By Adan Makina
It was three days after Prof. Mohamed Abdi Haji ( Gandhi) passed away for the Afterlife on April 18, 2021, when a friend who was conversing with me on the Phone, broke to me the news of the death of Prof. Mohamed, who is prominently known by his nickname “Gandhi”. Immediately after the news of his of his death, I went into a mourning state. Prior to his departure, I had lost so many friends who were very special to me. I admired them for their humility, academic excellence, prompt correspondence and benevolence.
There’s no doubt that death is inevitable and that “Every soul shall have a taste of death.” Unlike the many professors–Somalis or foreigners that I had known for years, Gandhi was so special and close to me for over thirty years until we lost contact when he plunged into research, publications and Somali politics.
My first encounter with Gandhi was in the early eighties at Hotel Major in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Makkah al-Mukarrama–a famous two-way traffic that dissects into two halves the historical part of the city. After having coffee together, I and the distinguished professor strolled through the majestic road to have a better view of the city, to know each other and discuss important issues.
During our discussions he told me that he had two degrees and that his bosses were two young French men who had single degrees. He told me it is called “cunsuriyad” in Somali, meaning racism in English. From that day on, racism and discrimination have been my focuses in global politics. Linguistically, as regards foreign languages, he was proficient in French while I was an English speaker. Before our first encounter, I knew some of his family members and we had interacted before. During a visit to my relatives in the middle eighties who were pastoral nomads at the border town of Kulbiyow (Kolbio)–a border town near Kenya, his sister and her business husband accommodated me humanely. When an immigration harassed me at Kulbiyow, Gandhi’s sister intervened and warned the young man the consequences of his actions could result in his transfer from the small settlement.
According to people who were aware of his visit to some parts of Garissa County where he had many relatives, during an adventurous touristic visit to areas that were rich in forestry, Gandhi wept because he found very important and historical trees and plants like frankincense and myrrh and other distinct species that would have benefited the society economically had they been economically invested. Apart from being a Geologist, Historian, Anthropologist, and a Politician, the professor was a distinguished polymath like the philosophers of ancient times.
For those of you who have taken politics as a permanent way of living should know that it is a separating factor especially with friends and near relatives because of the greed and desires that comes with it, mistrust of even close friends after embracing it, and weak and distorted philosophies that fill the previously clean brains. We met again when his father was sick. Because we were both engrossed in different worlds, Allaah Almighty did not determine we meet often. For those thirty years, I and Gandhi communicated through the postal services.
A graduate of Besancon University in France, Professor Mohamed Abdi Haji whose nickname is Gandhi–an endearment given to him by his peers in his school years for being a bright student who excelled educationally and attitudinally like Mahatma Gandhi of India for his courageous, non-violent acts against British colonial rule that eventually brought the Indian sub-continent the much-desired independence–was the brainchild of the formation of the southern Jubaland State of Somalia. His in-depth knowledge of Somali history and regional paleo-environment allowed him to coin the name Azania for Jubaland though rejected by officials of lesser historical knowledge. A student of Gamal Abdel Nasser High School in the heart of Mogadishu, Gandhi emerged the leading student in 1970 in the national high school examinations.
This unprecedented leap and bound, subsequently secured him a scholarship in France. Gandhi is a distinguished international authority on Somali cultural history, traditions and customary laws, and an ebullient scholar having wide array of books to his credit that are mainly available in French. He has published over 20 books and 50 research papers on diverse subjects.[i] Born in 1949 in Gaalkacyo (Galkayo)–a town in central Somalia where his grandfather established religious schools after moving from the port town of Hobyo in the current Somali Galmudug State–Gandhi prospered in Mogadishu. Professor Gandhi holds two PhDs in Applied Geology and the History and Civilization of Antiquity. His son, Shermarke Gandhi is a PhD holder and was a presidential candidate for the Jubaland State in the August 2019 disputed elections that was reclaimed by the former office-bearer State President Ahmed Madobe who is from the Ogaden clan.
Professor Gandhi was the original founder of the current Jubaland State that was known as Azania during its inception in 2011 before changing name. The name Azania was applied to Somalia by Ancient Egyptians 2,500 years ago. To the ancient Egyptians, Azania provided unique food resources while in Arabic it implied “the Land of Plenty.”
Professor Gandhi served Somalia in different capacities. He was the mastermind of the Arta Peace Convention in Djibouti that led to the creation of the first Somali Transitional Government in 2000. He served as the Minister for Defense as well as the Minister for Transport and Communication. A long time parliamentarian of the different Somali government administrations, his last appointment was the Ambassador of Somalia to Canada. Professor Gandhi was a candidate for the delayed presidential election slated for 2021. May Allaah admit Professor Mohamed Abdi Haji to Jannat al-Firdows, Aamiin.
email: [email protected]
NB: Some portions of the contents of this condolence have been taken from the writer’s upcoming book that is to be released soon.
[i] Biography of Professor Mohamed Abdi Haji. https://amp.en.googl-info.com/21631162/1/abdi-mohamed.html
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