servants and merchant classes of both tribes found in cities like Cadan, Burco, Berbera and Hargeysa who married across clan lines. Many of those elders indeed can be said to have great sympathy and affinity with the Isaaq among whom they lived and worked for a considerable time and made lasting friendships. As well there are many Northern Harti whose schooling was done among Isaaqs and Samaroons in places like Camuud, Sheekh and Dayaxa and they too harbour considerable sympathy for the Isaaqs. Most of the misguided pro-Somaliland Northern Harti can be found in these two cohorts. But by 1970 after the migration of most Somalis towards Mogadishu the capital and the displacement of most educational institutions of higher learning towards the capital those interactions virtually came to a halt.

Since the start of the civil war, the trends have been indicating a an accelerating decrease in the interactions between Isaaqs and Northern Harti as the cosmopolitan culture of Somalia was lost and every tribe retreated to its home region. Today there is very little movement of trade and people between Isaaq and Harti lands. It is a very ironic development that in this day and age, and with the existence of a Somaliland Isaaq entity which putatively contains the Harti peoples, there is less commercial interaction between Berbera and the Harti lands than before the appearance of the White Man. Before the colonial times Bulaxaar and Berbera, among other Red Sea ports, served as the commercial centres of Somalis from as far as Mudug and Ximan(Galgaduud. Today Berbera is a seaport that is used exclusively by the Ethiopian government and all the Harti and many Isaaqs use the Boosaaso port in Puntland. Thus, most of the building materials, fuel, staple commodities that are used by the Dhulbahante come through Boosaaso. There is very little trade linkage between the Dhulbahante and the Isaaq, and when there is, in any exchange of good and services between the two tribes the Dhulbahante insist on receiving and/or making payments in Somali shillings(rather than Somaliland Shilling), thus necessitating the continued use of the Somali currency by Isaaqs who otherwise completely reject any symbol of Somaliweyn.

During colonial times as well as during the 31 years of effective Somali government rule, the main metropolitan centres of the North were Burco and Hargeysa and consequently most Northern Harti used to go to these two urban centres for services which otherwise could not be provided at the Village or town level(medical, financial or educational) in Northern Harti lands. Today the overwhelming majority of Northern Harti go to Gaalkacayo or Boosaaso, two Daarood cities that have seen phenomenal growth in population, infrastructure and services. Most Harti people who need advanced medical care go to Gaalkacayo or Boosaaso to seek that medical treatment if it is not available locally in places like Laasqoray, Badhan, Laascaanood, Buuhoodle etc. All those cities have themselves been transformed immensely since the fall of the Siyaad government and have witnessed incredible growth in their infrastructure and services, largely driven by the diasporic sons and daughters of the region. If those cities suffer in comparison to other cities of Puntland and those of the Soomaali-diid(Anti Somali) Isaaqs it can be excused for two reasons:

1- Lack of infrastructure inherited from the Somali governments that ruled from 1960-199, eg the deep-water port of Berbera, Modern Airport with paved runway in Hargeysa, extensive network of roads that link the major cities of Somaliland. And in the case of Puntland, the excellent port and road links that Boosaaso enjoys.

2- The development efforts of the Northern Harti by and large are not supplemented by the kind of development projects that are carried out in Somaliland and other parts of Puntland by Non-Governmental and United Nations agencies. In this respect the Northern Harti are badly let down the various governments of Puntland, a dire situation that needs to change immediately.

The greatests breakdown of social and economic ties between the Isaaq Somalilanders and the Soomaali weyn Northern Harti has roots mostly in the hatred and enmity that was stoked by the Isaaq for all Somalis and specially the Daarood during the time when the Isaaqs were figthing against the government of President Siyaad Barre. That kind of propaganda that sharpened tribal animus between Somalis to a considerable and deadly degree served the Isaaqs during their struggle against Siyaad. But that negative and destructive policy has divided the northerners to such an extent that the bell cannot be unrung and the amity and friendship that was enjoyed at one time by northerners has been ruptured for all time.

Though the Isaaqs and Northern Harti enjoyed mutual respect and peace for the most part throughout history and their commercial and social interactions ebbed and flowed according to the prevailing conditions, one thing that has held throughout history is that there has never been congruence between the political aspirations, movements, beliefs and ideals of Isaaqs and the Northern Harti.

During the time of the Sayid Maxamed Cabdille Xassan, the hero of the Somali Liberation struggle to free Somalis from colonial servititude, the overwhelming majority of Isaaqs lined up on the side of the English and rejected the call for Somali liberation. At the same time the Dhulbahante in overwhelming numbers chose to fight for Freedom and Liberation in order to safeguard the honour, culture and ways of the Somalis. The Warsangeli while staying aloof from the fight in the early years nevertheles provided the guns and ammunition that the Darwiish armies needed to fight the war by allowing them to import firearms using Warsangeli ports and sailing dhows. When Suldaan Maxamuud Cali Shire ascended to the leadership of the Warsangeli he joined with the Darwiishes and for a while the Darwiishes used the port of Laasqoray to fill their trade requirements. The Daraawiish and the Sultan later fell out but the young Sultan was always very resolute in his resistance to British encroachment on his fiefdom.

