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:
"SAYID MAXAMED JAAHAAN KU DEYEY, GAAL KU DHUGAN MAAYO"
"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:
"SAYIDII AFKII AAN KU IDHI 'SAHIB' KU ODHAN MAAYO"
"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.