28 June, 2013


Ali H. Abdulla

Axmed Guray ma uu dhiman
ma goblamin darwiishkii
geenyadu ma daalana
maan beelin gamastii
waxaan uga gol leeyahay
hadii geesi ii kaco
gayaankeyga waan heli

Hadraawi, a Somali Poet (A song from Aqoon iyo Afgarad delivered by Shankaroon)

Somalia is a country bereft of national heroes. For nearly sixty ears, it has failed to produce heroes like Imam Ahmed GureySayed Mohamed Abdulla Hassan and Sheikh Bashir Yusuf. In lieu, it has been afflicted with a bunch of greedy Warlords, and blood-thirsty religious extremists who lack vision and an understanding of the world.

As a young boy, I used to admire the Somali poet Hadrawi who had the guts to confront a dictatorial regime trying to force an alien concept upon its people, scientific socialism. His early works inspired me to run away from Somalia without finishing high school. I had to be smuggled in a boat to South Yemen after confrontations with Russian teachers, who hardly spoke English but managed to take over our high school in the beautiful town of Sheikh in Northwestern Somalia. Imagine being taught English by a Russian lady who thought that “Took to his heels” meant “Grabbed his heals”.Sheikh Secondary School

The junta probably had a long term strategy of gradually transforming the language of instruction in the school into Russian. It regarded Sheikh High School as a British island dominated by western and Indian teachers. The elite school was run since its inception in the early 1950s by the late R.R. Darlington, a former British officer. In hindsight, the British colonialists did have their own agenda and designed the school to produce future Somali leaders who were sympathetic to Western values. Regardless, the students preferred Darlington and his team to the crude Russians. During his time, the school library, sports facilities and laboratories were well stocked and functioned smoothly. The students called him “Gacmadheere”, a Somali word for” the one with long arms”. The military junta finally got rid of all the western teachers and the school eventually lost its elite status. The GCE exams from London and the scholarships associated with it followed Darlington.R.R. Darlington (Gacmadheere

I was nearly dragged to jail by the military junta when a number of us in my class made fun of those teachers for their lack of proficiency in the English language. I was spared such a fate by a courageous math teacher called Huseen Max. As acting headmaster, he tricked the junta regional officers, who were sent from Burao to arrest us, into believing that the troublemakers were sacked from the school. I am not sure if Huseen is still alive, but I will never forget his bold stand, and I will always remember him as a true hero who risked being incarcerated for misleading the powerful junta and saving a bunch of young kids from its clutches. When the head master came back and took over from Huseen, I was indeed sacked for one month after which I decided to bail out from Somalia.

Coming back to Somali heroes, Hadrawi in the early seventies lamented in one of his famous plays, “Aqoon iyo Afgarad”, the lack of heroes in Somalia but expected the rebirth of the likes of Ahmed Gurey and Sayed Mohamed, two Somali heroes who fought against Ethiopian and British aggression. More than 30 years later, Somalia still lacks such heroes except for one man who remained oblivious to many of us till now. His name is Dr. Omar Osman Rabeh and he unfortunately passed away in April of this year in Cairo. Dr. Rabeh is from the great state of Awdal, Ahmed Gurey’s seat of power in the 15th century.

Dr. Rabeh was raised in Djibouti under French colonial rule and started his struggle against the French at an early age. He lost his freedom in 1968 and nearly lost his life when he was sentenced to death after being accused of trying to assassinate Ali Arif Burhan, the French appointed Prime Minister of Djibouti. His execution was later commuted to life sentence. After spending 7 years in a French jail, he was later traded for the French Ambassador in Somalia who was kidnapped by the Djibouti Freedom Fighters. While in jail, he earned a PhD degree in philosophy.

After regaining his freedom, Dr. Rabeh devoted his life to educating young Somali minds. He started a French Immersion Islamic school in Canada known as Ibn-Batouta. The school serves the Ottawa Muslim Community and is considered one of the best schools in the area.Dr. Omar Osman Rabeh (GBHS)

Dr. Rabeh also dedicated most of his energy to seeking Somali Unity. His dream of a united Somalia remained with him till the last minute of his life. He was not a politician and shunned the limelight. When Ethiopia invaded Somalia in 2006 and destroyed the moderate Islamic Courts, a process that sadly led to the birth of the Shabab extremists, he encouraged all Somalis to defend their country against an invasion that he predicted many years ago. Ethiopian pressure may have forced him to leave Canada and settle in Egypt where he died.

Dr. Rabeh was a visionary who predicted the complete collapse of the Somali state including all its institutions. He later predicted that Somalia had a brighter future and would recover from its failed state status. In one of hislectures he painted a Somalia free from hunger, bloodshed and clan divisions.

Dr. Rabeh was also a prolific writer who authored many books and articles. His works include:

1. Le cercle et spirale (The Circle and the Spiral) published in 1984.
2. La Somalie (Somalia) published in1989.
3. Le etat e la Pan Somalism (The State and Pan Somalism)
4. Somalia: The psychology of the nomad published in 1983.
5. The Somali Nation, Historical consideration and issues published in 1985.
6. Republic of Djibouti or spare tire of Ethiopia published in 1985.

Dr. Rabeh deserves to be remembered as a Somali hero who dedicated his life to Somali freedom, dignity and Unity. I would like to call upon the Governments of Somalia and Djibouti to honor Dr. Rabeh by naming schools and universities after him and to bestow upon him posthumously an order of merit if such an order exists.

Dr. Rabeh reminds me of all of the values that most of our people have lost over the last 50 years: integrity, honesty, righteousness, loyalty, courage, determination and love of country.

Finally, I would like to call upon young Somalis to listen to his numerous lectures in Youtube and use him as a role model if they want to stand above the destructive clan politics that destroyed Somalia. Dr. Rabeh campaigned vigorously against clan politics and refused to be sucked into it like other Somali intellectuals.

May the Lord have mercy on his soul and reward him for his good deeds.

Ali H. Abdulla
Email: aliegeh@gmail.com


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