Maxamed Xaashi Dhamac ‘Gaarriye’: Rejecting the Stains of Silence

Ubaji Isiaka Abubakar Eazy 

Very few understand the power in words. Not all know of how a few damaging words could ignite a conflagration or spark off a revolution. Not all know, but oppressors know this and they fear the man of words. They fear the man who refuses to tow the path of silence or become a parrot that sings for rewards of peanuts. This explains why writers are often the targets of repressive regimes. Maxamed Xaashi Dhamac popularly known as Gaarriye is one of such rare men who sees silence as a blemish and refuses to indulge in it despite intimidations from a brutal government regime. Indeed, the voice of a poet is golden, and it is a voice that calls for caution even as it appeals to the ears of all.

Today, I hold in my hands a translated version of Gaarriye’s poems and his biography entitled Maxamed Xaashi Dhamac “Gaarriye:” Biography and Poems (translated by W N Herbert et al, and edited by Jama Musse Jama) and I am compelled to write this review after meeting the words of this great poet, albeit in a translated format.

Gaarriye’s poems in this collection are either political or about love. His love poems are elegant, and they reveal a lot about the Somali culture and the topography of the Somali society. His political poems, on the other hand, are combatant and come packed with justifiable anger for Gaarriye is the soldier poet whose only weapon is a pen that shoots words. This is why he says in the first poem in this collection thus:

 

More importantly, Gaarriye’s political poems also exhibit the poet’s defiance to those in positions of power. Shall we now enter into the realm of the poem? Let’s see them then.

‘Mandela’ is the first poem you encounter in the collection, and as the name suggests, it is about the South African freedom fighter who demolished the wall of apartheid, Nelson Mandela. The poem is a voice in support of the cause of democracy and freedom which Mandela represents and has come to symbolize, not only in South Africa, but in the world as a whole. Gaarriye recognises the racial dichotomy in the South African society with the Whites being the oppressors and Blacks being the oppressed. He emphasises that Mandela cannot win a case heavily tilted against him, certainly not when the laws he will be judged with emanates from the white oppressors, not when:

The Oppressor comes into court.

He is the Prosecutor,
He is the Judge and Jury;

There is no ‘win or lose’ –

The case is cut and dried.

The Defendant stands alone.

The Prosecutor calls

Himself as Witness – yes,

The Judge upholds the law

That he himself created:
It changes as he chooses.

The Jury only knows
One word – the word is ‘Guilty’.

Indeed, ‘Guilty’ it is for when has it ever been heard that the rat is judged innocent in court owned and controlled by a clowder? Gaarriye hopes that his poem will continue to propagate Mandela ideology of a democratic and free society even if Mandela is gagged by incarceration.

However, we must point out that while the poem hopes to propel’s Mandela’s ideology, it is even more an attack on the repressive military regime of the then Somalia dictator, Siad Barre. It is at this point that we begin to see Gaarriye’s shrewdness as a poet.

You see, while Black Africans were struggling against the system of racial segregation infamously known as Apartheid in South Africa, Somalia was also contending against the oppressive regime of Siad Barre. It was an autocratic system of government that antagonises democratic and libertarian ideals similar to what Mandela and his compeers were up against in South Africa, the only difference being perhaps that the case of Somalia was not racially influenced. Nonetheless, it was still the same case of oppressors and the oppressed; this is how Gaarriye wants us to see things. Mandela’s plight in South Africa therefore becomes a facade for throwing concealed punches at the poet’s home government and a rallying cry to awaken the oppressed. Evidence of this lies in the last three stanzas of the poem where the poet calls on fellow griots (Abu Hadra and Hadraawi) and pleads that they listen to him, he intimates that the poem infers more than its surface meaning when he mentions that it is only by listening that they can understand ‘the blade’ hidden deep within the poem. He also calls the poem ‘a mirror’ when he calls on Hadraawi to listen to him thereby suggesting the similarity of the problem in South Africa to that of Somalia:

So listen, Abu Hadra!
If you will listen, others

Will listen too, will hear

The words as if Mandela

Was calling them to arms.
They’ll grasp the blade that’s hidden

Deep inside this poem;
They’ll show the Judge and Jury

The cutting-edge of freedom;

They’ll show the Prosecutor

The blade that lasts forever;
They’ll never bow their heads

Or walk in chains and fetters.

This poem is a mirror
I’ve made for us, Hadraawi,

A mirror we can hold up

To show the ignoramus
The depth of self-deception

That lies in his reflection;
To show the Judge and Jury

How the wide world sees them;

To show the man who takes

Pleasure in pain the guern
Of glee that warps his smile.

Hadraawi, read this poem

To anyone who’ll listen.
Help them to find the voice

I’ve given to Mandela.

And tell them this: our purpose
Is peace; our password ‘Freedom’;

Our aim, equality;
Our way the way of light.

However, poets are not just soldiers of words, they are also the vanguards of society; they are Tiresias guiding the people in the way they should go, they are prophets who must choose never to compromise their truth and sense of justice for mendacity and injustice. And it is this that we see in another of Gaarriye’s poems titled “Seer”. In this poem, Gaarriye recognises the important role of poets and poetry in the society and urges poet to never compromise. This poem is in two parts and written using a flashback technique whereby Gaarriye recalls the words of his female guardian; Biliso; to him. In the first part, he (Gaarriye) says she taught him that poetry is ‘the best words for the best thoughts’ and advised him to always stick with the truth no matter what happens:

Justice is your only compost,

life itself is what you hoe:
just squeeze truth from what happens

and in its own time it will sprout.

She also tells him that poetry is not for charlatans whose stock in trade is lies because they want to cavort with the oppressors. She warns him that the art of poetry must be kept pure and not be betrayed or cheapened by being sold for a price. She says poetry:

guides you like a conch shell horn,

the call of the large camel bell;
it is the words’ own bugle.
It is the finest matting, woven for a bride,

the one the song calls ‘Refuser of poor suitors’.

It’s not sold for coppers,
it’s not for praising the powerful;

to put a price on it, any price,

cheapens it and is forbidden.

‘It’s riding bareback on an unbroken horse –

you don’t hobble its heels.
Those who fear for their hides

and won’t ride without a saddle,
those lacking in the craft, can’t get near this:

lies have nothing to do with it.
Poetry is a woman you do not betray,

to abuse her beauty is a sin.’

By recalling the words of his aunt and guardian, Gaarriye hopes to leave a great impression on the minds of fellow poets whose major preoccupation includes subduing the truth while singing eulogies of the political class. He warns them not to swap the truth in their poem for a pocket lift.

