On the Afar roots of martyr Abdulqadir Mohamed Saleh Kabire

Written by: Hashim Jamal al-Din A-Shami Source: Hedgait

I asked Dr. Hashim Jamal al-Din A-Shami (widely known as Hashim A-Shami)

about the links of late Eritrean politician, martyr Abdulgader Kebire to the Afar and he wrote this note hastily in Arabic and below is a translation of his note, in English. Any mistakes in translation, mine.

"The great and veteran politician, martyr Abdulgadir Mohamed Saleh Kebire, is of Afar-Jeberti origins[1] and was born on Dese island, which is part of the Afar region within the Buri Peninsula. His mother, Fatima Kebir was from the Dahimela tribe. His brother, Ibrahim, lived and was buried in the Qenfur area, near Dese island. Kebire married Zeinab Ishaq Adam from the tribe of Sheikh Adamtu (son of Sheikh Adem). The uncles of his wife are from the tribe of Qaas Sambo. One of Abdulgadir’s sisters, Aisha Kebri was married to Ibrahim from the tribe of Kifertu. His second sister, Madina was married to Rashid Abdu from the 'Ante li Sheikh Ali' tribe It should be noted that his mother Fatima and his sisters, Aisha and Madina died in and were buried in the village of Adai le Dora Dese Peninsula.

There is no doubt that Mr. Abdulgadir Kebire also lived in among the Jeberti in Asmara where he practiced his political and daily life and had children from his Jeberti wife. The influence of the Jeberti community was very important in the formation of his personality, development and the special social status he achieved. It is worthy to note that the Afar, and the Jeberti in general and Argobba (Arab Jebey) had important historical relations in the Sultanate of IFAT. The Ifat Sultanate was dependent on the Emirate of Adal which was in part of the Afar region. The center of the Sultanate of IFAT was in the city of 'Dawe', which is currently part of the Afar region in Ethiopia. It was the hub and zone of influence of the Emirate of Bodaye. Amir Mohamed Bodaye had authority over the city of ‘Dawe’ in the 19th and 20th century and it was the core of his Dahimele tribe.

The jeberti are originally, from the land of IFAT. According to Ibn Saeed, who lived 1214 – 1287 AD, IFAT was also known as the land of the Jeberti (Jeberta)[2] and he stated, “It has a Muslim king and the inhabitants are Muslims from different ethnic groups and IFAT city lies on higher ground.”

Even the historian, Al-Mughrizi pointed that the Welashma family that claims to be from Arabian roots from Al- Hijaz, had settled in the land of al-Jabr (Jeberta)[3].

The great Italian historian, E. Cerulli[4], obtained, during the occupation of Ethiopia by Italy, a document written in Arabic that clearly indicates that there was a Makhzoumi Sultanate in East of Shoa established in 283 according to the Hijra calender corresponding to 896/897 AD and it was destroyed due to internal conflicts and in addition to the invasion of Ali Ibn Waliasma in 1277 AD.

As is well-known to all, Beni Makhzoum is a very famous Mekka tribe, where the great Muslim military leader, Khalid Bin Al Waleed belonged to. The Beni Makhzoum were at odds with Beni Umiah. It is believed that an important part of this tribe migrated to Abyssinia during the Islamic rule of caliph Omar Bin Al Khattab. Thus, one can say, in brief, that the Jeberti are of Arab origin who lived in east Shoa, and especially around the IFAT. As has been stated above the Sultanate of IFAT, had different ethnic groups within it (Afar, Jeberti and Argobba).

In addition to that, the Jeberti had very important contributions to safeguard Islam and to raise its status in Gondar, Tigray, Seraye and Hamassein (Asmara). Due to that, the name Jeberti became tied to Islam such that the Islamic institution, Al Azhar established centuries ago, a special gallery (learning unit) for students from Abyssinia, known as the Jeberta gallery (riwag al jeberta).

The Jeberti, particulary in Seraye and Asmara were dynamic and active in the commercial, cultural, scientific and political fields in Eritrea in the period from 1942 to 1952. They played also big role the preservation and practice of moderate Islam, which believes and calls for moderation and coexistence among the national components, Muslims and non-Muslims. The Grand mufti, Sheikh Ibrahim Mokhtar, a graduate of Al Azhar University, played also a big role in this regard with his reformist directives. In addition to that, the presence of families and members of the Jeberti community, such as the families of Aberra, Hagos, and Khairallah and others played an important role, too. Among the individuals, to name a few were Berhanu Ahmeddin, the veteran and courageous politician, as well as the writer and intellectual, Mahmoud Noor Hussain.

Mahmoud may have been one of the most prominent intellectuals of his time. He was fluent in Italian, Arabic and English languages, and his books in Arabic history and language, including translations of some publications from English and Italian to Arabic and vice versa, was a great contribution. I thus urge for the works of Mahmoud Nour Hussein be published. Thus, the Jeberti activity was not limited to trade, as some components of Eritreans, fond of stereotypes want to portray them. This reflects their shallow understanding of the Jeberti. Some components do this to undermine or do injustice to others.

Abdulgadir Kebire was also married to a Yemeni woman and had children from her. Abdulgadir’s son, Saleh Abdulgadir kebire was an intellectual. He graduated from the American University in Beirut. He was aware of his Afar roots and had close and daily contacts with many of the Afar, while he was the Mayor of Massawa and during his long stay in Addis Ababa, where he practised as a lawyer and later became the Chair of the Ethiopian Lawyers’ Association. During his stay in Massawa and Asmara, he was in contact with his relatives in the Buri Peninsula, especially with his aunt Aisha, who used to visit the family of Abdulgadir Kebire in Asmara. Saleh Kebire died in March 2000 and was buried in Addis Ababa.

It is known that the leader Abdulgadir Kebire was a friend of several Afar dignitaries, including, among others, Sheikh Yassin Mahamodah Qahmed, Sheikh Musa Qaas Mohamed, Sheikh Jamal al-Din Ibrahim Khalil al-Shami, Sheikh Siraj Mohamed Kamel, Haj Mohamed Osman Houri and Sheikh Rashid Ismail Hamid Hassen. Sheikh Siraj Mohamed Kamel was one of the closest friends of Abdulgadir. When World War II broke out, Abdulgadir sent his elder son, Saleh, to Dahlak to study with the family of Sheikh Siraj Mohammed Kamel and under his supervision. Saleh returned to Asmara after the British occupation and the end of the war.

I would like to reiterate again about the importance of the Jebrti’s community in Asmara in the formation and development of the personality of the leader Abdulgadir. There is no doubt that Abdulgadir had all the characteristics of leadership, knowledge and a solid will. He was an intellectual who was loyal to his principles.

To sum up what is important is not a personal affiliation of an individual to a particular tribe or a social component, but what matters most is a person’s achievement to his country and endeavours to raise the value of humanity in general and efforts in achieving freedom and social justice.

On the other hand, it is very important, but not the most important for me (Hashim Jamal al-Din A-Shami) to answer the question by Dr. Mohamed Kheir Omer. It is the right of researchers and citizens to know the background of a public person, particularly about leaders and the people who left their distinguished marks on a particular region or country. “


Right Click

No Right Click