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Misunderstandings of Somali Culture

When describing other cultures and peoples of different parts of the world European colonialists have always engaged in so called generalizations of encapsulating all in one basket.  A short cut understanding just to suit their imperialistic purpose of exploitation of use and throw away. They always spoke from a position of power and domination regarding themselves as better than Africans looking down upon who was not white and Christian.

Let’s not forget Richard Burton’s account of his experiences in East Africa in the mid 1800’s and what he wrote about Somalis in his famous book “First Footsteps in East Africa”

“….. true specimens of the “greasy African race,” wear locks dripping with rancid butter, and accuse their citizen brethren of being more like birds than men…………..The head is rather long than round, and generally of the amiable variety, it is gracefully put on the shoulders, belongs equally to Africa and Arabia, and would be exceedingly weak but for the beauty of the brow………They have all the levity and instability of the Negro character; light-minded as the Abyssinians……”. (First Foorsteps in East Africa, Richard Francis Burton Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans, 1856).

Nothing much has changed 14 years after the beginning of the new millennium. Case and point is this brief “article” by  a British fellow who claims to be communication adviser to the president of the Somali Federal Republic. This individual has not understood Somali language and culture, the lexicon and the syllogism. He is absolutely not in the position to critique or call Somali people to be “…quite a xenophobic lot” or referring to his maid as being a stubborn for that is also sexist language.

At least have the decency to keep quiet and be respectful of our Somali culture and traditions. I wish that you were not in our country. |In fact, you do not qualify as being and adviser to our president for you know nothing about Somalia and its people.  Take it from me Caddeey Cameey |(white skin scarred check) who grew up on the history of Dheg dheer ( long ear) and swears by the poems of Cabdullahi Suldaan Timocadde ( white hair). How ironic that you have been given the same nick name of our glorious nationalistic poet.

Leave Somali culture and take the effort to understand its millenarian culture. Sadly, we are going through a tumultuous period of our existence but that does not mean that we have to be looked upon down. We are a fierce and proud people. Just wondering who is rude now!

“Colonies are the outhouses of the European soul, where a fellow can let his pants down and relax, enjoy the smell of his own shit.”
Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

http://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2014/Mar/53507/the_somali_love_of_rude_nicknames.aspx

 

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Somali Women Fall into Barbaric Rape Practices

From now on, whenever I speak about Somalia, I will put it in quotation marks because the Somalia I once knew is no longer there. We now have a “Somalia” that has fragmented in mini so called states where the definition of nation state is no longer applicable. The most troublesome reality of “Somalia” is how women are regarded especially rape victims and the treatment they receive, when they press charges against their assailers. I am mortified to read about this bone chilling news over and over again. If I were to rate a country and its progress, I would assess how women are viewed and how their rights are protected. It is morally and ethically un-Islamic to treat women in such a barbaric and inhumane way.

I just read on Al-Jazira website an article by Hamza Mohamed which talks about how a court in Somalia’s capital has handed down six-month jail sentences to a 19-year-old alleged rape victim and the journalist who interviewed her after convicting them on defamation charges brought by the accused.

The alleged rape victim – a reporter for the UN-funded Kasmo FM radio station – gave a video interview to Mohamed Bashir – a journalist for the Shabelle radio station – in which she alleged she was raped at gunpoint by other journalists working for state-owned Radio Mogadishu. The woman and journalist who interviewed her were arrested soon after those accused filed a defamation suit”.

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The issue at hand remains how violence against women is being used by NGO’s and power hungry individuals to make quick bucks out of the plight of Somali women. The result is more and more women hiding this barbaric act of violence and internalizing it as a normal issue.

The article talks about the situation of  “those who have worked in Mogadishu say any statistics should be treated with much scepticism. “NGOs tell you one number, the government tells you that number is wrong and victims come to you without evidence months later. And we stay away because we can’t tell who is telling the truth. It is impossible to know the true extent of rape in Somalia.” Dahir said.

