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Somali Poetry, the Hidden Historian

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#Justice4ShukriAbdi
Staff member
Wadani
Somali Poetry, the Hidden Historian10735
SEPTEMBER 28, 2019
It is no secrets that the Somali community is a community of poets. Some of the most prolific poets to have ever walked on this earth, are arguably Somali poets. Poetry has impacted every aspect of life of the Somali community for centuries. Poetry was used to de-escalate conflict, to call for peace, to call for war, to give advice and pass down wisdom, to teach Islam and to celebrate special occasion like weddings, just to name a few. Somali poetry is a hidden historian that has documented important historical events and the cultural norms of the Somali community throughout the years. Somali poetry is the ultimate reference to Somali studies. It is a window to the soul of the Somali community in every era.
In this post, I will share five Somali poems that show the widespread use of poetry by the Somali community. While I will not attempt to translate any of the poems, I will give a brief background information and short description of each poem. I will then share the poem in Somali language.
Celebrating critical victory, Koofil by Sayid Mohamed Abdulle Hassan
Koofil is by far one of the most well-known Somali poems. In 1913, the Dervish army fighting for Somalia’s independence fought against the colonial British army led by Richard Corfield. Koofil is Corfield in the Somali language. In this poem, Sayid Mohamed Abdulle Hassan, the leader of the Dervish army, describes their continuous struggle against the colonial powers. He describes the military tactics that they have used to defeat the British army. He describes the time of the day when the battle occurred, how the British army was defeated, how Koofil was killed and what happened to his remains. This poem commemorates the victory of the Somali Dervish army against the British colonial army.
Sayid Mohamed Abdulle Hassan said:
Adaa Koofilow jiitayoon, dunida joogeyne
Adigaa jidkii lagugu wadi, jimic la’aaneede
Jahannamo la geeyow haddaad, aakhirow jihato
Nimankii jannow kacay war bay, jirin inshaalleeye
Jameecooyinkii iyo haddaad, jawhartii aragto
Sida Eebbahey kuu jirrabay, mari jawaabteeda
Daraawiish jikaar naga ma deyn, tan iyo jeerkii dheh
Ingiriis jabyoo waxaa ku dhacay, jac iyo baaruud dheh
Waxay noo jajuubteenna waa, jibasha diinneed dheh
Jigta weerar bay goor barqo ah, nagu jiteeyeen dheh
Anigana Jikrey ila heleen shalay, jihaadkii dheh
Jeeniga hortiisey rasaas, igaga joojeen dheh
Jiiraayaday ila dhaceen, jilic afkoodii dheh
Siday kuugu jeexeen magliga, jararacdii sheego
Billaawuhu siduu kuu jarjaray, jeerarka u muuji
Naf jaclaysigii baan ku idhi, jaallow iga daa dheh
Jaljalleecadii baa wadnaha, jeeb ka soo ruqay dheh
Jeedaaladii baa indhuhu kor, ii jillaadmeen dheh
Jimic kagama helin tuugmadaan, jeriyey ruuxii dheh
Kolkaan juuq idhaahdaba afkay, iga jifeeyeen dheh
Dhaaxaan jalleecee dhagbaan, jalaq la ii siinin dheh
Goortaan jarreeraba gafoo, nolol ka jaan qaaday
Sida janannadii hore tashigu, igu jaguugnaa dheh
Taladii jinnigu ii hor maray, jaasadeed helay dheh
Jiidaha xanuunka leh markii, la igu jeeraarshay
Jibaadka iga soo baxay dadkii, jiifka qaban waa dheh
Kolkay rubaddu jow tidhi or bay, iga ag jiibsheen dheh
Jiidhkaygiina bahalbaa cunoo, jiitay hilibkii dheh
Jurmidiyo baruurtii dhurwaa, jugux ka siiyaa dheh
Jiljiladiyo seedaha tukay, igaga jaaseen dheh
haddaan lays jikraareyn tolkay, laga jidroonaa dheh
Weligood waxaa lagu jaraa, jilib-dhig duulaan dheh
Daraawiishi waa jibindhowgiyo, jowga soo bixi dheh.

