Somali Youth League

The Somali Youth League (SYL) (Somali: Ururka Dhalinyarada Soomaaliyeed, Italian: Lega dei Giovani Somali or Lega Somala della Gioventù), initially known as the Somali Youth Club (SYC), was the first political party in Somalia. It played a key role in the nation's road to independence during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

Somali Youth League

Ururka Dhalinyarada Soomaaliyeed
Lega dei Giovani Somali
PresidentAbdulkadir Sheikh Sakhawudeen
Founded1943 (1943)
Dissolved1969 (1969)[1]
HeadquartersMogadishu, Somalia
IdeologySomali nationalism
Colours             Red, White, Blue
Party flag
Flag of the Somali Youth League.svg


During the Second World War, Britain occupied Italian Somaliland and militarily administered the territory from 1941 to 1950. Faced with growing Italian political pressure inimical to continued British tenure and Somali aspirations for independence, the Somalis and the British came to see each other as allies. The first modern Somali political party, the Somali Youth Club (SYC), was subsequently established in Mogadishu in 1943.[2]

At its foundation, the party had 13 members: four muuse subeer samaroon , four habar muuse (maxamed case) two Reer Xamar, two hawiye and one daarood. The Harari would become members in 1946 when SYL opened an office in Harar.[3] SYL supported Greater Somalia with Harar being the capital and a combined Harari-Somali representatives were commissioned to reveal this proposal to the U.N office in Mogadishu.[4] Somali Youth League members were significantly influenced by the earlier religious rebellion at the turn of the century of various religious figures such as Uways al-Barawi, Sheikh Hassan Barsane and Mohammed Abdullah Hassan.[2] To empower the new party, the better educated police and civil servants were permitted to join it. By 1948, following an official visit to the territory by the Four Power Commission, the SYC was a well-structured political unit,[2] Abdullahi Issa was elected as its Secretary General and renamed itself as the Somali Youth League (SYL) and began to open offices not only in Italian and British Somaliland, but also in the Ogaden and in the Northern Frontier District (NFD). The SYL's stated objectives were to unify all Somali territories, including the NFD and the Ogaden; to create opportunities for universal modern education; to develop the Somali language by a standard national orthography; to safeguard Somali interests; and to oppose the restoration of Italian rule. SYL policy banned clannishness so that the thirteen founding members, although representing four of Somalia's five major clans, refused to disclose their clan affiliations. Although the SYL enjoyed considerable popular support from northerners, the principal parties in British Somaliland were the Somali National League (SNL) and National United Front (NUF), mainly associated with the Isaaq clan, and the United Somali Party (USP), which had the support of the Dir (Gadabuursi) and Darod (Dulbahante and Warsangali) clans. In 1945, the Potsdam conference was held, where it was decided not to return Italian Somaliland to Italy.[5] The United Nations opted instead in November 1949 to grant Italy trusteeship of Italian Somaliland, but only under close supervision and on the condition—first proposed by the SYL and other nascent Somali political organizations that were then agitating for independence, such as the Marehan Union Party, Hizbia Digil Mirifle Somali (HDMS) (which later became Hizbia Dastur Mustaqbal Somali) and the SNL— that Somalia achieve independence within ten years.[6][7]

British Somaliland remained a protectorate of Britain until June 26, 1960, when it became independent. The former Italian Somaliland followed suit five days later.[8] On July 1, 1960, the two territories united to form the Somali Republic, albeit within boundaries drawn up by Italy and Britain.[9][10][11] A government was formed by Abdullahi Issa Mohamud and Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal with Aden Abdullah Osman Daar as the first President of the Somali Republic,[12][13][14] and Abdirashid Ali Shermarke as Prime Minister, later to become President (from 1967-1969). On July 20, 1961 and through a popular referendum, the Somali people ratified a new constitution, which was first drafted in 1960.[15]