With journalists threading carefully around rape for fear of arrest or being duped, and NGOs and the government disagreeing on the prevalence of rape, the real victims of sexual and gender-based violence in Somalia will continue to suffer in the dark.

 

As I have said many times, this is the result of a prolonged state of lawlessness and anarchy which resulted in a predatory society that treats its women as animals. We have a long way to go. It could be your sister, your maternal grandmother, your paternal grandmother, your mother, your paternal aunt, your maternal aunt, your friend, your cousin, your neighbour. We are all one family, one nation, one people, one blood.

Reference: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/12/dangers-reporting-rape-somalia-20131261475333929.html

 

 

Social Media and Women’s Rights Discussions

The lesson learned from yesterday’s sentencing of a raped woman and her consecutive  jailing is that the majority of social media users have developed a strong introspective conscience whereby human rights violations have been denounced and seen as an impediment to a just and fair society. Time and time again our nascent federal democracy has already been under vigorous scrutiny for many of us expect to find immediate solutions after a prolonged state of lawlessness.

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Unfortunately, it will be very difficult to change things fast but we can always categorically deny any wrong doings when it comes to human rights and the rights to be who we want to be in our glorious land. Each Somali person has the power to change the language and discourse on how women are treated and most of all deny all sorts of injustices. People back home need to have the chance to develop an individual conscience to voice their concerns and be given the opportunity to be independent without any string attachments.

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The aim is to prepare the terrain for peace and prosperity to flourish and those Somalis who are more privileged than others who have access to means of communication must raise the bar and not act irresponsibly and politicize through primitive clannish lense real issues. We have wasted decades to be a competitive nation in the world so we must act now.

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Institutional Justification of Rape Will Not Mend Rifts Over Violence Against Somali Mothers, Daughters and Sisters

Rape is a serious hideous crime in most judicial systems as it presents specific difficulties with regard to its prosecution and how individual cases are dealt with. It is perpetrated as a means of psychological warfare to be carried out on the populations of occupied territories and regions where civil war strives. Rape and sexual violence are huge problems felt by women and girls who have fled from Somalia, and continue to be internally displaced in their own country. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/video/2012/oct/30/somalia-refugee-camps-women-audio-slideshow )

Not all denounce the violence for fear of suffering new and worse traumatic experiences. Internally displaced women in all regions of Somalia and those who came from small clans are the victims who bear  the brunt of this ordeal.  Rape has become a daily practice in Somalia and refugee camps hosting Somalis in Kenya and Ethiopia for the last two decades. In fact, some refer to it as the “privatization of violence” denouncing the conspiracy of silence that reigns in refugee camps and among the suburbs of Mogadisho and all major Somali towns. No one talks and no one complains. There is a culture of silence that promotes and encourages impunity.

Armed militia based on religion, political factions as well as members of the military are suspected as the main culprits of rapes, beatings, murders against women. But not only that, women are harassed even by underpaid government troops, because they are the weakest of Somali society and all abuse this weakness.

Image  Today’s verdict who found guilty a woman who alleged rape by security forces, and a journalist who interviewed her, is a serious setback for ending sexual violence and protecting press freedom in Somalia. The government should drop its baseless accusation against the journalist and the woman. It is a smack in the face to all Somali women who are the backbone of society whose role assures the survival of a nation.

Now or Never

The Prime Minister of Somalia believes that Turkey’s involvement in Somalia “presented a concrete model” that would allow the country ” to be included in a global economic zone in the East Africa region”  (http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-somali-policy-presents-model-pm-says.aspx?pageID=238&nID=22125&NewsCatID=456).

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In order for that to occur, Somalis must allow more  political power transparency and facilitate the Road Map Process to effectively set in based on Kampala Agreement, Road Map, Garowe I and II Principles, Galkacyo and Addis Ababa Consultative Meetings.