Honoring the Somali independence, Kaana Siib Kanna Saar by Abdullahi Suldaan Tima’ade
The Somali flag has a five-sided star in the middle. The star represents the five sides of Somalia, namely, Northern Somalia, Southern Somalia, Djibouti, the Somali region in Kenya and the Somali region in Ethiopia.
In 1960, two out of the five areas gained independence from the colonial invaders forming the pre-civil war Somalia. In honor of this important historical event, Cabdullaahi Suldaan Timacade (Abdullahi Suldan Tima’ade) recited a poem called Kaana Siib Kanna Saar, which loosely translates to remove that one and put this one up, referring to taking down the colonial flag and putting up the Somali flag. In this poem, Timacade describes the collective struggle of the Somali community and their long wait for independence. He describes the importance of the Somali flag, what it represents and his feelings toward that momentous event in which Somalia gained independence from the colonial invaders. He also describes his gratitude to Allah for giving the Somali people their independence and asks his fellow Somali people to thank Allah.
Abdullahi Suldaan Tima’ade said:
Anigoo Sabi ah oo
Sita leeb iyo qaanso
Sabad reer ka fogaaninoon
la’ii aaminin soofkiyo
saacan maanta aan joogno
gabaygu wuygu sugnaa-yoo
suxufiinta dhawaaqdana
anigow ugu sareeyo e
Hadii aan sixi waayo
ama aan sarsariigo
ama aan sarma seejo
ama aan ka salguuro
ama laygu saluugo
saamiciinta maqlaysaay
isu’aalo hadhowto ee
 

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#Justice4ShukriAbdi
Staff member
Wadani
Expressing feelings, Sida Geel Harraadoo by Ilmi Ismael Bodhari
Cilmi Boodhari (Ilmi Bodhari) was a Somali poet known for his tragic love story. Ilmi is said to have lived between 1900 and 1930. He was a baker who fell in love with one of his customer, Hodan. Hodan lived across from the bakery where Ilmi had worked. She ended up marrying another man and Ilmi died due to the pain and grief of not getting the love of his life, Hodan.

Ilmi Bodhari is by far one of my favorite Somali poets. I had the honor of visiting the bakery where Ilmi worked in the port city of Berbera, Somalia. Ilmi’s poems show his emotions, the torturous pain of love, in a spectacular way. His poetry captures his tragic love story, the events that took place, his interactions with Hodan and the lack of support from his community at that difficult time. His poetry captures the views and the cultural norms of the Somali community on love and marriage at that time.

In this poem, Ilmi describes his feelings for Hodan. To convey how he feels about her, he uses simile by drawing a picture of thirsty camels that come to a water-well, right before they drink the water. Ilmi then describes how just hearing her name makes his heart drop and how he will not stop trying to get her until she is in a grave. He then describes how he dreams about being with Hodan and how he feels when the reality hits, that Hodan is not with him. He depicts his anguish by using more similes of people who have been robbed and betrayed.

Ilmi Bodhari said:

Sidii geel harraadoo wax badan hawdka miranaayey

Oo haro la soo joojiyoo kureygu heegaayo

Oo hoobey loo qaaday iyo hadal Walwaaleedka

Kolkaad Hodan tidhaahdaanba waan soo hinqanayaaye

Hadday hawl yaraan idin la tahay aniga way hooge

Ayadoon xabaal lagu ham siin waanan ka hadhayne

Hammada beena baan idhi malaha waad la hurudaaye

Hareertayda oo madhan is idhi haabo gacanteeda

Goortaan hubsaday meel cidla ah inaan ku hawshooday

Hogaansigeedii dambaan soo habaabiraye

U haylhaylay gogoshii sidii halablihii Aare

Siday iga haleeyeen maryihii hiifay oo tumaye

Haab-haabtay labadii go’oo shaadhkii maan heline

U hamiyey sidii wiil la dhacay kadin ay haysteene

U handaday sidii geel biyaha hoobay loo yidhiye

U hagoogtay sidii geesi ay niman ka hiisheene

U hiqleeyey sida naag la yidhi huray dalaaqdaaye

Wax aanad haynin ood ku hammidaa hadimo weeyaane

Ho-heey iyo Ho-heey maxaa hadimo la ii geystey



Praying and depicting articles of faith, Aaweeti by Abdullahi Ma’alin Dhoodaan
Cabdulahi Macalin Dhoodaan (Abdullahi Ma’alin Dhodan) is one of the most prolific Somali poets. In this poem, Dhoodaan describes number of articles of Islam, particularly the oneness of Allah. He then describes the characteristics of Allah, the power of Allah and the natural world that Allah has created both here and in the hereafter. Dhoodaan then prays to Allah and asks Allah to strengthen him and his fellow men to overcome their enemies.