Let us now move ahead to the 1950s. During the last decade of English rule in what was then known as British Somaliland, an area that encompassed most of the land settled by the Samaroon, Isaaq and the Northern Harti, there was considerable party political activity in the protectorate. When the UN Trusteeship Committee appointed Italy to prepare Southern Somalia for self-rule by year 1960 the level of political organization and activism increased with the twin objectives of forcing the British to give British Somaliland independence at the same time as Southern Somalia and to prevent England from ceding any Somali-inhabited lands to the Ethiopians. The overwhelming majority of Somalis in the North held identical views on both issues, but there was considerable differences as to means. The Isaaq were the best-organized politically insofar as they created indigenous political parties to organize themselves and mobilize their support. Most of the Habar Magaadle were in the SNL party that was created by Xaaji Ibraahim Cigaal in the early thirties. This was a party with a Pan-Arab and Anti-western idealogy and with some members who had connections to Ethiopia. The principal actors in this party were Maxamed Xaaji Ibraahim Cigaal (HA), the son of the founder and inheritor of a vast wealth, Cali Meygaag Samatar (HA), The Naxar brothers, HY(Ismaaciil became the chief political architect of the SNL after his expulsion from Xamar by C. Ciise's governments after he became a GSL and Xaaji Maxamed Xuseen supporter during his time in exile in Xamar), Miyateyn(HY), Faarax Suusle(HY), Xaaji Maxamuud Shaqalle(HA). There was also a more virulently anti-western and pro-Arab party created by a Habar Yoonis exile who was living in Cairo, Sayid Axmed Sheekh Muuse, educated at Al-Azhar from 1948 to 1954. Xizballah membership and support very often overlapped with SNL.

The idealogical and electoral opposition to the SNL was provided by the NUF party headed by Michael Mariano who always believed himself to be the Prime Minister-designate when British Somaliland was granted independence. He held to this opinion despite the dismal electoral results of the NUF whose tribal base was too narrow as they identified as a Habar Jeclo party. Another drag on party support was the belief that Mariano( a Christian) and the NUF were too pro-Western. He never overcame the twin, fatal handicaps.

The Northern Harti did not participate in any of these Isaaq political parties but rather belonged to the Northern branches of the pre-dominant political party in the South, The Somali Youth League(SYL). The party was popularly known as Leego and it was to this party that they turned to in droves. The Northern Harti after some honest self-evaluation realized that they were marginal and politically lightweight in the absence of an indigenous Protectorate party with a wide base and funds to mount a credible political campaign. So marginal were the Northern Harti that their only political figure with any stature and visibility on the political scene was the lawyer and activist Cabdalle Xaaji Faarax who was the member for Leego, Laascaanood West. In late 1958, It was resolved, in a meeting chaired by Garaad Jaamac Garaad Cali (Hereditary Chief of the Dhulbahante) and attended by Garaad Maxamuud Cali (Hereditary Chief of the Maxamuud Garaad) and Cabdalle Xaaji Faarax(Odala, Samakaab Axmed),among many other dignitaries, that a new, non-Isaaq political party should be founded in the protectorate. The main aims of the party were to safeguard Daarood political interests in the protectorate as well as to establish a proper foundation for Northern Harti to maneuver politically when the inevitable union came with the South. In order to bolster the political viability and the influence of the party, specially given their late entry into the field, it was felt that the equally politically marginalized Samaroon should be welcomed into this new political initiative.

To that end, Garaad Jaamac sent emissaries to Garaad Maxamuud Cali Shire, the acute Hereditary Chief of the Warsangeli, and to the traditional leaders of the Samaroon nation.

The outcome of this bold political initiative was the founding and the inauguration of the United Somali Party (USP) at Golkhaatumo near Laascaanood in June, 1959(Please correct me if I am wrong about the date). The success of this political power-play can be gauged from the fact that in the February, 1960 election, the first one contested by the new party, the USP won an incredible 12 seats out of 33. The SNL won 20 and and the NUF under Mariano a solitary seat. The star candidate of the USP was the son of the Dhulbahante Garaad, the charismatic Cali Garaad Jaamac, recently returned from a course of study in the UK, and he was subsequently named the Daarood representative on the delegation to negotiate British Somaliland's independence from Britain.

As soon as the independence was gained and Somalia reunited, The parliaments, the Northern and Southern one, were merged and a government of National Unity was agreed to be formed. The SNL under the leadership of Cigaal made an idealogical and tribal alliance with a faction headed by Cali Jimcaale, a Xawaadle man filled with noxious anti-Daaroodism, as they inaugurated a Pan-Irir political initiative that ultimately came to nought.

In the meantime the USP threw in their lot with the SYL and Cabdirashiid Cali Sharmaarke, bolstered by the infusion of USP support and taking advantage of Digil &Mirifle dissatisfaction with Cabdilaahi Ciise stewardship of the Trusteeship governments, easily won the post of Prime Minister defeating Mr Ciise. It was the first of many decisive interventions by the Northern Harti that changed the course of Somali politics. And another demonstration of the great political and ideological divide between the Isaaq and the Northern Harti.

The next example I will use to illustrate the fundamental opposition of the political objectives of the Isaaq(Somalilanders) and the Northern Harti came at the time of the founding of the SNM. The Somali National Movement, the umbrella organization that united Isaaq political and military opposition to Siyaad Barre, was founded in England in the early eighties. During the formative days of the SNM, two respected Dhulbahante figures who were visiting London approached the senior leadership of the SNM. The two men were Maxamed Axmed Cabdulle( Sakhraan) and Cali Garaad Jaamac(the Hereditary Chief of the Dhulbahante). From the very beginning, both men were targetted as enemies of the revolution by the Somali Government of Siyaad Barre and they too were vociferous opponents of the Kacaan. They proposed to the SNM that the movement's base should be broadened to become a Northern opposition to the Siyaad government. Their proposal was met with a resounding rejection by the Isaaq SNM leadership and the two Dhulbahante elders were advised to launch their own anti-government movement if they were dissatisfied with the state of affairs in Muqdisho. They were bluntly told that the SNM was an Isaaq movement and had no place for the Dhulbahante. The views of Cali Garaad and Sakhraan were in the majority among their tribe because the Dhulbahante viewed all the Ethiopian-based opposition movements as unpatriotic people giving support and succour to our ancient enemy.

