“The Killing of the She-Camel” by Mohamed Ibrahim Warsame

Flag of Somalia

Last week, Somalia lost one of its greatest poets, Mohamed Ibrahim Warsame. Affectionately called Hadraawi, which means the “master, or father of speech”, Warsame was regarded as a pillar of modern Somali literature and a strong advocate for peace and democracy. In 1973, he spent 5 years in jail because he spoke against the revolution led by then president Siad Barre; this resulted in his work getting banned. Despite censure, Warsame remained undeterred and continued his work, composing poetry upon his release, songs, and verses. The poem, “The Killing of the She-Camel” led to his imprisonment without trial. In the 1990s, he called for an end of the civil war which has destroyed the country, and displaced countless people. Last week, Somali president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, said “Poet Mohamed Ibrahim Warsame (Hadraawi) was a symbol of unity and peace,”… “He was one of key pillars of Somalia’s art and literature who took a leading role in preserving the Somali culture and promoting the Somali language. His death is felt in every Somali household.

Is there a better way to celebrate the life of Hadraawi than to share this poem? Against corruption, disrespect of the human condition, and nepotism,  Warsame says, “Never will I ever accept a single insulting slide from those grasping commissars…” For his everlasting fight for justice, he says “Until the grave’s prepared… I’ll keep rallying and calling until the Day of Judgment.” Enjoy The Killing of the She-Camel (Hal La Qalay) by Mohamed Ibrahim Warsame, translated to English by Said Jama Hussein and Maxamed Xasan ‘Alto’.

Hal la qalay raqdeedaa

    Hal la qalay raqdeedaa

     Lagu soo qamaamoo

     Qalalaasihii baa

     Nin ba qurub haleeloo

     laba waliba qaybteed

     Qorraxday ku dubatoo

     Qoloftiyo laftiibaa

     Lagu liqay qallaylkee

     Qosol wuxuu ka joogaa

     Qubannaa danbeeyee

     Weli qaba hamuuntee

     Buuraha qotada dheer

     Ka arkaaya qiiqee

     Qarka soo jafaayee

 

     Qalwadii masbaa galay

     Qodax baase hoos taal

     Fule quudhsigii diid

     Geesi qoorta soo dhigey

     Faras qaayihiisii

     Qurux buu ku doorsaday

     Qabqab dhaafay baa yimi

     Qosol qoonsimaad noqoy

     Qabyo waa halkeedii

 

     Qarandidu libaaxbay

     Ku qadhaabataayoo

     Soo qabo tidhaahdaa

     Qaankiyo biciidkoo

     Qaybtana shanlaabay

     Qoondeysataayoo

     Isagnaa qorshaha guud

     Qanjidhkiyo xumaystay

     Ha qawedin tidhaahdaa

     Aarkuna ma quustoo

     Ma qarsado xanuunkee

     Hadba qaran jabkiisiyo

     Qiirada xasuustuu

     Kolba dibin qaniinaa

 

     Qalwadii masbaa galay

     Qodax baase hoos taal

     Fule quudhsigii diid

     Geesi qoorta soo dhigey

     Faras qaayihiisii

     Qurux buu ku doorsaday

     Qabqab dhaafay baa yimi

     Qosol qoonsimaad noqoy

     Qabyo waa halkeedii

 

     Weligay cad quudheed

     Anna qaadan maayoo

     Qalanjadan faraa dheer

     Wax la qaybsan maayee

     Bal inay qabuuruhu

     Saddex-qayd ka maarmaan

     Ama qoor-tal jeexaan

     Labadaas mid quudhaan

     Xilka qaawan saaraan

     Hadba qaylo-doon baan

     Ka horow qiyaamaha

     Ku qulaamin maydkee

     Aan qoofallaadee

     Qarqarsiga ha iga furin.