It is the voice of Biliso we meet still in the second part of the poem at hand (‘Seer’). And this time, she tells of the emotional fulfillment that the well written poem endows both the poet and its readers.

‘Self-Misunderstood’ is written in a form of poetic soliloquy whereby we are made to listen in on the poet’s thoughts as he attempts to understand his second self. This second self can be described as his conscience and we hear the poet speak to this second self. Both aspect of the same person seem to be in constant conflict for Gaarriye makes us to understand in this poem that there seem to be more than one Gaarriye occupying one body and while one wants to be careful, the other is unafraid of pushing forth the truth, even if it means getting into trouble with the powers that be:

Curious, gregarious, garrulous self,
did you fail to grasp the stifling norms?
To quarrel with those who rap our knuckles

for whom only their diktats
need be acknowledged,

and not what you conclude:

More than a mere issue of a poet trying to come to grasp with his inner self, Gaarriye is here telling us that even if Gaarriye as an ordinary man becomes jittery and wants to subdue truth, Gaarriye the poet will never choose the path of silence—the poet in Gaarriye will keep upholding what he knows to be true and stand by it.

The poem ‘Kudu’ is written in a folkloric style about a man-servant who had the intelligence of his king growing a pair of horns from the frontal lobe of his head like that of kudu. The man-servant was afraid to let this secret out for fear of being eliminated and the secret kept ballooning in him till he got frustrated and had to dig a hole in the earth to whisper this secret into it before burying it there. Much later and strange enough, horns kept

sprouting from the spot where this secret is buried any time soft rains touches the soil there.

Kudu is a species of horned antelope and the story is an allegory with the king representing the rulers of the country, his horns are the evil deeds he engages in, and the man-servant is the poet who cannot stomach the sight of evil and maintain silence, he must vomit his thoughts. And whenever the poet thoughts are planted, they will keep sprouting like seeds whose soil has been softened by rain water.

The implication of this poem (‘Kudu’) is that any attempt to silence the poet is worthless for truth cannot be buried. Try as much as you can, it will keep rejuvenating. Gaarriye shows us one of the fundamental employments of the African folktale in this poem. Folktales are not just stories of animals; they carry with them elements of culture and important messages in codes passed from generation to generation.

It is important to point out the similarity of style in ‘Kudu’ and the poem ‘Seer’ already discussed above. Both poems are related using the flashback technique, but whereas we hear the voice of Gaarriye aunt (Biliso) in ‘Seer’, it is the voice of Gaarriye’s father we interact with in ‘Kudu’.

It was Ben Jonson, a contemporary of William Shakespeare, who once wrote that ‘No text is innocent’ and indeed, it would be wrong for us to say he was far from the truth. Knowing the kind of despotic regime under which Gaarriye practised his art, it is understandable that he had to encapsulate his ideas in poetic diction. We have seen this in the poems titled ‘Kudu’ and ‘Seer’, and we see it again in another poem titled ‘Arrogance’. The poem ‘Arrogance’ reads like a warning to mankind to desist from being egotists and stop arrogating any inflated self of importance to human existence fornothing was created for mankind; all will continue to be even when mankind ceases to exist. The poem is most probably another hidden blow to those who deify themselves because they have managed to corner political power. He uses the poem to remind them that that the world will continue long after they are gone, that none is made to be subservient for all creatures are equal. The clue to this interpretation lies in the final stanza of this poem where Gaarriye points out that:

Of everything which is, half is secret –

however things appear
the meaning is always deeper.

Much politics shrouded the choice of the Somali language orthography before Siad Barre made a decree favouring the use of Latin letters. The pronouncement was a widely celebrated feat, and it drew the attention of poets who wrote in commemoration of that event. Even Hadraawi had written a poem titled ‘Settling the Somali Language’ in honour of that pronouncement. ‘A to Z’ is Garriye’s contribution to the archive of poems on the same subject. I think this poem was written much earlier than other poems, perhaps at a time when Siad Barre represented the salvation of the Somali race rather than its shredder to many like Gaarriye. It is also the only poem in the collection where Gaarriye eulogies the Siad Barre’s regime. This shows us that the poet is not just been petty or bitter, he knows when things are good, and says them but he never would accept silence in the face of tyranny and oppression.

‘Mandela’ is not the only poem where we get to see Gaarriye tackling suppression outside his home country. He also goes for the jugular of the United States of America’s government after she used her veto power to disallow a newly independent Angola from joining NATO. This event did notsit well with Gaarriye who employed rhetorical questions in the poem ‘Watergate’ to interrogate president Carter and lash out at the government of the United States mentioning it many atrocities, including the deaths of Dr Martin Luther King Jr and Malcom X, the execution of the Vietnam War, and the idea behind gifting off Palestinian land to Israelis. Gaarriye detests suppression and would reel out words against it wherever he sees it. It is perhaps this same reason which inspired his poem titled ‘Death of a Princess’.

Love hath the power to turn a cat into a lioness. We see this in the poem titled ‘Death of a Princess’. The poem is a tragic one and it is based on an actual incidence in the 1980s. It is about a Jedda princess named Misha’al who was executed for refusing the man her parent chose for her and trying to elope with her lover whom she had met while studying in the university. Her lover was made to watch her being shot before he was also beheaded. Gaarriye tells us in the poem of how the young lady defiled all else; including her family and the laws of the land she hails from; to consummate her love with her lover and thereby leading to the punishment of death for both lovers. Gaarriye points out to us that love is an uncontrollable fire for everyone is subject to its hallucinations, and he urges us never to forget the tragic event.

Typical of Gaarriye, he is that man who cannot stand oppression or suppression and denial of human rights anywhere in the world. And although the poem can be considered a love poem, ‘Death of a Princess’ reads more as a voice of protest against human rights abuse in the kingdom of Saudi.

Gaarriye love poems show an adoration of feminine beauty by showing how they either compare or contrast with natural phenomenon. In ‘Passing Cloud’, we see a poem persona comparing a girl’s beauty with the setting sun. He claims that when brought in confrontation with the girl’s beauty, the setting sun goes into hiding for the girl’s beauty surpasses that of the sun. Lastly, he recalls a fleeting moment of eye contact between them. The use of a refrain in this poem suggests the musical quality of the poem and personification makes the imagery come alive. After reading this poem, I am reminded of William Wordsworth ‘The Solitary Reaper’.

As I have observed with Gaarriye, his style of poetry is quite traditional and oral based. It is a kind of poetry that operates on a call and response system, this is why Gaarriye continues to invite fellow poets into his poems and ask them to respond to the poems. This is evident in the poem Mandela, and it can be found in the poem ‘She’ where he calls on Hadraawi (an equally prominent poet and Gaarriye’s friend) to respond to his poem.