Subsequent Isaaq propaganda(poems, radio broadcasts) to mobilize their population was filled with a most vile, abusive and racist language against the Daarood people. Demonstrations held by students in Isaaq cities like Hargeysa and Burco were notable for the vile anti-Daarood slogans chanted by the participants. It became soon became fairly obvious to anti-government Daarood students that the Isaaqs were not so much anti-government as they were anti-Daarood.

History gives us a clear and irrefutable evidence that the aims, interests, politics and ideology of the Northern Harti and the Isaaqs have never coincided. And never have the two been farther apart than today when the Isaaqs are committing the most egregious acts of poltical prostitution in a bid to get their deformed Somaliland enterprise accepted by the international community. The leadership of Somaliland went to the houses of the British parliament to meet some obscure backbenchers and proudly disclosed to the stunned parliamentarians that Somalilanders were Orphans of Queen Elizabeth. As if that was not shameful enough, when the same parliamentarians visited Somaliland they were were met by hundreds of Somalilanders cheering and waving placards that bore the message: The Queen is Our Mother. Those innocent Isaaq civilians probably could neither read nor write the English language but were victimized by morally bankrupt leaders who handed them those self-abasing placards. They are leader who are, to a man, self-seekers and opportunists who do not care about the dignity and good name of their people.

The Northern Harti appeal to their Somaliland (Isaaq) brothers to discard the separatist political ideology that has led them to this shameful position and to embrace the concept of Somali unity, reconciliation and brotherhood. It is the only way they can go forward and rid themselves of the cynical leadership that has shamed them. In the meantime, we shall stay aloof from our Somaliland brothers and the stench emanating from their rotting body-politic.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

History of Darwiish Ismaaciil Mire, Part 2

In 1905 Sayid Maxamed and the Darwiish forces signed a peace treaty that ceded the Nugaal to the Darwiish forces in return for a cessation of violence and a promise to stop interfering in the affairs of the British-protected tribes and their lands. Lee Cassaneli wrote that historians are unanimous in their view that the Sayid did not enter into this arrangement with honest intentions, but rather, that it was a ploy to gain time in order to regroup and re-establish his power. He cites the Sayid's clandestine relations with the Biyamaal to whom he provided a lot of weapons. This theory gains further credence when you take into account the Darwiish expansionist attitude towards the Kingdom of Cali Yuusuf and their aggressive stance towards him.

In February, 1905 the English received intelligence supplied by a Signor Olivo who relayed the distress of Suldaan Cali Yuusuf at reports that the Daraawiish had captured Garacad, with the Sayid himself settling there. The Darwiishes viewed Garacad as a useful coastal settlement with a natural harbour. It would facilitate Darwiish gun-running activities and trade. Signor Olivo wrote that Cavaliere Pestalozza was en route to Hobyo to consult with Suldaan Cali Yuusuf. There were further telegraphic reports relating the flight of Reer Mahad from Garacad as their stock was looted by the advancing Darwiishes.

Thus, after many years of trying, were the Daraawiish finally able to establish a strong and deep presence in Mudug. After the successes of 1905, they built forts at Garacad and Jarriiban. It was one of the main strategic objectives of the Darwiish movement to establish themselves along the Mudug coast for trade purposes; and to control the interior of Mudug that was rich in stock and traversed by many trade caravans. But the inhabitants Mudug proved very recalcitrant, partly out of loyalty to Suldaan Cali Yuusuf and partly out of fear of him.
As far back as 1902, Ismaaciil Mire was the spearhead of the Darwiish assault against many strongholds of Suldaan Cali Yuusuf in Mudug and to punish any tribes who were obstructing the Jihaad. In Sept 1902, The Darwiish forces attacked Suldaan Cali Yuusuf's fort at Gaalkacayo and occupied it. A report received by the English high command reads as follows: "in consequence of this success the prestige of the Mullah had considerably increased among southern and western tribes of the Mudug district". Col. Swayne believed that this was a serious reverse for Cali Yuusuf and proposed that a force of 600 Sudanese, with four guns, should be landed at Hobyo to buttress the Majeerteen King. The Darwiish occupation of interior Mudug was not a lasting one.

They were routed out of Mudug by General Manning's forces that landed at Hobyo at the start of the 3rd English Expedition. But by July, 1904 Cali Yuusuf's position at Gaalkacayo became untenable once more and Swayne sent a telegram that the Majeerteen King had already evacuated Gaalkacayo reasoning that he feared for Hobyo and would concentrate his defenses there. The King reiterated his need for more rifles. Swayne was of the opinion that he had enough already.

In 1905, the Darwiishes were increasingly assertive and were in the mood to punish any dissent against the liberation struggle. Majeerteen were attacked in Mudug when it was felt that they were dilatory in their support for the Daraawiish. In the north a breakaway sept of the Cali Geri was coming under pressure in Buuhoodle. Ismaaciil Mire was in the thick of the action and a detachment of Darwiishes under his command set off from the Xarun to Abqow, South of Eyl where the largest concentration of Darwiish ponies were being tended by the Sayid's brother Yuusuf Sheekh Cabdille.