 

     Qalwadii masbaa galay

     Qodax baase hoos taal

     Fule quudhsigii diid

     Geesi qoorta soo dhigey

     Faras qaayihiisii

     Qurux buu ku doorsaday

     Qabqab dhaafay baa yimi

     Qosol qoonsimaad noqoy

     Qabyo waa halkeedii

 

The Killing of the She-Camel (Hal La Qalay) 

 

How they came rushing to that place

   Where the carcass of the she-camel lay,

    and what a commotion there was

as each caught at her flesh

    pair by pair clawed off their share

    frying it in the glare of the sun

    and cramming down dry

    its crisp skin, crunching the bones.

    You’d bare your teeth too to see

    their scattered followers come

    still cramped with greed, ravenous

    at seeing the smoke ascend

    from the colossal mountain’s top,

    scrambling up cliffs and ravines.

        

    The snake sneaks in the castle:  

    Although it’s carpeted with thorns

     still the coward casts off his curses

     so the courageous must stretch out his neck;

     the cob stallion sells his values

     in order to cut a fine figure.

    When such cockiness struts forth

     and even laughter becomes a crime

     our country has unfinished business.

 

    When the aardvark tells the lion

    how it’s supposed to hunt

    and orders it, ‘Go catch

    the young camel and the oryx’;

    then carves five times its share

    setting this aside

    while granting for the lion’s role

    glands and offal,

    commanding it, ‘Don’t quibble,’

    the lion can’t cave in

    and doesn’t hide its hurt

    but now and then remembering

    the loss of its prestige

    it bites its lip in bitterness.

 

    The snake sneaks in the castle:

     although it’s carpeted with thorns

     still the coward casts off his curses

     so the courageous must stretch out his neck;

     the cob stallion sells his values

     in order to cut a fine figure.

     When such cockiness struts forth

     and even laughter becomes a crime

     our country has unfinished business.

 

     Never will I ever accept

     a single insulting slice

     from those grasping commissars –

     I won’t share a thing with them.

     Until the grave’s prepared

     to forego its three yard shroud 

     or a collar round the neck,

     since one at least is needed

     to cover the naked dead,

     I’ll keep rallying and calling

     until the Day of Judgement,

     pray my cries can comfort the dead:

     tie me to this task, and don’t 

     release me from its harness.

 

     The snake sneaks in the castle:

     although it’s carpeted with thorns

     still the coward casts off his curses

     so the courageous must stretch out his neck;

     the cob stallion sells his values

     in order to cut a fine figure.

     When such cockiness struts forth

     and even laughter becomes a crime

     our country has unfinished business.

 

Traditional Coronation of a New Zulu King

King Misuzulu ka Zwelithini (Source: yahoo news)

The Zulu people of South Africa now have a new king, Misuzulu Siqonbile ka Zwelithini who was crowned king in a traditional ceremony last Saturday. The coronation comes after 50 years of his father’s reign, King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu, and a year-long family feud to determine the rightful heir. For many Zulu people, it is a rare event, the first in 51 years, and totally worthy of celebrations as it welcomes the dawn of a new king of the Zulu Kingdom.

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini and Queen Mantfombi Dlamini (Source: Sundayworld.co.za)

The new king, Misuzulu ka Zwelithini, is 48 years old, and although he is the son of the previous king, some royals had argued he was not the rightful heir and that the late king’s will was in fact forged. Many believed that the feud stemmed from the fact that King Misuzulu’s mother was the late Queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu of royal blood given that her father was the late King Sobhuza II of Swaziland and her brother is King Mswati III of Eswatini; her marriage to the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini came with the condition that her first-born son would be first in line for the throne in the event of his father’s death. However, for some Zulus, even though Queen Mantfombi Dlamini held the highest status among the king’s wives as a royal descendant, she was still considered an ‘outsider’ or ‘foreigner’, not a Zulu. In her husband’s will, she had been named as Queen regent – caretaker until a successor was found; however she also passed one month after becoming regent, and left a will in which her son Misuzulu ka Zwelithini was named successor. Since then, there have been a lot of contests in the family.

