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Somalia National University

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Title: Somalia National University  
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Subject: Somalia, SNU, History of Somalia (1991–2006), Asha Haji Elmi, List of universities in Somalia
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Somalia National University

Somali National University
Established 1954
Type Public

Mogadishu, Banaadir, Somalia
2°02′17″N 45°17′13″E / 2.038°N 45.287°E / 2.038; 45.287Coordinates: 2°02′17″N 45°17′13″E / 2.038°N 45.287°E / 2.038; 45.287

Campus Urban
Former names Gaheyr University

The Somali National University (SNU; Somali: Jaamacada Ummada Soomaaliyeed) was a national university in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. Its campus grounds were located four kilometers from the airport.



The Somali National University was established in 1954. Its main university grounds were situated about six kilometers from the city center. Here, during the institution's first thirty years, the main campus was known as Jaamacada Gaheyr ("Gaheyr University").[1]

In 1973, under the new revolutionary leadership system of the military government, programs and facilities were expanded. The SNU developed over the next twenty years into an expansive institution of higher learning, with 13 departments and half a dozen outposts dispersed throughout the country.

Under the Somali Revolutionary Government, the Ministry of Higher Learning and Culture established research centers in a number of cities, with the goal of developing regional economies. These learning centers were aimed at employees from such ministries as the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Livestock and Forestry Management. Skilled and knowledgeable staff graduated from these centres.

In the mid-1970s, the teaching college of Lafoole University (one of SNU's remote campuses) was made a stand-alone institution ("Lafoole Teacher's College") with the help of the US Corps. The language of instruction was English.

Due to extensive damage to its facilities as well as the difficulty of holding classes and acquiring books and other necessities in the wake of the civil war in Somalia, classes at the university have been indefinitely suspended.

Language of instruction

Italian was the Somali National University's primary language of instruction. The university's main campus was situated in Mogadishu, where residents were already familiar with the Italian language.

From 1973 onward, Somali and English were introduced as additional languages of instruction. All programs at Lafoole College were taught in English. Across the country, there were programs in Af Soomaali run by the Ministry of Culture and Higher Education, the government ministry responsible for scholastic instruction.

When the Somali linguist Shire Jama Ahmed's modified Latin script was chosen by the Siad Barre administration as the nation's official orthography, Somali language courses began to spring up throughout the country. The language of instruction in primary and secondary schools also became Somali.


The Somali National University had three main campuses. The first campus, Gaheyr, opened in 1954 and was located at KM 6 (on the Afgooye Road, 6 km from downtown Mogadishu). There were also new expansion buildings across from Gaheyr Campus. The new buildings took some years to complete and were situated on the other side of the Afgoi road, facing Gaheyr.

Most of the new buildings had some sort of circular design to them, and the engineer who designed them was unofficially nicknamed "Engineer O" by the students. The lights from the lamp posts on the Somali National University's campus grounds added to the bright lights of Mogadishu.

The SNU campuses were:

  1. Gaheyr – Mogadishu at KM 6
  2. Digfeer – Medical school near Digfeer Hospital in Mogadishu
  3. Lafoole Teaching College – Lafoole


The fifteen departments of the Somali National University were:

  1. Department of Sharia Law
  2. Department of Linguistics (Somali, Arabic, English, German, and Italian)
  3. Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Husbandry[2]
  4. Department of Education (Teaching College at Lafoole; 20 km west of Mogadishu)
  5. Department of Agriculture
  6. Department of Geology and Mining
  7. Department of Medicine (College of Medicine; near Digfeer Hospital)
  8. Department of Chemical/Industrial Engineering
  9. Department of History
  10. Department of Geography
  11. Department of Science
  12. Department of Mathematics
  13. Department of Public Health
  14. Department of Engineering
  15. Department of Political Science

Notable alumni

Notable alumni of the Somali National University include:

  • Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid – Prime Minister of Somalia
  • Abdirahman Mohamud Farole – President of Puntland
  • Abdiweli Mohamed Ali – former Prime Minister of Somalia
  • Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed – former President of Somalia, President of Puntland and leader in the Somali Salvation Democratic Front, and one of the founders of the Puntland State of Somalia and the Somali Salvation Democratic Front
  • Abdulqawi Yusuf – international lawyer and judge with the International Court of Justice
  • Ali Said Faqi – scientist and leading researcher in toxicology
  • Asha Haji Elmi – peace activist and MP
  • Asha Jama – Somali-Canadian activist
  • Hawa Abdi – humanitarian and physician
  • Hassan Abshir Farah – former Prime Minister of Somalia
  • Hassan Sheikh Mohamud – President of Somalia
  • Jama Musse Jama – ethnomathematician and author
  • Mohamed Osman Jawari – Speaker of the Federal Parliament of Somalia
  • Nur Hassan Hussein – former Prime Minister of Somalia
  • Warsame Ali – scientist and co-founder of the Somali Development Foundation
  • Yusuf Garaad Omar – former journalist and head of BBC Somali Service

Dr. Mohamed W. Dualeh Senior Global Public Health Adviser (UNHCR).


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