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Music and Dance in Eastern Africa

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Kahithe Kiiru
, 
Maina wa Mũtonya

Part II: The Performance of Local Politics and National Identities

Pan-Somalist Discourse and New Modes of Nationalist Expression in the Somali Horn: From Somali Poetic Resistance to Djibouti’s Gacan Macaan

Kenedid A. Hassan

Résumé

This chapter explores the evolution of nationalist discourses in the Somali Horn through the expression of Somali musicians, poets and a Djiboutian band, Gacan Macaan (“Sweet Hand”). After first exploring how the development of musical expression tracked with the rise of Pan-Somalism in the late colonial period, I look at the way that Somali poets in the 1960s and1970s began to deconstruct the notion of Pan-Somalism – a universalist, clan-transcending political ideology central to the anti-colonial independence project. I then explore the impact this critique had on Gacan Macaan who, by the 1970s used their artistic productions to articulate a different type of anti-colonial, nationalist agenda in Djibouti. I draw on Gilroy’s Black Atlantic and Amselle’s Branchements to make sense of the ways post-nationalist cultural productions may be used for nationalist ends, and argue that greater attention be paid to the interplay of local historical developments and transnational cultural flows.

Texte intégral

Introduction

1During the 1960s and 1970s, the Somali-speaking territories underwent profound social and political changes. In 1960 the Somali Republic was born – a union of the newly independent British and Italian Somalilands – and Pan-Somalism, a clan-transcending universalist nationalist discourse was touted as the way forward. While it found initial purchase in Djibouti, a city-state with a significant Somali-speaking community country then a colony of France, by the time of Djiboutian independence in 1977, a different type of anti-colonial nationalist discourse had taken hold. This chapter explores how this transformation was reflected in, and precipitated by, poetry and music in the Somali-speaking territories of the Horn of Africa, and particularly the influence that developments in one area (Somali) had on another (Djibouti). From the 1960s, Somali artists and musicians explored the tension between the past and the present in unprecedented ways, beginning to unpack Somalis’ infatuation with the ideology of Pan-Somalism and their unwillingness to renounce irredentist views of the region. I will argue that these poetic interventions altered the balance of discursive power in the region, obliging Djibouti’s vibrant and creative artistic community to rethink its position to capture this mutation. Gacan Macaan, Djibouti’s most popular band of the 1970s and 1980s, serves as a case study of how these shifts became manifest.

2The first section of this chapter sets the theoretical stage by outlining certain features of Gilroy’s Black Atlantic and Amselle’s Branchements relevant to the analysis of Somalis’ artistic productions. I suggest that Gilroy provides helpful insight into the transnational flow of ideas and artistic expression, though the Somali-Djibouti experience complicates his Atlantic focus and “post-nationalist” perspective. Amselle provides a remedy to Gilroy’s tendency to “essentialize” culture, as well as a longer view of the history of transnational flows. Following this, I provide an overview of the emergence of Pan-Somalism as a political ideology, and trace how this was reflected in the developing musical scene of the time. Next, I discuss how the post-1969 regime incorporated the arts into its governing agenda, before exploring in more detail how poetry was eventually used to de-construct Pan-Somalism. I then turn to an exploration of the impact these developments had on the emerging Djibouti music scene, paying particular attention to Gacan Macaan. I show how cultural producers, fusing different musical and poetic genre, re-articulated their artistic and political agenda – by this time a nationalist agenda that rejected pan-Somalism in favour of a distinctively Djiboutian agenda. I conclude by discussing the implications of this case for our theoretical understanding of the intersections of artistic expression, the transnational flow or cultural ideas, and nationalist discourses.

Theorizing Cultural Expressions

3The work of Paul Gilroy constitutes one of the most innovative contributions to black studies forms of diaspora analysis. Adapting some of the perspectives and expressions of historical black studies debates, Gilroy’s Black Atlantic (1993) attempts to fill certain gaps by conceptualizing black studies as a zone of interactivity between various spaces and continents, namely Africa, America and Europe. This analysis suggests that black studies representations of black experiences may be much more complex than cultural studies (Gilroy’s own discipline of origin, which sees culture as the central unit of social analysis) characteristically assumes. Within a postmodern perspective, the author argues that black studies should move away from ideas of nationalism and “ethnic absolutism” to focus on “intercultural” and “transnational” dimensions – although the book’s argument draws partly on W. E. B. DuBois’ notion of “double consciousness”, which elucidates how Blacks in America struggle with America’s mainstream identity model. To Gilroy, cultural studies, in general, is fixated with what he calls “cultural insiderism”. Gilroy suggests:

Regardless of their affiliation to the right, left, or centre, groups have fallen back on the idea of cultural nationalism, on the overintegrated conceptions of culture which present immutable, ethnic differences as an absolute break in the histories and experiences of “black” and “white” people (1993: 2).

