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Sorry

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Dear Friends and Fellow Bloggers,

Please accept my sincere apologies for I have neglected this corner of mine for a very long time. Though I have no very good reasons to explain my long hiatus, I have been inundated with work and moving houses but will resume posting (hopefully regularly) from now on.

 

As many of you are aware, life as I knew it before has changed tremendously – The life I led as an unbound, young and vibrant man has now given way, justifiably some may say, to the perpetually petulant old bore that sits here guffawing. And in many ways too, that once spirited soul has now been replaced by its mature and more conscientious adult alter ego that is more concerned with fetching bread and milk from the newsagents than blogging.

 

Worry not though, there are many more interesting posts to come once the old bore gets his bearings right…

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Salaam

Greetings all,

I am back after my inexplicable month-long hiatus. Much has been happening lately and that has kept me occupied for over a month or so; so much so that I haven’t even had the time to visit this blog. Bear with me friends, I will resume posting in a few days insha-Allah.

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The Raw Somali 

The Raw Somali

 

The trained Somali

The trained Somali

 

Is there anything wrong with these two images, or is it just me?

 

obtained from JSTOR.

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The Xeedho is a custom usually prevalent in the Northern parts of Somalia. After the wedding is consummated and the bride and groom settle peacefully in their newly constructed home, it is time for opening the Xeedho or as it is called in Somali Xeedho-fur. This usually occurs on the seventh night, – the final night of the seven-day honeymoon period. The roots of Xeedho lie in the pastoral lands with the Somali Nomads. The custom though, is dwindling in the rural areas and has, as of late, taken a great following in the urban areas

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Left: The Xeedho. Middle: The veil is uncovered. Right: Naked

In the olden times the villagers would gather outside the hut of the newly weds and the Xeedho-opening ceremony would take place. The gathering in the city does not differ much from that of the villages as all people congregate in a large hall.

The Xeedho, with its gracefully winding shape is designed with the bride in mind. It actually signifies the bride. As the members of both the families gather around in big circles, the Xeedho is placed in the middle and the ceremony begins.

So it must be tended to as if it were the bride herself and as a result, the opening of the Xeedho has fixed rules and regulations, though many of them are no longer practiced by majority of people. The tradition is slowly dying and losing its formal procedures, some of which are:

  • The Xeedho MUST be opened completely so that the groom can publicly declare the bride as his wife.
  • The groom cannot partake in the opening of the Xeedho
  • A male member from the groom’s tribe, usually a close relative such as a cousin, etc. is chosen to open the knots on the Xeedho. First though, he must take the upper veil off, just as he would a new bride in her wedding gown, and then process with the untying of the ropes.
  • A guard, usually a woman and from the bride’s family, holding a gentle stick stands beside the Xeedho and watches as the man carefully tries to untie the labyrinth of knots. Being one of the few women who spent days and days interweaving the rope on the Xeedho, she knows every opening and every knot.
  • If the man places his hands on the wrong end of the rope, or tries to open the rope from a different knot, the female guard lightly whips him with her stick. That signifies that he has to change the course of his opening of the rope and find a new lead. This will continue until the Xeedho is opened.
  • There is nothing wrong if the man finds the opening end of the Xeedho easily and it is opened quickly, though sometimes this might cause a squabble between the female members of the two parties.
  • There is only one opening of the rope on the Xeedho. This opening is a tiny knot hidden in the maze of ropes. If the man finds the opening, he would simply pull it and it disentangles itself completely – thereby opening the Xeedho.
  • Several male members from the groom’s family will attempt to open the Xeedho, and all that time, the Guard keeps watch for any mistakes.
  • If the Xeedho is not opened that night, they congregation returns the following night to try and open it.

Shafis 628  Shafis 630   

The above images show the untying of the ropes on the Xeedho.

If the relatives of the groom fail to open the Xeedho, a great deal of disgrace follows them wherever they go. The bride is (sometimes) repossessed by her family saying that the groom, whose relatives could not open the Xeedho, will not be capable of catering to the needs of the bride. The women engage in verbal scuffles and a war of songs while the men resort to spiteful words of poetry being recited over a course of time. Sometimes even battles between tribes came about as a result of a Xeedho not opened properly or not opened at all.

Shafis 632 Shafis 633

The two images above reveal the Sati (which the Xeedho is made of) after the removal of the white cloth (Salaq) and the container with the contents.

The white cloth draped around the curvy container is called Salaq. The Xeedho is the complete thing and the outer hard covering that it is contained in is called Sati. Inside the Xeedho is small container with the Subag covered with a thick coating of dates. The dates are mixed with several spices and then ground together to make this chunky substance. It is not just Subag though, but there is also Muqmad/oodkac – small dried meatballs immersed in the Subag. After the successful opening of the Xeedho, its contents I.e. the Subag and Muqmad are distributed among the male members of both families/relatives/attendees. It is customary that the women do not eat from the Xeedho – for them is a special one taken to the girls house which is then distributed accordingly.

Shafis 638  Xeedho 

Left: The thick mixture of dates and spices is sliced open.   Right: Once opened, a rich mixture of Subag and Muqmad lies at the bottom ready to be consumed

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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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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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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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