Upon reaching Abqow, Ismaaciil Mire composed a poem addressed to Yuusuf Sheekh Cabdille spelling out his intentions for spreading Darwiish power in Mudug and to punish Suldaan Cali Yuusuf for his treachery in supporting the English by allowing General Manning to land at Hobyo during the 3rd English Expedition against the Darwiishes.

Taleex iyo Abqow, Yuusufow, waa tub kala dheere
Todobaan ka soo dhaxay halkay tiil dariiqaduye
Wixii aad tartiib igu ogayd tiicis baan ahaye
Tan inaan fadhiistaana waa tacaddi diimeede
Wax Jahaadku taawinahayaa tan iyo Ceelhuure
Tiirkii Hobyood waa la gubi taan niyaysnahaye
Abtow Togayar ii qabo adaan kuu tawaawacaye


Taleex and Abqow are separated by some distance
Seven days have I travelled from the land of the Tariiqa
The slow gait you see is from the wearying journey
But rest and relaxation would be an outrage against the Faith
The Jihaad will reach Ceelhuur without Delay
The Edifice at Hobyo will burn, as is my Intention
Give me Togayar, My nephew I beseech.
(Togayar, an infertile mare known for her speed)

In the middle of the year The darwiishes attacked the Majeerteen loyal to Cali Yuusuf at Xinduugan. The Majeerteen received warning of the impending Darwiish assault and drove their Camel herds south. When the Darwiish army came, there was no stock to loot and no army to engage. Ismaaciil Mire was disappointed and composed a playful poem about the incident where they ended up with a few fat-rumped sheep to cook for themselves!

Shilinkii Xinduugan haddaan shalay Jihaad geeyey
Shigta weerar guutadu hadday sheed walba u qaadday
Shaaruflaha Majeerteen hadday shidatay reerkiisa
Horweyn lagama soo shubo gunaan shucub u foofayne
Anoo shiiday baan helay wankii shirixa weynaaye
Shiilliinka ii keen Ilaah waw shukriyayaaye
Nin shahiida baa loo ogaa inuu shaf goostaaye
Nimcadaan Shareecada ku helay yaan ka shaabacaye

Ismaaciil Mire had occassion to wage war on another Majeerteen King, this time the Sultanate of Boqor Cismaan that was based in Boosaaso and whose relations with the Daraawiish were always fraught. in late 1915 the Cismaan Maxamuud looted a large and valuable stock from the Daraawiish(Miinanle) which caused consternation in the Darwiish camp. Ismaaciil Mire was put in charge of a Darwiish force tasked with recovering the stock with the proviso that they should set out on foot. The reasoning behind this was that the Majeerteen land was barren and without much natural cover. As a result a mounted force would be very conspicuous. Ismaaciil Mire rejected this rationale and argued that if the Darwiish horses were not away for grazing to Xaysimo the Miinanle stock would not have been lost. He explains the necessity for the speed and mobility provided by ponies. He composed this poem:

Xayow aabbahay baa i baray Xamar aan fuulaaye
Xiis baan ku meel mari jiriyo Xaya darmaaneede
Farduu Xaysimay naga jireen Xula dhaceediiye
Sengeyaasha xoogga leh haddii lagu xambaareeyo
Xadataa ma dhaafteen hashuu xaday Majeerteene
Lugi inay Xadaafiir tahaan soo xaqiiqsadaye
Welina Eebbahay iguma xadin laba xagaafoode


My father taught me to ride a Bay horse
I rode Xiis and Xaya, the choice of Mounts
The Horses were away, when they took Xula
If these powerful Stallions were nearby
The she-camel stolen by the thieving Majeerteen
Would not have gone very far from us
I know how taxing foot travel can be
But mercifulAllah has never obliged me
Ever to slog on a wearying foot travel

Ismaaciil and his force set out on their horses and were successful in recovering some of the looted stock.

By far one of the greatest successes of the Darwiish Armies was the conquest of the strategic Hiiraan region. In 1912 the Daraawiish received intelligence that the Italians were gradually expanding their presence in southern Somalia with the intent to capture Hiiraan, an area that was hitherto free from colonial influence. Their forward positions were as far afield as Mahaday. This was alarming news to the Daraawiish. Sayid Maxamed dispatched an army of 900 men commanded by Xaaji Maxamuud Macalin "Cagadhiig" towards Doh and Ceelgaab. Their instructions were to link up with the Darwiish forces based there under the command of the Sayid's brother Khaliif Sheekh Cabdille and proceed to Hiiraan with the aim of establishing Darwiish presence in Beledweyne, including the building of forts.

When the force reached Hiiraan they set up a bivouac at Qollad near Beledweyne. They started sending many messages and delegations to the Xawaadle inhabitants of the land urging them to join the holy Darwiish army and take their part in the liberation struggle for Somalia. The Xawaadle sent messages to the Daraawiish that they will not countenance Darwiish presence in Hiiraan. They were implacable in their stance despite many attempts by the Daraawiish to convince them of the danger posed by the Italians and the need for unity in opposing the colonial machinations. At long last, when it became evident that the Xawaadle were in no mood for compromise the Daraawiish decided that an all-out war to subdue the Xawaadle was inevitable. The Xawaadle were in bullish mood and confident that they could defend themselves from the Daraawiish. They had an able leader named Nimcade Dacaar who led a force named Hormadiid. In 1913, Daraawiish attacked the Xawaadle and routed them and captured the entire herds of the Xawaadle and Hiiraan was finally pacified and brought under the Darwiish Banner.

