Somaliland:Hunger at their Heels… A Poem by William Syad

HUNGER AT THEIR HEELS…  ( A Poem by William Joseph Farah Syad ) 

Editorial Note

“Paying my respects to the 115 Somali troops who died fighting alongside British and Commonwealth forces in WW2”  tweeted David ConcarUK’s Ambassador to Somalia. The description of fallen soldiers as Somalis forced several people to try to correct the Ambassador. “Good, but that’s Somaliland troops, not ‘Somali troops’ ” tweeted a former war correspondent.
 “If you can’t correct  their identities (Somalilanders), why you bother paying attention Mr Ambassador” tweeted Warsame.

Inline images 1

Ambassador David Concar at Hargeisa War Cemetery

The debate on the identity of fallen soldiers reminds one of a 1959 poem by William Joseph Farah Syad ( WilyamYuusuf Faarax Siyaad ),  who was born in 1930, and in 1964,  contested for Lasanod parliamentary seat. The late  Ali Garad Jama won the seat.   Syad passed away in Djibouti in 1993. On Somalis’ new  Afro-Arab identity, Professor Ali Jimale Ahmed wrote: ” [Leopold] Senghor, writing the preface to William [sic] Siyad’s collection of poems, Khamsine, calls Siyad ‘a marginal negro’ (whatever that means)”. 

Syad paid tribute to “Somali” soldiers who died in the World War II. Hoguey is an angelicised Somali word, hoogay ( woe is me!  ). 

What have they done

to be treated so

No work for Somalis

and no bread either

Misery everywhere

Why should they be treated so?

Their brothers and mine

Their cousins 

and mine

died by the hundreds

In the fields of honour

What have they don

to be treated so?

In Burma 

Somali forces honoured

the Union Flag

In South of France

The Battle of the Point de Grave

The Somali Battalion 

Honoured the Free Forces

What have they done

To be treated so?

What in return

have received

The children of those

who enjoy the Everlasting Sleep

in the fields whence none returns

Even not their meagre rights

hoguey ! hoguey !

they keep on crying

What have they done 

to be treated so?

By hundreds

the children of those

who never returned

Emigrate to hostile countries

meet alien people

they know not

What they do

for hunger is at their heels

Misery and hate

imported in their Motherland

Free of tax

and custom duties


awaits them

in every sea port

What have done

these children

of those Glorious soldiers

to be treated so?

Dedicated to all Somalis who go abroad…”

  From Khamsine a collection of pems by William J. F. Syad published by Presence Africaine in 1959.


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