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To learn you Need to Unlearn.

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Mohamed-Khadar S. Farah (from Wardheernews)


It sometimes occurs to one to ask himself what deserves to be written. To get an answer for this question, one asks himself another question that is: for what audience? And yet another question is: for what purpose?


Answers to these questions form the skeleton and the vanishing points upon which the article's content is drawn. As we can categorize everything, we can put a piece of a written work into different categories, such as news, report, propaganda, fiction, analysis, narrative and numerous other classes. And every one has its audience to whom the work appeals. I would be very much interested to know what generally appeals to Somali audience—a piece that sells to them. However, when I choose to write, I write my own soliloquy. That is the answer of the question I formulate and pose to myself.


My questions usually come from my internal dissatisfaction with my own environment, and why, I, as a Somali, occupy in the lowest strata of the family of nations' pyramid. What have the Somalis been doing for the last 6000 years of the recorded history of mankind? What has arrested their learning process? And why are their modern day studies are null and void that does not have an impact in their collective life-style? Why the aim of education to many is to learn the language of instruction but not the substance of the faculty? Why the learning process has become disruptive of the mode of life of Somali culture and tradition?


Often and times the following comes to my mind: Somalis have been processing their own leather and they used the hides of their live-stock one time as a material to sleep on, another time as a utensil to keep their milk “Sibraarâ€, or to use it as a bowl “wadaan†or as a piece of attire “dhuu†or as a nice quality home processed prayer rug, shoe and many other uses. So what has the modern learning given them to improve what they already had, instead of disrupting that whole industry?


They had known to separate butter and milk by way of simple form of gyration and had nice smelling “sixinâ€. That is no more. So what has become the role of the educated in this important area?


You can count yourself numerous low-tech techniques that have been abandoned without a domestic substitute. Of all those things, I have come to the conclusion that this has been a process of unlearning.


In abstract manners, there has also been another process of unlearning how Somalis dealt with conflict resolutions, how they have managed to live side by side while at the same time they were fighting over the scanty water resources. So, it has become an easy process for the system of education to introduce a systematic unlearning of important concrete and abstract qualities that could have been enhanced.


My findings then become, well in the remote past Somalis have been slow learners, but that is not a major problem, since most of human achievements were results in the past few centuries. However, in modern times education and modernity has brought more harm than good.


My quest for a solution will be long and longer than I could live. It needs the participation of much more energy than I could expand acting alone in a virtual solitude. And the energies that were spent on the question of Samsam alone could have been directed into more soul searching depths that free millions of Samsam-like issues from the grip of relentless times.


I see the solution to be derived from the same process that has catapulted this nation into this turmoil. It is the process of unlearning. Somalis need to learn to unlearn what they have wrongfully absorbed from schools and from wigwams. And I have emphasized so far what has been wrongfully learned? But not every thing is inclusive.


The process of unlearning could be constructively used. And at different stages in the school you learn and unlearn. As a child you are taught (2-3) two minus three is impossible, but you later unlearn and find out the answer is (-1). You learn that all numbers are real, but you later learn that complex numbers exist. And as you go further in your studies unlearning becomes necessary to stretch a theory to other spaces.


Just as every thing has advantage and disadvantage, the process of unlearning has not worked to our advantage to this date I thought. So if you happen to be the narrow audience that could read to this point, I thank you for your time.


I hope you find out that our life as Somalis is an un-examined life. It is said that “un-examined life is not worth livingâ€. To make our lives worth living, we need to find out what are the major and important things that Somalis need to unlearn. I have not listed any particular one in this writing, but I leave that question open to all Somalis.


Internet is a revolutionary vehicle that gives every body what he wants. With it you can disseminate knowledge and healthy ideas or you can disseminate hate and dirty ideas; with it you can make friend and foes for your self; it could be an invisible university or it could be a time hog and sucking vortex of useless browsing. But I wonder; with the countless sites, how it could help the Somalis get out of the maze, unravel the tangled net of affairs and unlearn the wartime lectures.


Conquer your minds, and your minds will turn hell to heaven. Fail to do so, and your heaven becomes your hell.




Mohamed-Khadar S. Farah

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