October 5, 2012 ·0 Comments
On early Monday morning, 01/10/2012, when I had completed my routine of checking work-related e-mails and noting down the day’s to-do list, I logged in the Facebook. I was shocked to see the announcement of death of the late Mohamed Hashi Dhama aka Gaarriye. The news then spread in Hargeisa and other parts of the country like a wild fire through phone calls and social media.
I first met the late poet at Amoud University in 2001 where he taught us a Somali Literature course. In our senior year at Amoud University, Professor Sulaiman informed us that a Somali Literature course will be offered and will be taught by the legendary and famous poet, Mohamed Hashi Dhama. As we were the first intake of Amoud, we felt that university courses are not offered as per the catalogue but availability of lecturers was what mattered most. We also believed that some core courses were missing and thus we resisted the idea of taking Somali Literature at this late stage. We argued if the course would had been offered in the first or second year of our studies, it would had been great; but this time, we needed relevant courses that would deepen our knowledge and understanding of the subject matter: Business and Public Administration. Students in our batch then selected a group of representatives that would present students’ complain to the senior management of the university about this course. I was a member of these representatives!
We then had the proposed meeting with Prof. Sulaiman Ahmed Gulaid, the President of Amoud University. We based our argument that at this stage what we need is a special focus on the core courses of business and public administration and a course like Somali literature would not have substantial contribution! I was, in particular, strong on this and believed this is just a mere effort from the management to complete the number of courses required for graduation. Later, our concerns would be proved wrong and I personally enrolled three times to take this eye-opener course taught by an exceptional and gifted poet and orator!
Prof. Sulaiman explained to us the importance of having this course and scientifically understanding the structure of Somali literature. He underlined that the course will be taught by a great and educated poet. Finally, he encouraged us to first see and attend the class. If we are not convinced with the proceedings of the class and the teaching skill of the lecturer, then the management will review its decision. Students accepted this proposal and we decided to see the course content and its lecturer.
Students’ thinking and perception towards the Somali Literature course, however, was influenced and dramatically changed on the first day that the late Gaarriye delivered his introductory lecture of this course in the peaceful and quiet environment of Amoud Valley. It was an impressive lecture skillfully presented and he won the full attention and interest of the students. After that day, his class became a favorite one not only for registered students but also guests outside university. At a later stage, the class would attract wider audience and students have to rush to the class to ensure availability of seats. Surprisingly, every day it was much more interesting than before. Sooner or later, we saw the beauty and richness of the Somali literature through the eyes of the late Gaarriye.
His wisdom resonates to his students in many aspects. In a recent article by Ms: Khadija Abdilahi Sheikh, a graduate of Amoud University brilliantly depicts the contribution of late Gaarriye to the knowledge of the young graduates that he taught. In her wonderful and well-written article, Khadija describes how the Somali Literature course changed her attitude and opened their eyes to a different perspective. Below is a short excerpt of her article.
“I was lucky enough to attend a Somali literature course instructed by the Legendary Mohamed Hashi Dhamac (Gaarriye), twice. Even though, I was a freshman the first time around and I didn’t understand half of what he was saying, his engagement was captivating. A senior at the time volunteered to translate to my friend and me the entire class, but translated jokes lose their flavor. So, we laughed when everybody else was laughing and joined the abrupt applause devotedly. My senior year, when I took the Somali Literature course I could understand a good 80% of it. My favorite part was when he’d recite a verse from two different poems one in Arabic, the other in Somali, both reflecting the same meaning. Mr. Gaariye taught us how rich our language is, opened our eyes to a different perspective and made us fall in love with Af Soomaliga. I still have my notebook from that class and I truly believe that Mr. Gaariye is a national treasure”
He was not only teaching Somali Literature at Amoud and Hargeisa universities, but he was also lecturing on Biology and Embryology courses. However, through his deep understanding and teaching of metrical structure of Somali literature and his incomparable mode of delivery was both attractive and captivating.
The late Gaarriye was not only a lecturer but a close friend to most of the students. He used to advise students on many things including extra-curricular activities. I vividly remember his heart-touching speech on the day of our graduation, the first to take place on a Somali soil in the post-conflict situation. It was on July 23rd, 2003 and Gaarriye spoke on behalf of the teaching staff of Amoud University. This is a quote from my note on that historic day.
Seeing off the graduating students and making them feel their due significance to the country, Gaarriye pin-pointed that the ceremony is attended by all including those who were opposing and campaigning against one another during the presidential election.
“The government officials and members of opposition parties are sitting side-by-side” he asserted. He went on saying to students, “You are among the very few elements that unite all the competing political parties – a clue that underlies your significance to everyone”
Expressing his feelings and emotions, Gaarriye said “I cannot accurately convey my feelings due to the extreme happiness and nervousness.” The poet said he was extremely joyful to contribute to the knowledge of the graduating students while he was very much worried about the departure of his beloved and courageous students.
In 2008, as part of my work assignment, we visited Gabiley district to assess the impact of a Good Governance and Leadership Training Program that was intended for the elected councilors in Somaliland. The late Gaarriye was one of the key trainers that were delivering the training material to the councilors. When we inquired the effectiveness of that training package, then Deputy Mayor of Gabiley, Ms, Khadra Haji Gaidh eloquently described how she benefited from that program and recited the following poem:
Nin dariiq xariiqdaa
Garan kara dayowdaye
Dhidarkii ku kacay danab
Doc kastaaba waa u toos
Clearly, when Gaarriye was explaining such concepts of planning processes and visioning to the local councilors, he opted to deliver them in a way that is easily understandable to the local people. Thus, due to the outstanding training skill of Gaarriye and his colleagues, the program proved to be successful.
Finally, the late Gaarriye left behind a living legacy as he influenced the hearts and minds of thousands of young men and women by drawing their attention to the richness of their language!
May the almighty Allah rest his soul in Paradise!
Abdirahman Adan Mohamoud