‘She’ praises a young woman which the poet dubs Catiya. For the poet, Catiya symbolises an image of the perfect African beauty much as Leopold Sedar Senghor’s Naeet in his ‘I will Pronounce your Name’. Perhaps, the fascinating aspect of this poem are the images the poet calls up to define Catiya’s beauty. He employs rhetorical question to compare her to ‘milk’, ‘clouds giving rain’, and ‘green growth in the rainfall’. These images are important states of nature valued by the Somalis. For the Somalis, milk (gotten from their camels) is a staple food, and it is cherished by all. Also, for a people with its major populace engaged in animal husbandry, drought is detested in favour of rainfall and the greenery it comes with. These are some of the positive images he associates the young lady with. The poet also eulogises the lady’s mien and puts forward his ideals (which is probably in tandem with the Somalis) of what a perfect woman should be:

Is she beautiful, thoughtful and clever?
Does she live as she should? Does she honour

The qualities womanhood stands for?

You can see she’s not weak and not foolish;

You can see she’s not lazy and sluttish,
Not stubborn or sloppy or rowdy,

Neither a shrew nor a nag, she’s

A woman who keeps a full larder,
A woman who’d greet you and feed you.

It seems Catiya’s mien is not the only thing the poet finds fascinating, he is also enthralled by her physical beauty for he calls up beauteous images to qualify her beauty thus:

The colour of Catiya’s skin is

The colour that all women envy.
Her eyes, soft and brown, are the eyes of

The desert gazelle, while her nose is

Perfectly straight and her gums are

Black, black as charcoal. Oh, Cabdi,
The white of her teeth and the down on

Her cheek! Can you see how her waistline

Is curved like a spear; can you see how

Her arms make an elegant shape in

The air as she moves, how her calves flex,

How her neck, with its dapple of amber,

Lightly creases: the neck of a Houri.

The poet concludes that Catiya is the very image of perfection for he sees no blemish in her before calling on a fellow griot to respond to his poem:

There is nothing to fault in this woman,

Not a flaw to be found in her beauty.

Oh, Cabdi, you see her as I do:

A child who is almost a woman,
In the very first flush of her beauty.
I praise her. I crown her with garlands.

Haadrawi, match my song with your song.

All poems of Gaarriye bordering on love exhibit positive values connected to this theme, including ‘Death of a Princess’. However, a poem titled ‘I have Become an Apostate of Love’ seems to look into the negative aspects of love. In this poem, we meet a broken hearted persona denouncing a lover who had jilted the persona. This makes the persona turn away from love while wanting nothing to do with the lover again. He says:

Your double faced love,

Your lack of consistency,
Your conspiracy to sabotage,

Your chameleon attitude,

Will catch up with you.
If you suffer punches on the way,

Don’t turn back to me.
I am an apostate of love.

Anger, a deep sense of loss and regret runs through the tapestry of this poem and they make us empathise with the jilted persona in the poem. Aye, it is true; a broken heart never finds it easy to love anew.

© Poetry Translation Centre

Finally, Maxamed Xaashi Dhamac ‘Gaarriye’ no doubt enjoys a place of prominence among great Somali poets. His poems are powerful, filled with images, and are comparable to any standard poem anywhere in the world. The strength in his poetry lies in the employment of the oral monologue style whereby the poem is composed as if addressing another who is either present or not. His images are vivid and apt, even when his messages are veiled. Gaarriye’s poems in this collection border on either politics or love, and while his love poems are mesmerising and appealing, his political poems are harsh criticism of an oppressive regime. In Gaarriye do we see a lifelong dedication to art and his people. His is the golden voice that refuses to be encapsulated in the cocoon of silence.

 

Ubaji Isiaka Abubakar Eazy is a poet, short story writer, editor, book reviewer, and essayist. He holds a degree in English Language and Literary Studies and has written myriad critical essays on literature, with most published online. He currently teaches ESL/EFL at Qalam Educational and Technical Centre, Hargeisa, Somaliland.

 

Day 3 HIBF 2019

Day 3 HIBF 2019: Research on Migration, Role of Small Magazines and In Conversation with Maaza Mengiste- The Author of ‘Beneath the Lion’s Gaze’

Fatuma Abdishukri Ahmed

Research on Migration Panel

The purpose of this session was for panellists to give an overview and present findings from different research projects they had conducted. The research projects discussed in this session were: Migrants on the Margins, Safe and Sustainable Cities and Security on the Move. The Director General of the Ministry of Planning in Somaliland, Mubarik Abdullahi was also part of this panel.

Researchers on the panel highlighted land ownership as a cross cutting security concern for migrants in the cities. International organisations in collaboration with the Somaliland Government have started rolling out relocation initiatives for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to formal permanent settlements. However, the promise of being resettled has created a new dynamic on informal settlements- people who want to own property but have had no means have now moved to informal settlements in the hope of owning property. Therefore, one downside of the relocation initiative is a pull factor for people to move to informal settlements.

Research on migration panel

 Abdirahman Edle highlighted the following findings from the project, Security on the Move in relation to the poignant living conditions in informal settlements:

  • Serious congestion in the neighbourhoods particularly State House
  • Inaccessibility
  • Poor social amenities and infrastructure

The Director General of the Ministry of Planning, Mubarik Abdullahi emphasized that as far as refugees are concerned, the Somaliland constitution adheres to the International Convention relating to Refugees and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As for IDPs, Mubarik explained there are two groups of IDPs in Somaliland- returnees who had fled the country during the war and rural people migrating to urban centres.

Mubarik suggested the following solutions as means to address the imminent issue of migration in Somaliland:

Urban Solutions: Somaliland has a significant number of IDPs in urban centres. These migrants should be relocated to formal settlements. They also need to be provided with basic social services such as health, wealth, sanitation, education and transportation. In order to ensure sustainable economic conditions, the migrants should be provided with relevant economic opportunities.

Rural Solution: Mubarik profoundly expressed that rural-urban migration is inevitable but the rate at which it happens can be reduced. He further expressed the need to devise strategic policies that will lead to diversification of livelihood and development in rural areas.

Role of Small Magazines

Small magazines play a vital role in providing a safe space for everyone to freely express themselves and feed into the bigger picture of knowledge production. Young people from the region who run small magazines shared their experiences on the challenges they face and opportunities they get from their work.

