Journal of Somali Studies - latest Issue
Volume 3, Issue 1-2, 2016
From linguistic imperialism to language domination : "linguicism" and ethno-linguistic politics in SomaliaSource: Journal of Somali Studies 3, pp 9 –52 (2016)More Less
As was the case with many newly independent African nations, Somalia was beset by a language problem whose complexity had begun well before independence and the unification of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland in 1960. With three languages (English, Arabic, and Italian) used as media of communication in government offices and in schools, various Somali administrations struggled to contain the impasse but found no tangible solution. Barely three years after Mohamed Siad Barre seized power in October 1969, he had his military regime introduce the Somali orthography in the Latin alphabet. Based on this milestone, Siad Barre's military rule is highly commended for taking a remarkable step forward in what came to be known as the Somalization project. However, officials of the government and Somali scholarship failed to examine the social impact of the Somalization project on sections of the multi-ethnic and multilingual entities in the country, in addition to overlooking the possible alternative interpretations that could be drawn from the factors underlying the project. Hence, in this essay, we bring into focus some of the factors related to the adoption and implementation of the national language, particularly in two aspects: (a) the selection of Af Maxaa (Mahaa language) over other vernacular tongues (b) the central/northern variant of Maxaa that was standardized as the national language. In more specific terms, we dwell on how ethnic politics and hegemony were not only longstanding problems in Somalia's language issue but also significant actors in the military regime's language decision and how despite the pride that underpinned nationalizing the language of the supposedly homogeneous monolingual nation, aspects of linguicism and cultural prejudice remain visible in Somali studies and scholarship, a likely reason that scholars have been too shy to examine the considerable pitfalls of the process throughout sections of the society.
Author Geetha GangaSource: Journal of Somali Studies 3, pp 53 –83 (2016)More Less
It is common knowledge that huge Somali populations are scattered throughout the entire world and that there are more Somalis living outside of Somalia since the outbreak of the civil war in 1991, and the ensuing clan violence that subsequently led to the so-called 'state collapse.' It is estimated that millions of Somalis were forcibly displaced within Somalia, Africa, and to literally every other part of the world. But what is most heartening is how the Somalis have and are still struggling to establish themselves in host societies and coping with alien cultures in the diaspora, whether as immigrants, new citizens, or asylum seekers. Despite the fact that the process of (re)integration has been rather uneven and challenging, quite a few Somalis have been doing remarkably well in white-collar jobs, as entrepreneurs and/or as educated people, according to Ahmed Samatar and Lidwien Kapteijns (2008:v-vi). Among the displaced Somali diaspora, the situation of the refugees in the complex of camps in Kenya, known as Dadaab camps, and which is the largest and most protracted refugee situation in the world, has been the most distressing.
Author Rima Berns-McGownSource: Journal of Somali Studies 3, pp 85 –106 (2016)More Less
#CadaanStudies, the academy-changing movement that began life as a Twitter hashtag, is a critique of how knowledge production about Somalis and Somalia has been dominated by white European-descended scholars who write from fundamentally neo-colonial perspectives and who often appear to be writing for each other, perpetuating problematic stereotypes about Somalis and Somalia that result, in turn, in disastrous and harmful domestic and international public policy.
Author Ali Jimale AhmedSource: Journal of Somali Studies 3, pp 119 –128 (2016)More Less
I first heard of Abdi Latif Ega's debut novel Guban from Mahmood Mamdani, when, at the conclusion of an event where I was the discussant of Professor Mamdani's new book Define and Rule, he asked me out of the blue: "Have you read Gubaan?" Unsure of what he was saying, I replied, What? "Gubaan," he said, with a stress on the consonant "b" followed by a long "a" vowel. Sensing my perplexity, he wrote it down on a piece of paper: Guban. Oh, I said. What is it about? "It's a novel by Abdi Latif Ega. Have you read it?" He repeated the question. No, I said, to which Mamdani simply retorted: "Shame on you." From the tone of his retort, I knew he had given me an assignment, a challenge. "I'll read it," I said, without even asking who Ega was or what the novel was about.