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  1. Waaq

    Do we have culture?

    I have actually been thinking about this seriously for awhile, so thank you Hibo for starting the discussion. I think the first mistake people make is to consider culture as an static entity that does not vary over time, place, and people. For example, even though Islam allows for men to marry up to four women, this is not necessarily practiced by all muslim men. Another example is though people might speak a shared language in terms of broad structure and grammar their might be significant local or regional differences. This can occur as close as your neighbors house, or across the next hill. Even though we speak of the modern world as a globalized, I think the process of exchange of ideas, dress, language, attitudes, etc. has been occuring since the dawn of humans. This leads to my next point of the myth of the indigenous. I think many cultures like to claim that certain practices were orginated by them in their homeland, and this may be true in some cases, but often many cultural practices are an interaction between internal and external interactions. As someone pointed out the Diric is a Yemeni dress, well I am not certain this is true, but I have seen women wearing diric-like dress from the Sudan, Yemen, Oman, Somalia, Maurautania, and Morocco. If you ask me I think Somalis have a strong and vibrant culture that is a result of history, cultural interaction both within the Horn of Africa and from the outside, and the more modern history of displacement. The source of the crisis of Somali culture is directly related to situation in our homeland, because the strongest source of cultural maintenance and definition in the modern world is that nation state. I am temporarily residing in Egypt this year, and it is amazing the amount of money and attention the Egyptian government spends to define Modern Egypt as the birthright and product of Ancient Egypt despite a wealth of evidence to the contrary. Who knows in some amount of time maybe they will be successful. I think many times in my life as a Somali-American I have felt similar sentiments to those expressed in this post, but now I have changed my mine. SOMALIS HAVE A RICH AND VIBRANT CULTURE, AND ARE A UNIQUE PPL ON THIS EARTH. This uniqueness is not derived from our material culture, but our sense of self. I appreciate that Somalis are generous to their friends and family, but do not bow to their enemies. They are honest and straightforward people for the most part, and this is recognized by many people. Somalis are one of the smallest groups in Africa, but our impact on the world is much greater than our size. This is because Somalis are not afraid to challenge authority, and do not accept ill treatment. Let me list some examples: 1. One of the first organized armed opposition to colonialization happened in Somalia. 2. The Russian intervention using Russian, Cuban, and Yemeni troops in the Ethio-Somali war was the first such use in Africa. 3. Somalis serving in colonial forces in Africa were classified as Asian not African because they would not accept the substandard treatment. 4. Muslim challenges to certain discriminatory practices in North America have often been led by Somalis, particularly prayer facilities and dress codes. 5. Somalia has one of the better telecommunications infrastructures in Africa, all due to local businessmen. I am sure if we put our heads together we can up with many more positive examples to balance the negative ones. Furthermore, though much of Somalia's material culture on the surface appears to be non-indigenous I feel that in every case from food to music, Somalis have created a unique cultural product out of these influences. I welcome your comments...
  2. I think it is time that all Somalis realize that nobody in this world gives a damn whether or not this war is ended. This is our last chance to receive even minimal assistance from the international community to put Somalia back on a positive path. The warlords within and outside the government will never disarm unless they feel assured of some piece of the pie, peferably similar in size to the current one. Nevertheless, it is unlikely these foreign forces will serve as an offensive force, so power is unlikely to move the matter forward. But, a perceived neutral power is necessary to hold accountable any agreements that have been reached. I don't think relocation is an option, not because it is not desirable, but it is politically unfeasible.
  3. Hi All, I am from the good ole USA, but I am in Cairo for the year on a fellowship to finish my dissertation. Any Somali people in a similar situation here in Cairo? peace, Waaq
  4. I understand that peacekeepers are often not the most positive measures to ensuring stability, but in the case of Somalia I see no other alternative. I think we can all agree that the transitional government is far from perfect, and is in actuality terribly flawed, but if this is the way forward this "government" needs a reasonable ability to enforce their mandate. It is beyond my comprehension that there would be mass demonstrations against peacekeeping forces in the area of the country that has suffered the most as a result of the war. I can wholeheartedly agree with concerns over the participation of frontline states (e.g. Ethiopia) in the peacekeeping forces, but without any enforcement capability this government will go the way of the TNG, regardless of the extent of warlord participation in its ranks. Self interest does not change, and those that have raped the country literally and figuratively do not become statesmen overnight. Does the diaspora feel the same way about peacekeeping forces in Somalia? What are alternatives towards the creation of a functioning state and rebuilding efforts?
  5. any chance the land or homes already belong to people who were forced to leave the city
  6. All I have stay is don't generalize, but this dude needs to be put in check. If you were my sister that dude better get the f**k out of there cause I am gonna set him straight the easy or the hard way. His choice. I suggest you stop looking at this guy with respect, and see him for punk he is. tell him to mind his own business, who has any right to tell you how to dress. You might be young, but you are an adult.