The Daraawiish built a base for themselves in Beledweyne. Immediately work began on a fort to defend the Darwiish realm in Hiiraan, designed and built by a man named Cali Jalax. Darwiish hero Xaaji Maxamuud Macalin "Cagadhiig", of the Cabdi Garaad(Qayaad), Dhulbahante, was named Commander of the Darwiish armies in Hiiraan.

This was a worrying development for the Italians and they reinforced their positions in Mahaday, fearful of a southern advance by the Daraawiish. They also established new positions in Tiyeeglow and Buqcaqable to safeguard their southern dominions. At the same time they held urgent talks with Suldaan Cali Yuusuf of the Majeerteen Mudug kingdom. It was agreed that Hobyo and the Italians should present a united front against the Daraawiish. They also drafted in Boqor Olol Diinle, the hereditary King of the ancient Ajuuraan dynastic lineage. These three powerful forces were yoked together in an unholy struggle against the Holy Daraawiish Warriors who were fighting for the liberation of Somalia.

On March 3, 1915, The triumvirate began their advance on Beledweyne from 6 directions:
1. The Italians advancing from:

a. Buuloburde
b. Buqcaqable
c. Tiyeeglow

2. Suldaan Cali Yuusuf provided 2 armies under the overall command of his legendary General, Godogodo. The armies were to advance from:

a. Mudug
b. Ceelbuur

3. Boqor Olol Diinle leading an Ajuuraan army coming out of Qallaafe.

In a siege that lasted three and a half days amid heavy bombardment, the Darwiish forts did not suffer any major damage and when one of the heavy Italian cannons was knocked out, the attacking forces became demoralized and went into headlong flight.

Ismaaciil Mire was on an inspection and fact-finding mission to Beledweyne and delayed his departure when he received news of the impending battle. He took part in the defence of the forts and immortalized the battle in a Geeraar that he composed for Xaaji Khaliif Cabdille at Qalqallooc Darwiish base, which at the time was under Khaliif's command. It served as a comprehensive report of the battle situation and the identities of the various lineages and nations involved in the encounter:

War ninkii iga dooniyow
Anoo Doollo u jeeda
Deleb heensaha saaroo
Gooruu waagu dillaacay
Daraawiish ballamayna
Adduun saad ka damcaysiyo
Damdambaysi ma yeeshee
Waa dawaara sideede
Durba weerar na taabay
Maajoor doora qudhmuuniyo
Doofaartii Raxanweyniyo
Majeerteen dunjigiis
Daacufleey askareediyo
Ina Diinle dhashiisa
Dulmi noogu heshiiyoo
Duulba maalin na beegay
Beryey Deex Ololaysay
Dundunku u rognaayoo
Candhadii dubayowdoo
Daaqsin ayan u foofinoo
Rasaastii dam lahayd
Dagaal baan kula roorayoo
Baqihii ay dillaameen
Dabkii aanu ka reebnay
Derbibaan ku masaalloo
Daarahaanu rasaynayoo
Daayimow mahadaa bay
Daraawiishi lahaydeeeeey


Those of you who want news
As I was headed back to Doollo
Having saddled my horse
At the break of the dawn
Conferring with my Daraawiish
But my best laid plans
Upset by life's changing fortunes
We were suddenly attacked
The filthy Italian Major
And the Porcine Raxanweyn
And a kind of Majeerteen
And the weak Askaris
And the followers of Ina Diinle
United in wickedness and treachery
Each attacked us in turn
Many days passed, before
the penned camels grazed
confined by the din of battle
We rushed at them with courage
And they ran in headlong flight
The arms they left behind
Were as high as a wall
We filled our forts with them
O Eternal one, God
It is you we thank
For this great victory

After this historic triumph the Daraawiish expanded in Southern Somalia and Italy was forced to backpedal and abandon its plans to move into the Upper Shabeele Valleys. The Darwiishes consolidated their victory and solidified their hold on Hiiraan by building two new forts, Aammin and Laba Mataanood. They sent powerful raiding armies into Tiyeeglow and Baydhabo against the Italians and their supporters. They also harried the enemy as far south as Aw Dheegle and Ceel Garas. After the Beledweyne debacle the Italians never mounted an offensive against the Daraawiish. Ever afterwards it was the Daraawiish who were on the front foot attacking the Italians or their interests, while the colonials were ever on the defensive.

In our next installment of the history of Mujaahid Ismaaciil Mire, we will recount the destruction of the Camel Corps and the death of Richard Corfield as well as the attack on Berbera.

to be continued...

Sunday, August 5, 2007

History of Darwiish Ismaaciil Mire, Part 1

Ba'da gabay Ismaaciil Mirow adaa buuni ku ahaaye
Beyduu akhriyay weli ma odhan yaa bedela kaase

The words of Cali Dhuux Aadan paying tribute to the poetic abilities of Mujaahid and Wadani Ismaaciil Mire, the Great Darwiish General who fought for the majestic cause of Somali liberation, leading Darwiish armies into battle from Berbera(the very centre of the English Rule) to Hobyo and the Sultanate of Cali Yuusuf, the ruler of Mudug, and from there all the way to the valley of the River Shabeele in Hiiraan, Central Somalia.

Ismaaciil Mire, a son of the Dhulbahante, Reer Cali Geri, was born in the 1870s at the height of the power of the Dhulbahante. After the fall of the Kingdom of the Great Boqor Wiilwaal and sun had set on the Bartire, it might be fairly claimed that the Dhulbahante emerged as the most powerful and most feared tribe in Somalia. That reputation was solidified when Dhulbahante defeated the Ogaadeen in one of the most bloody, vicious and brutal battles in Somali history. The battle took place below Kabar Ogaadeen hills(Named after the battle). The Dhulbahante were left as the undisputed masters of Northern Somalia, occupying the land from Jiidali in the north of Sanaag to Ceelcad near the Mudug border in the south. From Kiridh in the west to Xalin in the Nugaal valley where they bordered the Majeerteen.

