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Archive for November, 2007

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I have been following this story lately and it is surprising how it has escalated over the past few days. Miss Gibbons has been arrested and charged in Sudan for naming or allowing a teddy to be named Mohamed, whichever the case maybe. Whether she named the teddy herself or let her pupils name the teddy is something not known for certain yet. The prosecution team

has completed its investigation and has charged the Briton Gillian [Gibbons] under article 125 of the criminal code

My interpretations of the situation thus far are here:

  • Surely when Miss Gibbons was on her way to Sudan to teach English to the young impoverished kids there she would have taken into consideration the culture of the people there, the religion and the laws and jurisdictions that govern them.
  • If after all this, and while cognisant of the religious aspects and the events of the Danish cartoons just a short while ago now, she managed to name or allowed the children to name the teddy Mohamed, then in all fairness, she was imprudently advised.
  • But if that was an honest mistake on her part, and she never meant any offence, then surely Miss Gibbons must be released.
  • Or is it this case has some underlying political connotations and Miss Gibbons is being used as pawn?

As with everything else nowadays, religion seems to be at the heart of every debate.

It is pretty simple though and the rule is universal. We live in Britain and being the law-abiding citizens that we are, abide by the rules and regulations that govern us here. Conversely, when the Brits go to live abroad, surely they must be expected to abide by the laws of that country, however extreme those laws may be… or don’t go!

 

What do you think…?

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SOMAL

An old lady escapes in a wheelbarrow

Plumes of dust sombrely soar above the once beautiful city of Mogadishu. The putrid smell of decaying bodies and the stench of blood nauseatingly drifts in the atmosphere. In the ravaged streets, the ruthless sounds of bullets, rocket-propelled grenades and rattling gunfire coupled with the loud cries of bewailing mothers form a cruel cacophony. And in their hideouts, the mothers struggle to raise their under-nourished children and lay them in their laps knowing that they would soon breathe their last. They have nothing to feed them. The few buildings that are left now stand derelict and desolate. Life is slowly seeping out of Mogadishu. The last remaining inhabitants are either too weak to relocate or lack the means and wherewithal with which to do so. And the whole world stands unconcerned…

The Somali media has been gagged and more than a million people have been displaced, leading to the worst humanitarian crisis in the continent, and not a brow is lifted?

What is happening in Somalia today is nothing more than a systematic and a well-orchestrated displacement process and here is what I think is happening. The Ethiopians along with the much reviled warlords we have for a “government” intend to:

  • Kill as many Somalis as possible in order to curb/deplete the population
  • Make Mogadishu uninhabitable – so much so that it turns into a ghost city.
  • Repopulate the city with Ethiopian troops that gradually bring their families, relatives and their scrawny tribes to infest it.
  • Move to other cities

And this looks very probable and practical for an army with an implacable hatred for Somalis. But never would it have been possible for a withered nation to invade Somalia had it not been for one of our very own blood…

My God! What has become of us? when have we sunk so low…We live in a world where the perpetrators of crime are supported and applauded whilst the ill-fated victims are disparaged and castigated.

Quote of the Day:
“Injustice everywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”–Martin L. King

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On the wall behind the woman is Salli or Derin. It is mainly used as a prayer mat, but it is also used to sleep on and sometimes it is spread out for the guests to sit on when they arrive. Notice that the man is sitting on one. The object on the wall where the man is leaning on is called Masarafad or sometimes called Masarafad Hilbood. Its main use was to take the large amounts of meat to the guests. The nomads often have many guests and huge quantities of meat is eaten. Receiving a guest with such generosity is often praise worthy and the theme of many verses of poetry. In the Somali culture, where families are judged by their hospitality, Sooryo (receiving guests well) is very important and so is Sagootin (seeing them off well). Now both these items are used for decoration purposes.

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This woman is weaving baskets known as Dambiilo (single – Dambiil). Behind her on the wall is Kebed made from threads obtained from trees and strings. The object on her right handside with the blue and white patterns is called a Masaf or Xaarin and is used to separate soil and the impure particles from maize – a process called Haadin.

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The mysterious containers (on the left) wrapped in a white cloth and laced by a red rope in the middle are called Xeedhooyin or a Xeedho for a single one and are carved out of wood. Though they are used to store food, they are also used mainly for wedding purposes and this is usually in the Northern regions. I will explain this in more detail in another post.

The other two similar containers (on the right) with the one single lace running across the top part are Dhiilo. This is just one of the many types of Dhiil and it is made from Caw. It is usually used in the Northern parts of Somalia.

Between these two sets of containers is a small object. This is called Dabqaad and is carved out of a special stone primarily found in Ceelbuur, in the South and many other Somali regions. It is used for burning Frankincense, Myrrh and other kinds of incense. The coloured object standing on the far wall facing you is called Alool, the other two facing each other are Kebdo (Single – kebed). They are all now used for decoration purposes. The Kebed is primarily used for building and a protection against the strong Jiilaal winds.

