Kismayo Airport will from now henceforth be known as Sayid Mohamed Abdille Hassan International Airport in honour of Somalia's hero by the same name. The airport is an international airport that serves Kismayo, the capital city of the Lower Juba region in Somalia located in southern Jubaland, an autonomous region in Somalia.
Sayid Mohamed Abdille Hassan fought against colonialism in Somalia. He established the Dervish movement, an armed resistance movement that operated between 1899 and 1920, in Somalia that fought a 20-year war against the British, Italian, and Ethiopian empires. Sayid Mohamed was both a religious and militant leader. He aimed for the removal of the colonial state and foreign infidels, the defeat of the Ethiopian forces supporting the colonial powers, and the creation of a Muslim state.
The Dervish movement earned praise and criticism in equal measure. In Somalia, the movement and Sayid Mohamed have been controversial. While some cherish it as the founder of modern Somali nationalism, others view it as an ambitious Muslim brotherhood militancy that destroyed Somalia's opportunity to move towards modernization and progress in favour of a puritanical Islamic state embedded with Islamic education.
In addition, there is also a tainted legacy of cruelty and violence left behind by Dervish soldiers who were ordered by Sayid Mohamed to kill Somalis who disagreed with him and refused to submit to him. These Somalis were declared "Kufr" and Dervish soldiers were ordered by Sayid Mohamed to "kill them, their children and women and snatch all their property".
The British would underestimate Sayid Mohamed and label him as a 'religious fanatic'. However, despite the divide-and-conquer tactics by the British whereby they would arm different clans and set them upon each other, Sayid Mohamed's army continued to grow, largely in part due to his oratory skills for he was also a poet. His movement temporarily created a mobile Somali "proto-state" in early 20th-century.
The Dervish movement would end up being one of the bloodiest and longest militant movements in sub-Saharan Africa during the colonial era, overlapping with the World War I, lasting over two decades, with the battles on the various sides killing nearly a third of northern Somalia's population and ravaging the local economy.
The renaming of the airport in honour of Sayid Mohamed was greeted with joy by many Somalis on social media who hailed Sayid Mohamed as a revolutionary.
Header Image Credit: AMISOM