In the first national elections after independence, held on 30 March 1964, the SYL won an absolute majority of 69 of the 123 parliamentary seats. The remaining seats were divided among 11 parties. Five years from then, in general elections held in March 1969, the ruling SYL led by Mohammed Ibrahim Egal returned to power. However, in the same year, then President of Somalia Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke was assassinated. A military coup quickly ensued, with Siad Barre now assuming leadership. Barre's Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC) subsequently renamed the country the Somali Democratic Republic,[16][17] arrested members of the former government, banned political parties,[18] dissolved the parliament and the Supreme Court, and suspended the constitution.[19]

Political leadersEdit

Founders and leadersEdit

The following is a list of the SYL's 13 original founder members, including its first leader Abdulkhadir Sheikh Sakhawudeen:

  • Abdulkhadir Sheikh Sakhawudeen
  • Yasin Haji Osman Sharmarke
  • Mohamed Hirsi Nur (Seyedin)
  • Haji Mahamed Hussein Mahad
  • Osman Geedi Rage
  • Dhere Haji Dhere
  • Dahir Haji Osman (Dhegaweyne)
  • Ali Hasan Maslah
  • Mohamed Ali Nur,
  • Mohamed Farah Hilowle
  • H. Mohamed Abdullahi Hayesi
  • Hudow Malin Abdullahi Salah
  • Mohamed Osman Barbe Bardhere

Notable membersEdit

The following is a list of other notable public officials that emerged from the SYL's ranks:

Prime Ministers
Presidents of the Somali National Assembly

Somali Youth DayEdit

The Somali Youth League's establishment on May 15, 1943 is annually commemorated in Somalia. Official celebrations are organized throughout the country on this Somali Youth Day to honour the SYL's members and their key role in the nation's path to independence. In 2014, government representatives, youth associations, women's groups, singers and local residents feted the Somali Youth League's 71st anniversary.[20]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Metz, Helen C. (ed.) (1992), "Politics", Somalia: A Country Study, Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, retrieved April 1, 2013CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b c I. M. Lewis, A pastoral democracy: a study of pastoralism and politics among the Northern Somali of the Horn of Africa, (LIT Verlag Münster: 1999), p.304.
  3. ^ Barnes, Cedric (2007). "The Somali Youth League, Ethiopian Somalis and the Greater Somali Idea" (PDF). Journal of Eastern African Studies. 1 (2): 285.
  4. ^ Islamic Reform in Twentieth-Century Africa. Edinburgh University Press.
  5. ^ Federal Research Division, Somalia: A Country Study, (Kessinger Publishing, LLC: 2004), p.38
  6. ^ Aristide R. Zolberg et al., Escape from Violence: Conflict and the Refugee Crisis in the Developing World, (Oxford University Press: 1992), p.106
  7. ^ Henry Louis Gates, Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, (Oxford University Press: 1999), p.1749
  8. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, The New Encyclopædia Britannica, (Encyclopædia Britannica: 2002), p.835
  9. ^ The beginning of the Somali nation after independence Archived 2008-04-23 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ The dawn of the Somali nation-state in 1960 Archived 2009-01-16 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ The making of a Somalia state
  12. ^ Aden Abdullah Osman the founding father
  13. ^ The founding father of Somalia
  14. ^ A tribute to the Somalia founding father, its president in 1960s
  15. ^ Greystone Press Staff, The Illustrated Library of The World and Its Peoples: Africa, North and East, (Greystone Press: 1967), p.338
  16. ^ J. D. Fage, Roland Anthony Oliver, The Cambridge history of Africa, Volume 8, (Cambridge University Press: 1985), p.478.
  17. ^ The Encyclopedia Americana: complete in thirty volumes. Skin to Sumac, Volume 25, (Grolier: 1995), p.214.
  18. ^ Metz, Helen C. (ed.) (1992), "Coup d'Etat", Somalia: A Country Study, Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, retrieved October 21, 2009CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link).
  19. ^ Peter John de la Fosse Wiles, The New Communist Third World: an essay in political economy, (Taylor & Francis: 1982), p.279.
  20. ^ "SOMALIA: Somali Youth day celebrated in Garowe". Raxanreeb. 15 May 2014. Archived from the original on 19 May 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2014.


External linksEdit