Panel on the role of small magazines

The following are some of the challenges highlighted by the discussants:

  • Lack of funds, which limits the type of work they can do
  • Disparities of work submitted. Panellists who run magazines in Somaliland conveyed that they face the challenge of having a gender balance in the content they produce since a very small number of females submit their work
  • The quality of a good number of articles submitted are not per the standards of their magazines

Despite the challenges they face, the panellists emphasized that the opportunities they get outweigh the challenges. The following are some of the opportunities highlighted by the discussants:

  • Collaborating with publishing houses
  • Getting funding from organisations
  • Being invited to workshops that improve their writing and editing skills
  • Working in partnership with international organisations and research institutions

The panellists gave the following sagacious advise to young people who are interested in creating content:

  • Consistency is essential when creating and producing content
  • Content produced should be exemplary
  • Have a collaborative approach in order to form networks

Panel on the role of small magazines

Literature

Maaza Mengiste the author of ‘Beneath the Lion’s Gaze,’ discussed her highly anticipated book, ‘The Shadow King,’ with Nadifa Mohamed, the author of ‘Black Mamba Boy’ and ‘The Orchard of Lost Souls.’ ‘ The Shadow King,’ is set during Italy’s invasion on Ethiopia. The book pursues the lost history of Ethiopian women during the war. Maaza explained how she grew up hearing about this war as a child and she heard the stories of what men did during the war. She noticed women who were mentioned in a few instances, were women whose role was to indirectly aid men in the war.  She conducted research to get a better understanding of what the war was like for women. What she found was quite interesting, she found stories of women who were indeed soldiers. She then discovered her great grandmother, who has inspired part of the story in ‘The Shadow King,’ was a soldier in the army.

Maaza Mengiste in conversation with Nadifa Mohamed

Day 2 of HIBF 2019

Day 2 of HIBF 2019- Socio-Economic and Cultural Relationship between Egypt and the Somali Region, Academic Writing, Archival Research and Mary Harper’s Book Launch- Everything You Have Told Me Is True: The Many Faces of Al-Shabaab.

Fatuma Abdishukri Ahmed- 22 Jul 2019

Day two of the book fair was packed with insightful sessions. The first session was a panel discussion on the socio-economic and cultural relationship between Egypt and the Somali region. Ahmed Ibrahim Awale, one of the discussants presented a brief history on the trade expeditions arranged by Queen Hatsheput and King Sahure to Punt. He also presented on the political history of the two countries; how Khedive Ismail annexed the lands of Zeila and Berbera. During this occupation, the king introduced the tax system to the locals. The tax collected was used to finance the construction of infrastructures and facilities for the local community. The occupation also introduced a sort of indirect governance though Akils (tribal chiefs). This mode of governance is still practiced in Somaliland.

Panel on the socio-economic and cultural connections between Egypt and the Somali region.

During the course of the day, Mary Harper renowned BBC Africa editor launched her book ‘Everything You Have Told Me Is True: The Many Faces of Al-Shabaab.’ Mary Harper revealed her motivation to write this book was to give a voice to the people who have suffered at the merciless hands of Al Shabaab.  In her book she notes that one way of resisting Al-Shabaab is by presenting people with alternative ways of thinking and giving them space to express themselves freely. She cites the book fair as an example of a safe space for young people.

Mary Harper launching her book, ‘Everything You Have Told Me Is True: The Many Faces of Al-Shabaab.’

The panel discussion on academic writing was a powerful tool gifted to young academic scholars in the audience. The panellists provided the following tips when writing academic papers:

  • Write in plain language – academic writing should be simple and straightforward.
  • The first page should focus on what the academic paper is about and not the background information.
  • Arguments presented should be clear to the reader. All arguments used should be backed by evidence.
  • Always think about how to make your work appealing to a wider audience.
  • Academic work should not be suspenseful. All arguments should be at the beginning and upfront.
  • In order to eliminate the pressure of the daunting peer review system, young scholars should ease into academic writing by reviewing essays and books.

Panel on Academic Writing

When discussing her book, ‘Writing Spatiality in West Africa: Colonial Legacies in the Anglophones/Francophone Novel,’ Madhu Krishnan talked about the challenges she faced when doing archival research. Some of the challenges she expressed include: getting funding to travel, difficulty in understanding some of the documents found in the archives and the process being time consuming since some archives lack catalogues. Despite these challenges Madhu Krishnan recognized the importance of looking at primary documents when conducting research.

After a long but informative day, participants visited Hido-Dhawr where they enjoyed Qaraami music.

Qaraami Music at Hido-Dhawr

 

Coexistence, Redefining Africa, Guest Country- Egypt and Knowledge Production in the Global South

Coexistence, Redefining Africa, Guest Country- Egypt and Knowledge Production in the Global South

21 July 2019- Fatuma Abdishukri Ahmed

The 12th Annual Hargeysa International Book Fair (HIBF) officially kicked off on 20th July 2019. The purpose of this year’s book fair is to celebrate and promote literature, culture and arts. It also aims to establish links that preserve and promote Somaliland and its citizens. The book fair has become the window in which Somaliland accesses the international space. Dr. Jama Musse Jama fervently expressed the need for the country to focus more on education particularly higher education in order to be able to create human and economic capital for Somaliland.

HIBF has adopted the theme of coexistence to be central to the events of this year’s book fair programme. Regrettably, no continent today is free from the ailments of political and ideological conflict. In varying degrees, conflict remains a pertinent issue to all countries in the world. Coexistence is and should be the breeding ground for peace and prosperity. Coexistence enables and allows people to not only build together but to also understand one another. Achieving coexistence is an ambitious mission that can only be achieved through commitment, dialogue and compromise.

Egypt is this year’s guest country. It is fitting to have Egypt as the guest country in relation to this year’s theme of coexistence. Egypt coexists as both an African and Arab state and furthermore its citizens coexist despite coming from different religious and socio economic backgrounds. Egyptian Ambassador, Mohamed Emad El-Gimw expressed that Egypt values the brotherly relationship that has existed between Somaliland and Egypt for many years. Somaliland has always had an appreciation for Egyptian academia. A number of young people from Somaliland seek their higher education from Egypt and further to this, majority of foreign educators and health professionals in Somaliland are Egyptians.

The keynote speaker of the day, Dr. Ouma Obama articulated the need to redefine Africa and development aid. Africa as a continent is a victim of definition; it is defined as a poor continent. Inhabitants of the continent need to stop viewing themselves as victims. The continent needs to change its dependency mentality of seating around and waiting for help. Dr. Ouma Obama also talked on how development aid institutionalises poverty. This is because development aid solely focuses on the ‘helping’ aspect rather than focussing on more sustainable economic aspects such as trade.