We must also engage the pool of Somali experts in the Diaspora laying the foundation for a republic founded on “democratic technocracy”. We need an enlightened  governing body to implement  scientific solutions as  means of launching Somalia to a new and more prosperous future. This kind of model is the only solution to resolve our social and economic regression.

We need to create a fair and just meritocratic system where  the  better qualified and those who decide the validity of qualifications are the same people, as opposed to being held hostage by oligarchs and spoilers who strive to maintain a certain status quo keeping the majority of the population uneducated and in famine mode. The challenge is now or never.

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This is the only way out to allow Somalia to rise from its ashes. Why? Because a technocratic government is the only option we have to ensure a more effective administrative bureocracy which can effectively manage and distribute resources. Moreover, technocrats are guided by their cognitive problem solving skills, not their personal political capital or clan affiliation.

To conclude and contextualize the technocrat involment is Somali politics, we need to look at development  of partnerships between Africa and the  emergent economies in general, the Chinese in particular and how we need to be on the lookout and safeguard our national interest to avoid exploitation and profit losses. (http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article1909)

 

 

Don’t Search for a Calf Under a Bull

World politics these days relies on the new idea of global compassionate capitalism otherwise referred to “ethical colonialism”. This new ideological brand recognizes the need for interdependence of all the world’s peoples and nations in terms of politics, economy, culture, and environment.

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(picture from The Guardian)

The idea is to encourage the formation of new attitudes and structures which safeguard human sombreness and the common good. The idea of globalized solidarity with African countries like Somalia and the role of Turkey bring about a new shift in global politics.

The recent political and economic engagement of the latter should be contextualized in this order of things where we see a world dominated by transnational enterprises on the lookout for new resources to exploit and enlarge the pockets of transnational elites. Institutional assets of many African countries are put to the test as they become destabilized in order to conform to economic predators.

There are many who are calling for the failure of Davotoglu’s ideology as a failing brand as evolution of global and regional politics in the last three years have jeopardized the credibility, and future of Turkish foreign policy doctrine. This is pure hype.

I strongly believe that the Istanbul Conference on Somalia has a great potential if real stakeholders are allowed to perform freely and lay the foundation to establish a decentralized form of institutional governance and usher in indigenous modes of restructuring the social order for the betterment of rural inhabitants of Somalia, which clearly represent the majority of the overall population.

More voice should be given to educated and professional young Somalis and women who really possess the moral integrity and the intellectual capacity to turn things around. Unfortunately, Somalia has to deal with an oligarchic political and economic corrupted class who is working nonstop to maintain the status quo.

Their mission is to halt and impede any positive outcome Diaspora wise or in the motherland to effectively allow rebuilding Somalia and assist the needy become independent in their quest to increase their civic responsibility. This is the biggest challenge for the so called enlightened ones, those who are fervent nationalists like myself who find themselves over and over again helpless as we are being constantly hit by negative and barbaric self destructive wave.

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One of our greatest sons Nurudin Farah once said “ [We Somalis] we become replicas of the tyrant whom we hate. We hate these warlords, these dictators, and fight against them to the point that we become dictatorial. This is what has destroyed many of the great nationalists in Africa: they became authoritarian, just like the colonialists against whom they fought. A question: What happens when you rid yourself of the monster? You become a monster.”

In essence, this problem is what we need to address and solve immediately, as we look upon Turkey and other countries to become our partners and help us rebuild our glorious motherland.

 

 

Note:

The title is a Turkish proverb, Okuz altinda buzagi aranmaz which literally means do not search for a calf under a bull. In Somali is dibi hoostii weyl a ka deyin.

Love (Jacayl) in the Words of Some Legendary Somali Women Singers

Xaliima Qaliif Magool was one of the most recognizable voices in the musical history of Somalia. Her songs have been the life soundtrack of many generations of Somalis since the 1960’s.

Haddii aad ubax tahay mid aad u uroo udgoon badan baad ahaan lahaydee

If you were a flower/ with a strong scent you would be very fragant.

