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Let us talk about the famous "notorious" Somali woman...Arawelo

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Can anyone tell me where she was born, what area she lived, whether she had kids, what Qabiil she was, what age she died, how she became queen, etc


Yaa garanaayo oo yaqaano. Gabdhaha Somalida hadi iyo jeer ma jecla inay Araweelo ka hadlaan. Maxaa taas u sabab ah.



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I thought u had the info on this woman..but you want it? LOL


Who is she anyway??



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I heard about this Somali queen and I researched some literature about this African queen. I hope it helps you. The nomad culture is very facinating.



This essay was presented by Ladan Affi during the Somali Peace Conference in October 1995, held in Paris, France and was published in a book called "POUR UNE CULTURE DE LA PAIX EN SOMALIE" edited by Mohamed Mohamed Abdi. Here's the article in its full form.

Once upon a time, there was a famous queen named Arraweelo, who ruled most of what is now Somalia. When she was younger, Arraweelo had witnessed many wars and conflicts between Somalis. She had also seen how the council of elders had, on many occasions, made some unwise decisions. She felt that these were due to the fact that some of the men on the council were not intelligent and capable enough to be in a position of leadership. Her recommendation was that these men should be replaced by women who were intelligent and competent to make decisions, that would be of benefit to the community.


However, Arraweelo's husband disagreed with her and felt that that kind of work belonged to men and that women were better left to do what they did best housework and childcare.


The steps that Arraweelo took to get power are very well known to most Somalis and especially to Somali men. She organized the women into striking from doing household chores, so that the men were kept busy with the cooking and looking after the children. While they were preoccupied with that, Arraweelo took over the leadership, declaring herself queen. From then on, there was peace and prosperity in the land


Christine Choi in her article "Finely Etched Chattel: The invention of Somali Women", states that "much of the research on gender and in particular, women in Somalia, with notable exceptions, suffer from serious flaws."[1] She continues in the same article that "Orientalism coupled with a patriarchal view of African women has yielded the systematized anthropological studies of I.M. Lewis and other colonial anthropologists, which has created the image of the Somali women as chattel, commodity and a creature with little power". This image is in complete contradiction with the reality of Somali women and their position in society.


The theme of this conference is peace culture and its promotion in Somalia. Somali women as natural peacemakers must be an integral part of this process.


However, women who have shown interest in participating in the political decision making process, such as Arraweelo, have traditional ly been ostracized and treated as though they were abnormal and unwomanlike.


Somali women have always been the backbone of Somali society and women in nomadic Somalia do almost all the work ensuing the survival of the Somali family in a harsh environment.


"Somali women play a significant role in Somali


society; the division of labor is clearly defined

and heavily weighted towards women. Traditionally,

the nomadic woman milks the animals, processes the milk,

feeds the family, and cares for and watches the livestock.

She also collects firewood, cooks, feeds the children,

cleans the house and washes the clothes and the utensils" [2]

In addition to that, women have the responsibility of "building and dismantling the nomadic aqal (home)" as they move from place to place in search of grass and water for their livestock.


Meanwhile, the men have the very formidable job of "where to move, arrange additional transport from other families"[3] and looking after the camels.


To keep the peace between clans in times of conflict, Somali women served as sacrificial lambs when they were married off to the clan, their father, brothers and uncles had been fighting against in the past.


During the struggle for independence, many Somali women took part. Many contributed financially by selling their jewelry, others took part in the demonstrations. Many hid the freedom fighters against the colonial powers at a great personal cost , some were jailed and beaten, all for the sake of achieving freedom for the Somali people. One well known woman was Timiro Ukash who was jailed while pregnant by the Italian colonial powers. She gave birth to a baby girl while in jail.


When independence was finally achieved and British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland joined together to form the Somali Democratic Republic on July 1st, 1960, Somali women were nowhere to be seen. There were no women representatives in the Cabinet or in Parliament. Their services were no longer required in achieving independence.