Keynote speaker, Dr.Ouma Obama

Panellists, Professor Michael Walls, Dr. Mpalive Msiska and Professor Madhu Krishna discussed knowledge production in the global south. The panellists discussed how at the rhetoric level there is a lot of commitment and goodwill on the need to have equal partnership with researchers from the global south yet at the implementation stage the complete opposite is practiced. The panellists noted that researchers from the global south are only involved in the data collection process. There is lack of capacity building within research projects since researchers from the global south are not involved in research design, they have no say to what kind of data needs to be collected and analysis of the research is done in the global north. The impact of a research project is designed and defined by the global north. All the aforementioned practices create a very distorted research environment.

HIBF traditionally has been a safe space for young local creators to discuss and display their talents and passions. This year was not any different as the evening sessions were primarily youth centric, where very talented photographers, poets and artists were given the platform to showcase their work.

Performance by Hido Academy

Commitment and the Poet: A Review of Maxamed Ibraahin Warsame “Hadraawi”: The Poet and the Man

Commitment and the Poet: A Review of Maxamed Ibraahin Warsame “Hadraawi”: The Poet and the Man

Ubaji Isiaka Abubakar Eazy

Within the literary sphere, there has oft’ been this argument of what the actual role of the poet ought to be in society. On the one side of this argument are those who believe that the poet does not owe society any allegiance and should be contented with just documenting his thoughts (commitment to art) while on the other side are those who believe that a poet’s loyalty is to his people and the society he belongs. Poets who find themselves in the latter group are of two sub-categories; the first group are those who are content with just pointing out the ills in the society, using their art to incite social revolution, being the voice of the oppressed and downtrodden, and act as the vanguard of society; pointing out the path that society should go even though they do not engage the society physically. However, poets who find themselves in the second subgroup do all that those in the first subgroup do, but they are not content with just documenting the ills in the society alone; they go on to engage the society physically. This second group of poets see themselves as active participants and leaders of change in society; some, like Christopher Okigbo, had dumped the pen to pick the gun, some, like Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Jack Mapanje, had been incarcerated for daring to write against their governments, and others, like Wole Soyinka, have led numerous protests against societal injustice. It begins to appear as if poetry is beyond art, it is also commitment to one’s society. Today, we shall review a collection of translated poems of a famous and legendary Somali poet; Maxamed Ibraahin Warsame (Hadraawi) and see what the book has to say on the issue of “commitment”.

Maxamed Ibraahin Warsame; popularly known as Hadraawi; is perhaps one of the greatest living Somali poet, playwright, and philosopher. His poetry is composed in a sublime form of the Somali language employing vivid images and sound devices (such as alliteration)—indeed, many Somalis can recite his poetry offhand and most of his poems have musical renditions already. His poems bother on issues related to war and peace, love, societal mores and values, maladministration in governance, justice, patriotism, and many more. Hadraawi did not just write, he was actively involved in the changes that took place in his society in his younger days. For daring to criticise the despotic government of Siad Barre in a play he composed, he was subjected to internment where he rejected inking an apology as the only condition for his release. Upon release, he fled to Ethiopia where he joined the Somali National Movement (SNM), and continued unleashing revolutionary poems. He would later refuse to seek asylum in the United Kingdom, and return to his homeland to singlehandedly lead a march (known as the “Hadraawi Peace March”) appealing for peace and an end to all animosities. Evidently, Hadraawi sees poetry not just as art, but also as a tool to be employed in changing the society for he did not only talk the talk—he also walked the walk. Herein lies his commitment as a poet to his people and society.

The collection placed under scrutiny is titled Maxamed Ibraahin Warsame “Hadraawi”: The Poet and the Man and it has seven of Hadraawi’s poems translated from Somali language to English by WN Herbert et al. The work is a commendable effort, although no one can argue that much of content and form has not been lost in translation.

“Society” is the first of the documented poem in the collection; it bespeaks the imminent fragmentation that was quickly engulfing the Somali society at the time of its composition. Hadraawi; in this poem; identifies lack of sagacity, blame, and greed as the major ills bedevilling his society; the resultant effect of these ills are therefore cowardliness, brutality, and disorderliness.

Wise council: you’re unobtainable!

Blame: you breed without bounds!

Greed: you are unbridled!

Brave horse: you’re hamstrung here!

Brute force: you bare your brainless face!

Sea of disorder: your full volume,

your ebb and flow and breadth—

could I scoop you in this cup? (29)

The poem, “Society”, tells of societal disintegration, brothers fighting brothers, ballooning of trivial issues, irresponsibility and alienation on the part the political leaders, and finally lands on why the poet has chosen to pitch his tent with his people against the rulers; he punctuates every stanza with “would I be so at one with you?”.

You, the people, chose me:

you made your bed in my soul,

wrapped yourselves in my conviction,

used my heart as your pillow.

It’s you who make my lips move:

my fear at your fortunes,

my care at your conditions,

this is what matures me –

when someone defrauds you,

when you cry out for help,

a keen longing awakens my senses

and I begin to recite verse. (31)

Here, Hadraawi accepts that a poet is ordained to speak for his people, to be their voice; he sees their plight and seeks for them a better deal. He says again:

You, the people, chose me:

you granted me good fortune,

loaded me with luck:

if my brazenness burns like an iron

you bestowed that charisma on me;

you ordered me: be purposeful,

compelled me to battle for you.

If disasters hadn’t befallen you,

your best interests not been betrayed,

if your homeland hadn’t burned,

justice not been discarded,

the worth of schooling not belittled

being reduced to slogans,

would I be so at one with you? (31)

Hadraawi clearly intimates to us in the poem that the plight of his people is the muse fueling and propelling the fire of his poetry.

“The Killing of the She-Camel” is the second poem in the collection. Originally part of a play, this poem employs a variety of symbolic metaphors to depict the political situation in Somalia after the takeover by the military junta. Hadraawi cleverly adopts images of animals to hide his meaning in the poem—the result is a work that conveys the poetic ingenuity of the poet.

In the poem, the killing of a she-camel draws all from far and near who struggle to gobble down its meat. It is perhaps instructive to point out here that the camel is an important animal in the economic, social, and cultural lives of the Somali people; it is used as a means of payment (be it for bride price or as an atonement for wrongdoing), as a mode of transportation, and as food. In fact, a man’s wealth was formerly measured by the number of camels in his household. Now, keeping the she-camel alive is of much import for it is only this which guarantees procreation and continual supply of its milk which almost all Somalis consume as beverage. But in this poem, we see the slaughtering of a she-camel with all rushing to get a share. No one thinks that the she-camel being alive is more important to the people than being dead. The she-camel here therefore represents political wealth of the country while its slaughtering refers to the coup of Siad Barre. Everyone wanting a share of the meat connotes the greed with which the junta and its friends plundered the country wealth and flaunted it—”frying it in the glare of the sun”. Hadraawi also points out that there has been a disgruntlement in the allocation of resources in the State in the third stanza. The poem comes with a refrain which is a pointer at the enormity of the task that the junta had taken upon itself; he sees them as the snake which “sneaks in the castle:/although it is carpeted with thorns”.