In the middle of the nineteenth century the English sent two explorers to prepare the way for English colonization of Northern Somalia. Richard Burton landed in the western part of Northern Somalia, among the Isaaq. To the east they sent his partner in exploration, a certain Mr John Speke who landed at Laasqoray with a brief to traverse the Dhulbahante country and meet up with his fellow explorer Richard Burton in Harar. Speke's mission was not a complete success as he was not able to proceed through the Dhulbahante country on account of hostility and suspicion that greeted his journey through their land. But he made many discoveries and recorded facts that are useful to us in reconstructing the condition and circumstances of the Dhulbahante clan in the middle of the 19th century.

Speke's arrival was greeted with suspicion as he advanced towards the Dhulbahante frontier in the spring of 1855. He received many alarming reports warning him about the Dhulbahante as being a "terrible and savage nation" who were unsettled by reports of Speke's marking out the Warsangeli land with paper. Speke wrote that he was delayed for eight days while his motives for travelling through the Dhulbahante lands were being established. He was eventually allowed to proceed and he recorded the internecine warfare that split the Dhulbahante Kingdom into two factions in those years. Until that time the Dhulbahante were under the Figurehead command of the hereditary Garaadship of the Baharasame kings but a schism developed in the early to mid 19th century that saw the rise and investiture of one Cali Xaram(Maxamuud Ugaadhyahan) who formed a breakaway Garaadship for the Maxamuud Garaad. It was a natural consequence of the growing vigour and rude health of the Dhulbahante clan whose lands, wealth and population became too large for their affairs to be run by a single Garaad. These birth-pangs of a New Order led to ruinous wars between the brother lineages of the Dhulbahante that exacted a heavy toll.

Despite these discords and intestine wars, Dhulbahante presented a united front in opposing what they felt any encroachment by suspicious foreigners. The Dhulbahante made it clear to Speke that he could only proceed through their land at their sufferance and authority and he was confronted with an ultimatum that he should pay for his passage through Dhulbahante or else turn back. As a demonstration of the hostile reception he could face the Dhulbahante arranged for Speke to witness a mounted Expedition of 4000 men being assembled for one of the dreaded Dhulbahante Cavalry raids that were periodically carried out by the descendants of Siciid Harti against their neighbouring tribes, both Isaaq and Daarood; Raids that spread fear and foreboding throughout the land as the thundering hooves of the Dhulbahante horsemen presaged terrible material and human losses:

The other people I met here were some Dulbahantas arming for the fight. They said they were 4000 strong in cavalry, and were slaughtering sheep wholesale for provision on the road. Each man carried a junk of flesh, a skin of water, and a little hay, and was then ready for a long campaign, for they were not soft like the English (their general boast), who must have their daily food; they were hardy enough to work without eating ten days in succession, if the emergency required it.

It gives us a flavour of the life of the Dhulbahante at the time that Siciid Qamax, the legendary Cali Naaleeye warrior and poet, composed his famous poem when the Dhulbahante reached the Indian ocean at Illig in a bloody march through Majeerteen lands, along the way exacting terrible revenge for a previous attack by the Majeerteen on the Dhulbahante. Before they reached the ocean they succeeding in sacking the historic capital of the Cismaan Maxamuud at Noobir(between Iskushuban and Beyla).

Waa loo shuhuud NOOBIR inay shaxi ka jeexnayde.
Badda shaqafka inaan soo darsaday sheegyay aadmiguye.
Iidoorku waa midaan shidiyo midaan shiddeeyaaye.
Shan haddaan ka dilo, waa anoo neef shidhow qalaye
Turki baan u shoolaye nin kale shuufay hadalkiise

Speke eventually turned back after his fate was spelled out to him in the starkest terms by his native guides:

They (the Dhulbahante) did not fear guns. The English could not reach them; besides, their fathers had driven Christians from these lands; and if an army was to attack them, they would assemble so many cavalry, and ride in such rapidity around them, that their gunners could not take aim in consequence of the clouds of dust which this feat would occasion!

Shortly thereafter Speke turned back and made his way to Harar by some alternative route. He and Burton ran into a hot reception from the Habar Awal and their mission ended acrimoniously amid bitter recriminations between the two explorers.

Another explorer who had a better time of it in Dhulbahante country was the man sent by the Royal Geographic society to survey the northern part of the land of the Somalis. He also noted the bitter intestine warfare that was ravaging the Dhulbahante Kingdom amid the schism between the two great Lineages of the tribe. But his impressions were in similar vein to Speke, highlighting the overwhelming martial nature of the tribe and their superiority as fighting force occassioned by their use of Cavalry charges that gave them great mobility and an irresistible battlefield presence. Cruttenden wrote:

Dhulbahante are a nation who fight chiefly on horseback their arms being 2 spears and a shield. Their horses are powerful and courageous; the breed descended, according to Somali tradition, from the stud of Suleiman, the son of David, and consequently highly valued. The Dulbahante, as far as I have seen them, are a fine martial race of men, second to none of the branches of Darrood either in conduct or appearance, and they are described as being courteous and hospitable to the stranger who visits them.