The benefit of independence was minimal to Somali women as it was mostly the men who were educated and who benefited in terms of employment, education and prestige. However, with the movement into large cities, many Somali women lost their defined position in society, resulting in many women being left to fend for themselves, their children and other extended family members


In urban centers like Mogadishu, approximately "50% of small scale businesses are run by women". Others were civil servants and were involved in jobs as "teachers, nurses and clerks"[4] who were given very few opportunities to advance in a society were patriarchy and clan lineage are the order of the day.


In October 21, 1969, Siyad Barre came to power through a coupd'etat . The Somali language was developed into written form and a phenomenal literacy campaign was successfully launched. This was an opportunity for many Somali girls to get access to education. As many entered the universities, the future looked hopeful for Somali women.


However, the reality has proven otherwise. "Although 8 years of schooling is compulsory, it is estimated that 96% of Somali women cannot read and girls receive about one third of the schooling of boys and that female literacy is 39 percent of male literacy.[5]


Barre government's attempt to try to better the situation of Somali women failed partly due to opposition from some men who based their arguments on religion. Their position however contradicted the Quran's message of equality between women and men.


According to Country Report 1992, women have been subject of discrimination in work and family matters. I rural areas, women are "treated as beasts of burden" [6]doing much of the work but receiving little recognition.


Although Somali women have had the right to vote in Islam for over 1400 years, In Somalia since 1958 in the south and since 1961 in the north, yet they are not permitted to take part in the tribal or assembly of elder where the real clan decision making process takes place.


The outbreak of civil war in 1991 affected the whole country, but it has had the greatest impact on Somali women and children:



"The tragedy of the current destruction and violence

in our country has been leveled disproportionately

against the Somali women. It is not surprising that

this is so, given that women have, for a long time,

occupied a marginalized and powerless position in our



The situation of women in areas of armed conflict, as well as the role of women in Somali society, are issues that have drawn the attention of human rights groups and Somali analysts.


The present position of Somali women continues to be unacceptable. According to Dr. Safia Shire, a former diplomat with the Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "when the slow disintegration of (Somali) society and institution as well as the destruction and violence started, the rights of Somali women began eroding and they became a voiceless group".[8]


Many of the victims during the past four years of war were specifically targeted because of their weakness and vulnerability due to their lack of military strength and clan or sub clan affiliation.


While many men were away, fighting for the honor and prestige of their clan, the women were left to take care of the family. Close to one million refugees, mostly women and children, fled to neighboring countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti. "Women who flee become refugees at the mercy of incomprehensible bureaucracies and hostile governments".[9]


On the way, they were abused, tortured, raped and killed because of their clan affiliation or that of their husband and children. Amnesty Information and other sources described "that the number of rapes in Somalia was massive in scale...and commonplace in the villages".[10]


When Africa Watch interviewed women in the refugee camps, nearly one half said they had also been attacked in Somalia


Unfortunately, many were ostracized as if the abuse they had received was something they had brought on themselves. They were used as pawns in the game of clan politics.


Many women remained in their cities trying to make the best of the situation. They were instrumental in trying to save many people through the opening of soup kitchens, operating schools for children, running the hospital and were generally involved in the delivery of social services


Thirty five years after independence, the position of Somali women is worse than it was before. Even though they suffered much in the aftermath of the civil war, Somali women have been marginalized and excluded from taking part in the reconciliation efforts, both by the Somalis as well as the International community.


When the U.N. announced that each region would have three individual based on their clan affiliation, it left me with a mixture of emotions. I was happy that Somali women were finally being acknowledged and at the same time realizing the futility of implementing this plan as the clan establishment is a purely male oriented realm. True to form, none of the clans agreed to have women represent them.


Country reports 1993, noted that "with social breakdown caused by the civil war, clan loyalties have grown even stronger". This does not bode well for Somali women or their participation in Somali society.[11]


The growing Islamic movements in Somalia, whose main focus seems to the domination and subjugation of women in the area of political and social participation will also be a barrier for women.


These men's obsession with women and especially women's dress code points to disturbing trends that is destined to erode any gain Somali women have made in the past 35 years.


