Hassan Sheikh Mumin

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Hassan Sheikh Mumin
حسن الشيخ مؤمن
Birth nameXasan Sheekh Muumin
Saylac, Awdal Somaliland
Died16 January 2008
Oslo, Norway
GenresSomali theatre

Hassan Sheikh Mumin (Somali: Xasan Sheekh Muumiin, Arabic: حسن الشيخ مؤمن‎) (1931 – 16 January 2008) was a Somali poet, playwright, broadcaster, actor and composer.[1]


Mumin was born in 1931 in the northwestern town of Zelia, then a part of the British Somaliland protectorate. When he was nine years old, he and his family moved to Borama, where he graduated from school and frequented a local madrasah.

Mumin later joined the Somali Youth League (SYL), Somalia's first political party founded during the pre-independence period. He wrote and published his first poem for an SYL rally in Borama in the early 1950s.

After Somalia obtained its independence in 1960, Mumin worked at Radio Mogadishu between 1965 and 1968 as a resident poet, playwright and lecturer. He later held a position in the national Department of Education and Culture.

After the 1969 military coup d'etat that saw the Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC) assume power, various cultural works were banned, including Mumin's poetry. He subsequently left Mogadishu for neighboring Djibouti, before later settling again in Borama.

Major works[edit]


Mumin's most important work is Shabeelnaagood (1965), a piece that touches on the social position of women, urbanization, changing traditional practices, and the importance of education during the early pre-independence period. Although the issues it describes were later to some degree redressed, the work remains a mainstay of Somali literature.[2] Shabeelnaagood was translated into English in 1974 under the title Leopard Among the Women by the Somali Studies pioneer Bogumił W. Andrzejewski, who also wrote the introduction. Mumin composed both the play itself and the music used in it.[1] The piece is regularly featured in various school curricula, including Oxford University, which first published the English translation under its press house.

During one decisive passage in the play, the heroine, Shallaayo, laments that she has been tricked into a false marriage by the Leopard in the title:

Women have no share in the encampments of this world

And it is men who made these laws, to their own advantage.

By God, by God, men are our enemies, though we ourselves nurtured them

We suckled them at our breasts, and they maimed us:

We do not share peace with them.

Shire Jaamac Axmed published materials from the Somali oral tradition as Gabayo, maahmaah, iyo sheekooyin yaryar (1965; “Poems, Proverbs, and Short Stories”). He also edited a literary journal, Iftiinka aqoonta (“Light of Education”), and published two short novels in 1973: Halgankiii nolosha (“Life Struggle”), dealing with past struggles, and Rooxaan (“The Spirits”).


Hassan Sheikh Mumin died on 16 January 2008 in Oslo, Norway. He was buried ten days layer in his father's mausoleum situated in the Ahmed Guray district of Borama. Hundreds of people reportedly attended his funeral service, including ministers from the Somaliland region, opposition leaders, poets, singers, and a 12-member delegation from Djibouti. Mumin was also posthumously awarded the highest cultural award by the Djiboutian government.


  1. ^ a b R. J. Hayward, I. M. Lewis (1996). Voice and Power: The Culture of Language in North-East Africa : Essays in Honour of B.W. Andrzejewski. Psychology Press. pp. Appendix xv. ISBN 0728602571.
  2. ^ African Studies Center, University of California (1973). "African Arts". African Arts. 7–8: 84. Retrieved 29 June 2012.