Genre: Qaraami. Singer: Xaliimo Khaliif ‘‘Magool.’’ No date.

Kapteijns, Lidwien. Women’s Voices in a Man’s World : Women & the Pastoral Tradition in Northern Somali Orature, c.1899-1980.
Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Press, 1999. p 179.

Here she is in another amazing song :

Wax badan bustaha saaray boogtaydoo markii ay bogsan wayday la i baray

For a long time I covered my wounds with blankets When I failed to get better, I was found out

Halkii aad qoontey way i qiiqdahayoo qofkii aan arko waan ka qariyaa

Where you hurt me, I am on fire But I hide this from whomever I meet

Genre: Qaraami. Singer: Xaliimo Khaliif ‘‘Magool.’’ Date unknown, but probably early 1960s.

Kapteijns, Lidwien. Women’s Voices in a Man’s World : Women & the Pastoral Tradition in Northern Somali Orature, c.1899-1980.
Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Press, 1999. p 174.

 

 

Khadra Dahir Cige has long been considered the barbra Streisand of Somalia with her soothing voice and vibrant personality.

Mahiigaan jacayl baan dhex muquurayaa

miraalihiisii midigta igu qaadyoo mawjad baa i sidatee

 Naftu kay u muhatana iga mawanoo waayee.

I am diving into a torrent of love

Its nocturnal thunder storms have taken hold of me  and have swept me away

The one I yearn for is absent and not on my side.

Singer: Khadra Daahir. Song: Mahiigaan, ‘‘Torrential Rain.’’ No date.

Kapteijns, Lidwien. Women’s Voices in a Man’s World : Women & the Pastoral Tradition in Northern Somali Orature, c.1899-1980.
Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Press, 1999. p 176.

Hibo Mohamed

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hcee33mIHF8)

The above link was recorded in 1984 in a tour by the Waaberi Band which took them to Sudan. She currently resides in the Usa.

Sabab kale ha moodinee

 suntaadii habeennadan waan ka seexan waayoo

 seeddahaad i goysay

Xalay baan saqdii dhexe

sariirtaan ku jiifsaday

 sagaal jir ka toosoo

Don’t think it is for any other reason

These nights your poison prevents me from sleeping

You have cut my strength

Last night, in the middle of the night

in the bed where I lay

I woke up nine times.

Singer: Hibo Maxammed. Song: Sabab kale ha moodinee, ‘‘Don’t Think It Is for Any Other Reason.’’ No date. 8.

Kapteijns, Lidwien. Women’s Voices in a Man’s World : Women & the Pastoral Tradition in Northern Somali Orature, c.1899-1980.
Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Press, 1999. p 175.

Maryan Mursal is another legendary singer who lives abroad. She has toures the world  withWaaberi Band and appeared with Nina Simone. Some of her work has been produced by Peter Gabriel’s Real World record label.

Inkastuu asluubiyo adab dumar lahaan jiray

uruguda jacaylkaan la adkeysan waayey

kuu imi inabtow, waxaad odhan se mooyee

 Sida ayridhabankaan kuu ololayaayoo

oon iyo harraad baa hilibkay idleeyee

kuu imi inabtow, waxaad odhan se mooyee.

Although women used to have good manners

I could not endure the sadness of my love

I have come to you, cousin, not knowing what you will say

Like a she-camel whose suckling has stayed behind, I am howling [in frustrated longing]

Thirst has emaciated me

I have come to you, cousin, not knowing what you will say.

Singer: Mariam Mursal. Song: Kuu imi inabtow (Inkastuu asluubiyo adab dumar lahaan jiray), ‘‘I Have Come to You, Cousin.’’ Date: Early or mid1970s. 34.

Kapteijns, Lidwien. Women’s Voices in a Man’s World : Women & the Pastoral Tradition in Northern Somali Orature, c.1899-1980.
Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Press, 1999. p 184.