Celebrations at the new Zulu King’s traditional coronation (Source: Yahoo News)

None of that could dampen the joyous spirit of the thousands that descended upon the KwaKhangelamankengane Palace on Saturday for the traditional coronation of the new Zulu monarch. It was a beautiful celebration. The new king will be officially installed at a public coronation on 24 September – a public holiday in South Africa previously known as Shaka‘s Day – a time when thousands of Zulus would visit his grave to honor him for uniting the Zulu nation.

Please check out images of the celebration on the BBC.

Somali Tale : The Black Crow

A crow snacking on some bread (pied crow)

The crow was once a sheikh or priest, and at that time he was white. But all the other birds made an accusation against him.

They said, “On the one hand he eats meat, and on the other hand he eats fruits.

So all the birds came together and said, “You are a sheikh or a priest! But what you do is wrong. The smallest birds should eat meat. And the biggest ones eat fruit. But you eat from both sides.”

In not only Somali but Cushitic culture in general, it was said that the crow was the representative of the Sun God called Wak. Oromos believed in the Sun God also. People believed that the crow interpreted what Wak, the Sun God, said to the people and people would send their messages to the Sun God through him.

The crow, when he speaks, says “Wak! Wak!

But the crow became dishonest and ate from both things – fruit and meat, and so he was punished. They cursed him and he became black.

This tale was narrated by Pr. Ahmed Mohammed Ali on Ethiopian Folktales.

Eyeglasses to fit African Facial Features?

Glasses

Do you think that difference races have different bone structure? Could one look at a skeleton and tell the race of the owner? Well, remember Cheddar man [Ancient Britons were Black, confirming Cheikh Anta Diop’s Work], and how he was identified thousands of years later via DNA and the facial reconstruction to be a Black man based on his bone structure as well? So the big question then is, if each race has a particular bone structure, doesn’t it mean that things like glasses (eyewear) cannot be one-size-fits-all? 

Flag of Uganda

A Ugandan eyewear company thinks so. Wazi Vision is making glass frames affordable for Africans, and to fit African features. Truly, the founder points out true differences that often get ignored: the currently manufactured eyewear out there fits either European or Asian features; leaving marks on our (very African) nose bridges (and the good Lord knows that that’s one feature that is distinctly different from others’), or tightening near the ears, or even sagging down. I love that we have a new generation of ophtamologists, optometrists, and opticians out there who address problems specific to us. Wazi Vision started out to conduct free eye tests, and fit people with affordable eyewear. Wazi Vision now makes frames out of plastic, recyclable materials, cow horns, and much more. I call on others to think outside the box to address our needs. 

Excerpts below are from the article on AfricaNews, and check out the website of Wazi Vision.

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Ophthalmologist glasses (Source: Merriam-Webster.com)

Wazi Vision conducts many eye test camps in hard-to-reach areas around Uganda. The free services cater to those who ordinarily wouldn’t afford to see an ophthalmologist, yet vision problems are common in the country.

And with a cross-subsidization model, those who are diagnosed with refractive errors get eyewear they manufacture, at affordable prices.

… At the workshop in Kampala, the eye clinic is ever open since the needs are huge: “We know that as we grow there is a reading tendency and most people have been cut off from reading because of presbyopia in most cases and we have encountered a lot of those cases“, ophthalmologist Frank Bogere explains.

When a team of innovators started Wazi in 2016, they wanted to create accessibility to eyewear for marginalized communities.

… Using recycled plastic, it is the first company in East Africa to design and manufacture eyewear. They also use other locally available materials like cow horns, bamboo, and offcuts from clothes like jeans. And, they produce custom-made frames.

It is a source of pride for Geogette Ochieng Ndabukiye, the co-founder of CMO: “Eyewear frames that people wear are not for their facial features. They are mostly made for the European and Asian facial features so you find that when Africans, when Ugandans wear their glasses, over time they begin to squeeze them, they begin to get marks here, the glasses fall, but Wazi here in Uganda is the first company to design and manufacture eyeglasses that are fit for African facial features“.

