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Audio Cassette From Home

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Is this thing working? Are you sure it’s working? He said the last cassette we sent him was not clear enough and he did not hear much of what we were saying. Please make sure it’s working ok.


Is it working now? Shall I talk? What, now?


Hallo, hallo, hallo! Son, I’m sending you this tape with the hope that you’re in the best of health and spirits. We are all well here and we send you greetings that we wring from the deepest void of our hearts. A void we developed the day you left us. Son, we send you our good wishes with the flying clouds, the migrating birds and the blowing wind.


Everyone here is doing fine. The people of the town are all as you left them. We have no complaints whatsoever and we daily thank almighty god for making our lives an easy one and reducing our burden. Life is all about being content, my son, and we are content and happy with god’s will.


Son, we received the money you sent us last month and it helped us greatly in sorting out the sanitary problems we had. The rest of the money we used to purchase more animals.


You see, our donkey, that faithful companion of your youth, has died, son. Don’t shed a tear for him though. The brute lived a good and long life and fulfilled all the ambitions or target any average donkey would have wanted to fulfil.


Eight of our goats have developed diarrhoea and we had to slaughter them all and give their meat to the needy. The needy also developed diarrhoea (which I believe is unrelated to our goats) and the authorities are talking about persecuting me. Don’t worry though, son. Remember your cousin Ali? Well, he’s here on holiday. He works in London as an interpreter in a law firm and has, in his eight years of working there, learnt a great deal about law. He assures me that I’ve done nothing wrong and has promised to prolong his holiday until my court case (if ever it reaches such a drastic end) is over. He even volunteered to act as my legal representative, solicitor and QC. He keeps repeating the words Habeas corpus and says that all this stuff is really not cricket. I have no idea what any of it means but your aunt Nadia, his mother, assures me that he knows what he’s talking about.


Your brother ran off with the maid. He resented being the youngest one in the family and having to do all the petty jobs, because he’s the youngest. He, along with the scheming maid, who in turn resented being a maid, came upon a genius idea. They decided to get married! As a married man, he reasoned, that nobody would look down on him as a youngster or expect him to fetch the hand-wash and towels after food (unless of course it’s a dinner in his house and there are no young people amongst the dinner party). His (future) wife, the wretched maid, also reasoned that as a married woman, none of the youngsters of the family would try to take advantage of her or the girls will look down on her as a mere maid. The last we knew of them, they were walking the seventy miles to the capital. I wouldn’t panic if I were you though; no sane judge, mullah or old man is going to marry off a fourteen-year-old girl to an eight-year-old boy.


Your mother wants a divorce, again! She still claims that I have not looked after her as I promised and that I lied to her as a fifteen-year-old girl when I told her that, in ten years’ time, we would be millionaires! As you are well aware, I always tried to explain to her that man makes the best plans but providence smashes right through them. As you’re also aware, I usually manage to eventually convince her of my love and devotion. However, this time, none of my remonstrances are working. This, if you may allow me to hazard a guess, is due to two reasons. First of all, your grandmother is back and is slithering about the place and hissing all sorts of nonsense in your mother’s ears. As a result, your mother has recently taken to reminding me of her lineage and her ancestors’ good name! Your grandmother promises to find your fifty-year-old mother a suitable match if she would only divorce me!


The second reason for your mother’s change of heart and coldness towards me is Omer. Settle down, son. I’m not accusing your mother of adultery. But I believe that she has the hots for young Omer. Oh! I beg your pardon, Son. Omer is the young man I employed to help me with work. He’s young, good looking and from the same tribe as your mother. He also has a way with the ladies. The girls in the neighbourhood all make all sorts of excuses to come and see Omer. Our shop is now always full of girls and our house too. Well, our house used to be full of girls but your mother drove them all away. With no maid in the house anymore, your mother has to make all the food and clean the house. She spares the best food for Omer and spends hours cleaning his room (yes, he moved in into your old room. Your mother insisted he move in!).


Your sister Fatema has tamed her husband. Yes, I was surprised too. Remember when she used to come home with black and blue eyes? Remember how every time we offered to go round and ‘fix him’ she would protest, cry and plead with us? She was in love with him back then and said that his karbaash (whip) was an expression of his love for her and that we should stay out of their business. Well, your sister grew up, son. Her beloved husband, in a fit of anger, destroyed all her China Cups. Remember the China Cups you sent her from America (she tells people you sent them from China)? Well, her silly husband broke them all because he was not happy about his breakfast being late. Your sister, as you well know, loves her husband dearly. But, she was also proud of the fact that she was the only woman who owned China Cups in the whole city (and three other neighbouring cities, I’m told). With one silly motion of his hands, her unthinking husband smashed her lofty position in town (and the three neighbouring towns) to the ground. With one motion of her hand (and a few of her feet, nails and teeth) she smashed his face in. I wouldn’t say that your brother-in-law is drinking out of a straw now, but he sure is not drinking from China Cups.


Did you hear about our parliamentary elections, son? You must have. The newspapers here say that the eyes of the world were on us. Everyone who is everyone made sure that they voted in these elections. To start with, many of us wanted to vote because the politicians told us that it was good for the country and us. We all want what is good for the country. One politician told us that if we all voted, the Arabs might remove their ban on our livestocks. He said they only banned them because we did not vote in previous elections! That was before I slaughtered my eight sick goats. I really wanted to sell them to the Arabs but when the politician said the ban will not be lifted until after the elections, I had no choice but to slaughter them, son.