Unfortunately, many Somali women believe that Islam is the domain of men without investigating what Islam has to say about the political and social involvement of some men. Some men feel threatened when women do claim their Islamic rights such as equality between men and women, the right to education and the right to participate in community affairs. Their reaction is to put women down so that the authority of men will not be questioned.


This suppression is not confined to women in Somali, but seems to afflict, from my observations, women in the Diaspora as well. Those who use Islam as a means of gaining political power are using similar means of oppression through fear as those who use the clan as a means of legitimizing their power.


Some women also work within the clan framework choosing to overlook the fact that the clan is a male dominated system that contributes to their oppression. They do not seem to realize that it will not benefit them as women.


Somali women need to support and work with each other whether from the rural or urban areas whether from the north or from the south. They need to learn about their Islamic heritage and study the Quran for themselves.


"Equality proposes a principled approach to society.


It concerns structural adjustment as well as domestic

production" [12]

Many people might feel that the equal participation of Somali women is an impossible and an unrealistic task. Somali men who are active in the reconciliation efforts in Somalia should realize that without the participation of half of society, very little has been or can be achieved. Somali men must actively participate in opposing those whose ego is comforted by the subservience of Somali women. They must be the ones to insist that Somali women be equally involved in the decision making process in Somalia


Somali women must question and challenge a culture that contributes to their domination. It is vital for women to educate themselves and t take a more visible and active role in society."


Dr Orbinski, a physician with Medecins sans Frontieres, has witnessed anti war demonstration by women and believes that women the "fabric of (Somali) society" and according to other reports, aid experts believe that "women are the most powerful force rebuilding Somalia.[13]


Anna Abdallah Msekwa, Minister of State in the office of the Tanzanian Prime Minister and a veteran of women's organizations as well as the initiator of Creators of Peace believes that people have to "start initiating peace in the world from where you are, in your heart, home, workplace and community"[14]


Somali women have demanded to be included in the peace negotiations but they have been excluded. They are "not allowed to speak in meetings and have been noticeably absent from any international or internal for for peace negotiations"[15]


For a lasting peace to be achieved in Somalia, women must be involved. Violence, threats of violence and abuse of women should no longer be tolerated.


In Islam, education is a right as well as a responsibility upon every Muslim, whether male or female. Lack of access to education has serious consequences in terms of the participation of Somali women and must be remedied immediately.


Attention and support must be given to women's groups by Somali society and the International communities.


"Substantive equality is about taking into account the

naming consequences of women's social exclusion. It is

about stopping and correcting the exclusion mechanisms."[16]

Therefore, in order for Somali women to achieve equality, women must be provided with the support and training necessary for social and economic empowerment; for example, by funding women's organizations and providing the necessary structure to facilitate women's economic success and political activism.


Through innovative ideas and practical implementation, women can provide ways of overcoming the distrust and hostilities between the various clans. Somali women need a platform on which they can come together, regardless of clan affiliations, to discuss common concerns and needs


In order to achieve this, "we must encourage the establishment of the mechanisms that will serve to advance women in all official capacities related to International diplomacy."[17]


Somali women must be provided with the opportunity to participate in forums, such as this conference where the future of the Somali people is being discussed.


The frustrations and anger felt by Arraweelo at having to be ruled by an inept and useless council is one that many Somali women, including myself, can relate to.



I firmly believe that if Somali women have been involved in the reconciliation efforts from the beginning, the hostilities would not have reached the levels they had nor would it have lasted as long as it has.


I believe that now is the time to remedy the situation. The efforts being made on behalf of Somalia should be one that focuses on our similarities rather than on our differences. Somalis everywhere should be reminded of our need and support for each other.


In the Qur'an, in the translation made by Yusuf Ali, there is a commentary in the Chapter of Women (Sura al Nisa) that says "What can be a holier cement to society than the....women's right secured; ...and all life lived in faith, charity and kindness sincere to all our fellow creatures."[18]. The essence of this is that of women are treated well, the whole society benefits. [19]


History seems "to indicate that Arraweelo did actually live and rule most, if not all of Somali territory"[20]. The story of Arraweelo is one that has been told for generations and is still told to children, both girls and boys today. Although it is primarily used as an example of why women's rule should be vigorously opposed, it provided me with a concrete role model of a Somali woman.