4Against this “ethnic absolutism” point of view, he proposes “the theorisation of creolisation, metissage, mestizaje, and hybridity” (Gilroy 1993: 2). One way of transcending “cultural insiderism” and the nation state is to avoid focusing either on Africa or the Americas. More than anything else, Black Atlantic seeks to grasp black lives, which are the product of incessant reinventions of complex historical dynamics, through the circulations of ideas and “the image of ships in motion across the spaces between Europe, America, Africa, and the Caribbean as a central organising symbol” (Gilroy 1993: 4).

  • 1 Many authors have been critical of Black Atlantic, but they have not ignored it or dismissed it.
  • 2 Also, Latin-America is absent from Gilroy’s conceptualization of black experiences

5While recognizing Gilroy’s undeniable contributions to our understanding of black transatlantic exchanges,1 I wish to point out quickly two drawbacks of the Black Atlantic model that concern this chapter. First, Gilroy does not pay any attention to Africa-Asia cultural productions or exchanges; Black Atlantic exclusively builds its theoretical apparatus/ framework on the black English, Afro-American and Afro-Caribbean experiences. Africa is in the whole treated as the silent imaginary interlocutor, except for a few passages on Sierra Leone and Liberia – two nations founded for the resettlement of the freed Afro-Americans.2 The idea that black experiences can be only framed within the Atlantic space is problematic. Second, Gilroy’s anti-nationalism overlooks how African musicians, for example, while reappropriating Afro-American artistic expressions and styles, incorporate nationalist projects into their artistic productions. As the Gacan Macaan case will illustrate, cultural productions that draw inspiration from beyond their own borders can also be used to support nationalist projects.

6Writing roughly on the same subject as Gilroy, Jean-Loup Amselle, an Africanist, also examines cultural processes in his seminal work Branchements: Anthropologie de l’universalité des cultures (2001). Amselle’s Branchements represents both an extension and a modification of the many arguments developed in previous books. Like Gilroy, Amselle challenges the theory of “cultural essentialism”, but, unlike Gilroy, he criticizes the postmodern discourse of “creolization” and “hybridization” for reproducing the very “biological-culture” it sets out to deconstruct. In opposition to the illusion of “original purity”, Amselle elaborates the metaphorical theme of “connection”; he suggests we see “cultures” as constantly interconnected by “a network of planetary signifiers” “already there” (Amselle 2001: 7). Amselle sees these constant interconnections of cultures as the result of all historical globalizations that predate those of Islam, of European colonization or of the current “globalization”. To avoid the idea of biologisation of globalization or the racialization of societies, Amselle prefers the term “connection” to that of “mestizo society” to show the openness of all cultures. This thesis is illustrated by an “African” example: the creation in 1949 of a real “cultural multinational” (in Conakry, Cairo, Bamako), the N’Ko movement, founded by the Mandingo thinker, Souleymane Kanté. While our subject of study embodies some features of Gilroy’s transnational black expressive cultures, Amselle’s Branchements would certainly guard us against the essentialism inherent in Black Atlantic. In the remaining sections of this chapter, we will see how well these models play out in practice.

Pan-Somalism and Popular Music Before the Union

7In the Fall of 1946, just over a year after the end of the WWII, Mr. Ernest Bevin, then the British Foreign Secretary of the post-war Labour Government, delivered a speech at the UN. In a strategy designed to give Britain more political clout in world politics, he proposed that all the Somali territories be administered by British colonial power under UN trusteeship. Following the fall of the fascist regime in the Somalilands in March 1941, all Somali territories, except for Djibouti, had been administered by a British military general. Mr. Bevin suggested “that British Somaliland, Italian Somaliland, and the adjacent part of Ethiopia, if Ethiopia agreed, should be lumped together as trust territory, so that the nomads should lead their frugal existence with the least possible hindrance and there might be a real chance of a decent economic life, as understood in that territory” (cited in Touval 1963: 79). Britain’s good intentions, however, raised suspicions among the other superpowers, who proposed to send a fact-finding commission to investigate the political sentiments of Somalis.

