Islamic literature of Somalia dates back to the early 14th century with Shaykh Al-Zayla'i producing Tabayin al-Haqa’iq li Sharh Kanz al-Daqa’iq, one of the most referenced books in the Hanafi school of Islam. Sayyid Abdullah Hassan (1864-1921), the celebrated leader also left a considerable amount of manuscripts. Some of the better known Somali Islamic literature is Maja'mut al-Mubaraka written Shaykh Abdullah al-Qalanqooli published in Cairo in 1918. Shaykh Abd Al-Rahman bin Ahmad al-Zayla'i also produced many Islamic orientated literature in the 19th century. Poetry in the form of Qasida's was also popular among Somali Shaykhs who produced several thousand poems in praise of Prophet Muhammad Translation:
Poetry plays an important role in Somali society in terms of socializing and communicating with each other. Somalia was dubbed by the 19th century British explorer Richard Burton in his book 'First Footsteps in East Africa as a nation of bards
As Said Samatar explains, a Somali poet is expected to play a role in supporting his tribe or clan, "to defend their rights in clan disputes, to defend their honor and prestige against the attacks of rival poets, to immortalize their fame and to act on the whole as a spokesman for them. In short, a traditional poem is occasional verse composed to a specific end, with argumentative or persuassive elements, and having a historical context.
Observing that "some say he was 'peerless' and his 'noble lines' ... are commonly quoted throughout the Somali peninsula", Samatar concurs with J. Spencer Trimingham's judgement that "Mahammad 'Abdille Hasan [Sayyid Abdullah Hassan] was a master of eloquence and excelled in the art of composing impromptu poems which so readily inspire and inflame the Somalis" -- although Samatar dissents on its "impromptu" nature.
One of his well known poems is "Gaala Leged" ("Defeat of the Infidels") Translation:
Somalis have rich oral tradition when it comes to ancient folktales which were passed on from generation to generation. Stories like "Dhegdheer the cannibal woman" were told to little children as a way to scare them and discipline them at the same time cause it was said Dhegdheer would visit those that were naughty at night. "Coldiid the wise warrior" is another popular Somali folktale with a positive message regarding a Waranle (warrior) who avoids any kind of violence and in turn is looked down upon by his peers but in the end shows violence is not the way to earn respect or love. Caraweelo is a story more particularly told to girls in order to make them aware of the pitfalls of exaggerated feminism. A Lion's tale is a popular children's book in the Somali Diaspora where two Somali immigrant children struggle with life in a different world surrounded by friends they perceive as greedy only to magically return to Ancient Somalia where they experience all the popular Somali folktales themselves. A lion's tale is currently also a school play.
Nuruddin Farah is one of this new generation of published authors. Novels like A Crooked Rib and Links are considered important literary achievements which earned him the 1998 Neustadt International Prize for Literature award. Abdourahman A. Waberi's novel Le Pays Sans Ombre ("The Land Without Shadow") was released in 1994 and won the Grand Prize for new French speakers from the Royal Academy of French Language and Literature.
In 1997 supermodel Waris Dirie released her biography Desert flower. The book was printed in more than 50 licensed editions and made it to number 1 on multiple bestselling lists in many countries. In Germany “Desert flower” was in the top ten of the Spiegel bestselling list for 120 weeks.
Taste of Somalia; Camel meat is arriving on area dinner tables, providing a traditional dish and memories of home for members of Minnesota's Somali community.(NEWS)
Apr 20, 2002; Byline: Lourdes Medrano Leslie; Staff Writer Somalis don't ride camels in the Twin Cities metro area, but the highly valued...