Haji Dirie Hirsi

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Haji Dirie Hirsi (* 1905 near Hafun , Somalia , † May 18, 1976 in Bonn ) was a Somali businessman, reformer and politician . He was involved in the establishment of the Somali Youth League , which campaigned for the independence of what was then Italian Somaliland .


Dirie Hirsi was born into a nomad family in the area around Hafun in the north of what was then Italian Somaliland . His mother was Bullo Ali from the clan of Umar Mahamud-Majerteen- Darod .

At the time, when Dirie Hirsi was around five years old, the war of the Darawiish ( dervish ) movement under Mohammed Abdullah Hassan against the colonial rulers of British Somaliland , Ethiopia and Italy was under way. Dirie's mother, who was pregnant at the time, felt threatened by the Darawiish and sent Dirie and his two-year-old brother with her husband's brothers to Warsheikh near Mogadishu to meet them later. She herself never got there as she was killed by two Darawiish who couldn't agree which of the two to take her.

Dirie, his father, his older and later also his younger brother stayed in Warsheikh, where the father died of malaria. The remaining family members moved to Jawhar with an uncle . When he was eight, Dirie became an employee of an Eritrean who was an official in the Italian service. Every evening after work he studied the Koran .

Commercial activity

At 15, Dirie opened a tent in Jawhar where he offered tea. This company expanded into a small restaurant where he also employed his brothers and a sister. Around 1935 he began to trade in Somali cattle and Arab dates and clothes between Hafun and Aden . He also came to Mogadishu as part of his trading activities. In 1938 he married Hawa Hirsi Nur , whose parents made him stay in Mogadishu. At this time he had already completed the Hajj to Mecca and has since carried the title Haji .

In 1940 Haji Dirie married Hirsi Hawa Hoosh . He also exported frankincense, fish and ghee (the only goods that Somalis were allowed to export at the time) to Zanzibar and Mombasa, and imported European clothing and spices from there. For years he was the leading Somali in the Mogadishu Chamber of Commerce, which in 1947 comprised 120 Italians, 45 Indians, 22 Somalis, two British, two Jews and one Eritrean.

Public activities

Haji Dirie Hirsi became known in Somalia for his activities for the common good. In 1946/47, for example, he contributed to a kitchen for the poor (called the Suus kitchen, based on the measure for 1 kg of grain, which was there per person per day).

Dirie also emerged politically by co-financing the newly founded Somali Youth League (SYL) party from 1943 , which campaigned for the independence of Somali. As a member of the Chamber of Commerce, he was one of the Somali spokesmen for a UN fact finding mission in 1948 that was supposed to decide whether Italian Somaliland (which had been occupied by Great Britain since World War II ) should be returned to Italy. Dirie criticized Italian colonialism for the expropriation of Somali farmers in favor of Italian settlers, especially in Jawhar and Jenale near Merka , the lack of training and equipment for Somali farmers, the food production policy of the Italians and the ban on Somalis from accepting agricultural products - which was abolished again under the British export.

In 1949 he founded the first secondary school in Somalia.

In 1976 Haji Dirie Hirsi died in Bonn, Germany, where he had been flown for medical treatment. He is buried in Mogadishu.