Africa

Tributes to Somali composer Ali Sugule Egal who dies aged 80

Ali Sugule Egal Image copyright Courtesy former Raad TV
Image caption Ali Sugule Egal composed songs that are still regarded as anthems of national pride in Somalia

Tributes are being paid to legendary Somali composer, playwright, actor and poet Ali Sugule Egal, who has died at the age of 80.

Mr Egal, who founded the Hargeisa Brothers music band, died at his home in the United Arab Emirates on Monday.

He was born in the self-declared republic of Somaliland, whose president tweeted his condolences to the family and the people of Somaliland.

A state funeral will be held for him on Thursday in the capital, Hargeisa.

Fellow artists have been paying tribute to him on local radio stations across the country.

BBC Somali service's Abdirahman Koronto says the Hargeisa Brothers, formed in the late 1950s, was Somalia's first band.

Mr Egal was also credited with producing some of the country's most successful artistes, he says.

The composer shot to prominence in the 1960s in the years after Somalia's independence when he composed songs that are still regarded as anthems of national pride.

His anti-government songs led to his arrest on several occasions during the military regime of Muhammad Siad Barre.

President Barre ruled Somalia for 21 years before his removal from power by an armed opposition in 1991, which prompted the region of Somaliland to breakaway.

Mr Egal moved to the United Arab Emirates when the whole country descended into a two-decade civil war, dominated by clan and religious-based violence.

He effectively retired when he left Somalia, but still made the odd appearance at events organised by the Somali diaspora.

Officials in Somaliland say his body will be flown back home on Thursday for burial.

Mr Egal is survived by two sons and eight daughters.

Tributes have also been paid by hundreds of people on the BBC Somali service Facebook page

Others have been talking about his death on Twitter with one person alluding to him dying on the same day as British singer David Bowie, tweeting: "Ali Sugule Egal - Stars looking very different today".

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