The abundance of horses in the Dhulbahante country and the prowess of the Dhulbahante as horsemen is recurring theme. Drake-Brockman, a colonial civil servant during the Darwiish wars remarks on this in his book, British Somaliland:

Previous to the expeditions against the Mullah, the tribes which were, in all probability, the best off in horses were the Dulbahanta, and after them the Ogaden. At all events, most of those in a position to speak are agreed that the Dulbahantas are the best horsemen among the Somalis.

The next visitor to the Dhulbahante country was one Harold Swayne in the 1870s. He wrote extensively about Northern Somalia in his books Seventeen Trips through Somaliland. Swayne wrote that "of the Somali tribes I have met on different expeditions those having the most ponies are the Dhulbahante, the Reer Amaadin and the Jibriil Abokor. In the Nugaal country we saw enormous number, one man sometimes owning 150"! This abundance of horses gave the Dhulbahante great strategic advantage which they pressed relentlessly. It allowed them to cover huge distances. Swayne records that the Dhulbahante were a tribe addicted to raiding and their horsemen rampaged down the coast molesting the coastal trade centres of Bullaxaar and Berbera. They also harried and looted the trade caravans coming from Mudug and Ogaadeeniya. When Swayne visited Caynaba then occupied by the powerful Ararsame lineage of Axmed Garaad he witnessed large number of caravans that were Ararsame Magan. The caravans were afraid to venture towards Berbera fearful of Maxamuuud Garaad horsemen.

Swayne writes that the people of Badweyn 'had just come from Gosaweine, driven from there by fear of Mahamud Gerad, and we were assured we would most certainly be attacked by that tribe if we held to our determination of going to Gosaweine. We were further told that the plains were very open and the horsemen "as numerous as the Sand" and that years ago a force of natives armed with 100 matchlocks had been completely wiped out there by a night attack'. In the event, Swayne's party did not meet the "the terrible Mahamud Gerad" but was instead given an escort by a detachment of Ararsame and Barkad horses who were themselves on the lookout against the Mahamud Gerad. Swayne's party made a bivouac on the plain that night. But caution dictated to them that they not light any fires to avoid attracting the menacing attentions of the Mahamud Gerad Cavalry.

Swayne in his travels comes upon and mentions in his book one of the most glorious Dhulbahante Battle victories. Upon visiting Caynaba, he writes that he "halted at a steep, flat-topped hill called Kabr Ogaden, or the Ogaden graves, where a great Ogaden army perished at the hands of the Dolbahanta". He continues that the tribe was here in "strength, with enormous droves of camels and ponies and flocks of sheep. For a mile round the wells were clouds of dust kicked up by the thirsty animals".

It was amid the splendour of this majestic, sprawling kingdom that Ismaaciil Mire Cilmi was born to the Guuleed Cali Geri branch of the Dhulbahante. At the time of Ismaaciil's birth the Cali Geri were recovering from the bloody conflicts that convulsed their family after the vanity of Aadan Galaydh and his expansive family lit the touchpaper to intestine wars that left an indelible mark on Somali history. The story has been immortalized by an aged Ismaaciil Mire in a poem intended as a cautionary tale against overweening pride, the kind that led to the Qabaal Wars that shook the Cali Geri family. It started when Cumar Aadan Galaydh 'Cumar Aji' was denied pre-eminence of place at the watering hole by one Maxamed Cabdille Liibaan who (to emphasize his point that Cumar Aji will not drink from the well) broke the Qabaal that was being used to water the Camels. Cumar Aji promptly murdered Liibaan for his effrontery in standing up to a member of Aadan Galaydh household.

This set off a chain reaction that led to Cumar Aji being murdered at the site of a Balli watering hole and settlement that to this day bears his name to commemorate this infamy (the name appears on some maps). It also led to massive Cavarly wars that pitted the two brawling lineages of the Cali Geri against each other. Aadan Galaydh, Qoorwaa Jaamac and Boos Illaawe were some of the personalities that took part in those wars and whose names were immortalized in those bloody and violent conflicts. Aadan Galaydh's rashness and his role in prolonging the conflict were redeemed by the courage and sacrifice of his numerous grandchildren (and some of his own children) who in later years embraced the Darwiish cause and fought valiantly in the majestic cause of Somali liberation. Xayd Aadan Galaydh and 3 of Baynax Aadan Galaydh's children were killed in Jidbaale, the disastrous engagement that nearly destroyed the Darwiish Movement in 1904. Portions of Sayid Maxamed's Gudban poem read as a moving dirge in memory of the fallen Cali Geri heroes who were lost in that bloody encounter.

Gambalaaligii bay warmaha nagu garraaxeene
Eebbow waa gumaadeen raggii gaanaha ahaaye
Eebbow waxay gabawareen Gaagguf iyo Xayde
Guuleedku wuxuu noo ahaa guurti loo hirane
Nimankii garaadada ahaa waa gadow jabane
Eebbow sidii gaanti maro waa la gaasiraye

Qoorwaa Jaamac, the legendary warrior, who put his mark on a Lebi(Poinciana Elata) tree that was thereafter named Lebi Suntaale, none allowed to sit under it, also had a role in prolonging the conflict. When a peace assembly was held he asked the provocative question: Can we have a living and breathing Cumar Aji restored to us? When the obvious reply came that a living Cumar Aji was an impossible notion, he responded: Peace will also be an impossible notion!! (Cumar Aji haddii la heli waayo, nabadna la heli maayo).

By the time of Ismaaciil Mire's birth peace and amity was restored among the Cali Geri and their prosperity revived an it was in this milieu that young Ismaaciil Mire was raised. In his formative years he spent learning the Koran as well as imbibing the culture, poetry and the ways of the Somali people. He was taught the indispensable arts of horsemanship, so vital to the warrior Dhulbahante way of life. In a very short time Ismaaciil Mire emerged as "a skillful leader of great courage and prudence".

