Somali Youth League
|President||Yasin Haji Osman Sharmarke|
|Colours||Red, White, Blue|
The Somali Youth League (SYL) (Somali: Ururka Dhalinyarada Soomaaliyeed, Arabic: عصبة الشبيبة الصومالية, 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 1950s and 1960s.
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 Somalians 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.
At its foundation, the party had 13 members: four Darod, three Digil and Mirifle, two Reer Xamar, three Hawiye and one Isaaq. The group's founding members were significantly influenced by the earlier religious rebellion at the turn of the century of Mohammed Abdullah Hassan (the "Mad Mullah"), including the SYC's founding father, Abdulqadir Sakhawadin. 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, Abdullahi Issa was elected as its leader 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), 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. 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.
British Somaliland remained a protectorate of Britain until June 26, 1960, when it became independent. The former Italian Somaliland followed suit five days later. On July 1, 1960, the two territories united to form the Somali Republic, albeit within boundaries drawn up by Italy and Britain. A government was formed by Abdullahi Issa Mohamud and Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal and other members of the trusteeship and protectorate administrations, with Haji Bashir Ismail Yusuf speaker of the SOMALIA ACT OF UNION as the first President of the independent Somali National Assembly, and with Aden Abdullah Osman Daar as the first President of the Somali Republic, 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.
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, arrested members of the former government, banned political parties, dissolved the parliament and the Supreme Court, and suspended the constitution.
Founders and leaders
The following is a list of the SYL's 13 original founder members, including its first leader Yasin Haji Osman Sharmarke:
Yasin Haji Osman Sharmarke, Mohamed Hirsi Nur (Seyedin), Haji Mahamed Hussein Mahad, Osman Geedi Rage, Dhere Haji Dhere, Dahir Haji Osman (Dhegaweyne), Abdulqadir Sakhawadin, Ali Hasan Maslah, Mohamed Ali Nur, Mohamed Farah Hilowle, H. Mohamed Abdullahi Hayesi, Hudow Malin Abdullahi Salah and Mohamed Osman Barbe Bardhere
The following is a list of other notable public officials that emerged from the SYL's ranks:
- Aden Abdullah Osman Daar: July 1, 1960 – June 10, 1967;
- Abdirashid Ali Shermarke: June 10, 1967 – October 15, 1969;
- Mukhtar Mohamed Hussein: October 15, 1969 – October 21, 1969
- Prime Ministers
- Abdullahi Issa Mohamud: February 29, 1956 – July 12, 1960
- Abdirashid Ali Shermarke: July 1, 1960 – June 10, 1964
- Abdirizak Haji Hussein: June 14, 1964 – July 15, 1967
- Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal: July 15, 1967 – October 21, 1969
- Umar Arteh Ghalib: January 24, 1991 – May 1993
- Presidents of the Somali National Assembly
- Haji Bashir Ismail Yusuf: July 1, 1960 – mid-July 1960
- Jama Abdullahi Qalib: mid-July 1960 – May 26, 1964
- Ahmed Sh. Mohamed Obsiye: May 26, 1964 – 1967
- Mukhtar Mohamed Hussein: 1967 – October 15, 1969
- Abdillahi Mohammed Ahmed: Minister of National and Coordination
- Sheekh Cabdiqani Sheekh Axmed: Minister of Justice and Religion Affairs
- Haji Farah Ali Omar: Minister of Economic Affairs
- Mohamed Said Samatar: Minister of State
- Osman Haji Mohamed: MP for El Dheer
- Ali Shido Abdi: Vice-Chairman of the SYL
- Haji Dirie Hirsi: Representative in the Chamber of Commerce
- Cabdiqani Ahmed Hussei A/lahi The Vice President Of Somaliland
Somali Youth Day
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.
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- This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress Country Studies website http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/.