8Long before the so-called Bevin Plan, sentiments of uniting Somali territories, including the British and Italian Somalilands, eastern Ethiopia, northeastern Kenya and Djibouti, were advocated by various Somali political figures. Politicians such as Ali Bahdon Buh, a charismatic leader from Djibouti, and others had been fighting for some forms of Pan-Somalism in the 1930s. His party, Al Khairya, one of the few parties in place at the time, had a reasonably coherent Pan-Somali platform. But it was only in the late 1940s that Somalis were able to channel their political aspirations into formal and legal organizations, when they were granted permission to form political parties by the British. Parties competed across the political spectrum to re-evaluate Somalis’ place and role in the region and the world. Most emerging parties were either regionally or clan-based, with the exception of the Somali Youth League (SYL), Somaliland National League (SNL) and the National Front United (NFU), whose Pan-Somalism dominated the political landscape for almost two decades. The object of pro-Pan-Somalism was to abolish the customary law - Xeer – which many viewed as a source of inter-clan violence, real or imagined, and as a hindrance to progress. Pan-Somalism served as a critical ideology in the late-colonial period, guiding efforts to unify Somalis in one, independent state. While Pan-Somalism did have its detractors – particularly the likes of Sheikh Abdullahi Sheikh Mohamed “Bogodi” and the Hisbi Digile Mirifle (HDM) party (see Touval 1963) – Pan-Somalism was indisputably the political ideology du jour up until the independent Somali Republic unified the north and south in 1960.

  • 3 Interview with Abdillahi Qarshe, London, 1997.
  • 4 Radio Goodir (Kudu), later known as Radio Hargeysa, was created in 1942-43. Abdirahman Abby, a Soma (...)
  • 5 In March 1941, the British Colonial Office moved to Hargeysa from the coastal city of Berbera as pa (...)

9With no competing ideology in play, Pan-Somalism featured strongly in the popular music that was developing at the time. In the colonial Somalilands, qaraami – a popular music genre that originated in British Somaliland, closely associated with urbanization and influenced by the balwo genre invented by Abdi Deqsi Sinimo3 – dominated public spaces in the 1950s and the first part of the 1960s. The first and only band for almost a decade – Walaalaha Hargeysa (Hargeysa Brothers) – typified the rich and expressive qaraami. The creation of Radio Hargeysa4 in Hargeysa, the largest city and the seat of the colonial administration,5 contributed to the spread of this genre and the success of the group. While qaraami musicians embraced new sounds, they also remained attached to the older forms of artistic sensibilities. Musicians appropriated and imitated Sudanese and Arabic sounds, but they also connected with the Somali Sufi style. In Somalis’ first experimentation with musical instruments – oud and violin were introduced in the mid-1940s and were more easily adaptable to Somali rhythms and melodies – Sudanese sounds served as a major source of inspiration for popular music, because Afro-American and European music were not yet available. Mohamud Mohamed Good “Shinbir” (a composer) and an Indian-Somali Rashid Buulo (a violinist) were sent to a music school in Cairo to contribute to the nascent popular music.

  • 6 Interview with Abdillahi Qarshe. The balwo dance company was founded by Abdi Deqsi ‘Sinimo’ and a f (...)

10In British Somaliland, Walaalaha Hargeysa’s rudimentary music studio was the centre of Somali popular music for the most part of the 1950s, buoyed by the musical creativity of Abdillahi Qarshe, the writing and poetic imaginations of Hussein Aw Farah and Sahardid Mohamed Jebiyeh, and the extraordinary performances of Ahmed Ali Dararamleh, Ahmed Mohamed Kulu and Omar Dhuleh Ali. Initially, members came typically from the urban social class, those who had some access to cultural imports. Later, adherents came from various socioeconomic and regional background, including women. In the early development of Somali popular music, women were absent from the musical scene. In part, music was associated with debauchery, just as the balwo dance performances was falsely linked with sexual transgressions in the 1940s.6 A few women succeeded in breaking the social and cultural rule, despite the negative perceptions (though at times with serious repercussions). Early pioneers of Somali popular music, such as Kadija Dharar ( “Kadija Balwo”), Shamis Abokor ( “Guduudo Arwo”) and Faduma Kahin ( “Maandeeq”) not only contributed to the acceptance of women in the artistic field, but also they played a major part in the development of arts in the Somali context. Suffice to say that Somali popular music took a monumental leap forward with the creation of Walaalaha Hargeysa.

  • 7 The Haud and Reserve Area.