Many people voted for their cousins, relatives or those that promised the biggest windfalls. I waited for your instructions on who to vote for but received none, so, I had to gamble and vote for the tallest candidate. If we’re going to have a farsighted winner, it’s most likely that he’ll be the tallest in the party.


This election was a farce, son. Two days before the main day, a vicious rumour has spread about town that not many people can read or write! Of course, as you can imagine, in a proud town as ours such a rumour is not tolerated. People started going round and wanting to know who can and who can’t write. There were no volunteers willing to stand up and prove that they can indeed write or demonstrate their ignorance by showing that they can’t write. Every person that was approached got angry and remonstrated about being singled out or muttered darkly about tribal conspiracies.


We finally all agreed upon a cunning plan and amazing solution to prove that we all can read and write. Some bright spark has suggested that we all take part in the parliamentary elections and vote for our preferred candidate! Everybody was happy with this ingenious compromise and we all argued that nobody was obtuse enough to derail the wheels of democracy and disrespecting the will of the people by voting in an election when he/she could not read or write. Besides, we all knew how easy it was to read and write an election slip. All one has to do is read the instructions, look at the photos of the various candidates, stick a finger in the ink and stamp the finger next to the chosen candidate’s photograph. For one to prove that one can read, all one has to do is come out with one’s stained finger held aloft.


We heard in the radio that the level of literacy in our town is 88%! Everyone in town disputes that figure. We all voted in the election and everyone had those blue stains for weeks. We finally agreed that the 88% figure includes all our sons and daughters that have moved away (like you). I also, secretly, knew it includes your silly brother and the wretched maid.


Son, the tape is running out and I still have not said all I need to say. Besides, I have a treat for you this time. Remember our local singer? You used to love his songs and look up to him when you were a kid. Well, I invited him to lunch today (along with his band). They’re now sitting here having eaten and had their drinks and are ready to sing you a song. This is a 60 minutes cassette, so it might end any minute now and you might not be able to hear the entire song.


Before I let the band play, I have a favour to ask, son. Will it be at all possible to send us more money this month? The monthly allowance you send us is usually adequate enough for all our needs. But, what with the need to employ a new maid, sack Omer and hire an assassin to sort out your grandmother I had to spend all of the allowance earlier than is usual.


Your sister has been depressed and is begging you to send her new China Cups.


Take care my dear son. Until we speak again, enjoy the music.



Take it away boys.

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^^^ Eid Mubarak to you too, saaxib.




In his book, A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens starts with the following paragraph:


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Now, whilst Mr Dickens was talking about the French Revolution there, I’m sure reading those words, in your opinion at least, would also ring true when applied to the case of Somaliland. The best of times? The worst of times? The age of wisdom? Enough to give you Goose bumps, saaxib. smile.gif


Still, don’t read too much into the story. It was not a critique of anything. The hope was that, you would suspend belief for a bit and warm to the old man in the story.


The practise of sending audiocassettes to relatives abroad is a dying tradition. I personally came across it only briefly in my childhood and found it highly amusing. Everyone was a newsreader! A sixty-minute tape was like a regular radio show. It gave you the latest news (at the moment of going to press of course), it told you of the weather and it gave opinions on various national and international events. In the days before satellite TV, landlines and mobile phones, these tapes reigned supreme.


I have not personally experienced it and I have not verified this idea yet, but I would imagine that when a migrant son sent such a tape home, the whole village would sit down to listen to his tape and hear all about the far away world he lived in. I can just imagine them all wanting to tape their greetings in the reply.


The innocence, bless and gullibility of those making these tapes is not fake or phoney in any way. The fact they don’t realise how they come across and would, in their everyday lives, go about their business all thinking they’re the best of the best (which indeed they are) is quite endearing.


This story, though having strong Somali whiff, could easily be about Iraq or Afghanistan (which is why I chose not to use any Somali terms or expressions).

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runti, taas waa xasoos!


My mother would play those tapes from ayeeyo and the haber yaroo's over and over..over again...usually until the tape got eaten up by the cassette player.


When it was our turn, we would become actors and 'radio personalities' when sending these tapes back to somalia..Take 1...Take 2...Take afar baqol iyo labantan... :D



Your mother wants a divorce, again! She still claims that I have not looked after her as I promised and that I lied to her as a fifteen-year-old girl when I told her that, in ten years’ time, we would be millionaires!

Now how many somali husbands have heard those lines before.... :D


We heard in the radio that the level of literacy in our town is 88%! Everyone in town disputes that figure. We all voted in the election and everyone had those blue stains for weeks. We finally agreed that the 88% figure includes all our sons and daughters that have moved away (like you). I also, secretly, knew it includes your silly brother and the wretched maid.

Oodhayasha never everrr take the blame...its a rule-farax couldn't have done it, so jamma is responsible but jamma points at Axmed and his kids ...etc. smile.gif




To every story, there are a few lessons to be


learned from or as you say 'MORAL POSTIVISM'.


Some these 'MORAL POSTIVISMS' that I see are:


-Role of the father


-Relation btwn the father and the son (that has been greatly strained and replaced with single mothers and sons etc.)


-The belief that those who moved to the 'WEST'

(ref.-China cups sent from American)

are the 'GUIDING LIGHT' for the somali family b/c they have gone out to see 'KNOWLEDGE' and a 'BETTER LIFE' for their families.


-The belief that your neighbourhood, city, country etc. was the CENTER of the WORLD

(This is not true because our sense of time and distance has dramatically changed!)


more can be said ofcourse....


Fi Amanillah

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Hearing about the Somaliland voter registration process I just had to revive this one. Pardon the squiggles in between, it was a cut and paste job. :D

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