Sheikh Hassan Barsane

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Sheikh Hassan Barsane
الشيخ حسن برسني
Born 1853
Ubaadi, Somalia
Died 1924
Mogadishu, Somalia
Organization Salihiyah
Known for military leadership
Religion Islam

Sheikh Hassan Barsane (Somali: Sheekh Xasan Barsane; Arabic: الشيخ حسن برسني‎) was a Somali cleric. Affiliated with Mohamed Salih's Salihiyah movement, he led a revolt against Italian colonial forces after World War I.[1]

Early life[edit]

Barsane was born 1853 in Ubaadi, a village 68 km west of Jowhar in the Middle Shebelle region of southern Somalia. He hailed from the Gaaljecel clan.

After memorizing the Quran during his youth, Barsane sought to further his religious education.

He traveled to Mecca to perform the Hajj. Barane stayed there for three years, meeting along the way Sheikh Mohammed Salih, the leader of the Salihiyah. Barsane thereafter joined Salih's movement.

Military leadership[edit]

Sheikh Barsane's forces owned an estimated 16,000 rifles. In 1905, they stopped an attempted Ethiopian expansion into southern Somalia during the battle of Gumar Sheel.

The Sheikh and his men also fought various battles against Italian troops, including:[2]

1. Buloburde 1922

2. El Dhere 1922 and 1923

3. Hilweyne 1923

4. Jiliyale 1924

5. Harerile 1924

In October 1923, Cesare Maria De Vecchi was appointed the first Fascist Governor of Italian Somaliland, marking a change in Italian administration in the Horn of Africa.[3] De Vecchi set out to subdue all who opposed his government's desire to establish a "La Grande Somalia". However, the Somalis were heavily armed and led by men who had been given advanced training during the preparation for the First World War. De Vecchi consequently adopted a policy of disarmament, particularly vis-a-vis the clans in the inter-riverine region.

In March 1924, Sheikh Barsane convoked a shir (meeting of elders), where the participants, inflamed with militant zeal, denounced the Governor's order. On behalf of the Shir, Barsane wrote the following to the Governor:

"In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful … I have received your letter and understood its contents, but must advise that we cannot obey your orders and join with you in a covenant . . .

Your government has its laws, and we have ours. We accept no law other than ours. Our law is the law of Allah and his Prophet . . .

We are not like other people, none of us has ever enrolled in the Zaptie (colonial forces), never! … and if you come to our land to fight against us, we will fight you with all possible means … The world is very close to its end, only 58 years remain. We don’t want to stay in this world. It is better to die while defending our laws."


After some initial success, Barsane's resistance crumbled when he was captured by the Italians on 4 April 1924. He died three years later on 13 January 1927 in a Mogadishu prison. Barsane was buried in Jilyale, a small town in his native southern Middle Shebelle region.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Heather Marie Akou. "The Politics of Dress in Somali Culture". p. 79. Retrieved 2014-04-05. 
  2. ^ "Baraawe Posts: UNDERSTANDING SOMALI HISTORY WILL HELP US UNITED1". 2008-03-14. Retrieved 2014-04-05. 
  3. ^ Mohamed Haji Mukhtar. "Historical Dictionary of Somalia". p. xxxi. Retrieved 2014-04-06.