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Archive for December, 2007

Somalis have suffered much. They have endured much conflict and have lost countless citizens as a result in the past twenty years of fighting. Yet, to this day, no one knows exactly why we went to war in the first place! In order to find a solution to the problems currently facing Somalia, it is imperative to understand and consider the causes of war in the first place. People from all walks of life, inside Somalia as well as the Diaspora, have raked their brains in a futile attempt to understand the Somali problem – the cause of the war and the civil unrest. Their efforts yielded nothing fruitful so far. Their answers, as expected, turned out to be nothing more enlightening than the blameworthy Qabiil which we all know. But there has to be some deeper meaning to be unearthed…

Several attempts have also been made at reconciliation, and they too produced nothing effective of several reasons, which include a Lack of Common Objective – With each and every individual thinking primarily about his/her own concern, then his family’s, then his Jilib’s, his clan’s, his Qabiil’s interest, and his land’s, it is hard for Somalis to have a unified common objective to be progressing forward. We are stuck in a rut!

But how can Somalis have a unified Common Objective when, particularly after the war broke out, they don’t live with each other and every clan lays allegiance to his region and piece of land. I suggest:

 

Land Rotation

Just as the case is in plants, if the crops are left in the same place year after year, the many pests under the soil that thrive on these crops will soon diminish the health and vigour of the plant. The soil needs to be balanced in order to yield good quality crops and it is for this reason that rotating the crops is essential.

The diseases that thrive on Somalis are many, but the incurable Qabiil Syndrome (QS) has reached endemic levels and needs to be curtailed. And as I mentioned QS is nourished primarily by the Somalis’ allegiance to land. So, as to eliminate this I suggest a rotation of land carried out on a massive scale.

Just as it is important to consider that the crop doesn’t have to be in the same place for two years in a row, Somalis should not be allowed to settle the same region or Gobol for more than two years in a row. Then the intrinsic meaning of Nomads shall be applied to all and adhered by all.

People of Bay should be relocated to Mudug and vice versa, people of Awdal to Hiiraan, people of Bari to Shabeelada Hoose, people of Togdheer to Bakool, people of Sanaag to Galguduud, people of Jubbada Dhexe to Sool, people of Gedo to Waqooyi Galbeed, people of Nugaal to Hiiraan and so forth…

Before the rotation begins though, the land needs to be tilled completely. Once the land is tilled, and sprayed of the previous pests and diseases that might have been infesting it for the two years, relocations should start promptly. It is essential that the soil is treated as there are some greedy feeders that have some strong roots and are hard to get rid of.

It is also important to remember that:

  1. No matter how much the crop is rotated, the pest will always find it and soon reach epidemic levels once again – but the more we keep rotating it, the more of a chance we have of curtailing the problem and weakening the pest.
  2. The pest cannot be killed.
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MOGADISHU

 

Another year went by – almost slipped without being noticed much. It has been one long volatile year for Somalia with the arrival of the Ethiopian forces to help the incredibly incompetent Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia. Today the Ethiopian forces have almost obliterated the weak and vulnerable people of Mogadishu and the very government that was supposed to protect the feeble residents has but given the scrawny Ethiopians carte blanche to exercise their authority. The residents of Mogadishu, instead of celebrating the New Year with their loved one, are burying their dead relatives, mourning the deaths of their young one while despondently clinging on to the one thing that unites them all- hope! They are bracing themselves for another year of misery – their cheerless eyes half-heartedly fixed on the perilous road ahead, expectantly awaiting their fortune or misfortune… They have become refugees in their own country!

