Education Minister Cuts the Ribbon at the Opening of I.M. Lewis Public Library

Education Minister at the ribbon-cutting ceremony flanked by the deputy minister
Education Minister at the ribbon-cutting ceremony flanked by the deputy minister
Education Minister at the ribbon-cutting ceremony flanked by the deputy minister

By Gulaid Dalha

Hargeisa (Somali Commentator) Amid cheers and applause from the gathered officials of AET and other distinguished guests, the minister of Education and Higher Studies Hon. Abdillahi Ibrahim Habbane had on Tuesday cut the ribbon symbolizing the inaugurtion of IM Lewis Public Library in Hargeisa.

The inaugural ceremony attracted a large number of dignitaries from African Educational Trust top brass officials (AET – the institution that built the library for SL), the Minister of Education of Somaliland Hon. Abdillaahi Ibrahim, the deputy Minister for Education Hon. Yusuf Garas, scholars, professors and intellectuals.

In his remarks, the head of AET in Somaliland Prof. Hassan Embassy welcomed all the guests to the newly built library. Mr Hassan expressed his delight to inaugurate a new, more equipped library for Somaliland people. “It is my pleasure to welcome all of you for the official opening of I.M. Lewis Library as a reminder for Prof I.M. Lewis who really contributed a lot of the Somali history to the outside world ,”said Hassan Embassy, the chairman of AET in Somaliland.

Mrs Julia – a senior member of AET from London also stated the need to keep in mind for what Professor IM Lewis left the Somali people. Mrs. Julia stressed on the vitality to pursue knowledge and find out results after scientific findings. Finally, she urged all Somalilanders to make use of the textbooks in the library.

The deputy Minister for Education and Higher Studies Hon. Yusuf Garas has thanked the AET and its officials for their hard work and commitment to build and equip this unique library for Somaliland. Hon. Garas reiterated the need to improve education through research, reading and study.

Last, but not the least, the Education Minister of Somaliland H.E. Abdillahi Ibrahim Habbane reminded all the participants to double and treble the reading skills which he stated its imperativeness. Mr Habbane emphasised the positive outcomes of the studies and readings. Further, the Minister narrated the history of I.M.Lewis and said, “Professor Lewis’s writings are the most referred books. He was among the top historians, researchers of Somali culture, norms and traditions. Lewis particularly focussed on Somaliland territory and how our people reached plausible solutions to challenging problems.”

Mr Habbane went on further and said, “Somali people are indebted for the work of I.M. Lewis. What really amazing was the way our people tackled lobbying tasks and confrontations among them.

About I.M. Lewis

Prof Said S. Samatar, Rutgers University

Ioan Myrddin Lewis was born on January 30, 1930, in Glasgow (Scotland) to a Scottish mother and a Welsh father.  The parents met in Iraq where the father was a journalist –- maybe an editor as well —of The Mesopotamian Times.  Following marriage, the couple returned to Britain.

Ioan’s early life was spent in London, and when a boy of seven, his father died from tuberculosis, possibly on account of  the gassing he sustained in WW I.  The mother went back with the young Ioan to Glasgow to live with grandparents, to whom the boy was extremely attached.  Ioan completed secondary and college education, respectively at Glasgow High School and University of Glasgow, where the future anthropologist  majored in chemistry.  With the new emphasis after WW II on scientific education in British academia, he took advantage of a grant by the Social Science Research Council, then seeking young scientists to study the social sciences with the aim of making the methods of the latter comport more closely with those of the physical sciences.  He earned a Diploma  and a Master’s at the Oxford Institute of Anthropology, supervised by such academic luminaries as Franz Steiner and the world- renowned E. E. Pritchard, affectionately known as E.P.  by colleagues.  More valuably, Oxford was also where he met the stately Ann, his future wife.

Upon leaving Oxford, Ioan was now ready to enter the working world; he took a job at Chatham House in London as a research assistant to Lord Hailey, working on “The African Survey”.  On account of his supervisors’ interest in Somalia, Lewis’s passion for Somalia was ignited.  And in 1955 Ioan and Ann, who he married in 1950, set out to Somalia  under a grant from the Colonial Office. In Somalia, Ioan, as the phrase goes, “went native,” setting up camp among the nomads, moving with them from grazing grounds to grazing grounds, carrying out  extensive research (1955-1957).  Upon returning to England in 1960, Ioan completed the write- up of his research and received a PhD in Anthropology from Oxford University.  The resulting work from his Somalia research was his masterpiece, A Pastoral Democracy (1961), the  pioneering study that changed the face of social anthropology.  Before and after the completion of his graduate research, Ioan did various stints of lectureships: at the then University of Rhodesia, University of Glasgow and University College, London.

Thereafter, he  joined the faculty of the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1969.  He was 39 years old, the youngest professor in Britain.  Lewis’s oeuvre includes more than a dozen seminal books, dozens of book chapters and scores of razor-sharp articles.  He is survived by his wife, Ann, daughters Joanna and Sally, and son, David.