Nasiib Buundo: a forgotten Somali Bantu anti-colonial leader

Nasiib Buundo was born in 1835 to a Yao community in northern Mozambique. His original name was Makanjira Zamani. At the age of 20, he was captured by raiders loyal to the infamous Zanzibari slave trader Tippu Tip, and was subsequently shipped to southern Somalia where he worked in plantation fields in the Somali coastal town of Baraawe. After a failed attempt to escape, he was beaten and left to die. A Somali sheikh from Baraawe saved him, taught him the Qur’aan and released him after he gained his strength. He changed his name to Nasiib (“Fortunate”) and moved to the town of Hindi, somewhere near the Jubba River. He created his own settlement and subsequently founded his own town which he named Buundo, styling himself the Sultan of Gosha.

He provided a safe haven for former slaves and established law and order in his domain. A skilled diplomat, he initially managed to establish diplomatic ties with Egypt, Zanzibar and later on with the British and Italian colonial authorities. However, he grew restless with the colonial authorities for their oppressiveness and callous nature against the Somali people. Dubbed as the “African Spartacus” by the Italians, Nasiib played a crucial role in the pan-Somali and anti-colonial cause. He held regular communications with the Daraawiish leader, Mohammed Abdulle Hassan, in the north whilst waging attacks against the Italian colonialists in the south. The Italians captured him and some of his followers, moved him to an Italian prison in Mogadishu where he ultimately died in 1906. The pre-1991 Somali government named a street after him in the Boondheere district.

His tales are quite known in the land of Somalis. A northern Somali poet (Maxamed Bulxcan Cawar) mentioned him in his famous poem “dal-mar” in 1896:

… Baraawiyo fadhiya, wabiga baaciisa
Iyana Buundo dabadeed ma cunin bur iyo iidaane
Biddoodkii Kismaayoodna, ways wada bog dooxeene

…settled in Baraawe and the bank of the river
After they passed Buundo, they didn’t eat flour and sauce
And the slaves of Kismaayo stabbed each other’s sides

May Allaah have mercy on Nasiib Buundo

By: Mohamed Ibrahim Shire

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