Mixed Reactions to Compaoré’s ‘Apology’

Flag of Burkina Faso

Compaoré’s apology last week raised mixed reactions [Blaise Compaore Apologizes for Thomas Sankara’s Death?]. Almost everybody could smell the trap… It turns out that Compaoré is friend with the current military ruler, and has even visited Ouagadougou, the capital, last month even though he has been found guilty by the country’s courts [Verdict Guilty: Blaise Compaoré Guilty of the Murder of Thomas Sankara].  Many think that he wants a presidential pardon! The coward! See… I always told you that Compaoré is really a coward, always has been, and always will be. After all, he is the one who has changed his citizenship to become Ivorian so as not to be extradited. Imagine that, a man who held the highest position of a nation, finishes and changes his citizenship like some common person… such a coward! Anyways, below are excerpts from AfricaNews.

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Compaore’s apology, issued on Tuesday is leaving mixed reactions as Burkinabe citizens consider the manner and sincerity of the former head of state Blaise Compaoré’s request for pardon.

If they had simply put at the end of the letter, ‘I place myself at the disposal of my country’s justice system’, I would have applauded.” says one passer-by.

… Compaore seized power in the West African nation in a 1987 coup in which Sankara was gunned down by a hit squad. The violent death of his former comrade-in-arms was a taboo subject throughout his 27 years in power.

A Burkina court handed him a life term in absentia in April for his role in the assassination.

… Luc Damiba, Secretary General of the Thomas Sankara International Committee Memorial is disappointed.”You have not been condemned or punished yet nor have you recognised your acts” he says of Compaore.

You deny justice, even defy it and at the end of the chain, when you see that there is no other way out, you come and ask for forgiveness. It’s a forced pardon! It’s as if he was forced to ask for forgiveness.” Damiba lamented. He went further and blasted the apology as “a masquerade… a kind of diversion that he is sowing in people’s minds“.

Compaore’s goal, he said, was “to be able to return to Burkina and get a presidential pardon“.

Blaise Compaore returned to Burkina Faso for several days this month, without facing arrest, after the country’s military leader Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba invited him in the name of “national reconciliation“.

The visit sparked an outcry among civil society groups and political parties, who said uniting the nation should not come at the expense of impunity.

Africa Shines at the 2022 World Championships

Tobi Amusan broke the world record (Source: Getty Images)

Africa had a really good showing at the World Championships in Eugene (Oregon) in the US, this past week, with quite a few gold medals, multiple medals, broken world records, or simply reaffirmation of their domination on their disciplines.

Tobi Amusan of Nigeria broke a world record to win a Gold medal in the women’s 100m hurdles, thus giving Nigeria its first gold at a world championship. Compatriot Ese Brume (Olympic Bronze long jump) won the Silver medal in the women’s Long Jump.

Hugues Fabrice Zango getting his triple jump (Source: bbc.co.uk)

Burkinabe Hugues Fabrice Zango who had won Bronze in men’s triple jump at the Tokyo Olympics, giving his country its first ever Olympic medal, went farther to win Silver at the World Championships this week.

Faith Kipyegon (Source: WorldAthletics.org)

Kenyan athletes were impressive as Mary Moraa got Bronze in the women’s 800m while Emmanuel Kipkurui Korir (Olympics 800m Gold medal) won Gold in the men’s 800m. Faith Kipyegon, the Olympics Gold winner, retained her crown as the women’s 1500m queen of the distance with Gold. Conselus Kipruto took Bronze in the men’s 3000m steeplechase. In the women’s 5000m, Beatrice Chebet took Silver, and Jacob Krop took home Silver in the men’s discipline. The duo of Hellen Obiri (Olympic 5000m Silver winner) and Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi took home Silver and Bronze medals in the women’s 10,000m respectively; while compatriot Stanley Waithaka Mburu took Silver in the men’s 10,000m. Judith Jeptum Korir took home the Silver medal in the women’s marathon

Djamel Sedjati of Algeria took Silver in the men’s 800m.

