Prior to delving into my writing, let me express the impression I have come under while attending the get-together with the presence of this promising young man, H.E. Omar Abdirsahid Sharmarke. Despite the wearisome and lengthy ministerial meeting previous to the feast, the prime minister was gracefully attentive and following each and every bit of the discussion. He was frankly cheerful and optimistic to the sense of the words throughout the talk. All the whispers and the side line natter pointed to the fact that Mr. Sharmarke, the son, has all the traits and the characteristics of his father who is remembered for his unequivocal patriotism and nationalism. On the whole, like father like son was the mood in the discussion. Holding degrees in political science/economy and having diplomatic capacity in his background compounded with his genetics, Mr. sharmarke undoubtedly fits the hot seat he is occupying. I have come to the conclusion that if he is given a chance, he can lead the tattered nation back to statehood.
Back to the core subject-matter of the article, Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke was born in Mudug region in north-central Somalia in 1919 but grew up in Mogadishu the capital of the country. As the tradition is in Somalia, he started his early education with the learning of the Holy Qur’an. After receiving his primary and secondary education, he went to Italy where he graduated in political science at Sapienza University of Roma in 1958. A year later, he was elected to then legislative assembly through the Somali Youth League (SYL) ticket. All along, Mr. Sharmarke was an enthusiastic proponent of SYL since its inception in 1943. He also tried trade and worked as a civil servant in the Italian administration.
At independence after the unification of the British-somaliland and the Italian-somaliland in 1960, Abdirashid became the first prime minister of post independence Somalia. One of the major achievements during the premiership of Abdirashid was the establishment of ties with the Soviet Union where Moscow agreed to provide loans to finance the training and equipping of the Somali armed forces. The Soviet Union also provided nonmilitary assistance, including technical training scholarships, printing presses, broadcasting equipment as well as agricultural and industrial development aid. As Prime Minister, Abdirashid also travelled abroad extensively in pursuit of a non-aligned and neutral foreign policy
During the first Somali general elections in 1964, Ethiopia marched into Somalia and war erupted along the Somali-Ethiopian frontier. Being the then Prime minister, Mr. Sharmarke was asked how his government could manage the elections and the Ethiopian aggression at the same time. He remarked his popular utterance “we will fight with one hand and hold the elections with the other”. His subsequent election as the second president of Somalia in 1967 was an extraordinary landmark in the African democracy leading to the first peaceful transfer of power in Africa.
Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke was assassinated in Las Anod, in the present Sool region, by one of his bodyguards on October 15, 1969.