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Osman Yusuf Kenadid ( , ) was a Somali poet and ruler.


In the early 1920s, in response to a national campaign to settle on a standard orthography for the Somali language (which had long lost its ancient script), Kenadid, a leader in the Majeerteen Sultanate of Hobyo in Somaliamarker and nephew of Sultan Yusuf Ali Kenadid, devised a phonetically sophisticated alphabet called Osmanya for representing the sounds of Somali.

Kenadid's Osmanya alphabet was subsequently introduced into the local schools in his Sultanate. When the Italian colonial authorities got wind of this, they promptly imprisoned him in Mogadishumarker since they feared that the script was a manifestation of nationalism. With Kenadid's arrest, all efforts to develop a standard orthography for the Somali language abruptly came to a halt for the next 25 years.

The rise of nationalist sentiment that followed the end of the Second World War – and especially the birth of the Somali Youth League political party, of which Kenadid was a founding member – brought about a revival of interest in and use of the Osmanya script. This renaissance would last until the government of then President of Somalia Mohamed Siad Barre unilaterally elected in 1972 to make the modified Latin script devised by Shire Jama Ahmed the nation's official writing script.

See also


  1. Ministry of Information and National Guidance, Somalia, The writing of the Somali language, (Ministry of Information and National Guidance: 1974), p.5
  2. Irving Kaplan, Area handbook for Somalia, (U.S. Govt. Print. Off.: 1969), p.73
  3. Institute of African/American Relations (U.S.), Africa special report: bulletin of the Institute of African/American Relations, Volumes 8-9, (The Institute: 1963), p.17
  4. Mohamed Diriye Abdullahi, Culture and Customs of Somalia, (Greenwood Press: 2001), p.73


  • Kaplan, Irving, Area Handbook for Somalia, (University of Virginia: 1977)
  • Lewis, I.M., Saints and Somalis: Popular Islam in a Clan-based Society, (Red Sea Press: 1998))

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