Another Somali Gabay, describing a camel raid and once again the fate of the British officer Corfield in 1913 (see The Death of Richard Corfield). This version is notable for its emphasis on the role of the poet in pastoral warfare. His task is to pray for the success of the expedition and to curse the enemy clan. Should the raid be successful, the poet was awarded an extra camel, in addition to his regular share of the booty. This poem, by the famous Dervish poet and general Ismaa’iil Mire, was composed shortly after the raid in 1913.

Residing at Taleeh, we raised the question of holy war.
At once seventy hundred Dervishes selected powerful horses
And we reined and saddled them according to the Sayyid’s instruction. (1)
Cartridges of bullets he distributed among us;
Lord, bless him! He prayed to Allah for us.
When provision was sought, some men became miserly; (2)
As for us, we each contributed a choice young camel
And we filled the sibraars with camel milk. (3)
By the pillar of the Prophet and by the Shari’a we rode the horse.
That afternoon, in canter and gallop, we pressed forward,
But, mindful of the horses, we pastured them by night;
We hobbled them gently and let them nibble at tangles of lush undergrowth,
But when the triplet-stars began to set I stirred, and hummed the lines;
And when I chanted the verse, the sleeping men awoke,
Gathering around the place where my voice sounded;
And when I said the dawn prayer, we saddled, marching purposefully.
By the Ulasameed rivulet I sent out the scouts;
Soon they spotted the infidels’ camels and lifted to us signals from afar,
And as we shy not away from the Jihad we plunged forward: (4)
With mighty stallions we rushed forward to the raid
In burning dismay from the place where we seized the camels,
A sad cry arose seeking for help from Berbera (5)
Then the rescue party of the British infidels caught up with us,
Then a rending rumble as of thunder was heard,
And the Englishman did fly, leaving his badly hobbled camel behind,
And where he held the maxim guns we made the camels trample over.
I will not count the decimated hordes and the followers of the infidels,
There, Corfield and his interpreters were slain. (6)
That afternoon, we possessed the entire belonging of the infidels,
And of guns numberless as the sand, we seized,
And to the vultures we spread the flesh of the enemy to feast upon,
And we gathered the herds, warding off the infidels with rifle fire
And over the multitude of collected camels I sang with gladness!
That afternoon by a prolonged march
we took the camels to Buuhoodle wells, (7)
And in the night he who had stamina kept the wakeful vigil,
And in another night we brought the camels to the valley of Nugaal, (8)
And in another night we milked them at Aduur, (9)
And in the next night, weary with fatigue we marched through Haylaawe and Tagaabeeye (10)
And in the next night we brought them to the Dariiqa where the camels were divided! (11)
Ten plump camels which have just calved,
And ten, just conceived, well serviced by the mighty he-camel,
And ten, young, healthy she-camels,
And ten milch ones, with which I was specially assisted. (12)
And the one which is mine when the herds are assembled to be divided, (13)
To speak truthfully and wisely
That many we have brought to the Harun (14)
The news of Tuurre has spread rapidly from here to limay (15)
And even to Ancient Rome it is signalled that he has burned the infidels’ home,
Of crimson color, he is master of the springy step and of the agile gallop,
In addition to his light step and brisk canter, he possesses other stratagems.
He has won grudging respect from the infidel whom he slew with lightning ease,
And they whom he despoiled are now without a single camel to milk.
As for me, the endless months I rode him for the holy war make me weary
Thou, Braided-mane, may Allah protect you from evil!

Here’s the Somali version:

Annagoo Taleex naall Jahaad taladi soo qaadnay;
Toddobaatan bogol oo Darwiish togatay neef doora;
Savidkeennu tii uu na yiri torog ku heensaynnay;
Shakadaha intuu noo tebbedey noogu tacab qaybi:
Ilaahav ha tabantaabiyee ducada noo tuumi.
Wareegada rag baa waxay tewali yaan wax kaa tegine;
Annana towlka qaa!maha nin iyo tulud ku soo saaray;
Sibraar caana geel loo tabcaday talax ku si maallay:
Tiirkii rasuulkiyo sharciga toog ku wada fuullay.
Galabtaa taxaabiyo kadiaba toobiyaha raacnay;
Habcenkii fardaha wow turrive taag ku sii nurannay;
Tun biciida lagu qoofaIyoo samushka loo taabey
Talaaduhu markii ay dheceen talalay oo reemay;
Tixda gabay markii aan akhriyee toose ninan jiifry;
Tiraabkaygu meeshuu ka baxay !a isku soo tuumi;
Salaaddii markii aan tukaday yaarka kaga taagnay.
Togga Ulasammed dooyadii horay u tuuryeynay;
lntay timacad noo soo arkeen marada noo taage;
Annaguna jahaad kama tagnee tiimbad ugu roorray;
Sengeyaal tabaadihiyo goal weerarka u tooxnay.
Tiiraanya ololkii dhulkii taani laga qaaday;
Tallaala’ayda qaylada Berbera tahan la weydaari;
Taambuuglayaashiyo kuway tabeysey soo gaare;
Sidii teysa roob oo onkoday tininigtii yeedhay;
Talaxumada awrkuu u xiray baqe taraarsiinnay;
Girligaanka meeshuu turgaday lagu tunsii geela;
Tirsan maayo uunkii tirmiyo gaala taabaca e;
Turjubaanadii iyo halkaa Koofi lagu toogay.
Gaaladu waxay tacab lahayd taabnay galabtaase;
Maadhiin turaabkaa ka badan tuurta kaga gaadnay;
Tukihii intaan niman u waray tobanle soo qaatay.
Gebagaba u tooxnoo kufriga maarre kaga teednay;
Tafwareeman maynee intaan rubay ku avnshaadey;
Galabtaa caraabada ku timi turugaa Buuhoodle:
Habeenkaa ninkii tabar lahaa tarantaree gaarka.
Habeen kale taxaashay Nugaal godon u tuuryeynay.
Habeen kalena tuuraha Cadduur toolin kaga maallay,
Habcen kale lagaabeeye iy o tu’inna,
Habl’en kale Daritqada rubnoo toosan lagu qaybsay,
Toban gool tabaadiga dhigiyo o toban unuun gooyo.
!yo toban tifrii hore rimoo taani lagu qooyshay,
!yo toban abeer tawllanoo tixinka qaalmooda,
Iyo toban irmaanoo aniga la igu taageeray,
lyo taan eryoon jirey markay tubantehee joogto,
Been laguma tookhiyo afaan taabud noqoneyne,
lntaa Xarunta waa tubay xaq waa lag tanaadaayeu
Warka Tuurre waa laga hayaa tan iyo limey e,
Suldaan Ruunna loo tabe inuu tuuladii gubaye;
Waa Xamar tarrara oo misana taab ku sii daraye,
Taltallaabsigiisiyo kabtiga tabo kalaw dheere;
Tafantoofka gaalkuu u diley waa tixgeliyaaye;
Tuludna uma godlaan recruhuu tawl ka saanyade:
Anigana tis bay galay intaan col ugu taagnaye.
Tima soohanlow Eebbahay kuma tabaaleeyo!

Poem by the Dervish poet and general Ismaa’iil Mire (1913),
from “Gabay-Hayir: A Somali Mock-Heroic Song”,
by Said S. Samatar,
Research in African Literatures, II, 4 (winter 1980), 463-465.


Footnotes

  1. Sayyid, honorific title of the Dervish leader, Mahammad Abdille Hasan.
  2. That is, unwilling to contribute.
  3. sibraars: A skin container used for carrying milk.
  4. Jihad, holy war.
  5. Berbera, seat of the British colonial administration.
  6. Corfield, commander of the mounted camel police.
  7. Buuhoodle wells, a cluster of wells a hundred miles south-east of Bur’o in northern Somalia.
  8. Nugaal, a well-watered valley in northern Somalia.
  9. Aduur, a rich pasture plain in Nugaal.
  10. Haylaawe and Tagaabeeye, a cluster of hill and gullies in the same region.
  11. Dariiqa, the headquarters of the Dervishes. The word means ‘order’ in Arabic.
  12. That is, milk-bearing.
  13. The extra camel awarded to the poet, over and above his share of the booty.
  14. Harun, the word for capital in Somali, referring to Taleeh.
  15. Tuurre, the poet’s horse, the one with the braided-man, praised in the eight concluding lines.
    Iimay, town on the headwaters of the Shabeelle River in southern Ethiopia.