Spotlight on Yesteryear’s comrade (By: Faisal Abdi Roble)


I knew the late Dr. Abdi Majiid Hussein Barre

Who was he? Dr. Abdimalik Hussein was born in Dirdhabe and belongs to a prominent Somali family. His mother, who is still alive and healthy, is from Jigjiga and Harshin. His Mom and my mom stayed in their formative years at the house of Abdullahi Igal and Dhool Heeban Badhcun. So, my knowledge of Dr. Abdimajiid is as intimate as it gets.

The late Dr. Majid was educated in Diredhabe, then went to Addis Ababa for High School where he attended the famous and highly after-sought British- run High School called General Wingate. Later on, with distinguishing grades, he joined Haile Selassie University.

Beginning from Middle School, he was good in the English language and, because of that, he earned a scholarship and finished his 12th grade in the US.

According to Kiflu Taddese, who authored “The Generations: The History of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party, ” once the young Abdulmajid came back from the US, he positively impacted the direction of the Ethiopian student movement and assumed a leadership role.

Not only was he a bright “A” student, but he was a gifted person in languages. As such, while still at Haile Selassie University, he was a broadcaster of the English language for the Ethiopian Radio and TV.

At an early age, he became a top-notch revolutionary and a great orator. He was one of the most articulate leaders of the Ethiopian Student body at the university. His leadership was on par with the likes of Tilahun Gizew, Waleleghn Mekonen, and Berhane Maskel, all of whom belong to the leadership that farmed the debate on the Nationality question in Ethiopia.

Somalis had one advocate in the debate, and that was Abdulmajid Hussein. The beneficieries of the debate on the national question in Ethiopia owe to people like Abdimajid.

By early 1970s, he had to go underground and then escaped out of Addis Ababa. He ended up in London and joined the leadership of the EPRP. He was the Foreign Minister of the movement. But after leaving EPRP, he became an advocate for Western Somali Liberation Front. By using his contacts, he enlisted the likes of I. M. Lewis, Richarch Greenfield, and Markakis to champion the Somali cause.

I came to know of him when I was still young and started reading revolutionary materials. One night we were discussing the national question at an underground makeshift in Jigjiga. It was in 1975. We asked our Amhara comrades (some were University students and knew more) if there was any Somali in the leadership of EPRP? That was the time when I learned about Abdimajid’s prominent role.

In 1978, I met him at the Somali Studies symposium in Mogadishu. Uruba was the venue. Abdimajid was a candidate for his Ph.D. in political geography. What a debater he was!

He took into task Ethiopianists and made a very strong case for the liberation and rights of Somaliwest. I will never forget that debate. It gave me the gas I needed never to stop. I started to write letters to him after that.

With the late Dr. Hussein Tanzaani, Dr. Abdimajid collaborated on the making of a documentary called: “The limits to Submission,” a must-see movie about the resilience of the struggle of the Somali people.

We should respect and cherish our brothers who contributed to the struggle, and that is not much to ask.