The history of Hargeisa City as per documentary from U- Tube taken live frtom Hagi Abdi Hussen (Abdi Waraabe) commented by Dr. Mohamed Rashid sheik Hassan (An Ex-BBC Somali broadcaster).

This article is about the early settlers of Hargeisa and how this early settlement developed to a city.  



A city is a relatively large and permanent settlement and although there is no agreement on how a city is distinguished from a town, however, many cities have a particular administrative and legal status and treated as head quarter of state legislative body and that is what distinguishes a city government from a town. Cities generally have complex systems for land usage, wider housing and bigger transportation system. The concentration of development greatly facilitates interaction between people and business benefiting both parties in the process.


With regard to my current issue of concentration, Hargeisa is situated in a valley in the Galgodon (Ogo) highlands, and sits at an elevation of 4,377 feet (1,334 m). Home to rock art from the Neolithic period, the city is also a commercial hub for precious stone-cutting, construction, retail services and importing/exporting, among other activities. The name Hargisa come from the famous traditional and influential chief originated from this settlement called Haji Maygaag ilka Dheere in 19 century ((19 century is from January 1, 1801 – December 31, 1900). Originally, the place was a watering place for nomadic stock herders and the name Hargeisa means where hides are sold. 


 Regarding as how the early settlers have begin, the same was inhabited by settlers of the famous strong traditional sultan called Sultan Deria and his inner group or clan, Eidagale. Sultan deria had lived over 140 years, he was the oldest sultan in age ever lived.  To begin with Haji Abdi Hussein was born Hargeisa –Masalaha (At present Hargisa airport). As people in those days had not accustomed depending for the Georgian colander record , Haji Abdi does not know the year, which he born, but he believed he born the spring ( GO in Somali), tropical rainy season, called Caanaweyne, but taken into account his age, it was approximated over 110 years ago, which means earlier than 1903. In the past, I have accounted from Haji Abdi that his age exceeds over 110 years.  


Arab was also another prominent tribes inhabited Hargeisa and its surrounding localities. Confirming this information is, when I was 15 years old, I joined with a group of friends to Aw barkhdle, which the people in ex-northern Somalia regions used to consider Aw barkhdle as religious shrine although this ideology is not anymore practice nowadays, Coincidentally, I spotted some of my relatives visiting the tomb (burial place) where our forefather (Rooble Matan ) was buried in memory for him, which was common practice those days, I saw next to the tomb of my forefather another tomb for Mohamoud Samane, a sub clan of Arab tribe (Samane). This eyewitness confirms that, the above tribe (Arab) were inhabited in the said localities. In the meantime, I was told by my relative, which I spotted there, that, the two men (Rooble Matan and Mohamoud Samane ) were half brothers (have same mother, but different fathers) and that is why there were buried in the same spot.Aw barkhdle is small settlement located outskirts of Hargeisa presently an agriculture neighborhood.


Additionally, although Haji Abdi did not mentioned by name, nevertheless I have learned from elders originated from Hargeisa that, a sub-clan of Habor-Younis (Isaxaaq) were also inhabited Hargeisa and its surrounding localities. Supporting this information is the book written by a famous English writer in 1958, who was familiar for the Somali Geo-political matters, Ian Louis, which confirms this information.      


The history of present Hargeisa had started at the time of Sultan Deria and as reported from Haji Abdi, Sultan deria, was peace-loving personality. In those days, there was conflict that resulted fighting between the tribes, which inhabited the localities nearby Hargeisa. Abdillahi  Geele (the founder of present aw barkhdle) and Haji Farah from Sa’ad Muse-sub-clan, reer samatar traveled to Adari- in Somali Harrar ) an eastern city in Ethiopia, and the capital of the modern Harari ethnology-political division (or kilil) of Ethiopia. A city is located on a hilltop, in the eastern extension of the Ethiopian highlands. For centuries, Harar was, linked by the trade routes with the rest of Ethiopia, the entire Horn of Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula. The two men original mission was to gain the knowledge of Islamic religion from Adari, which was a wider vision on those days.


As put in the picture by H.Abdi, Reer Samatar, which is a sub-sub-clan of Sa’ad Muse exercised watering their nomadic stock herders at Haraf, which is approximated between 15-20 KM to western side of Hargeisa. Water necessity was the main factor of lively hood, as most people were depending on nomadic stock herders on those days. The rest of Sa’ad Muse ethnic clan were inhabited at Bulhar and Berbera, (northern Somali-land coastal settlement/town respectively). Abdillahi Geele was brother in –law of Haji Abdi Farah, as he was married his sister khadija farah. Subsequent their return to Hargeisa, Abdillahi Geele and Haji Farah had informed sultan deria that, they saw a respected religious figure called Sheikh Madar Ahmed residing in Adari -Harar. 