11Politically, Walaalaha Hargeysa were well in tune with the political climate of the times. Members of the band were disenchanted with the colonial administration and the way it ceded portions of the Somali territory to Ethiopia in 1955.7 They adopted the anti-colonial narrative for the return of their land, and, buoyed by the unity platforms of the nascent political parties of the day, invited Somalis to espouse the politics of unity. Abdillahi Qarshe, who never disguised his pro-independence and pro-Pan-Somalism, openly criticized the colonial power in “Dhulkayaga” ( “Our Country/Our Land”), a song that advocated independence by any means necessary, including shedding blood through liberation struggle:

Dhulkayaga, Dhulkayaga

Our Land, Our Land

Waan uu Dhimanayna,

We will Die, For Our Land

Dhallin iyo Dhallan

The Youth and The Children

Waayeelka Dhurugsagay

The Unyielding Elders

Dhiig Inaan ku Shubo

We Will Shed Blood for our Land

Aan Dhagar ku Galo

We Will Kill for Our Land

12Throughout his career, Qarshe stressed shared ideology and regional solidarity among Somalis in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland. His unity message was not anathema to the Somali territories’ political elites, who presented Pan-Somalism to the world as panacea for Somalis’ political and socioeconomic problems. In essence, musicians and poets of Walaalaha Hargeysa, at least in the 1950s, had identified the colonial administrations in the Somalilands with political and economic exploitation of Somalis by foreign powers, and espoused Pan-Somalism as the way forward. The band’s first play “Cantar iyo Ceebla” ( “The Foolish and Perfect Woman”), which on the surface was a love story, had powerful anti-colonial and Pan-Somalism undertones.

13In the early decades of Somalis’ experimentation with musical instruments and new forms of musical expression – which incorporated Sudanese sounds but remained rooted in indigenous Sufi styles – musicians for the most part reflected the popular political attitudes of the day; anti-colonial discourse, a Pan-Somalist agenda and the nationalist fervor of the pre-independence years was clearly reflected in artistic work. This continued, to a degree, in the early years of independence. After the Union, Walaalaha Hargeysa’s creativity, popularity and pro-Pan-Somalism attracted the attention of the civil government (1960-1969), but members continued to enjoy a degree of independence. The place of artists in the nationalist project, however, was to take a sharp turn after the revolution of 1969, when they became incorporated into the regime’s strategy of government, but at the same time started to use their work to question the pan-Somalist agenda.

The Revolution of 1969: Music in the New Regime

  • 8 Even though the British colonial office allowed musical and artistic expressions, the imprisonment (...)
  • 9 Qarshe was a prominent musician and an original member of Walaalaha Hargeysa band, whose Pan-Somali (...)

14Right after the military junta led by General Siyaad Barre assumed power in October 1969, multiparty politics was banned and replaced by the Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC), putting an end both to the political pluralism introduced by the British Colonial Administration and artistic diversity8, as music was becoming one of the most important cultural forms of expression for Somalis. Although music was highly popular historically, it was not lucrative economically for artists. A year after the coup d’état, music, poetry and drama were marshaled to carve out a national class consciousness against the perceived threats of a nomadic mentality. The SRC established an artistic committee scout called Heesahaga Hirgalay ( “New Talent”), led by Abdillahi Qarshe,9 who was tasked with searching for new talents to bolster the artistic potential of musical bands such as Horseed and Waaberi” (Dawn) national music band symbolized an era of progress after a long period of uncertainty and ignorance. Music was no longer considered a mere entertainment art craft, but a tool to harness for the purposes of “cilmiga hantiwadaga” (scientific socialism). Clearly, this was an attempt by the political power to commandeer musicians’ artistic capital in order to gain greater legitimacy. This did not however stop artists from producing anti-government lyrics, as we shall see in the following sections.

  • 10 Interview with Ibrahim Meygag Samatar, Ottawa, Canada, 1998.