  7. Indeed this is a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your story. The mode of parenting you describe is in stark contrast to the modes of parenting found these days in the Somali community. One trait that I find lacking in today's parents is the ability to teach your kids how to discern right and wrong. In other words, providing your kids with the critical thinking skills necessary to make decisions in your (the parents) absence. Even if my mother was near by or not I could always hear her voice in my ear whenever a sticky situation arose. I might not have always made the right decision, but my mother made sure that I was equipped with ability to do so. The single greatest example of the lack of this ability I see in Somalis is the constant use of the word "haraam". It seems that parents have restorted to threat of Allah as a substitute for their own parenting. Not everything is "haraam" (i.e. forbidden by god) it might just be wrong, impolite, or disrespectful. Thanks again for the post Gaasira
  8. Please leave the sister alone. While I disagree with most everything she has said, I do not believe silencing her is productive or just. She should be allowed to speak her mind, no matter how misguided she might be. Muslims reactions to her only serve increase here authenticity to the world. Better to engage her in cool and calm discussion. my two cents...
  9. Probably one of the dozens of Somali traders that get food staples from different parts of Asia to Somali and other African countries. It is shame because they probably lost a great deal of money as a result.
  10. Mugabe is just another in a long example of good man gone bad. I agree with all of you on the issue of land redistribution, but there are better methods of achieving that goal. Moreover, President Mugabe has taken the land and given it to his cronies. Are black oppressors and theives better than white oppressors and theives. Mugabe is using the issue of land redistribution much like our own warlords use clan politics to cover our eyes to what they are really doing. Which is robbing us all blind! Have you not heard that his wife consficates the national airline for extravagant shopping trips to South Africa. I agree that the western media is portraying him in a severly negative light because of his affect on whites, but this does not detract from his own misgivings. I for one cannot support these people, and I hate them almost as much as the white settler and their former compatriots in the West.
  11. Sophist, I am not confident that I have grasped your entire essay, but I feel that engagement is preferable to the current state of apathy. However, I feel it is important to avoid a winner takes all mentality so often found in African politics. Despite my own frustration and exacerbation with the current political processess and those that are the cogs of these processes, I still believe that the role of Somali intellectuals is critically examine the process from the outside. I believe their role is to increase the body of knowledge available on the Somali situation, and to uphold the principles on academic discourse. In other post it was suggested that Nurrudin Farah should assume a political role in Somalia, but in my view this would be an unacceptable blurring of the roles in a functioning soceity. Mr. Farah might be a just, honest, and capable leader, but he is a brilliant writer and commentator on the contradictions of Somali Soceity. In my view, what is more critical to the enlightenment you mention is the dedication of one's effort to the cause. The cause in this case is the rebuilding of a state and soceity. You are correct in your observations that the idea of Somalia has been co-opted by undesireable elements with little qualifications for leadership except for their shrewd misuse of Somali social organization. Somalis, despite are small numbers can still muster a wide array of talent and energy is pressed. The problem is that few of those most able to combat the mindless propaganda and revisionist history are engaged in Somali affairs. I respect the efforts of Prof. Samatar and others who have worked for peace and reconciliation. I do not respect the larger body of Somali professionals and intellectuals who have completely disengaged from Somalia. I wish I could think of some method of awakening this sleeping lion that could effect a great change in Somalia.
  12. Any exciting happenings in Minneapolis for the Labor Day weekend? What about in Duluth?
  13. The issue of reparations is a touchy subject. One point is that the main advocates for reparations do not in fact put monetary reparations as their primary objective, yet this is the dominant view. Randall Robinson, one of the main voices for reparations in the African American community, see reparations primarily as an accounting of the drastic impact slavery had on the growth and prosperity of the nations that participated. He wants everyone to know about how deeply ingrained slavery was to the growth of capitalism. It is true that the story is one-sided, but until Africans begin to take the power of self-definition into their own hands this will always be the case. At least three movies on the holocaust are released every year. This helps to keep that tragic event in the minds of the whole world, and allows Jews to assert a monopoly on suffering. I could go on and on, but I will stop here.
  14. On another note. I have been witnessing lately that those sisters that do try sports are actually quite good. I think more of our women should become involved in athletics.
  15. Originally posted by Nugaali: I just wanna clarify on the point of Cabdullahi Yusuf and his capacity as leader in Somalia's Northeast, i.e. Puntland. I hope the staunch CY supporters are familiar with the historical fact that, prior to the 1998 creation of 'Puntland,' the Northeast was relatively peaceful and led by the SSDF Central Committee. The point is: the Northeast has always been a place of peace with or without Cabdullahi Yusuf as 'leader.' And don't even get me started on how illegitimate his so-called leadership is. Only reason he's even alive is because people are tired of fighting the old fart. That's to say, his opposition in Puntland cares far too much for the interests of peace and prosperity than for political hunger! Well said. I hate how these posts always turn into a discussion among a bunch of horrible choices. The current of crop of candidates is an embrassment. My belief is that the only way out of this mess is to reduce the role of government, and increase the role of the private sector at least till Somalia can develop enough leaders untainted by the corrupt and bankrupt soceity that now exists.