It illustrates and highlights the positive characteristics of having women in leadership positions. Although Arraweelo is portrayed as a violent woman who enjoyed castrating men (I believe that the castration was political rather than physical), the reality is that she took over the control of Somalia at a time when it desperately needed order, peace and prosperity.


My paper is dedicated to all the Somali women who continue to struggle against injustice and violence and have had the courage and strength to world towards building Somalia that is equitable and peaceful for all



[1]"Christine Choi, "Finely Etched Chattel:the intervention of a Somali Woman", The Invention of Somalia, ed. Ali Jimale Ahmed, Red Sea Press, Lawrenceville, NJ, 1995, pp. 157 189


[2]Rhoda Ibrahim, "The changing lives of Somali women", "Changing perceptions: writings on Gender and Development", ed. Tina Wallace with Candida March, Oxfam publications, Oxford, 1991, pp 132 136.


[3]Rhoda Ibrahim, 1991, op.cit.


[4]Rhoda Ibrahim, 1991, op.cit


[5]Centre d'Etudes Arabes pour le Developement (CEAD), "Somalia: Women's Human Rights", "Women in the Horn of Africa: Background papers", Alternatives, Montreal, "Quebec, 1995, pp. 144 168.


[6]Dahabo Farah, "Role of Women in Somali Society", Montreal, Canada, 1994.


[7]Centre d'Etudes Arabes pour le Development (CEAD), 1995, op.cit.


[8]Centre d'Etudes Arabes pour le Developpement (CEAD), 1995, op.cit.


[9]Diana Wong, "War and Women", "Canadian Women Studies: Women's rights are Human Rights", 15, 2&3, Spring/Summer 1995, pp. 25 29.


[10]Centre d'Etudes Arabs pour le Development (CEAD), 1995, op.cit.


[11]Centre d'Etudes Arabes pour le Developpement (CEAD), 1995, op.cit.


[12]Lucie Lamarche, "An historical review of Social and Economic Rights: A case for real rights", "Canadian Women Studies: Women's Rights are Human rights", 15, 2&3, Spring/Summer 1995, pp. 12 18.


[13]Centre d'Etudes Arabes pour le Developpement (CEAD), 1995, op.cit.


[14]Anna Abdallah Msekwa, "Creators of Peace Inaugural Conference", Caux, Switzerland, 1991.


[15]Hibaaq Osman, "Somali women rally for peace", "Match News", July 1995, p.2.


[16]Lucie Lamarche, 1995, op.cit.


[17]Hibaaq Osman, 1995, op.cit.


[18]The Holy Qur'an, Sura al Nisa, translation by Yusuf Ali


[19]Jamal Badawi, "Gender Equity in Islam: Basic Principles", American Trust Publications, Plainfield, Indiana, 1995.


[20]Christine Choi, 1995, op.cit.


© 1993 Ladan Affi

All Rights Reserved.

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Steve Austin


it looks like u got plenty of time on ur hands buddy!


whatever she was the thought of that woman chopping off men's private parts makes me cripple.....can u believe that ?!!

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Khaafa'Alaah Walaalo, Igaarka Ga'iga siiso Man! What did I do to you?



Steve, Thanks for the Story!!



Anything good I said came from Allah...Anything bad I said...well..thats PMS talking.

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another Araweelo u must be kidding!


yeah right.....another one and we all will be walking on two legs just like our female counterparts...

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Well, as usual there is the intellectual point of view and the idiotic one. Thank you Steve and Jaber for confirming that!! That was a well written piece Steve...much love there....Jaber on the other hand.....well what can I say...wiil yahow caga medhow and then seexo!!!!!!!! Ama, and this I really, borrow, or steal a brain, cause yours is expired!!!!!!1

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why is my point of view idiotic??...and on the other hand Mr.Cowboy Steve Austin's copy&paste is intlectually beyond belief?!!.. few words from a gaalboy and y'all r overcomed with joy&happiness??!


look little xaliimo-came-lately



u got the hots for Steve?......leave Jaber out of it!.......don't use me as an excuse to get to him...


