Hassan Sheikh Mumin


“Adaa Garan Waxay Gubee” (You Know What Is Burning Me)

“Dab Dhaxmooday” (When the Fire Gets Cold)

“Geed Madi Ah” (The Single Tree)

“Samo Ku Waar” (Welfare of Creation)

Hassan Sheikh Mumin was one of Somalia’s greatest modern songwriters and playwrights; and he was one of the major forces behind the golden age of Somali theater. Born in 1931, his father was a great sheikh (man of religion) in the coastal town of Zaila before they moved to the more urban area of Boorame. There he received classical Quranic and Arabic education and attended a government elementary school. He grew to be well known as a collector and reciter of traditional oral literature and soon would start composing his own texts.

Some of his first poems were written after he joined the political movement toward independence in the early 1950s. These included “Dadaala Soomaaliyaay!” (Oh Somalis, strive!) and “Carruurta wax bara!” (Educate the children!). He would go on to work for Radio Mogadishu starting in 1960, and eventually worked for the ministry of Education after 1968, training youths for national parades and performances. During this time he also wrote a number of plays that included poetry. These writings established his reputation as a social commentator and critic.

He was known for “winnowing” traditional cultural values and practices in the opening of his first popular play. This song was memorized by many Somalis and would become a standard opening of many dramatic performances at Mogadishu’s National Theater. His most famous play is “Shabeelnaagood” (Leopard Among the Women). This is the only Somali play that has been translated into English and deals with the relationships between men and women within Somali culture and around the world. Notably, he wrote “Samo Ku Waar” (Welfare of Creation) which is the national anthem of Somaliland. He died in 2008 in Oslo, Norway, and was posthumously awarded the highest cultural award by the Djiboutian government.