Dhoodaan said:

Ilaahii Cirshiga nuuriyoow, waanu kuu cabane

Waxaad adigu caabiyi kartaa, ciidhoo noo taraye

Ilaahayow Casiis baad tihiyo, caadilkii jira e

Adigaan cirriyo geeri iyo, cudur ka yaabayne

Adigaan cadrana guursan oon, ciyaal dhaline

Adigaa waxaad camal rabtaa, kugu cuslaanayne

Ilaahayow Casiis baad tihiyo, caadilkii jira e

Adaan cudud laguu sheeganayn, amaan cabsoonayne

Adaan ciidan loo qayshadiyo, caawimaad rabine

Col wax yeelo gaystiyo adaan, cadaw ka yaabayne

Ilaahayow Casiis baad tihiyo, caadilkii jira e

Cunto kaa dhamaatiyo adaan, caydh ka baqanayne

Calal xidhasho uma baahnid iyo, cuud la foofsado e

Ku cayiliyo adigaan ahayn, shay mar caato ahe

Ilaahayow Casiis baad tihiyo, caadilkii jira e

Adaan canug lasoo dhalay ahayn, ama ciyaal reere

Adaan barina meel kula cawayn, cuur filkaaga ah

Cashiiriyo qaraabiyo adaan, ciirsi deydeyine

Ilaahayow Casiis baad tihiyo, caadilkii jira e

Aan cabbaar tilmaamaha cuddoon, sii carcooriyo e

Caddaan fiila cawl iyo guduud, amaa cillaan miida

Casaan boosa maarriin canbara, ama cawiif booda

Madoow culaya sugul caynaba, oo ciiriyo bay leh

Xareed calasa ciid iyo asal, ama cagaar dooga

Caarcaar shabeel ama sidii, calawyo giirgiiran

Cir guduud qaboonoo kaliyo, cawo iyo maalin

Cadar ama cadceedoo kaliyo, sidii roobab curanaaya
 

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#Justice4ShukriAbdi
Staff member
Wadani
Giving advice on marriage, Guur aan Ka La’aado by Aw-Yusuf Ali Hirsi
Throughout human history, societies have defined what an ideal woman should be like or how she should not be. There have been and still are behaviors that societies expect from women and ones that they do not expect from woman. Women were told and still are told what their roles are, how they should behave, what they should wear and how they should live their life. The Somali community is no exception.

Aw-Yusuf Ali Hirsi known as Aw-Yusuf Barre recited a poem to describe 12 types of woman that he would never marry due to their characteristics. Aw-Yusuf recited this poem while he was an old man, he recited this poem to advise to the younger men in his family on the types of women they should not marry. It is said that Aw-Yusuf Barre recited this poem in 1922.

In this poem Aw-Yusuf warns them against the types of women that they should not marry. Aw-Yusuf gives his reasoning for not wanting to marry each on of the women he mentioned.

  1. The woman that has nothing more than her beauty
  2. The woman that does not welcome guests
  3. The abusive woman
  4. The woman that does not want to live near other people
  5. The short woman
  6. The divorced women
  7. The woman that does not do her part to contribute to the family
  8. The woman that does not take care of her husband when he comes home
  9. The woman that does not dress up or take care of herself
  10. The widow
  11. The woman that commits Zina
  12. The woman with big appetite
  13. The woman that does not have a feminine essence
Aw-Yusuf concludes his poem with a prayer asking Allah to give him the ideal woman that he wants. He asks for a woman:

  1. Gaari – who is clean, organized, puts her house in order and takes care of her body
  2. Raaliyo – who is kind to her husband and takes care of him
  3. Garaad badan – who is intelligent and insightful
  4. Aan guhaadin – who does not yell at him or emotionally hurt him
Aw-Yusuf said:

