Postponed – Marking 100 years of the Dervish Movement



6:00 pm - 10:00 pm


Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre
School of Oriental and African Studies
Russell Square



In light of the Covid-19 situation and in line with the Government and Public Health England’s advice of Monday 16 March, this event is now postponed to October 2020. A new date will be communicated soon. If you would like a refund, please email
Join us to commemorate the centenary of the Dervish Movement and it’s impact on Somali arts, literature and academia!


In 1920, a Somali colonial resistance movement which spanned over twenty-five years ended through the use of British colonial aerial bombardment, by the Royal Air Force. The war was titled the ‘cheapest war in history’ by British papers and its leader, Mohamed Abdullah Hassan, was forever etched into history as the “Mad Mullah of Somalia”. The year 2020 marks the centennial anniversary of a poignant moment in Somali history but also the remnants of colonialism on the continent of Africa.

To commemorate the Dervish movement, Dr. Said Salah Ahmed, a teaching specialist at the University of Minnesota and internationally-acclaimed poet and cultural historian will join us alongside other historians, academics, researchers and media professionals to provide a brief background on the history of the movement, while demonstrating how it is still relevant to Somalis and Somalia today.


We have partnered with the International Somali Awards to debate the historical impact of the movement in these three key areas:


i) The impact of the Dervish Movement on the post-colonial Somali National Memory.

ii) Dervish influence on post-colonial Somali literature and arts.

iii) The future of Somali academia – specifically Somali Studies in History.


Book your tickets now to learn more about an almost hidden history of East-African colonial resistance and join the conversation!



Dr. Said Salah was previously a biology teacher in Somalia. In 1984-1985, Ahmed directed his first feature film, The Somali Darwiish (alt. The Somalia Dervishes), with Amar Sneh serving as producer. With a budget of $1.8 million, the 4-hour-and-40-minute epic was devoted to the revolutionary Somali Dervish Movement. In the film dialogue you can hear seven languages: Somali, Arabic, Italian, English and three regional dialects. The movie included an actual descendant of Mohamed Abdullah Hassan as its star, Sheikh Osman Mohamoud Omar, and featured hundreds of actors and extras. Following the start of the civil war, Ahmed emigrated to Minnesota. He subsequently wrote a children’s book The Lion’s Share, which served as the basis for a Somali folklore-based play that he both penned and produced for the SteppingStone Theatre. Some of his poems have been translated into English by the Poetry Translation Centre.


Mohammed Artan is a videographer, student of Islamic discipline, publisher, and historian. He was born in Somalia, raised in the Netherlands and, currently lives in England wherein he did his degree in Film & Videography at The University of Northampton, followed by a teaching degree. He taught filming for several years before focusing exclusively on book publishing. He was the founder and managing director of a production company that served as training and educational platform for film producers. He is also the founder and managing director of Looh Press, a publishing company specialising in Islamic, African, and Somali studies resources.


More speakers to be confirmed soon.