Somali Youth League - Syl, Somalia - Africa -Lega dei Giovani Somali - somali colonial history -

The Struggle for independence by the Somali Nationalists led by Somali Youth League (SYL) was one great thing that still inspire the Somali people.

On May 15th 1943, thirteen Somali youth established the Somali Youth Club which later changed its name to Somali Youth League on May 15th 1947. The thirteen youth were:
1) Abdiqadir Sheikh Saqawadin, born in Tiyeglow town, Bakool region in1919. ( He was 24 years old) 2. Mohamed Hirsi Nuur (Sidi), born in Mareg town, Galguduud region in 1915, (He was 28 years old) 3. Yasin Haji Osman Sharma’ake , born in Hobyo town Mudug region, in 1917 (He was 26 years old) 4. Haji Mohamed Hussein Mohamed, born in Mogadishu city, Banadir region in 1917 (He was 26 years old) 5. Osman Gedi Rage, born in Mogadishu city, Banadir region in 1925 (He was 18 years old) 6. Dhere Haji Dhere. born in Mogadishu city, Banadir region in 1926 (He was 17 years old) 7. Dahir Haji Osman, born in Hobyo town Mudug region, in 1925 (He was 18 years old) 8. Ali Hassan Maslah , born in Hobyo town Mudug region, in 1927 (He was 16 years old) 9. Mohamed Ali Nur, born in Shangani, Mogadishu city, Banadir region, in 1927( He was 16 years old) 10. Mohamed Farah born in Mareg town, Galguduud region in 1925 (He was 18 years old) 11. Haji Mohamed Abdullahi (Hayesi), born in Mogadishu city, Banadir region in 1925 (He was 18 years old) 12. Hudow Maallin Abdulle, born in Marerey town, Lower Shabelle region in1926 (He was 17 years old) 13. Mohamed Osman Barbe, born in Bardhere town, Gedo region, in 1910 (He was 33 years old).

SYL appointed Abdullahi Isse Mohamud, the then Somali Premier for the internal administration under the Italian colonist, as its secretary. Few months later, SYL announced her political ambition which was the independence of the Somali people who were under three European colonialists: Britain, Italy and France. Greater Somalia was the main objective of SYL. The SYL youth achieved an important task- uniting the Somalis against the colonialist. The SYL also put the people’s freedom above everything, as was stipulated in their by laws. The League faced some challenges aimed at diverting them from their goals, but the youth came out from the obstacles shinning, due to their strong unity and the belief in themselves.

Even though the Somalis at that time were ready for independence, it was the SYL that inculcated the freedom spirit and its importance in their minds. All that time SYL and the Somali people were figuring out ways to chase away the colonialist, there were handful Somalis who were supportive of the Italian imperialist region. Some of those individuals later joined the SYL to misguide them from their goals and freedom seeking.

Ali Hussein, the poet of SYL, in some of his poems narrated how some members were opposed to the struggle of the League. That illustrated the Somali proverb which means, there those who claim to support you in achieving your goals but never with to see you achieve. Likewise, Ahmed Haji Suleiman, the SYL chief on documentations, related how some members of the league clearly opposed the core objectives. What is undisputable is that the SYL played the most crucial role in attaining Somalia’s independence in 1960. But after 50 years, the mission of the 13 celebrated youths is incomplete as the five regions Somalia was divided never united. More badly the Northern Somalia (Somaliland) is currently claiming to have ceded from the South. The South is plagued into a civil was for more than 20 years.

How did SLY come into existence?

According to the Somali historians, the idea started in 1943 with a conversation between Abdiqadir Sheikh Saqawadin and Yasin Haji Osman Sharma’ake, who were close friends. They discussed about the situation of the Somalis and how to free them from the colonial administration. The two, aged 24 and 26 years respectively continued their discussion for some time and Abdiqadir suggested the formation of an Islamic movement that unites the Somalis and fights the colonialist. Yasin objected to the idea and proposed the establishment of political party representing all Somalis. The discussion was later joined by several other young men, and they agreed the formation og youth league that spearheads general education putting more emphasis on the learning of the English language which was new to Northern Somalia. They also agreed upon the suspending of the political party formation till the time allows and thus formed the Somali Youth Club (SYC) in May 15th 1943.

The last meeting held by the founders of SYC concluded the following three points: To notify the British colonialist about the formation of Somali Youth Club To rent an office for organization and recruitment of youth To write an interim working program that is essential for the activities of SYC

After drafting the notification letter, the 13 youth marched to British Mogadishu governor’s office, where they have submitted. Some of the youth were optimistic that their move will be successful while others feared they will be imprisoned leave alone acceptance. But the response of the governor was astonishing and went done in the Somali history books. It said:

“You comprise of young men from different clans, who for sure cannot agree on a single issue. I see you as hyenas and goats mixed together, how can you come up with SYC without any opposition amongst you?”

The youth, who couldn’t respond harshly to the criticism of the imperialist boss, replied this way:

“We will take your comment as an important lesson, the hyenas will grow so as not to eat the goats, and soon you will see us sharing SYC without disputes.”

Then came the formal reply from the governor who said in a letter that Britain was at that time in war, and not ready for political challenge, but allowed SYC to operate as youth organization empowering education.

In their first meeting, SYC elected its leaders, Abdiqadir Sheikh Saqawadin became the chairman, Haji Mohamed Haji and Mohamed Hirso Nur were elected as the two deputies while Yasim Haji Osman became the secretary. The Club which had gaining freedom as its long term objective gave the first priority in fighting tribalism and discrimination. Then SYC started spreading into the rest of the country, opening offices in different regions and garnering the support of different sectors of the Somali society.

In March 1947, SYC decided to change its name and show its power due to the following: SYC gained popular support among the Somalis which was undeniable The British desire to take up all Somalia territory and the Italy’s resistance to that idea The creation of puppet Somali political parties to weaken SYC

After succeeding in many areas, SYL’s secretary and one of the founders, Yasin Haji Osman died and willed that his position be given to famous nationalist Abdullahi Isse Mohamed who was the representative for Baladweyne town, Hiran region. Abdullahi Isse accepted the position and later become an instrumental leader and the first Somali Premier of internal administration which preceded the independence of Somalia. The ultimate victory came in 1st July 1960, when the free South and North Somalia united to form the Republic of Somalia. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t sustain that freedom and government.

Currently there are unbelievable and horrific acts happening in Somalia and it’s possible that the children or grand children of the 13- celebrated SYL founders are part of this mess. There is also an ill advised effort by many Somalis to form village and district level administrations in thee name of states with so many ceremonial “presidents”

It is also unfortunate that while the 13 SYL leaders, some of them were below the age of 20, refused to be under foreign rule, some older, mature and more educated so called Somali politicians are happy to take Somalia under foreign government and take orders from foreign capital cities.