I've seen ten's like u come&go.....apparently u r no different from the rest..........just pass me by lady will ya?

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it is so strange and so shocking that when a people want to learn thier culture, folklore, peoms, songs, religion, history and thier mother tangue from soucres that themselves hear from second and twisted sources. it is also stupid when pple learn from a fouringer .. araweelo story was a fictitious lullaby or conconted tale that did not happen. even many somali poets laughed about the story or used as allegory or as imagery .. some times they used as form of wisdom...


however, the silly anti islamic as well as anti somali family colonialists, fiminists, comunists, and the crusading evil westereners, islamic fanatics, try to abuse, debase somali litrature, ethics, and social norms for thier own selfish end ...


although there is no subjugtion of somali woman, this evil forces with the help of siyadist tyrants, and sick lesbianists promoted and really succeeded the the complete distraction of samali pple .. family and values.. I know laddan affi in ottawa.. and I know personally many low standards of those metamephoraised indifiduals who engage lies and try to use araweelo fable as launching piont of their silly and nonsense ideaology they called fiminism.. it will not work .. it may could really backfire.. how come a woman who warship them selves an evil lady, can rule somalis.. it could tur worse and may proove logically ( al though not true) that infact woman has a low mentallity and they want to remove the testicles from men .. well be my guest .. and go ahead of your lies .. although somali litrature promotes equalities in men and in that matter of woman, it is has its own life wheather, folktale, peoms, plays, drams.. it has its contradiction, immagery of violence, love, hate, satire, inticement, and intertainment..

The arawelo story is,ironically, aimed to teach wisdom, fear of power, intelgency, and imagination... it is fiction story, but as i see it will be the most crual story that woman will ever tell to them..


I think somali men, although most of them tolarent, and love strongly to see the freedom, and equality to prevail of thier pple, can turn more deadly than the taliban.. as we see this woman really think araweelo as thier herion, we will see Oday Biiqay will be more than fictional wise, good and human elder.. and if womam love cruality against men as thier symple and they can say an infidal "thank you" as hamida say becuase, he backs the cruallity against the somali men then we as men forget any good will to this brainless *****es...


Barre goverment did not failed of his education cause of opposition of the islamic men , he failed becuse of his evil and crual methods..just becuase he had like the ***** of laddan affi and the infidel like you .. after the failed independency, somali pple tried hard to achieve education of their children but infact the appolgists like ladan affe ( who are darod, like siyaad,) ropped the nation...


islaamic men states what the koran says, but siyaad,like his communists were looking to shed blood in order to impose on islamic pple on god less ideology.....


this bithes and infidal bustards, and traitors like siyaad are really a an allegory of the araweelo story... how ever, those woman who are naively think it is ok to boost the araweelo cruality go ahead , but their could be real cruality that we may tell the coming thousand years.. as we now tell the siyaad cruality

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Steve, thanks for posting that article here I think it was very facinating story...we really do need women participate in Somalia's political affairs.


but ofcourse mj and the likes will never apreciate it :rolleyes: AND WILL TRY TO TURN EVERYTHING INTO TRIBE OR REER HEBEL :mad:


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You're taking the castration thing literally...I believe the article suggested that it was political removal of power rather than actual physical castration!


The plausibility of physical castration of a whole society seems absurd to realistic is that?...just another tactic to show that women in power become *monsters*.


It's a deep rooted fear isn't it?...that the female hates the penis and all it's supposed mythical powers and somehow wants to take it away!


It's a very old and well established idea though...and forms the core arguement for such esteemed phychologists as Freud...the father of all "shrinks"...the old bird blamed most feminine complexs on penis envy!...SHIDH...that really is unbelievable.


Case of projecting your own failures onto others methinks...Female Genital Mutilation is still common in our homeland to this who's the real monster here?



What's the difference between fiction and reality?...fiction has to make sense.

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