 

I am hereby wishing the residents of Mogadishu in particular a very Blessed Eid and all the best for the bleak year ahead. The following song is dedicated to them as a show of support. It is patriotic song from the legend Muse ismaciil Qalinle and it is called “Hadii aanan dhulkaygow” Enjoy…

 

Hadii aanan dhulkaygow

Dhuux cadaawe kuu Karin

Hadii aanan dhulkaygow

Dhiig kuugu fool dhiqin

If, for you my land, I don’t

Cook an enemy’s marrow

If, for you my land, I don’t

Rinse your face with blood

Hadii aanan dhulkaygow

Gobanimada soo dhicin

Soomali kama dhalan

If for you my land I don’t

Sovereignty reclaim

I wasn’t born of a Somali

Maalkaaga maan dhaqan

Caanihiisa maan dhamin

Ciidana dhab uma ladin

Your wealth I did not keep

Its milk I did not taste

And the soil I did not truly inhabit

 

Hadii aanan dhulkaygow

Gaaja kuugu dhuubnaan

Hadii aanan dhulkaygow

Dharka kuugu duubnaan

If for you my land I don’t

Become emaciated with hunger

If for you my land I don’t

Become draped in your clothes

 

Hadii aanan dhibaatada

dhexda suunka ku adkayn

Hadii aan dhaxantiyo

milicdaba u dherernaan

Soomali kama dhalan

If for the difficulties I don’t

Fasten my waist with the rope

If the bitter colds I don’t

and the scorching heat endure

I wasn’t born of a Somali

Dhirta miraa kamaan guran

Dhuunigaaga maan cunin

Kuma dhaqaaqin magacaa

The fruits I did not pick from your trees

Your food I did not consume

And your name I did not preserve

Maalkaaga maan dhaqan

Caanihiisa maan dhamin

Ciidana dhab uma lihi

Your wealth I did not keep

Its milk I did not taste

And the soil I did not truly inhabit

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eid-card-2 

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Derv-big copy

click on the above image to read entire letter or click here to read

 

This letter dated January 1904, speaks of of the tragic battle of Jidbaale where so many Somalis lost their lives. Though the Dervishes lost a thousand men in the Battle of Jidbaale, yet the opposing forces led by the British Army also consisted of thousands of Somalis, many of whom lost their lives on that day. Speaking of this battle and other battles the Dervishes engaged in, Ismaciil Mire composed the following poem and speaks about the gravity of the situation.

History has it that Ismaciil Mire and his friend Maxamad camped at some people’s hut one night and a woman charged towards him and accused him of several things, including killing her sons, looting her camels and so forth, in order to set the local men against him in retaliation. Ismaciil Mire was at the time the leader of some regiments of the Dervish army, being the second in the chain of command after the Sayid Mohamed Abdulle Hassan. Relating the tale of the woman and her accusations as well as shedding light on the conditions of the battlefield, Mire said:

 

Gelin dhexe xalaan Maxamadow, geyrtay oo kacaye
Gam’ina waayey hadalkay i tidhi, gacallow naagtiiye
Adigay gabley tidhi markaad, geyshka wadateene

Midnight last night, oh Maxamad, with a jolt I awoke

And I couldn’t sleep, my dear, of what the woman told me

You murdered my offspring, she said, when you with your army came

Waxay tidhi adaa igu gondolay, garangartaan iile
Waxay tidhi aday guridhigoo, ma lihi gaadiide
Waxay tidhi adaa gelengel tubay, garayartaydiiye

She said that you have tied me to this uninhabited wilderness

She said you have rendered me home-bound and I have no camels*

She said you have, in the deserted fields, left my flock of goats

Waxay tidhi guyaalkii adaa, gaajo ii dilaye
Waxay tidhi gurboodkii adaa, geesaha u dhigaye
Guhaadeeda aan jirin bal aan, gabay ka soo qaado

She said you have, over the years, starved me to death

She said you have killed all the youth

Of her false intimidations now, let me recite a poem

Gumburo iyo Cagaarweyne iyo, geedkii Daratoole
Goobtii Jidbaaliyo Xargaga, guuldarradii joogtay
Gembigii ka dhacay Ruuga iyo, gudurigii haagay

At Gumburo* and Cagaarweyne* and the tree of Daratoole*

The location of Jidbaale* and Xargaga*, the defeat that prevailed

The turmoil that took place at Ruuga* and the Guduri* that feasted

Gabooddeeda Beerdhiga wixii, la isku gooraamay
Maydkii gabraday seerigay, Good ku tumanaysay
Gawarkaad maraysaba laftaad, galayaxaa mooddo

