Renowned Somali Musician Dies of COVID-19 Complications

WASHINGTON –  (WARSOOR) – A renowned Somali musician and oud player, Mohamud Ismail Hussein, commonly known as Hudeydi, died on Tuesday night in London, as a result of complications of COVID-19.

The 92-year-old musician had been popular among Somalis in the Horn of Africa and around the world since the 1950s, when he started performing in theaters and at concerts throughout the region.

“He was a musician, poet and songwriter in his nearly six-decade-long career. I cannot sum up his rich music history,” said veteran Somali artist Abdi Dhuh. “I can say he immensely contributed to the Somali arts scene.”

He becomes the second high-profile Somali claimed by COVID-19 in London. A week ago, former Somali prime minister Nur Hassan Hussein died of coronavirus at a London hospital.

Hudeydi was born in 1928 in Berbera, North West Somalia.  In a recent interview with VOA Somalia’s Qubanaha TV show, he said that he started playing oud, when he was 18 years old. “If there’s an oud lying near me, I couldn’t resist it but grab and play it,” he said.
He made a name for himself in Somalia during the 1950s and 1960s, performing in Somalia’s theaters.

Another Somali artist, Mohamed Hassan Barrow, said “Hudeydi was a Somali music and national icon, patriot, and I remember him with the love songs he wrote and how he played oud.” 

Somali artist Fadum Ali Nakruma, who performed some of the songs Hudeydi wrote, described him as a “father” for many Somali artists.

“He was like a father for us, and we remember his love for oud playing. We really [will miss] a legend,” she said.

Hudeydi moved to Britain in 1974, where he continued to create music and perform. 

In 2018, the International Somali Awards honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in London.

Seynab Abukar contributed to this report.