We see the poet reaffirming his commitment to his society and the struggle against bad leadership in the fifth stanza where he points out that he will neither be a part of their shenanigans nor stop producing the rallying cry until the day of judgment; he even went further to ask that he be tied to the task and never released.

Never will I ever accept

a single insulting slice

from those grasping commissars –

I won’t share a thing with them.

Until the grave’s is prepared

to forego its three yard shroud

or a collar round the neck

since one at least is needed

to cover the naked dead,

I’ll keep rallying and calling

until the day of judgment,

pray my eyes can comfort the dead:

tie me to this task, and don’t

release me from its harness. (37)

Without mincing words, Hadraawi shows the level of his commitment towards the redemption of his society in the next poem titled “Clarity”. Composed as part of a write and response genre of poetry known as “Deelley” by Somalis, it captures Hadraawi’s refusal to admit defeat or be subdued in the fight against the powers that be, even after years of incarceration. He says:

I’ve still not admitted defeat

nor have I withdrawn:

that high inspiration,

that talent I was endowed with,

has not discarded.

When men dedicate to the struggle

and determine to fulfil their duty;

when they ready themselves for the charge,

amass the finest thoroughbreds;

when the reins are on the racers,

I never step aside.

With these words, Hadraawi affirms his pledge to the struggle, he shows that he is a man who abhors cowardice, and would not only write, but be an active participant in the struggle towards liberation.

Hadraawi also uses the poem to address the utilisation of tribalism cum clannishness to divide and rule the people by the political class thereby causing hostilities and discontentment among the populace. He vows to continue fighting against this social malaise of tribalism which was seeking to destroy his nation:

The clarion bell we carry will strike

destroying them like lightning,

those huggers of tribalism,

grubbers in money, who are everywhere

lusting to turn back

all hopeful development

and to despoil our nation –

I CAN’T LET THAT HAPPEN. [Emphasis mine] (41)

Lastly, Hadrawi calls for unity as the only path to peace and development as disharmony could only infer destruction:

Anyone who wants this life

to be serene,

to have savour and feel sound,

there is a path to follow:

people, you prosper

as one unit, as you share in

your shouldering of the burden –

that’s the only balm.

If it weakens in one wing

then its whole end is woe.

Is there any advice better than this,

any further examples you need

beyond this ample explanation,

or do you have something countering the case? (44)

In the stanza that follows this, Hadraawi passes the continuity of the poem to another poet and close friend of his, Maxamed Xaashi “Gaarriye”.

Among Hadraawi’s revolutionary poems documented in this collection, “Life’s Essence” remains a favourite for us. It shows Hadraawi to be not only a great poet, but also a profound thinker. The profundity of his mind can be seen in the numerous pieces of advice he dishes out in the poem. Written in a popular western style known as “dramatic monologue,” the poem reads like an original version of Rudyard Kipling’s “If”.

In “Life’s Essence”, Hadraawi addresses two characters whose voices we do not hear. The characters are Rashid and his daughter, Sahra. In reality, Hadraawi is addressing both the old and the younger generation of Somalis with Rashid representing the old whom had seen much carnage and destruction as a result of war, and Sahra representing the young and unborn generations of Somalis whom he hopes may survive the war and pick life’s lesson from it.

To Rashid, the poem persona tells the horrors of the battle at Sirsirraan. He tells him of the fouled air, the scattered bones, slaughtered corpses, the piercing groans, and the children wails. He concludes that the havoc is the result of decisions made rashly, decisions made in haste, a dearth of sagacity that only points at destruction.

The poem persona praises Sahra’s beauty and lofty bearing as accustomed with “the women of the horn”, he tells her to be clean and retain her beautiful mien, he wants her to apply modesty in her doings, be succinct in her use of words and argument and be polite, and be contented with whatever she has, be respectful of older people and the Somali traditional values, remain docile in the face of injustice and persecution, not to join bandwagon, think outside the box, not to be discouraged in the face of adversities, love education, avoid war, never be afraid to challenge injustice, waste no time in condemning falsehood, and many more. Within, the lines of his numerous and profound advice of the poem persona lays the background of the ongoing war and the pain and havoc which comes with it.

This poem again shows Hadraawi’s patriotism and commitment to his people for he talks and calls for a preservation of Somali values and mores while also denouncing war by preaching peace.

“Settling the Somali Language” was composed at the instance of making an official decree on the orthography of the Somali language. In the poem, Hadraawi conveys his happiness at finally settling a long disputation in what the official Somali script should appear like. In the refrain of the poem, we hear the poet pledging support and devotion to his mother tongue:

I must be devoted to Somali

develop through Somali

create within Somali

I must be rid of poverty

and give myself for my own mother tongue. (65)

The last two poems show a diversion from Hadraawi’s protest cum revolutionary poems, they bother on a subject which many poets have dwelt on before Hadraawi and will continue to deliberate upon after Hadraawi; here, we mean “love”.

The first of these poems is “Amazement”, a love poem which adopts the colourful and elegant language of metaphor to depict the beauty of the lover. Many believe this poem is the most famous of Hadraawi’s poems, since it even has a musical rendition by a renowned Somali singer. For a revolutionary like Hadraawi, love is not a farfetched topic to reflect upon. You see, love is the opposite of hatred and war; hence Hadraawi’s love poems can be seen as a counter reaction towards the hostility he came to witness in his society. Besides, the Somali society is replete with myriads of oral love poetry committed to memory in musical form. By harping on love between a man and his lover, Hadraawi shows that he understands that the basic unit of society is family, and it is only when every man loves his woman and vice versa that the seeds of love can germinate and be cultivated in the society.

The last poem, “Has Love Been Ever Written in Blood!” has a true life story tied to it. It revolves around a love letter written in the blood of the lover. This letter shocks Hadraawi, and leaves him pondering what may happen when next the lovers meet, the enormity of such love and its sincerity. With the aid of a series of rhetorical questions, the poet openly calls out his thoughts on the nature of love.