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These brilliantly patterned objects are also Dhiilo (single – Dhiil). The object at the forefront, however, is not a Dhiil but a Mooye and is used for grounding spices. These Dhiilo are used throughout Somalia but the methods of making them slightly differ in North and South. The ones above are carved out of wood and are particularly used in the Southern regions of Somalia.

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This is the Dhiil used in the Central and Northern regions of Somalia. Notice the difference between the two. This Dhiil is made out of the Qabo tree and the thin fibres of the Booc tree which are then skilfully interwoven. Both types of Dhiilo are used for storing milk and water.

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Whoever spent some of his childhood years in Somalia would automatically recognise this thing. It is called Garaangar and every child makes his own by hand. I remember running around all day behind my Garaangar knowing that I had the best toy in the world.

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These are the traditional clothes worn by the Somali women. Known as Subeeciyad, it is a one single long cloth draped around the waist and over the shoulders.

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The man you see above is being drenched in milk. A rather strange thing to be doing when you consider that that milk is much needed and many children sleep hungry at night. This is called Caana Shub and the man being treated in such a manner is the Sultan, Ugaas, Caaqil, Nabadoon, a sage or a leader of a certain tribe or region.

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This is how older generations of Somalis dressed and kept their hair. While travelling men usually carry a Barkin to rest their head on and keep their hair from touching the ground.

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Barkin

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This is what a Somali spoon or a Fandhaal looks like. I am sure you can guess what its uses are. It is also carved out of wood.

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Dabqaad.

Note that all these items may have several name variation in different regions of Somalia.

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These are the words to the classic song Soomaali Baan Ahay that I’ve tried to translate. I must say, though, that any translation from Somali to English doesn’t give much justice to the original and doesn’t convey the message accurately. If you spot any mistakes in the translation, or you find any better words to use, please do let me know..

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Sinnaantaan la magac ahay
San-ku-neefle ma oggoli
Inuu iga sarreyn karo
Anna garasho sogordahan
Sooryo ruux ugama dhigo
Soomaali baan ahay!

I share names with equality
A mortal I do not allow
That he surpass me
And allusive words and hints
I confer not on anyone as gifts
I am Somali

Inkastoon sabool ahay
Haddana waan sarriigtaa
Sacabbada ma hoorsado
Saaxiib nimaan nahay
Cadowgayga lama simo
Soomaali baan ahay

Though impoverished I am
Yet my hardships I endure
And my palms I do not extend
A man with whom I am friends
With my enemy I do not rival
I am Somali

Nabaddaan u sahanshaa
Colaaddaan ka salalaa
Soomajeesto goobaha
Ninka nabarka soo sida
Gacantiisa kama sugo
Soomaai baan ahay

I am in a quest for peace
And from enmity I am terrified
But [from the battlefield] I flee not
And the man who brings wounds
From his hands I await not [I launch assault]
I am Somali

Nin I sigay ma nabad galo
Nin isugeyna maba jiro
Libta weli ma sii deyn
Gardarrada ma saacido
Nin xaq lehna cid lama simo
Soomaali baan ahay!

A man who endangers me lives not in peace
And there isn’t a man who did wait for me
Gratitude I have not yet abandoned
Nor do I support not any transgression
And a wronged man I compare not with others
I am Somali

Ninkaan taydu soli karin
Uma yeelo suu rabo
Sida dunida qaarkeed
Sandulleynta ma oggoli
Ninna kabaha uma sido
Soomaali baan ahay

To whom my ways do not appeal
As he wishes I do not comply with
Like some parts of the world
Coercion I do not accept
Nor do I carry any man’s shoes
I am Somali

Ninka Iga sed roonow
Siintaada magaca leh
Ogow kaama sugayee
Hana oran sasabo badaw
Dareen seexda ma lihiye
Somaali baan ahay

O’ you who is wealthier than I
Your offerings for name’s sake
Know that I expect them not
Say not, too, persuade the ignorant
For I have not a conscious that sleeps
I am Somali

Ninna madax salaaxiyo
Kama yeelo seetada
Sasabo ma qaayibo
Sirta waxaan iraahdaa
Saab aan biyaha celin
Soomaali baan ahay

Neither man’s stroking of my head
Nor his lace on my legs [duplicity] do I accept
Persuasion I do not approve
As for secrets [about me] I say
A Saab [vessel] that hold no water
I am Somali

Dabayshaan la socod ahay
Salfudeydna uma kaco
Waabay sunaan ahay
Marna samawadaan ahay
Samir baan hagoogtaa
Soomaali baan ahay

I am of a step with the wind
And on impulse I do not act
I am like fangs of poison [when provoked]
And at times, the bearer of good [when dealt with peace]
I am swathed in patience
I am Somali

Nin I sigay ma nabad galo
Nin isugeyna maba jiro
Libta weli ma sii deyn
Gardarrada ma saacido
Nin xaq lehna cid lama simo
Soomaali baan ahay!

