Hussein Kaddare, one of the inventors of Somali script, dies

hussein-kaddare-script

Hussein Sheikh Ahmed Kaddare, a renowned author, poet and one of the inventors of the modern Somali language script, died in Mogadishu Sunday. He was 81.

Kaddare, who has been in a hospital in Mogadishu for the past few months, died after battling unspecified illness, government-owned Radio Mogadishu reported.

Kaddare was born in Adale town in Middle Shabelle region in 1934. In the 1950s, he was credited for developing the Kaddare script, which had unique letters with lower and uppercase characters. He worked for Radio Mogadishu in the 1960s as a producer and was one of the first journalists who included sports coverage in the radio’s programmes, according to an interview he gave to the Somali cable channel, Universal TV.

Ahmed Farah Idaajaa, one of the few living Somali language experts, said Kaddare invented a unique writing system for the Somali script in 1958-1959. “When the Somali government was formed in 1960, Kaddare was one of committee members tasked to develop a script for the Somali language,” Idaajaa added.

In 1966, after evaluating the various scripts proposed for the Somali language, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization chose Shire Jama Ahmed’s Latin-based script, which the Somali language currently uses, while Kaddare’s script was chosen as a runner-up, Idaajaa told Radio Mogadishu. Shire died in 1999.

The Somali language was officiated in 1972 by the former Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre.

Harun Maruf, a journalist with the Voice of America’s Somali Service, said Kaddare’s “death ends the entire generation of original Somali script writers.”

In March, Sharif Salah Mohamed Ali, an author and one of the committee members that adopted Somali language script, also died in Mogadishu.

Prominent Somali linguist who invented other writing systems in the 20th century include Osman Yusuf Kenadid, who developed the Osmanya script, and Sheikh Abdirahman Sheikh Noor who came up with the Borama alphabet.

Hana Abukar, a Somali linguist and author who wrote her masters thesis on Kaddare’s work, said Arabic was the official script for the Somali language prior to the official standardization of Latin-based alphabet in 1972.

“Kaddare addressed in his work the various debates in 1972 in Somalia whether or not to retain official use of Arabic script,” Hana said.

Following his death on Sunday, there was an outpouring of grief from Somalis living all over the world.

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