Maxamed Ibraahin Warsame “Hadraawi” remains one of the greatest Somali poet and thinker. The musicality of his poetry (which unfortunately is lost in translation) composed in his native Somali language makes his poems easily committed to memory by the Somalis, and there has been musical records based on his poems. His poetry is filled with the flora and fauna of the Somali region as the images in his poems are woven via diction which reflects the mountainous terrain, animals, and trees present within his society. The use of metaphors, alliterative lines, and rhetorical questions adorns his poetry with elevated language. Albeit written in his mother’s tongue, the poems rival any best from the Western tradition, and it would not be a travesty to say Hadraawi’s poems even surpasses those of the Western tradition. However, Hadraawi’s is widely admired and revered not only for writing great epic and lyrical poems, but also for standing up for his people, being their voice when it mattered, and walking his talk. We may still not have answered the question of where the commitment of a poet should lie (is it to art, or to society?), but we have no doubts whatsoever of where that of Hadraawi’s lays. Hadraawi saw and used art for the betterment of his people and society.

We must not fail to commend the efforts of the translators (WN Herbert, Said James Hussein, Muhamed Hassan Alto, Martin Orwin, and Ahmed I Yusuf) without whom the work of this great poet (Hadraawi) would have remained in obscurity to many of us who have no access to the Somali language. Much may have been lost in translation, yet does the gain outweigh the loss indeed.

Thank you very much for reading, and let us meet again another time for a different discussion!

© Ubaji Isiaka Abubakar Eazy 2019

12TH HARGEYSA INTERNATIONAL BOOK FAIR – 20-25 JULY 2019

The 12th instalment of the annual Hargeysa International Book Fair will be held in July, from 20th to 25th, in Hargeysa, Somaliland, with the theme of coexistence and the guest country of Egypt.

COEXISTENCE: The Theme of the Year (2019)
On its 12th anniversary, the Hargeysa International Book Fair (HIBF) has adopted the theme of ‘Coexistence’ to be central to the events of this year’s Book Fair programme. Throughout the annals of history, all the conflicts for which humanity has paid in millions of human lives and immeasurable destruction of properties have been based on suspicion and hostility engendered by differences in creed and culture. Sadly enough, no continent in our planet today seems to be totally free from the scourge of political and ideological conflict. Albeit in varying degrees, the plight of war still remains a major concern of all countries in our boastful era of unimagined advancement in science and technology. That is why we zealously hold the principle of Peaceful Coexistence as the most cherished and practical idea for bringing together peoples and nations at variance in their political ideologies and national traditions to live in lasting peace and harmony. The same applies within intrastate and interstate social conflicts.

Even in the current international quest for overcoming the challenges of global warming, it is rightly conjured that the realisation of peaceful coexistence is essentially seen as a requisite condition towards that objective.

So far the themes explored at Hargeysa International Book Fair have included Freedom, Censorship, Citizenship, Collective memory, Visualization of the future, Journey, Imagination, Spaces, Leadership & Creativity, Connectivity and Wisdom. We will focus this year on the principle of peaceful coexistence of nations and people, in contrast to the antagonistic contradiction principal that nations with competing interest and ideologies could never coexist.

The choice of peaceful coexistence as our theme of the year has not come about casually at all. It has always been our firm belief, in the Redsea Cultural Foundation, that the advocacy and upholding of this cardinal principle is the real test of our claim to genuine human civilization. So, let us pool our efforts together in order to make this claim come true.

Egypt : This Year’s Guest Country
We take both great pride and pleasure to be hosting Egypt as our Guest Country for this year’s Hargeysa International Book Fair. The reasons for our choice are too many to relate in this brief introductory note. Suffice it to say that Egypt has a special place in the minds and living memory of the people of Somaliland. The future prospects of both countries also seem to be equally entangled.

Despite the huge numerical difference in population and potentiality, yet the two countries share similar histories in that both are bound by the Islamic religion, they have experienced the rules of the Turks and later the British in the past century. Both occupy geopolitical strategies; Egypt at the Northern entrance of the Red Sea, and the people to people interaction is millennia old, with Somaliland located at the Southern post. Moreover, giving praise where it is due, there is hardly any country in the African continent in which Egypt has not left its marks in the spheres of education, politics, arts or culture. In Somaliland, the majority of our foreign educators and foreign health professionals are Egyptian, while global appreciation for Egyptian scholarship and academia in general is evident.

By having Egypt as our Guest Country, we in the Redsea Cultural Foundation, look forward to hugely benefit from the distinguished scholars, artists and intellectuals who will surely bring along with them invaluable experience we are so eager to share. We most warmly welcome our highly reputed and respected Egyptian guests.

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We look forward to welcoming each and every one of you to Hargeysa International Book Fair 2019.

Hargeysa Cultural Center
23rd February 2019

Research Urbanization Dynamics in East Africa: Insights from Malawi

PhD Session, researching urbanization dynamic in east Africa: insights from Malawi.  Wednesday 13/02 at the 7:45 pm – 10:30pm the Hargeisa Culture Center (HCC).

Academic dialogue in Hargeisa aims to assist in the production of knowledge in the field of Somali studies, also to act as a network for student and scholars during fieldwork in Hargeisa. Similarly, ADIH aims to help scholars gain a better, more nuanced understanding of Somaliland as a subject of study whilst exposing students to a wealth of locally produced
knowledge.
Dr. Jama Musse Jama started the event with the importance of research cooperation introducing Dr. Donald Brown to the audience and stage.
Dr. Donald Brown is from the Development Planning Unit (DPU), University College London (UCL) he started sharing his research experience on his research titled “Researching Urbanization Dynamics in East Africa: Insights from Malawi” Sub-Saharan Africa is simultaneously the world’s least urbanized and one of the most rapidly urbanizing regions. However, while the sub-continent’s population is urbanizing as a whole, there are substantial differences in urbanization patterns and trends within and
between regions. In this talk, Donald Brown shared his experiences from his PhD researching urbanization dynamics in East Africa based on the case of Malawi. Particular attention is focused on to how the research process unfolded, with a focus on study approach and design, and methodological issues faced in the field. The objective of the talk was to spark discussion on what makes Somaliland’s urban transition exceptional in the East African context, and how its study might be approached from both an academic and
policy perspective.
One of the questions raised from the public was ‘How increasing urbanization shrinks space and whether similarity blue between Somaliland and Malawi?’’ Dr. Donald Brown answering this question said ‘’Urbanization involves communal interaction that not necessarily involves neighborhood but villages’’
At last, Dr. Donald explained how urbanization process involved a whole range of socio-economic transformations that are important to note , because of this new settlements newtrade centers and small business emerge Pointed Gender division of labor in the process,
Centrality of statistics and how it’s the discus Regarding settlements.

Mother Tongue Day

February 21 st is a day devoted to celebrating mother tongue all around the world. Therefore, we also arrange an event at Hargeisa Cultural Centre each year to come together and talk about the importance of Mother tongue and the role it plays in our identity.