Gurey iyo Daroorow arini, waygu gabileeye

Wax i galayba waan uun galgalan, gu iyo jiilaale

Galbi-dhabadka waxa iigu wacan, hal igu gaarnaaye

Garanna wayde meeshaan qalbiga, uga gufaacoone

Guddigayga caawaba maqloo, geliya laabtiina

Oo wada guntada xaajadaa, odaygu soo guurshay



Gaashgaashka waa lagu lumaa, gole ka fuulka ahe

Ha gudoonsan waa kii caqligu, gaan kugu ahaaye

Gurri-billa ninkii doonayee, nacaya goonbaarta

Ee guur ujeedoow i maqal, waan ku garansiine



Guduud looma raacoo haween, gabalba waa cayne

Bidhaan gebi ka laalaada waa, lagu gulaalmaaye

Isu gaadhay gabadhaad tidhaa, meel unbaa go’ane

Gaboodleyda gaashidu kutaal, labada goonyoodba

Ee maradu geyngeyman tahay, guur aan ka la’aado



Ganbadh lagu fadhiistiyo midaan, gaadha fidineynin

Ganuunka iyo xeedhyaha middaan, goor Allaba dhiibin

Gadh-cadaayadii reer tolkey taan, u gogol haynin

Een geedka laga naadinayn, guur aan ka la’aado



Gaadhgaadhka awrtiyo nirgaha, geela laga reebay

Gurijoogta xoolaha midaan, goosanka u diidin

Een garanin soo dheelan ee, guriga uun joogta

Gudbantaan halkayguba galayn, guur aan ka la’aado



Allow garawo giirka iyo afka iyo, ganafka uun taageysa

Oo qoolka uun kula galdi’i, magac waxay gaadho

Gandihii miduu wada nacee, gacalka fiigaysay

Gool boodadii laga samree, goysay ubadkeeda

Intay dhiig isoo galin lahayd, guur aan ka la’aado



Geediga hayaanka ah midaan, gaadhin waligeedba

Ee gabanta loo sido sidii, goodir noo curatay

Waa geeri naagtaan ritiga, kuu gadh qabanayne

Reerkoo gawaan degay dadkoo, gibbiladii waabtay

Anoo galangalciyo oon la tuban, furayna gaadiidka

Geedaha hadii lala dhexgalo, gudimo oodeedda

Galoon badhaxa uma dhaamin karo, geedantada jaane

Guul iyo cidlay igu waddaa, goox aan yuurure’ee

Gosha laga cabsooniyo xidhkay, gooshu ka adeegi

Gaade iyo intay bahal isiin, guur aan ka la’aado
 

Canuck

#Justice4ShukriAbdi
Staff member
Wadani
As you can see in just five poems, poetry has touched every aspect of the Somali life. Somali poetry are critical references to anyone who wants to study and understand the Somali culture, language and faith.

References:

  1. Ciise, Sheekh Jaamac Cumar. Diiwaanka Gabayadii Sayid Muxammad Cabdulle Xasan. Sheikh Jama Omer Issa & his children, 1999.
  2. Wasaarada Waxbarashada Iyo Barbaarinta. Suugaanta Fasalka Koowaad. Wasaaradda Waxbarashada Iyo Barbaarinta, 1977, purl.dlib.indiana.edu/iudl/general/pageturner/VAA3451.
  3. Dhoodaan, Abdullahi Ma’alin. “Aaweeti.” Doollo, doollo.com/mainpage/boggasuugaanta/dhoodaan/aaweeti.htm.
  4. Barre, Aw-Yusuf. “Guur Aan Ka La’aado.” Doollo, doollo.com/mainpage/boggasuugaanta/awyuusuf/guuraankalaado.htm.
  5. Tima’ade, Abdullahi Suldan. “Kaana Siib, Kanna Saar.” Codka, Shacabka, SSC, Wararkii Ugu Dambeeyey, 26 June 2011, allssc.com/2011/06/26-juun-1960-kana-siib-kana-saar-maalin-qaaliya-oo-kuwayn-umada-soomaaliyeed.
 

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