A man who endangers me lives not in peace
And there isn’t a man who did wait for me
Gratitude I have not yet abandoned
Nor do I support not any transgression
And a wronged man I compare not with others
I am Somali

Saan la kala jaraan ahay
Summadi ay ku wada taal,
Rag baa beri I saanyaday
Anoo xoolo soofsada,
Xil midnimo anaa sida,
Soomaali baan ahay

I am like Saan [hide] split into two
That still bears the credentials
Some men once disintegrated me
Whilst I tended to my flocks
[But] the obligation of unity I [still] carry
I am Somali

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During the Jiilaal seasons when winds and scarcity of water hit the parched Somali terrain, the nomads dig wells – Berkedo – to accumulate rain water. Those nomads who live at a distance from the Berked usually water their animals after every 9 to 10 days of thirst, thereby reducing the amount of journeys they’d have to make to the well. On the journeys to the Berked, the drover, walking alongside the herd, guides them into the direction of the Berked. The goats, being the leaders they are, pilot the herd and often seem to automatically recognise where they are going – or at least show the Sheep that they have a clue as to where they are headed. The sheep are naïve creatures and simply follow them. They lag behind and often require gentle whippings from the drover and a pebble-filled canister thrown their way to move them. Sometimes even the whippings of the drover mean little to them because of their insensitive nature and the thick fur that protects them. They have no inclination to move on their own accord and appear to be very sluggish in their movements. Having been driven out early to the watering grounds, the herd is not allowed to graze, but the sheep are often seen nibbling away at the grass.

When soo hor, cries the young herder at the well to the drover for a part of the herd to be released to the Berked, the goats immediately rush headlong into the direction of the Berked, dip their heads into the containers provided and after quenching their thirst, play about joyfully with a rejuvenated oomph. The goats are born leaders – or have qualities resembling a leader’s. They are lively and enthusiastic about life’s prospects, though they are deficient in terms of experience and, some times, competence. The young Waxar gracefully gambols around the Ardaa soon after birth and imitates the Ceesaan, who in turn imitates the Goat (Ri) in its high-pitched bleating.

They are bold and brash, principally driven by an impulsive rush into things. Their skewed judgment of their own vulnerability hinders them from looking further ahead into the possibilities of their actions. Amused by their own frolicking, they are diverted from the flock, though their senses are promptly reawakened by the hint of fox’s presence.

The sheep, however, like inebriated beings in a moment of drunkenness, dawdle absent-mindedly into the open environment, confounded by the happenings. They glance at each other in a moment of murkiness, then at the goats rushing for the Berked and, being the insipid creatures that they are, walk with some trepidation and uncertainty towards the direction taken by the goats, blindly following them. Sheep are rather shallow and slightly slow on the uptake, thereby taking years to respond to little matters requiring little or no brain activity at all. The humdrums of daily existence mean little to the sheep who, in blithe disregard for any perils that lie ahead, graze in the thickest of the forest, unconscious of the darkness that looms and the jeopardy that seeps from within.

By evening when the sun starts its graceful exit from the earth and it’s time to bring the herd home, the sheep walk fatigued as if in a state of infirmity and on a strenuous journey, nibbling away whatever grass they manage to scrounge around. Though in the hindsight they are aware that they would be returning home, their feeble mind convinces them of the possibility of grazing for ever…little do they realise that the cunning fox lurks in the corner burrow and the hyena is dreaming of a succulent meat tonight; even worse, little do they realise that the sun is setting on them and soon darkness will engulf them…

When it rains, the sheep are unruffled by the thunder. They are competent swimmers and will swim through any flood, come what may, despite several losses and injuries. Locking their heads together, they form a ring of black heads in the enclosure around their young one and withstand the pellets of rain. If they find themselves being swept away in a flood, the sheep wriggle their plump bottoms about in the water with their head always above the water – except when overcome by an enormous surge. They somehow manage to swim out of the tide that carries them.

The goats, on the other hand, are expert whiners and their Qalaad could be heard a distance away. Little floods could cause serious inconveniences to their health and a flash of lighting would agitate their nerves. If swept away they have little chance of survival and, as a habit, dip headfirst into the water. They are often heard making a racket of noises as they are seized by the surge.

The ones that perish in the floods, of Sheep and Goats, are never mourned for and the survivors never look back. That the floods could rise once again and swallow them is inconceivable to their brains. Death means nothing to both the Sheep and Goats. One lost Sheep or Goat does not render the average herd from pausing in their graze and reflecting upon the future that awaits them – even if that death occurs right in front of their eyes and a fox devours a young delectable Sabeen!