The tragedy at Beerdhiga* and the bloody slaughter that ensued

The death that filled the grounds where Good* had trampled upon

On every bank that you tread and the skeletons that dried

Gob ninkii ahaan jirey wuxuu, gibil madoobaadey
Giddigiis naflaa’iga wixii, gobolba meel aaday

When the noblest of men became emaciated with hunger

The entire population, when every region scattered to a place

Dayuuradaha gowliyo wixii, samada guuraayey
Daarihii gelgelintaa noqdiyo, gebiyadii ciiray
Wixii guuldarriyo hoog ka dhacay, dunida guudkeeda

The planes that roared and the things that travelled the sky

The buildings turned to rubble and the walls that collapsed

The defeat and devastation that overwhelmed the world’s pinnacle

Gembiyo jahaadkii arlada, gaday wixii joogay
Gaaliyo Daraawiish wixii, uunka kala gaadhay
Keligey ma wada geysannine, la isku geeryooye

The destruction and holy war that engulfed the earth’s inhabitants

The infidels and Dervishes and between the people what occurred

It’s not only I to blame, for both parties suffered countless casualties

Geyigii rogmaday oo dhan baad, guudka ii sudhiye
Waxbana hay gurraynine dembaad, galabsanaysaaye
Gartaa maaha naag yahay inaad, ii gilgilataaye

All the ravaged land, you have saddled on my head

So accuse me not, for you are only accumulating sin

You have no right, o’ woman, to threaten me

Gashi kaama qabo oo ma layn, gabannadaadiiye
Gambana kaama furan baan u fili, gulufyadaydiiye
Naa gefkiyo beenta daa yaadan gelin, godadkii naareede

I owe you no blood money, and your sons I did not kill

And I don’t think my regiments robbed you of your scarf

So stop the transgression and lies, o’ woman, lest you dwell in the pits of hellfire

 

Gaadiid = the actual meaning of Gaadiid is vehicle of transport. So, since the Nomads’ only means of transportation is the camel, Gaadiid hereby refers to camels for transportation – usually Hayin

Guduri = a bird that feeds on corpses

Gumburo, Cagaarweyne, Daratoole, Jidbaale, Xargaga, Ruuga, and Beerdhiga – These are areas, stretching from the vicinity of Laascanood, and scattered all the way from the Nugaal valley to Burco, are the sites where the Dervishes engaged in battles with the British forces. It is in the battle of Jidbaale where they suffered most casualties. An anonymous man was cited to have said…

 

Abidkeyba meel lagu jabaan jiqila buurnaaye

Dagaalkii jidbaaley ninkii joogey baan ahaye

Ilaahay I jecelaa muxuu jiray arwaaxdayda

I have always dwelled in the horrible places of defeat

I was the man present at the war of Jidbaaley

O’ how God loves me for he has protected my soul

 

p.s I have removed a few lines from the poem containing tribe names simply because some people have the tendency to read tribal names out of context. The lines i have removed too shed more evidence of the disaster that struck the Dervishes.

p.p.s Any corrections/suggestions to the translations would gladly be welcome.

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Continuing on from my previous post on Somali Culture, here are a few other images that I managed to obtain from Somali heritage.

 

culay

Dhiil la Culayo – The woman in this picture is inserting smouldering branches into the Dhiil. Once inserted, they are left inside for a while and then shaken vigorously. This process is called Culid. The burning sticks of wood are known as Culay. When shaken for a while, a black residue is left inside the Dhiil. This process is effective in killing germs and all sorts of bacteria inside the Dhiil. The first milk that is poured into this vessel is said to taste very sweet.

