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Marking 100 years of the Dervish Movement

Join us on April 8th to commemorate the centenary of the Dervish Movement and it’s impact on Somali arts, literature and academia!

In 1920, a Somali colonial resistance movement which spanned over twenty-five years ended through the use of British colonial aerial bombardment, by the Royal Air Force. The war was titled the ‘cheapest war in history’ by British papers and its leader, Mohamed Abdullah Hassan, was forever etched into history as the “Mad Mullah of Somalia”. The year 2020 marks the centennial anniversary of a poignant moment in Somali history but also the remnants of colonialism on the continent of Africa.
To commemorate the Dervish movement, Dr. Said Salah Ahmed, a teaching specialist at the University of Minnesota and internationally-acclaimed poet and cultural historian will join us alongside other historians, academics, researchers and media professionals to provide a brief background on the history of the movement, while demonstrating how it is still relevant to Somalis and Somalia today.


Dr. Said Salah was previously a biology teacher in Somalia. In 1984-1985, Ahmed directed his first feature film, The Somali Darwiish (alt. The Somalia Dervishes), with Amar Sneh serving as producer. With a budget of $1.8 million, the 4-hour-and-40-minute epic was devoted to the revolutionary Somali Dervish Movement. In the film dialogue you can hear seven languages: Somali, Arabic, Italian, English and three regional dialects. The movie included an actual descendant of Mohamed Abdullah Hassan as its star, Sheikh Osman Mohamoud Omar, and featured hundreds of actors and extras. Following the start of the civil war, Ahmed emigrated to Minnesota. He subsequently wrote a children’s book The Lion’s Share, which served as the basis for a Somali folklore-based play that he both penned and produced for the SteppingStone Theatre. Some of his poems have been translated into English by the Poetry Translation Centre.

Mohammed Artan is a videographer, student of Islamic discipline, publisher, and historian. He was born in Somalia, raised in the Netherlands and, currently lives in England wherein he did his degree in Film & Videography at The University of Northampton, followed by a teaching degree. He taught filming for several years before focusing exclusively on book publishing. He was the founder and managing director of a production company that served as training and educational platform for film producers. He is also the founder and managing director of Looh Press, a publishing company specialising in Islamic, African, and Somali studies resources.

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