Dhoodaan: The Death of a Poet

At 72 years of age, poet Abdullahi Ma’allin Ahmed (Dhoodaan) recently died in Harar, Ethiopia. He was a renowned Somali poet with unrivaled talents and miraculous voice. He is considered to be one of the most outstanding Somali poets, albeit his contentious traits.

Poet Dhoodaan would use his poems as a weapon whenever he felt pressured and overpowered. And by using his razor-sharp poems, he once reviled and rebelled the Honrn of Africa’s most powerful, feared  administrations, that of President Mohamed Siyad Barre and Mengistu Haile Mariam.

Poet Dhoodaan

He composed both feared and funny poetry. He was a real artist with captivating poems that could make one laugh endlessly due to their shactiro (humour).  Dhoodaan would, through his poetry, tell an audience that humor was the spice of life, and thus would keep people at bay and compel them to listen to his poetry, willingly or unwillingly.

He was a gifted person adept at both the use of figurative language and situation analysis. He would liken a woman to a sheep and discolour her beauty if he wanted to, or compare a cup of a tea to a piece of bread. Basically, nothing could impede the poet’s imagination if he desired to convey a message or articulate an issue; the sky was his limit.

Nicknamed as the land of poets, Somalia has always prided itself on the number and talents of its poets; and Dhoodaan was doubtlessly one of its most talented poets.

As he had advanced in age, he had lost his appetite for humorous poetry and focused more on social justice issues and peace building initiatives. Living in Ethiopia, the poet had lately been an advocate of peace in the Somali region of Ethiopia, urging the region’s inhabitants to choose peace and progress over war and worrisome conditions.

Somalis have lost a creative, talented and irreplaceable poet. Dhoodaan passed away at age 72 and is survived by a wife, 10 children and a nation hungry for poets like him.