Ismaaciil C Ubax, the project manager at Hargeisa Cultural Centre was leading the first part of this event giving the audience a brief background about how this day became significant. Bangladesh fought for recognition for the Bangla language in February 21 st 1948. Pakistan who was separated into east and west had fought after the government of Pakistan declared that the sole language of Pakistan will be Urdu which upset the east. The
east had more population than the west so they argued that Bangla must be the sole language as well. A civil war broke out as a result. Since it was a tragic event inspired by the recognition of mother tongue, February 21 st became the international language day. UNESCO also officially announced it in November 17 th 1999.
Mawlid Adan Biixi began this event with speaking about the richness of the
Somali language. He took examples of words that have multiple meanings and that can be used in different contexts. He also mentioned how there are names for certain things and sub-names as well because our language is rich. An example of such things is Waran. Waran is Spear in Somali but it also has other sub-names such as Hooto, Eello, Xalaash, Qaash and Garmaqaate. Maliid continued taking more examples and tracing back to the original meanings of some Somali words.
Awale Ismail Saleban was our second guest speaker who prepared a poem
for this occasion. The poem was about education and the doors it opens for
people. His poem inspired learning and that included learning our mother
language also.
Dr. Jama Musse led the second part of the event calling Mr. Saed Jama on stage. Mr. Saed is a creative writing teacher and has written many short stories as well.
He shared some of his stories as a motivation for everybody and to also show his contribution to the Somali language. Mr. Saed concluded his speech by saying “We are the only ones who can uplift our mother language and give meaning to it”

The last part of the event was dedicated to Mr. Mohamoud Sheikh Ahmed
Dalmar’s book Irdho.The book metaphorically tells a story about the Somali
language migrating to London. The Somali language screams and shouts for help. It seeks asylum saying that Somali people are here and it followed them therefore wants to be granted asylum so it can stay and live in London.
Overall, this event was successful; there was also a singer who sang a few Somali songs. All the guest speakers presented something important and special for this mother tongue occasion. The purpose of it was to honor our mother tongue and inspire the youth to value it so the upcoming generations will also continue
strengthening it.

Caweyska Qaraamiga (Qaraami Night)

The event of Qaraami songs was different from the regular events that usually happen at Hargeisa cultural centre.

The night was dedicated to Qaraami songs and understanding what Qaraami really means. The guests of the night who were chosen to educate people about what Qaraami is; were Caabi Mire, Marduuf, Buulo and Mohamed Burco.

Dr. Jama Musse Jama started off the event with defining what Qaraami Music is

Jama said “Qaraami are songs with certain tunes (Laxan), Just because a guitar is played for a song does not mean it is Qaraami” After Dr. Jama’s short introduction, Caabi mire who is a well-known singer and his crew started the night and played a series of fifteen Qaraami songs.

The types of Qaraami songs the crew played were Aroor, Beerdillaacshe, Carwo, Hayaan, Madiix, Iskushuban, Kaar, Laac, Nugul, Raaxeeye, Riftoon, Subcis, Rogaal, Xaafuun and Murug. The audience was given a chance to sing as well to keep them engaged in the event.

This was a very Interest event people enjoying the music at the same time learning more about what they were listening. We hope people enjoyed the night and are able now to tell which songs are Qaraami and which are not.

Adolescent Health

On Tuesday night 7:45pm February 19 th, an event held at Hargeysa Cultural Centre assembled a group of professionals who discussed Adolescent Health in Somaliland. This event took place with the help of joined young activists, different organization workers, health professionals and government officials. They spoke about how different factors such as income and education affect Adolescent Health and how they are interdependent on each other.
The event was not held only to inspire Somaliland youth to seek medical help when needed but also to highlight the lack of medical check-ups and counselling that are accessible for the youth.
The guest speakers also touched on the importance of staying healthy and preventing diseases in the first place. Mohamed Dhamac, a member of Sonyo said “a common disease which is prevalent among youth globally is HIV/AIDS and a good way we have always prevented it is marriage”.Other guest speakers also suggested effective ways of avoiding or living with other
types of diseases.
Abdiqani Abdillahi spoke about the adolescence period and the various health related issues that are commonly observed at that this stage of human growth. Important worth mentioning here, is the need to seek out professional health help which, as Abdiqani pointed out, will be disastrous if not taken seriously. The discussion then took another turn with Mohamed
Dhamac, discussing the importance of maintaining a healthy youth and how it’s of immense importance to have a healthy youth as it will lead to healthy community as rightly pointed out by Dhamac.
Our third speaker was Dr. Hamda Abdirahman, a Psychologist and a lecturer who spoke about the mental health of youth. The message she was sending is that, young people want to be heard. Because traditionally we (Somalis) do not consider children’s opinion that much which as a result can cause them to mentally suffer. She suggested that we talk to
children about their opinion and personal problems so they won’t get depressed and end up becoming mentally ill which can actually cause them taking their own lives. Poverty and healthcare was another major issue touched upon in the event and Dr. Barkhad Hussein brilliantly explained the relationship between poverty and healthcare accessibility and he shared a touching story about a young boy who suffered from diabetes. He told us the boy’s journey from middle school to university and the obstacles
he faced on the way. What was deeply sad about this story is the fact that the young boy struggled to pay for his medication and even taking them while in school. “Double 2 Burden” is the term he used to describe the boy’s situation. Dr. Barkhad said, “This is how I will transmit my message, and it is for you to get the point out of it.”

– Dr. Mariam spoke last before the discussion group. Mariam asked the audience “where
do you go when you need medical help?” Then she explored different options people
normally have and what they do instead. Dr. Mariam highly recommended people to go
to pharmacies or hospitals and seek counselors to maintain a good health. The event was
concluded with engagement and thoughts by the audience whose discussions centered
around;

a) The fact that Somaliland Youth doesn’t have a special healthcare system and
b) people/ government’s perspective of youth and the Psychology of adolescence.
The main idea behind this event was for people to hear and learn from each other then spread their ideas to the community especially to those it concerns. They concluded that Adolescent health needs special attention and raising public awareness of the issue. Achieving this would also improve not only youth’s well being but the economy and education of Somaliland.

About

The Hargeysa Cultural Center was opened in August 2014 in Hargeysa, Somaliland. The Center was established by Redsea Cultural Foundation (RCF). Since its establishment, the Hargeysa Cultural Center has become an important feature in Hargeysa’s cultural landscape. The success of the center owes much to the respect that RCF has gained from its work on running the annual Hargeysa International Book Fair, which, now in its eighth year, has become one of the most admired cultural events in the region.

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