Mohamed Hassan has been described as one of the freedom fighters of Kenya who funded the nationalist movement Kenya African Union (KAU) and the Mau Mau, a major nationalist revolutionary movement that originally sought to reclaim land that the British settlers had taken away from them in the 1950s. The group would eventually contribute to Kenya’s independence.
Despite his enormous contributions, when discussing the history of Kenya’s struggle for independence, Hassan is usually ignored and this is mainly because he is Somali.
According to historians, Somalis in Kenya, who are over 3 million currently, were largely ‘ostracised’ after Kenya gained independence. This was caused by the Shifta War that followed a desire by the Somalis to join the larger Somalia.
the British government refused and the Kenyan government, since 1963, has held on to the borders. Somali nationalists seeking secession from Kenya eventually took arms against the Kenyan government, and even though the war was over by July 1967, it has influenced Kenya-Somalia relations till date.
That is perhaps why the story of Somali businessman and freedom fighter Hassan has been hardly discussed until recently when a full report on him by Kenyan media Daily Nation emerged.
According to the report, Hassan, who was in the famous 1946 picture of Jomo Kenyatta with top officials of the KAU, was a heavy financier of Kenyatta, and probably the only Somali detained during the Mau Mau war.
Mohammed Hassan is seated (far right) with other KAU leaders in this 1946 photo. Pic credit: Daily Nation
Largely targeted by the colonial government, he lost all his businesses and properties in the process of his fight towards an independent Kenya, but his story remained buried until now.
Born in 1922, Hassan was only 16 when he had to take over his father’s business after the latter’s death. Around this time, Hassan was the only Muslim student in Alliance High School, but his education was interrupted by the father’s death and the World War II.
A Swedish entrepreneur subsequently gave him land on which he built a shop in Juja, a town in Kiambu County. This shop would ultimately be the meeting point of Mau Mau guerrillas at the start of the crackdown.
Meanwhile, Hassan’s schoolmates in Alliance were made up of individuals who would become nationalist leaders and activists. Hassan would eventually find himself at the centre of the freedom struggle among his peers, the Daily Nation report said. His shop in Juja also thrived following the tens of settlers who had settled in the area, including the famous U.S. steel billionaire Sir William Northrup McMillan.
“Because of its location, especially in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the shopping complex offered restaurant and butchery services and had three entrances: one for the European settlers, one for Asians and Arabs, and another for Africans. It also had a petrol pump and records say it was one of the best-lit areas in Juja,” writes the Daily Nation.
Hassan’s shop was also frequented by Kenyatta and his supporters in the 1940s and 50s, while he was campaigning to strengthen KAU as a nationalist movement. According to the Daily Nation report, Kenyatta, who would become Kenya’s first president, had once visited the shop to get some money, and Hassan would eventually become one of Kenyatta’s financial supporters.
But when the State of Emergency was declared in Kenya in 1952 due to the Mau Mau rebellion against British colonial rule and incarceration of thousands of Kenyans, Hassan’s shop was ordered to be closed as he was seen to be supporting the Mau Mau secretly.
“All persons who are members of the Kikuyu, Embu or Meru tribe from being or remaining in … the block of stone shops known as Juja dukas on LR 255/1/2 on the main Nairobi-Thika Road,” read a colonial order issued against Hassan’s property in July 1954.
That same year, Hassan was arrested by the colonial government and charged, but later acquitted of possessing a firearm without a valid license. He would later make attempts to get back his shop that was forcibly taken away from loyalists and other traders during the crackdown on the Mau Mau in the 1950s.
Hassan’s several attempts to get back his shop and renew his license failed after he was described by as authorities as a “bloody Mau Mau.” The Somali businessman was compelled to close the shop and it was occupied by some Indian traders after independence.
In 2017, when Hassan’s daughter, Amina Mohammed was asked by the Daily Nation whether the family owned the shop, she replied: “We don’t know whether we still own it. But my mother (now deceased) used to tell me that the shop, as it is today, was the way it was left by my father.”
Today, Hassan’s shop, which is currently one of the remaining pillars of Kenya’s independence struggle, is rotting away.
Despite being a structure that contains the history of the freedom movement and inter-race relations in colonial Kenya, as well as, the story of the place of the Somali community in the freedom struggle, it has been ignored by authorities.
Hassan died in Nairobi in 1977 – dejected. Many Somalis in Kenya have also, till date, been treated with suspicion following their links to Islamist extremism, particularly the terror group al Shabaab based in Somalia.
This article first appeared on Face2FaceAfrica.
Meet the young CEO who is revolutionising Kenya’s private security industry
Is your career path pegged on your childhood experiences? Does this sound silly? Wait, don’t make your conclusion yet until we get to hear from Siyad Abdigedi, the founder and CEO of Guardeum Security Services Company.
Sometimes our childhood experiences and the exposure life take us through as a child has a great impact in our career choice.
The above statement has never gotten a better meaning without hearing from the 32-year old CEO. In an interview with Siyad Abdigedi, he gives us a glimpse of how his life experiences has greatly influenced him to join the military and later the private security sector.
In a visit to his vast office located at view park towers, the young CEO narrates how his life growing up in a volatile border town in northeast Kenya has shaped his career path.
“I was born and raised in Mandera. Mandera is a beautiful town situated at the Horn of Kenya, bordering both Ethiopia and Somalia,” Siyad told The Frontier.