Sultan deria inquired from Abdillahi Geele and Haji Farah as whether Sheikh Madar Ahmed can come with them to Hargeisa in an effort of contributing and assisting and lending help to bring an end for the conflict in the region, being a religious figure. They answered back yes, he will come with us, in the event we request him to go with us, afterwards he then, told them to proceed with their initiative. As there was no automobile transport those days, they traveled with a back of horses to Adari –Harar to gain for the aforesaid mission subsequent of receiving the blessing of the sultan.


As trade and business was extremely limited on those days, however, the people inhabited in Hargeisa and nearby localities were trading for their food supplies and their other essential requirements with sub-tribes of Sa’ad Muse/Nouah Ismail, who were populated at Bulahar and Berbera. The supplies purchased from them were transported by camels, as there was no automobile transport to load their supplies. Subsequent Abdillahi Geele and Haji Farah contacting Sheikh Madar, he then accepted their request and finally joined with them to Hargeisa. 


On his arrival to destination (Hargisa), Sultan Deria had built a hut to dwell the Sheikh in respect for him. This is the place nowadays called as Jamaa’a -weyn in Hargeisa. Upon returning home (Hargeisa), Sheikh Madar, using his religious tone, had influenced the tribes fighting each other to bring to an end for the hostilities and that led the tribes engaged for the fighting accepting his religious based appeal. As an outcome of his imitative, the conflict had ended and the concerned tribes had normalized relationship. A peaceful period followed after the hostilities had come into end over a long time. 


Succeeding few years later, the British colonial authorities returned back to the British protectorate via Berbara in 1917 and upon landed back to the protectorate, people in the coastal areas up-dated them as how sultan Deria had managed to end hostilities between the fighting factions/tribes and as a consequences, the colonial power built the sultan a new a house for him by the order of Dalameye, the man later on, built the present Kenyan capital Nairobi.


As, I have written id above, due to limitation of modern civilization, people in the old times were not depending on Georgian record, the year of the conflict was named as Xaaraamecune (a difficult year, which people committed awful acts possibly due to droughts and starvation). The hostility in the surrounding area had taken the life of Haji Abdi father, as he was killed while he was less than 40 days old, as he was informed by his mother.Another personality taken by the hospitality was the father of the late – prominent Somali businessman, Jirde Hussein, who was too a businessman in those days. H was killed at Somali Ogaden populated Region


  As informed by Haji Abdi, Sa’ad Muse tribes populated in the coastal areas were also trading by camel caravans to some Ogdean tribes populated at Huad and those traders were known as Kabadhe, a name, which is still very popular still today.  However, as soon as the house was completed, the Sultan presented and gifted the house to the Sheik Madar Ahmed in order to protect and keep with his religious Islamic holy books and secondly in the view of being a religious leader. At present, this is the place whereby Sheik Madar Ahmed was buried. When sultan deraia passed away, his son, sultan Abdillahi succeed him as a sultan. Both of the sultans (Deria and Abdillah) were anti colonial power (the British), as they is to  campaigned not cooperating with the British administration including going to schools and for any other essential developments matters. 


As enlightened by Haji Abdi, Sultan Abdillahi was in continuations touch and contact with Farah Oomar, the first Somali from protectorate, who campaigned for independence from the British colonial powers after Mohamed Abdulla Hassan. Both men (Sultan Abdillahi and Farah Oomar) were sharing an identical view with respect to the colonial administration and they were friends over a long time. 


As informed by Haji abdi, Sultan Abdillahi and himself were never in agreement with regard cooperating with the colonial administration,(the British). Haji Abdi had a contrary vision, which is cooperating with the colonial administration with respect to education and the development matters. Their difference of opinion had distanced the relationship between Haji Abdi and the sultan. Additionally other tribal chiefs were also sharing an identical; vision with Haji Abdi regarding cooperation with the colonial administration. 


 As informed by Haji Abdi, Farah Oomar was educated man (lawyer) who, studied in Aden/ Yemen/India and he shared same vision with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, (Indian nationalist opposed the British rule of India).  Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. Sultan Abdillahi and Farah Oomar were approximated at the matching age as informed by Haji Abdi. Farah Oomar was the person who initiated establishing the public gathering square, which is until today a popular square, where people discuss their issues of mutual interest known as Khayriye,established in most Somali-land cities and towns such as Hargeisa, Burao and Berbera etc. 