Gudaf Tsegay celebrating her gold medal in the 5000m (Source: BBC.co.uk)

Gudaf Tsegay (5000m Olympic Bronze medalist) of Ethiopia won Silver in women’s 1500m, and Gold in 5000m; while her compatriot Dawit Seyaum took the Bronze medal on 5000m.  In the 3000m steeplechase, the women Werkuha Getachew and Mekides Abebe took Silver and Bronze respectively; while Lamecha Girma (Olympic 3000m steeplechase Silver medal) took Silver for the men. Letesenbet Gidey (Bronze at the Olympics 10,000m) won the Gold medal in the women’s 10,000m discipline. Gotytom Gebreslase took home the Gold medal in the women’s marathon, while her male compatriots Tamirat Tola and Mosinet Geremew won Gold and Silver in the men’s marathon.

Soufiane El Bakkali (Olympic gold 3000m steeplechase winner) of Morocco took home Gold in the men’s 3000m steeplechase.

Joshua Cheptegei crossing the line (Source: Runnersworld.com)

Oscar Chelimo of Uganda won Bronze in the men’s 5000m. The duo Joshua Cheptegei (Olympic 5000m gold winner) and Jacob Kiplimo (Olympic 10,000m Bronze medalist) took home Gold and Bronze medals respectively in the men’s 10,000m.

Blaise Compaore Apologizes for Thomas Sankara’s Death?

Thomas Sankara
Thomas Sankara a Ouagadougou

Yes you are not dreaming, nor am I joking. Blaise Compaoré, the past president of Burkina Faso, the one who murdered his friend and comrade President Thomas Sankara, has ‘apologized’ to his family. Is it for real? What is going on? Is Compaoré dying? Why the sudden regrets? or is he hoping to come back in power with the new military ruler? Should we applaud for him? NO! We are candidly interested in your apologies… but brother Compaoré, you need to pay! Tell us how you did it! Give us details! Tell us, who helped you; tell us where our brothers, mothers, sisters, fathers bodies are, and share some of the wealth you have acquired illicitly on our backs for the many years of regression and suffering at your hand. And what about Norbert Zongo [May 3rd: World Press Day – Norbert Zongo]? And then, the message read by the speaker goes, “I hope that we can move forward from now on …” Wait a second, so you can send a letter read by someone else, and you expect us to clap and just turn the page? Oh, I am so sick of people saying words, no actions, and expecting us to just forget, and move on! Actions speak louder than words! As you read, do you think Compaoré is really sorry? Excerpts below are from the BBC.

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Flag of Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso’s ex-President Blaise Compaoré has apologised to the family of Thomas Sankara, his charismatic predecessor who was shot dead during a coup in 1987.

In April, Mr Compaoré was sentenced in absentia to life in prison for his role in the assassination. He had always described the death as an accident [Verdict Guilty: Blaise Compaoré Guilty of the Murder of Thomas Sankara].

Mr Compaoré has lived in exile in neighbouring Ivory Coast since 2014 when he was ousted in a popular uprising after 27 years in power [Who/What did we Celebrate in Africa in 2014?].

I ask the people of Burkina Faso to forgive me for all the acts I committed during my term of office, especially to the family of my brother and friend Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara,” Mr Compaoré said in a statement.

I take responsibility and deplore, from the bottom of my heart, all the sufferings and dramas experienced by all the victims during my mandates at the head of the country and ask their families to forgive me. I hope that we can move forward from now on to rebuild our common destiny on the land of our ancestors.

The message was delivered to military ruler Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who took power in a coup in January, by an Ivorian delegation accompanied by the former president’s daughter Djamila Compaoré.