“As a child, life in Mandera was not all roses; the Shifta movement in the 90’s, the influx of illegal immigrants and guns were just but a few reasons that made life hard,” he says.
The situation was very harsh and volatile, all that the residents were yearning for was security and protection, he adds.
As a child, Siyad could still graphically remember how his younger siblings and him would all cling onto their mother’s legs as loud bangs of explosions rented the air. Some nights they would spend under the beds to avoid stray bullets.
In Buula Hawa, the neighboring town in Somalia, each year started with a war and ended with a war, and due to its proximity, Mandera has always suffered collateral damages.
All siyad wanted was to be in a position that allowed him to provide protection to his family and people, and this saw him join the military years later.
Siyad, an alumnus of Makindu High School, joined the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in 2007, and in just 10 years of service, he rose to the rank of sergeant. He also served in several UN peace keeping missions. After 13 years in the military, Siyad decided to call it quits.
“It was an interesting career…I really enjoyed being in the Kenya Air Force, it was 13 years behind the gun and now it is time to pursue my ambition,” he said.
“After all change is as good as rest.”
Siyad always wanted to join the corporate world. In 2018, he registered Guardeum security Limited which has since joined Kenya private security industry association.
Just two years in the market, Guardeum is already doing business with some of the leading companies in the country.
Despite being from a humble background, Siyad somehow managed to beat the odds. He has a degree in criminology and Security Studies from Egerton university and MBA in Strategic Management from Mount Kenya University.
“Most of my school fees were paid for by my wife Sophia by the way,” he says, a broad smile on his face.
“I owe her a lot.”
Siyad is a firm believer that work experience matters. He has spent more time in the security sector and have been through battle fields. He believes security background gives credibility to the work he does now.
“I am making sure the 13 years’ experience in the military won’t go down the drain,” he vowed.
Guardeum Security Services has a vision to provide security solutions, protection and investigations in Kenya and abroad while promoting a business culture founded on dedication, development, effectiveness, innovation, respect, team work and trust.
His extensive operational and command experience in areas such as counter terrorism, VIP protection and training elite units makes Guardeum a uniquely experienced company.
“Driven by passion, I grew up knowing I needed to give protection and I would do what it takes to do that,” he says, again with a smile.
Profile: Who is Hassan Ali Khaire?
Somali parliament voted to remove Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre from office on July 25.
Lawmakers supported the ouster of Khayre to 170-8, according to Speaker Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo is required to name a new premier in 30 days, but is expected to do so in days to move the country forward. Meanwhile, Mahdi Guled, the deputy premier, will act as a prime minister.
Khayre was appointed as prime minister on February 23, 2017 and approved by parliament on March 1, with 231 lawmakers endorsing his selection.
He was born in the central Somalia town of Jacar in Galgaduud province in 1968. He attended both primary and secondary schools in Mogadishu. At the onset of the civil war, Khaire moved as a refugee to Norway in 1991, where he enrolled at the University of Oslo in 1994. He is a dual citizen of Norway and Somalia.
He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Oslo in political science and an MBA from Edinburgh Business School.
In 2002, he joined the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), and served in various senior roles including area manager, country director, and, eventually, Regional Director for the Horn of Africa.
In 2013, he joined Soma Oil & Gas as Executive Director for Africa, where he served until his appointment as premier.
In June 2012, when Khaire served as regional director for the NRC, an NRC caravan was attacked in northeastern Kenya, one of the drivers was killed and several others were wounded, and six workers – a Norwegian, a Canadian, a Pakistani and a Filipino – were kidnapped.
Khaire has been under investigation for corruption when working for the British company Soma Oil, but the investigation was dropped because of lack of evidence.
On 23 February 2017, Khayre announced his resignation from Soma Oil & Gas.
Before becoming prime minister, Khaire never held a public office, although over the course of his career he has worked with a range of high-level executives and government officials in various capacities.
As prime minister, Khayre vowed to tackle corruption by prosecuting individuals involved, regardless of their position, however, no senior official was prosecuted for corruption.
During his tenure, Somalia achieved so much: debt relief, security sector reform, payment of civil servants and the military, among others.
Khayre is likely to run for president in the upcoming election.
Amina Mohamed emerges front-runner in the race to lead the WTO
Amina Mohamed, Kenya’s nominee for the World Trade Oranisation (WTO) is emerging to be the front-runner to lead the World’s top trade body. She is among eight candidates, among them two other Africans, seeking to replace Brazil’s Roberto Azevêdo and steer the global trade organisation in the right direction.
According to Bloomberg, the candidates explained their vision for fixing the WTO’s moribund negotiating function, its paralysed dispute settlement system and the various other ailments that have sidelined the world’s foremost arbiter of trade.
At the close of the week, there was a general perception that Amina is the early front-runner.
She checks many of the boxes that delegates say they are looking for in the next WTO director-general, a job never held by a woman. She is a former Kenya’s ambassador to the WTO, a former foreign and international trade minister and a previous chair of a WTO ministerial conference.
Amina is currently the minister of Sports, Culture and Heritage.
The next leader of the WTO will have to repair relations with the United States which threatened to leave the organisation. The WTO, the largest multilateral trade organization and the foundation of the global trading system, has increasingly drawn the ire of the United States and other countries that view the organisation as outdated and complacent as other countries skirt the rules to get ahead.
The WTO operates on the basis of consensus and the final candidate should, in all likelihood, have the support of the WTO’s 164 members. That is no easy feat because nations can withhold their support for any reason.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.
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