Abubakar Salim (1936-2018) (also known as “Abu Deera”) was a 20-21st century poet born and raised in the City of Barawa, Somalia. He became popular in poetry and shtenzi (Bravanese form of poetry) at an early age where he was requested to recite some poetry in a gathering in Jamaame and Jilib (towns in South Somalia). One of his most well-known poem was the poetic lament he wrote dedicated to the 1991 Somali Civil War, where he was able to decipher the pain and agony of what his community went through duing that period as he was one of the few who chose to stay behind. Another poem called “Raafu” was directed during the early stages of the 1977 Somali Ogaden war.
Abu Deera also wrote poems dedicated to his teachers, famous Shuyookh and community elders at that time, he mainly wrote on religion, Seerah and in special occasions (i.e. weddings, birth). One of his teachers in poetry is the pioneer of poetry in Barawa, Abasitide al-Hatamiya.
Abu Deera grew up in the small area in Barawa called Sukhooni where he recieved his education. He traces his lineage back to Oman, he percase belonged to the Omani tribe who lived in Barawa called Al-Sa’di. He got married to a Bravanese lady from the town of Baghdad (District in Barawa), where he fathered 5 boys (Sharif, Nurein, Baazi, Alawi, Hamadi) and 3 girls.
Not only was he a poet, he was a Madrasa Teacher, advisor, healer, and a Raqi. He was overtly praised for this charitable work, humility, nobleness and wisdom. His work are still remembered and commemorated today during gatherings by the Bravanese people all around the world.
Researchers who attempted to study the urban and religious poetry of Barawa will always be exposed to the work Abu Deera left behind, for someone who was known by every member of his community. Thanks to writers and researchers of the likes of Bana M. S. Banafunzi and Lee V. Cassanelli who wrote a research paper called, “A Recent Poetic Lament from Brava”, they examined the famous poem written by Abu Deera dedicated to the tragedies of the Somali Civil War and also translated some of it’s verses. As referenced in the research, the authors describes how one poem shook the whole community to an extent where it’s quoted, “Wherever it was played, we were told Bravanese listened and wept”.
Abu Deera showed the impact poetry had on a society, and how it played a rich and important part of the towns collective heritage. Most of the poems written by Abu Deera were recited orally and/or recorded via cassettes, since then, no attempt has been made to write them down for it’s preservation and record purpose.
Below is a video of the late Abu Deera reciting a poem, this video was released in 2015.
Another video of his eldest son Sharif Abubakar Salim who talks about the biography of his father.
We ask Allah to grant Abu Deera the highest of Jannah.