When the aggressive and predatory European colonialists arrived in Somalia and opened their mission schools and strangled the coastal cities of Somalia, Ismaaciil Mire was one of the Dhulbahante leaders who were alarmed by this new development. When Sayid Maxamed Cabdille Xasan launched the Holy Darwiish movement Ismaaciil Mire was one of the first people to embrace the cause. For him, like all the Dhulbahante, it was a choice between Freedom and Servitude, Degeneracy and Morality, Treachery and Loyalty. In short it was a choice between Right and Wrong. The land of the Somalis can only be ruled by Somalis and it was in the defense of the Somalia, its religion and culture that he waged a relentless war of liberation that lasted for two decades.

In the first year of the Darwiish movement, the Dhulbahante, and Cali Geri in particular, formed a reserve elite force with modern arms numbering less than a thousand bolstered by additional thousands of spearmen from the various Somali tribes of Northern Somalia. As they moved into Ogaadeeniya large numbers of Maxamed Subeer embraced the Darwiish cause. The Ethiopians, upon hearing about the activities of the Darwiishes, sent out a large force from Harar. It was first feared that the Abyssinians were planning to advance as far as Dhagaxbuur. In the event, they stopped at Jigjiga and on March 21, 1900 a large Darwiish army made up of Ogaadeen spearmen engaged the Ethiopians at Jigjiga but they were eventually repelled by the better-armed Abyssinians, who themselves sustained not inconsiderable losses. The Abyssinian force was led by Garazmach Bante who sent a detailed report of the battle to the English, no doubt self -aggrandizing and painting the Abyssinians in the best possible light. He writes that the Reer Cali and Reer Haaruun abandoned the Darwiish movement amid accusations that the Darwiish leadership misrepresented the intelligence on Abyssinian fighting strength and sent the Ogaadeen into battle woefully under-armed.

With the assault on Jigjiga the battle for Somali liberation was well and truly joined. But it also dealt a heavy blow to the nascent struggle when the movement lost Ogaadeeni confidence. On top of the grievances we noted above, the Ogaadeens complained that the Dhulbahante had the better arms and were spared from the suicidal Jigjiga assault. The final rupture with the Ogaadeen came when Maxamed Subeer elders Guraase Xaaji Cali and Xuseen Yuusuf Xirsi 'Iljeex' conspired at Gurdumi to assassinate the Sayid. Sayid Maxamed was saved from walking into an ambush after being warned by a man named Cabdi Garaad Yuusuf. The Sayid was eternally grateful to this man. When the son of Cabdi Yuusuf Garaad came to visit the Darwiish Xarun, the Sayid composed a poem that included the following lines:

Maantuu ibleyskii Iljeex na ibtilaynaayay
Idilkii Subeyr maalintuu oboda ii dhiibay
Arbow ina Garaad Yuusuf baa aanaday galaye
waatuu akhbaartii i yidhi aaminka ahayde
Isna kaa maanta soo ambaday inankii weeyaane
Alaakoodsha oo wiilku yuu agab la'aan sheegan
Afka wuxuu ka dooniyo kuu uur ka rabo siiya
Ninkii loo ixsaan falahayaba iniq u dheereeya

The epilogue to the Jigjiga campaign was that the Sayid and 500 Dhulbahante Special Force that included Ismaaciil Mire, based at Haradigeed, were attacked by a large raiding party of the Habar Yoonis who were after the Reer Cali of the Ogaadeen. The Habar Yoonis and Reer Cali were engaged in a vicious war that unsettled the whole area. Unfortunately, for them they stumbled on the Darwiish reserve force, uniformly armed with modern rifles, and the Habar Yoonis were cut down, losing between 100-150 men before retreating. This incident poisoned Darwiish/Habar Yoonis relations for all time, compounded by the Dayax Weerar episode when Habar Yoonis in the Oodweyne district were looted.

Despite the Ogaadeen abandonment of the Darwiish cause, nevertheles the movement gathered strength in both men and materiel and the Sayid felt confident enough to take action against many of the tribes that were found to be intractable and refusing to join the Cause. A letter written to the J. Hayes Sadler, the British Consul at Berbera, by one Signor Gerolimato, an Amharic-speaking Italian, observed that the Ras Makonen and Garazmach Bante were not "sanguine as to the Abyssinians' succesfully establishing their authority in the Ogaden". Sadler observes that Darwiish domination of the Ogaden would spell ruination to British trade. He also believed that if the fears of the Abyssinian leadership were to materialize and the Sayid became the undisputed master of the Ogaden that it will 'mean that we shall be forced to have a permanent military occupation of the Protectorate.

By the middle of the 1901 the Darwiish Army swelled to 32,000 men and the British were so alarmed by the growing influence and power of the Darwiish Movement that they launched an Expedition headed by E. J. E. Swayne, the brother of Harold, explorer of Northern Somalia, to quell the 'rebellion' once and for all. From that time until 1904 when the fourth and last British Military Expedition ended, the British and the Darwiishes fought a series of inconclusive engagements that ended with Sayid being ceded large territory in from Mudug to Nugaal. The history of these campaigns have been essayed extensively and need not be recounted here. The principal matter of this narrative is the role played by Darwiish Commander Mujaahid Ismaaciil Mire in the struggle to liberate Somalia from Colonial Domination.

The second installment in this historic essay will trace the major military expeditions commanded by Mujaahid Ismaaciil Mire and the poetry he composed to mark those victories.

be continued...