By: Hassan M. Abukar
Abdurahman Hosh Jibril, a lawyer and Somalia’s Minister of Constitutional Affairs, a longtime community activist, a former member of the Federal Parliament, and a mighty figure in initiating, writing, and adopting the provincial constitution, passed away in Dubai on March 8, 2019, from kidney ailment. He was 63.
Born in Jowhar, 90 KM north of Mogadishu, in 1956, Hosh had the rare opportunity of attending the American-run school founded and managed by the Mennonite Mission in his hometown. He was an exemplary student, always the first in his class, who flourished as a child in Jowhar, a diverse city on the Shabelle river. Hosh’s parents hailed from Goldogob (Puntland), but, for all practical purposes, he was a child of HirShabeelle, from marrow to the bone. His early exposure to diversity in Jowhar was further enhanced by his early schooling at the American school, which was attended by children of the country’s elite.
In that school, Hosh was exposed to Western liberalism and gleaned elements of socialism. In the 1980s, he went to Canada to pursue higher education, studied sociology at the University of Toronto, and then read law at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University.
As a lawyer in Canada, Hosh helped immigrants, refugees, and the indigent on immigration, labor, insurance matters., and human rights issues. However, in the late 1990s, Hosh’s legal career stalled in Canada and he decided to move to California, where he settled in San Diego. He would help his community with whatever assistance it needed. At that time, I occasionally met Hosh in Anaheim, a city close to Los Angeles and 70 miles north of San Diego, where the main office of the Immigration and Naturalization Services in Southern California was located.
During that period, many Somalis were coming from all over the world to California to apply for asylum. A group of us, including Hosh, helped these asylum seekers in preparing their statements and interpreting for them. I must admit it is when I first became aware of Hosh, not merely as a lawyer, but as a gifted writer. In the statements he prepared for clients, he wrote beautifully—not the typical bland, dry language lawyers are often known for. I have always believed that Hosh had deprived many Somalis from his mellifluous, poetic style of writing because he rarely penned articles. Even when I disagreed with him in his rarely published political articles, I was awed and captivated by the way he wrote. His command of English was impeccable and his use of sarcasm was hilarious and irresistible. One article he wrote, “The Asmara Project: An Abysmal Failure,” still rings in my mind—it was hilarious and biting.
.When I started writing regularly 10 years ago, Hosh was one of my biggest fans. He regularly read my articles and took the time to send me emails with effusive praise.
Hosh was an interesting man with a daunting intellect who disdained mediocrity and possessed a strong commitment to progressive agendas, such as equality, justice, women’s rights, protection of minority groups, and fair representation. He always made sure that women were part of the political process and appointed more women in senior positions in his government ministry.
Hosh read a lot and kept up-to-date of what was going on in the world. His eclectic reading tastes were expansive, from novels to biographies.
Hosh was a social butterfly and always eschewed tribalism. The gaggle of friends he had was mindboggling. He knew who was who in Somalia: intellectuals, politicians, chieftains, artists, youth activists, and members of the civil society.
Last March, an influential member of the federal parliament in Mogadishu, invited me to lunch. He told me that Hosh, once his rival in North America, was his guest in the house we were dining in for several months. I was shocked because the level of acrimony between these two former activists was so intense that I never imagined they could coexist under one roof. I was wrong. The two were more mature and forgiving than their rivalry suggested. An anonymous American comedian once said, “The tyrannosaurus has a six-inch deep skin and no apparent interest in politics. What a waste!” Hosh had thick skin and politics was his vocation, a subject in which we had our major differences.
Hosh was humble and transparent, as well as a people’s person. When someone on social media once took him to task and accused him of talking about the plight of the poor while collecting a $10,000 monthly salary, he calmly refuted the man’s claim. Then, he mentioned his monthly salary—a figure not even close to $10k—and itemized his expenses. Oddly, it included Hosh paying the salaries of some of his staff from his pocket, as government salaries are notoriously low and at times many months late. At the end, Hosh said that he was actually broke most of the time.
Before his passing, Hosh was in Dubai to attend the wedding of his daughter, Sagal, who was marrying a gentleman from Somaliland. The would-be father of the bride did not have the opportunity to see his daughter wed, but knowing Hosh, he would have boasted about this young couple from two neighboring but rivalrous regions (Puntland and Somaliland) uniting in matrimony. “My daughter is a unifier,” Hosh would have said, laughing. “I am proud of her.” Unfortunately, the well-planned wedding to have been overseen by Hosh, a proud father, was put on hold because God’s plan often outpaces our own.
Hassan M. Abukar
Mr. Abukar is a writer, a contributor to Wardheernews, and the author of Mogadishu Memoir. He can be reached at: [email protected].
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