15As the period of political uncertainty became more profound in the 1970s, musicians were called upon more and more to perform in the “revolutionary” Party’s orientation centres in Mogadishu and Hargeysa, and at spectacular socialist-style gatherings to promote the ideals of the revolution. This strategy of presenting music as a powerful propaganda tool of the Revolution impacted negativly on poets’ artistic creativities. While there were sincere desires on the part of musicians to support the government’s so-called revolutionary programs, the regime’s framework of the artistic community’s role and place were haunted from its inception by its own contradictions. As Bourdieu (2013: 229) highlights, such strategies represent an attempt to define who is an artist and what constitutes artistic production. The regime’s policy of co-opting the artistic community continued throughout the 1980s during the national tragedy of the civil war. Singers, lyricists and poets were forced to compose songs in honour of the General-President.10 Some leading musicians did willingly put their artistic capital at the service of the regime. For example, Abdi Muhumed Amin, a celebrated musician and lyricist, composed Caynaanka Hay ( “Hold the Reins of Power Eternally”):

Caqli Toosanoo, Cafimad Qaba

Righteous and Healthy Mind

Nagu Caymisee

You Saved Us

Cududdo Midoo iyo

United Force and

Caanahah Wadaag

Sharing of Milk

Waa Caaddilnimee

Bring Equality

Caynanka Hay

Hold the Reins of Power

Waliga Hay

Forever

Hay, Hay

Hold, Hold

16This song praised Barre’s so-called divine leadership qualities, which was often used as a signature tune on national radio. The song was later unmasked by various artists and pilloried mercilessly by the people.

  • 11 Lafoole was the teachers’ training college created by the military regime in 1972.
  • 12 The play’s messages included the importance of local intellectuals over foreign-trained elite, wome (...)

17During this era, musicians and poets were frequently used to advance Barre’s agenda, and the reputation of artists reached new heights during this era, in part as their voices were given greater prominence on state radio and venues. However, artists also used their craft to heap scorn on the pervasive rhetoric of nation-building of the regime. Popular poets such as Mohamed Ibrahim Warsame “Hadraawi” and Mohamed Hashi “Gaariye’” who had initially welcomed the Revolution, eventually turned their words against the regime (often resorting to elaborate metaphors to do so). With Said Salah Ahmed and Muse Abdi Ilmi “Muse Gadleh”, Hadraawi and Gaariye founded the Lafoole11 Group, who wrote in 1972 Aqoon iyo Afgarad (Knowledge and Understanding), a pro-revolutionary play.12 The group was briefly very influential in the intellectual space, especially during the first part of 1970s. As we shall see below, this early pro-revolutionary stance was not the case for Abdi Aden Haad “Qays”, who rejected the Military Junta’s unlawful removal of the democratically-elected government of Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal in October 1969 from the very beginning. In the next section, I explore in more detail how poetic expression, which until this point had generally kept time with the political ideology of the day, began to depart from the status quo and espouse a different kind of political vision – a vision which, in turn, altered the course of musical expression across the Somali-speaking territories.

Poetic Critiques of Pan-Somalism

  • 13 Poets are evaluated on their knowledge of law (customary law, religious law, and previous legal cas (...)
  • 14 Perhaps, with the exception of I.M. Lewis and B.W. Andrzejewski, thanks to their reasonable command (...)
  • 15 Here, we are not arguing that poets have better understanding of Somalis’ cultural, political and s (...)

18Much of the Somalis’ intellectual tradition occurs outside academia. Poetry, not political treatises or novels, is Somalis’ preferred means of intellectual expression. Far more Somalis listen to Abdillahi Suldan Timaadde’s poems, Mohamed Omar Huriyo’s rhapsodies and storytelling in the politically charged “Dalmar iyo Daabbad” ( “The Traveler and The Horse”) or Mohamed Mooge Liban’s revolutionary melodies than are able to read any contemporary writer. Poetry traditions are rooted in Somali life and grounded in Somali social imaginaries, able to articulate the themes and challenges of any given period of time. In the words of Lewis and Andrzejewski, “[p] oetry occupies a large and important place in Somali culture, interest in it is universal, and skill in it something which everyone covets, and many possess. The poetic heritage is a living force intimately connected with the vicissitudes of everyday life” (1964: 3). Moreover, the poetry field has its own accepted rules of procedures and criteria for judgment,13 and sets up a rigorous intellectual framework to deconstruct various cultural and political categories. Naturally, it is only the poet who can set out to prove many of the institutions society holds dear are illegitimate. In the past, there simply have been no literate “intellectuals”14 who interpreted Somalis’ rich imaginaries as intelligently as Salaan Arrabay, Ali Dhuh, Qamaan Bulhan, Abdi Qays, Hadraawi, Abdi Idaan, Gaariye, Ibraahim Sheikh Saleban Gadhleh, Aden Farah, Hassan Ilmi or Ali Suguleh, just to name a few.15