The Somali population’s mentality differs not much from that of the animals they rear. The general populace, with their Sheep Logic, are desperate to be led, having no capacity within them to do so. They largely follow their whims and desires and though they perceive the goings-on in their surroundings and the chaos that envelops them from within, they are too blasé about them do not comprehend all that they perceive. Their limited mental vision and the grass they graze on obstructs their view from the perils that lie ahead. Living off the handouts of other countries plotting bigger schemes on their country, the Somalis live in a state of almost total unconsciousness.

The elders of that population have passed down years and years of traditions and practices. The chain of Goat Logic is passed down through an uninterrupted chain until it reaches the Waxar. The young ones born either in or outside Somalia, with a developing sense of Waxar Logic, aspire to become just like their parents and are often seen regurgitating their ideas and behaviours. The dwelling of the young ones or their birth place, even if outsie Somalia, does little to change the inherent susceptibility to Sheep Logic which is passed down by the elders. Neither does the Waxar Logic differ much from the Goat (Ri) Logic, nor the Nayl Logic from the Sheep (Lax) Logic. From a young age, the progeny of this type of logic is infested with the endemic Qabiil Syndrome that takes root and eventually turns them into either whiners like their seniors or leaves them in a state of complete insensitivity. The middle aged ones, with a half-lived life and the logic of the Sabeen or Ceesaan, are in no position to change things and inflict the lashing of Qabiil on the growing young ones.

And just like the Goats and Sheep they rear, death is of little significance for they grasp it not. It does not engender a feeling of loss to say the least. The loss of hundreds or perhaps thousands is of no value and moves them not even in the slightest sense. This sense of insensitivity is shared by all and sundry.

The primitive admiration of inherited Goat/Sheep Logic supersedes any new rebellious, counterculture Waxar or Nayl willing to change the long-established and unequivocally revered perceptions of the elders – perceptions which any Ceesaan or Sabeen with a bit of nous would easily rubbish.

Those who rule, with their Goat Logic, are very much short sighted and scatter at the slightest hint of a commotion. They are an impetuous lot and carry huge, impenetrable solid heads above their scraggy shoulders – a weight too much for them to bear and as a result of which they disappear after a short time. With an imprudent penchant for control, they lead their susceptible flock astray into parched fields and dehydrated pastures where the Jiilaal winds have swept away the very remnants of life from the surface.

All in all, Waxar Logic = Ceesaan Logic = Ri Logic and similarly Nayl Logic = Sabeen Logic = Lax Logic.

There is no change in sight…We are all of the same Goat/Sheep

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Somali art, film, music & culture

DIALOGUES IN THE DIASPORA

Sunday, 4th November 2007
7pm-11pm
Hackney Empire, 291 Mare Street, London E8 1EJ
Tickets: £15/ – £20 at the door
Booking: 020 8985 2424/ http://www.hackneyempire.co.uk

Numbi is the largest celebration of Somali culture and music to hit London.

This imaginative and passionate festival is to be held annually in London with a summer/ winter programme, in venues around London – an ongoing research project investigating contemporary arts practice from pre-civil war Somalia to the present day Diaspora. The idea is to invite artists from a variety of disciplines and diverse backgrounds to work as collaborators with practitioners and young people from the Somali Diaspora. Each artist-collaborator has something distinct to bring – our vision is to provide a platform to both emergent and established artists to explore new ways of creating work – in theatre, visual arts, music and film – that draws from the experience of Somali communities around the world. Cultivating cross-cultural artistic collaborations, the festival aims to deliver work that challenges perceptions, fosters genuine representation, and speaks to Somali communities and as well as a diverse audience of the general public.

Artists collaborating on the project include Kinsi Abdulleh, Rashiid Ali, Renee Mussai, Benjamin Samuels, Byron Wallen, Steven Watts and Concrete Stilettos.

Loosely based on the Numbi launch in October 2006, the line-up will include up to 15 artists who will create a unique cross-cultural fusion of contemporary spoken word, poetry, urban hip hop, traditional Somali music and dance, as well as a newly commissioned short performance piece directed by Benjamin Samuels. All work is in English.

Includes contributions from Xudaydi, The Pan Africans, The Nomadix, Jama Damalian Warrior, Mecca2Medina, Prince Abdi, Yusra Warsama, Wiilwaal, plus a special film screening of See Shells , a short film by legendary Somali film director Abdullekadir Ahmed Sead based in south Africa & 4R Knaan‚ + the Numbi Award.

For further info:
kinsi.kudu@talk21.com
079 4953 4402
http://www.myspace.com/kuduarts
http://www.kuduarts.com/

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