Geeljireyaal – CAMEL HERDSMEN
April 23, 2023

This art piece was crafted in 1989 by the talented young artist, Elmi Dheere.

Golol Gallery boasts an impressive collection of artwork, but there’s one painting that stands out from the rest – Geeljireyaal, meaning “Camel Herdsmen” in English. This painting, crafted in 1989 by the talented young artist Elmi Dheere, captures the essence of Somali culture and tradition in a way that few pieces of art ever have.

In 1989, Mogadishu was still grappling with the aftermath of the Ogaden War and facing a new wave of violence.

Dheere was one of the youth recruited by Ali Said Hassan to join the gallery, but at the time, he was homeless and living off small donations as a street cartoonist in the bustling streets of Mogadishu. He would paint portraits of people in exchange for a few shillings to keep him going. Despite his circumstances, Dheere refused to let his passion for art die, and his talent caught the attention of Ali Said Hassan, who saw his potential and offered him a position at the Golol Art Gallery.

Geeljireyaal was one of Dheere’s first paintings for the gallery, and it reflected the difference between Somali regional-based cultural approaches. The painting focuses on five young men, all with the same hairstyle, which today would be called “Afro,” who hail from Bay and Bakool regions, particularly between Baydhabo and Diinsoor. Growing one’s hair to this size and wearing beads in the neck is a sign of marriage readiness among the young men in these regions.

The painting itself is a masterpiece that captures the beauty of Somali youth, with their striking facial features and unique style. As you gaze at the painting, you can almost feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, smell the lush greenery of the Bay and Bakool regions in the distance, and hear the soft hum of the camels in the background.

Geeljireyaal is not just a painting, it’s a story of resilience, passion, and cultural heritage. It’s a reminder that even in the most challenging circumstances, the human spirit can rise above adversity and create something beautiful. It’s a painting that deserves to be admired and treasured, not just for its artistic value, but for the story it tells and the culture it represents.

It’s a painting that deserves a special place in the heart of every Somali and in the halls of every art gallery.

Golol Gallery