Maybe Cawrala knew the taste of such milk and hence sought to entice her lover, Calimaax, with it by saying:

Casarkii haddaan weel la culay, caano kugu siiyo

Cishihii haddaan sarar cusba leh, kugu cashaysiiyo,

Oo waa caafimaad rage haddaan, cagaha kuu duu go

 

if by evening if provide you with milk from a shaken vessel (dhiil)

and by night feed you with salted morsels of steak

it is in the health of men, if I rub your feet

Do not confuse this with the process of Lullid – which is where milk is put into a vessel (Haan is always for this process, never a Dhiil) and then placed horizontally on the floor. It is then shaken vigorously by rolling it to and fro on a pillow or a cloth placed on the floor to separate the fat (Subag) from the milk. The Subag comes out thick. It is constantly checked by tasting or feeling for the thickness of the fat that forms on the surface and finally when all separates and the Subag is taken out, what is left is pure sweet milk.

The Haan, however, also undergoes a similar process to disinfect it. The process is called Aslid (haanta waa la aslaa lama Culo). This is done by collecting the bark from the roots (and sometimes stem) of trees such as the Qaroor and Muxur and Muqlo and then cooking them in water. The bark obtained is often reddish/reddish-brown in colour and a reddish mixture is the result of the cooking. This is called Asal. This Asal is then poured into the Haan and shaken to ensure that it reaches everywhere.

Update: While the Haan is being disinfected, women usually sing songs to accompany the routine. One of them is:

Garangara lagaa goosey
Geed dheer lagaa soo lul

Laba qaylo kaa yeedhay
laba qaalin kula buubtay

Laba qaar laguu kala jar
Geeljire ku qooraansey

May a Garangar be made out of you
May you be hanged from a tall tree

May two scream be heard from you
May adolescent camels fly with you

May you be cut into two pieces
May a camel herder ogle you

The Haan is never used without Asal being applied to it first. The Asal is left in the Haan for several days to disinfect it and mend any tiny holes it may have had. The Asal is also used as a coating for the Dhigo, Udbo, and lool branches used for building the Somali hut (explained here).

The Qarbad/Xab (the hide used to store water) also undergoes the process of Aslid. After this process is applied to the Qarbad, the water that is stored afterwards tastes very sweet and is reddish/brown in colour. The Galool tree is used in this process.

 

 1

Masaf/Xaarin – This is the same Masaf I’ve explained earlier in Somali Culture. It is used to separate impure particles from maize and is used particularly in the Southern regions of Somalia, since farming is almost non-existent in the drier North. After harvesting the maize, first the corn seeds are put in a Mooye mixed with a few drops of water and ground slightly – leaving the maize (Galley) seeds on their own, then the seeds are spread out in a Masaf/Xaarin above and left to dry in the sun. The Galley is now refered to as Galley buusha baxsan – meaning that the actual Galley seeds are left with all impurities and coverings removed. The Galley is then either ground to be cooked as soor or cooked in its state.

 

Babis

Babis – a Somali hand-held fan made from Caw.

 

Dhiil Dhiil 3 Dhiil 2 Dhiil 4

Above are different types of Dhiilo (sing. Dhiil). All the above Dhiilo are carved out of wood and are used in the Southern regions of Somalia. Nothern Dhiilo are not carved out of wood, but made from Caw and special tree fibres. The Dhiil on the top left is decorated with Aleel or tiny sea shells.

 

Gambar

Gambar – This is the classic Somali stool called made from cow’s hide.

 

heritage

Various forms of Somali arts and crafts. In front of the wooden camels are two carved wooden bells called Koor. These are tied to the camel’s neck.

 

Salliderin

Salli/Derin – this is another design of the same Salli/Derin I’ve explained earlier here.

 

xaaqin

Xaaqin – made from the leftovers of Caw. This is a brush used for sweeping the house/hut.

 

SaqafWaft 

Saqaf – This is a Somali comb. The original name of this comb is Wafti.

 

Birjiko

Birjiko – A Somali stove. Food cooked using one of these is only matched in taste by the food cooked using this Dhardhaar. ;)

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Salaamu Calaykum dear friends,

I have been rather busy lately and have been unable to update this blog, and probably would not be able to do so for the next few days either. So, until we meet again in a few day’s time, I shall leave you with this brilliant video. Do enjoy…

Native, I haven’t forgotten about the Somali weddings account
and as I promised you I will bring you an extensive write-up of what the custom
entails. Bear with me…

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