Outlive the dollar

Those who migrate across dangerous seas do so because of the utopia they’ve been sold by their brethrens in the West, through social media. ¹
I see we still have our nomad tendencies. Nomadic determinism. A myopic view of the world that somehow always comes back to currency. Not the currents of the turbulent waters that kill our brethrens. Currency, as in money.
We still act like the nomads on the arid plains of Somalia; here when there’s greenery for our cattle to eat, gone when there’s none. You see, in Somalia money *does* grow on trees. Or at least on grass. Our money is not paper. Money is anything that can act as a substitute for the inner freedom we lack. Any problem in life, we solve by throwing money at, treating life cheaply like a stripper. How can we blame the diasporians for selling a capitalistic fantasy, when in the same breath we try to convince others to come to Somalia by using the same capitalistic fantasies?
Sheeps are now dollars. Cows are cars. Camels are houses. The Somali man’s power is not his resilience or his courage or his honesty or his creativity or his altruism. It’s his money.

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Tell the sultan who sent you here


The semi-arid plains of Somalia left its people no choice but to rear cattle. They had no skills such as carpentry or black smith welding so the nomadic lifestyle became their lifeline. Typical of dry climates, rain was a scarce and precious commodity upon which life depended upon. The grass needed water to grow, cattle needed grass, children needed milk, people needed meat. Rain, then, is a pivotal point in our culture denoting happiness and beauty. Even the Somali calendar revolves around the rain seasons. In Somali literature and poetry, rain is a favoured topic. Below you will find an excerpt from a lengthy tale about a sultan worried about the severe drought, sending his wise men to look for answers to rest the hearts, and finding assurance from the most unexpected of places.


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Serenades of a Somali nomad

The following is a transcription from an anthology of translated Somali poetry¹. Being a translation of an eloquent language that only had mouths and minds as mode of transmission,as books and ink,as a legacy – it goes without saying that the intricate beauty cannot be transported to another country,another language. One particular poem that soothed me was preceded by this short commentary :

It was the custom that when a man was seeking a girl in marriage and her family looked on him with favour, he would pay a visit to her homestead,bringing gifts. With him would come some of his kinsmen, to add solemnity to the visit and protect him, and the gifts, on the journey. In his youth, Cumar Ostreeliya accompanied his cousin Maxamed on such a journey to the home of Weris, Maxamed’s bride-to-be, and he composed this poem in her honour.


If in these verses, linked by the sound of ‘S’

I were to give a true account, O Weris, of your qualities

Unlocking the coffers of my skill

And opening my breast where clocklike beats my heart,

And were I to describe your appearance

Just as it was first created-

Why,the men who dwell in distant Sirow

Would all come here to seek you out!

But since the evil eye of jealousy

Is not wont to miss its aim,

I shall instead speak simply

Listen, then, to my words tonight,

For this is no time to sleep-

See,we have brought fire and pulled aside

The barrier gate of the thorny fence!


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