 As Tribal culture was in wide spread those days, Farah Ooomar originated from the town of Burao and to my understanding, he is Hababjlelo by birth. When, Farah Oomar was in Aden, he was arrested by the British administration in Yemen several times, which later on influenced him later traveling at home to campaign against the British administration using local influence. . 


The late personalities such as Abdillahi Qarshe and Husein Aw Farah were also taken a noble role for independence in view of their nationalist and patriotic songs. Abdillahi Qarshe was multi-talented personality being composer, musician, performer and singer. The later Abdillahi Timacde was also taken a noble role in view of his nationalist patriotic poems, which is still popular among the Somalis at everywhere.  As informed by Haji abdi, both sultans (Sultan Derai and Sultan Abdillahi) were considered themselves as the sultans of whole Somalia and for Africa as well. Haji Abdi is fifth tribal chief (Caaqlil) nominated by his tribe –Eidagale as he said. He was nominated in 1940 as a tribal chief. The four other tribal chiefs before him were Mohamed Dhalin, Haji Maygaag,Yousuf Alin and his brother, which he succeed him later on after he passed away. 


HaJI abdi was a member of Somali traditional leaders delegation from the protectorate composed almost 40 personalities that went to Italian Somali-land, Mogadishu in 1948 paving the way for greater Somalia unity. As informed by Haji Abdi, the Turkish empire were the first foreign power came to Somali-land and after they left, they transferred administration to the Egyptians and the suggestion of forming the tribal chiefs came from the Egyptians initiative originally.


 In view of his unity vision, Haji Khaliif Hassan was the person who set up SYL flag in Hargeisa (A place at present head-quarters of Hargeisa local government). The flag was brought to Hargeisa from Mogadishu by Ex-Somali late Somali president Adan Abdulla Osman, who was those days, a southern Somalia political activist. During his short visit to Hargeisa,  Adan Abdulla osman was guest of Haji Khaliif Hassan. Apart of his hospitality, Haji Khaliif was having the backing of Sultan Abdillahi, as Somali unity was a common vision those days among the Somalis everywhere. Haji Khaliif Hassan himself was also a tribal chief.


 The entire information detailed in this article translated from U tube documentary commented by Dr. Mohamed Rashid Sheik Hassan (Ex- BBC Somali broadcaster) recorded alive from Haji Abdi. In the event, anyone inquire this information from the U-Tube, let him enter the U-Tube and search for the history of Haji Abdi Waraabe – (Part – 1) in an effort of accessing as how the small settlement developed into a city (the present Hargeisa).


Generally, the British did not have much interest in the resource-barren region .The stated purposes of the establishment of the protectorate were to secure a supply market. The British principally viewed the protectorate as a source for supplies of meat for their British Indian outpost in Aden.In August 1940, during the east African campaign in the world war two. British Somali-land was briefly occupied by Italy. During this period, the British rounded up soldiers and governmental officials to evacuate them from the territory through the capital of Berbera. In total,7,000 people, including civilians were evacuated. 


The Somalis serving in the Somali-land Camel Corps were given the choice of evacuation or disbandment; the majority chose to remain and were allowed to retain their arms. However, In March 1941, after a six month occupation, the British Imperial forces recaptured the protectorate during Operation Appearance. The final remnants of Italian guerrilla movement discontinued all resistance in British Somali-land by the summer of 1942.Before the partition of Africa among the western colonial powers, Somali was the land inhabited by Somali clans with separate boundaries. After the occupation of British Somali-land these clans had entered separate agreements with the British as stated below:


1.Habar Awal – entered an agreement with the British in 1884 in Bulhar.

2.Issa and Gudabirsey – in 1884 in Zeila

3.Garhajis- 1885 in Adan.

4.Hababjlelo 1885 in Adan.

5.Warsengali 1886 Laskhoreh

6.Dholbahata had not entered any agreement with the British.


 In the early 20th century Sayid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan has engaged his struggle against the colonial power which was occupying the Somali territories. His struggle ended in January 1920, after which the sultan of Warsengali tried to exert his power to take over the Native power. The Sultan was deported to Seychelles for seven years in detention, after the British felt that the Sultan wanted to replace Sayid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan. As the wind of freedom and aspirations of getting rid of colonial rule was blowing throughout Africa, the Somalis also started their struggle for independence.


 In 1958 the Somali-land protectorate clans demanded independence from Britain to unite with their Somalia brothers and sisters who were under the trusteeship of the United Nations, which was getting independence on 1st July 1960.The British had promised Somali-land to get independence on 26th June 1960 to join their brothers and sisters in south, the former Italian colony and that union was revoked back in May, 18, 1991 after long liberation struggle from oppressive regime of Siyad Barre for almost a  decade .


Ismail lugweyne.