Somaliland: Paying Tribute to Author Margaret Laurence at the Hargeisa Cultural Centre


Somalilandsun- The weather was fine last night (Wednesday night) as it was very cold this year in Hargeisa and generally in Somaliland, as the people told me this cold was the worst for the last decades.

We were in the Hargeisa Cultural Centre which was the only platform perfect to held the memory of the great writer of Margaret Laurence who come to our country of Somaliland, nearly 70 Years ago with her husband Jack who was Civil Engineer and he got the contract from the Colonial Office of the British government which was in charge in  Somaliland at the time and Jack was the person won this contract as British government advertising  the project to build rain reservoirs or (Balliyo) for stock Watering places across the dry haud in Somaliland, Margaret was a written two books about the Somaliland people those were;

A Tree for poverty and the Prophet’s Camel Bell, while those two books are a significant literary she left the Somaliland people as they are history books as well.

 A Tree for poverty

The name of her first book which was A tree for poverty from the poem of Abokor Cawad Beele which was mean in Somali language Goodiga ban cawl ayuu fakhrigu geed ku leeyahy Donez XIQUES,PhD from City University of New York said in his introduction of her first book  A tree for poverty opens with Laurence’s acknowledgements and a lengthy introduction in which she provides an overview of the land, people, and culture of Somaliland, Laurence praises Somali achievement and comments on the places of literature in their life and culture: “in a country as barren as this, where the population is almost entirely nomadic and where the actual process of survival demands so much effort and tenacity from each tribesman, it seems remarkable that there should be such a large body of unwritten literature, containing such a high degree of dramatic sense, vivid imagination and wit.”(37) at the time of her writing approximately 70 percent of the Somali
population consisted of semi-nomadic pastoralists.

Castagno explainsin (The Historical Dictionary of Somalia) That “The pastoralist regard herding — especially the herding of camels — as noble occupation “(75). Margret Laurence’s sensitivity to the exigencies of the nomadic existence of the camel herders is reflected in many parts of the introduction as the following excerpt illustrates:”The Somali boy in the (miyi) or interior-plains is brought up with little direct discipline, in order that he may be spirited, independent, aggressive and self-reliant. If he were not these things, his camel would drink last at the wells, his enemies would be able to bully him, and he would lose his nerve when making the long trek over the dry Haud in the Jilal season with his herds. Individualism and independence are a necessary step to survival.”(29-30) .

Since poetry and folk tales are as available and free to the impoverished nomads as they are to theSultan, Laurence points out that Somali literature is, in its way. ” ‘a tree for poverty to shelter under’ “(14). She comments on approximately ten different types of Somali poetry and presents translation of thirty poems. She also includes paraphrases of thirty-six tales that are either Somali or Arabic in origin, and contributes extensive notes about Somali or Arabic in Origin, and contributes extensive notes about Somali customs and vocabulary.
Although the tone of Laurence’s introduction is scholarly and detached, the content of the notes makes clear that Laurence’s had in mind not only English readers but educated Somalis as well, since in some cases in some her remarks (about distinctions among varies tribes, camels and eponymous Somali ancestors for example) are germane only to them as I am the person organize the Event of held the Hargeisa Cultural Centre and I would like to say thank you Ismail who is the one made to happen the Event with his staff from Hargeisa Cultural Centre as whole and also I must say thanks to Huda Ali hassan Roodiile ( Ali-Banfas) who was my fellow panel and was star of the event last night not only that while her father was great poet as well as I should thank you all of our audience who were wonderful as they were asking me and Huda a lot of valuable question which was not easy
to gave them easy answers. At last I should say a big thanks to Jama Musa Jama who is the Chairperson of the Hargeisa Cultural Centre as he did good job in here Hargeisa and Somali Week in London as well and he is tireless person wherever he is whether he is in Hargeisa or London.
By: Abdi Jama, Hargeisa, Somaliland

Jama Muse Jama of the Hargeisa Cultural entre facilitated