19In response to the social and political upheaval of the era, from the late 1960s modern critical poetry took unconventional paths, aiming its bile at Pan-Somalism, an ideology essentially based on anti-clan universalism fossilized by various Somali regimes, on which the entire post-colonial projected relied for meaning. Somalis were uneasy about how best to approach the idea of Pan-Somalism. The idea was presented to them as de-clanized and de-territorialized citizenship. Proponents of Pan-Somalism viewed clan solidarities as inheritances of the old order, totally out of step with modern times. The new citizenship idea had been accorded sacrosanct status in the first Somali constitution. The citizenship law states: “Any person living beyond the boundaries of the Somali Republic but belonging by origin, language, or tradition to the Somali Nation may acquire Somali citizenship by simply establishing his residence in the territory of the Republic” (Muhammad 1972: 302). This law has been broadly welcomed, albeit grudgingly, by most Somalis.

  • 16 For example, Somalis conceive of the he-camel as the driving force of pastoral life and the she-cam (...)

20From today’s vantage point, the end of 1960s seems to be the era of disillusionment with the idea of Pan-Somalism. Accordingly, in the 1960s, many Somali poets examined, with unparalleled sophistications, the conceptual foundation of Somalism used by nationalists in their effort to invent the Somali people as a political and ethnic identity. With their panoply of Somali metaphors,16 these poets were not simply contesting the all-encompassing current in the poetry field: they were also investigating the way in which Pan-Somalism, an inherently protean notion, was imposing a one-dimensional nationalism. For these remarkable poets, the post-independence meta-narrative simply lost its performative power, in the Austian sense. The fantasy of unity, they argue, ought to be consigned to the scrap heap of history. They understood, with prescience, that “nationalism is not the self-awakening of nations to self-consciousness: it invents nations where they do not exist” (Gellner 1964: 169). Curiously, Abdillahi Suldan Timaade, who was perhaps the best-known expounder of Pan-Somalism, appears in hindsight as one of the pioneers of the anti-Pan-Somalism mood. On his first visit in Mogadishu in 1961, he confessed his astonishment when, at the height of Pan-Somalism, he shrewdly observed the tribal politics of the South in the following verse:

  • 17 Dir and Darood are two major Somali clan families.

Goortaan horoo loo durkiyo, darejo eegaayay

Promise of progress and

Enlightenment

Hadduun baa sidii buul-duqeed, daaha loo rogay

Turned into obscurity

Immikaa la doon-doonayaa, Dir iyo Daroode

In Search of Kinship politics

between Dir and Darood17

(Ducaale 2006: 126, translation mine)

21Heralded by the 1961 insightful homespun anti-constitution philosophy of Cali Sugule and others, the new critical poetry, unusually attuned to peoples’ postcolonial sensibilities, started challenging Pan-Somalism by putting the political rhetoric of the nationalist in its local context, away from the “isms” in vogue. Disillusioned by the nationalist parades, Qays, one of the most renowned and revered cultural critics, articulated the first significant blow during his early philosophical broodings in the 1960s. He went against the grain of sanguine observations of unsavory poets who had bonds to the status quo and who spent their time ruminating endlessly on the haughty Pan-Somalism that typified post-independence Somali life. Qays’ distinctive turn of phrase pithily captures the turning point in his Aakhiro ( “After Life”) song. In this song, Qays’ addresses the afterlife – here a metaphor for the illusive “Pan-Somalist” ideal – using the vocative, then proceeds to question his subject as to her elusive whereabouts:

Aakhirooy

Oh Afterlife!

Halkeed baad naga xigtaa,

Where Could we Find You?

Xiddigaha ciirka sare

Stars Way up the Sky?

Inaad xubin ka mid tahay

Star among the Stars?

22From a political perspective, Qays’ keenly evocative tune unveils the elusiveness of Pan-Somalism in Somali representations and challenges mainstream poetry giddy with self-satisfaction, utterly bereft of reason and political groundings. By invoking examples from his own political life to symbolize new meanings, Qays unwaveringly questions the prevailing notion of Pan-Somalism and urges Somali “intellectuals” to stop being unmindful of dominant “regimes of truth”. Aakhiro clearly highlighted Pan-Somalism’s main flaws, which resided in the fact that it confused political imaginations with objective characteristics (i.e. language, culture, religion and geography). Most importantly, Aakhiro reflects a time of mourning and lamentation about Somalis’ postcolonial predicament where the “nation” suddenly becomes unsure of itself and unsettled about its future. Eventually, Qays was excommunicated, hounded, and forced into exile by the regime for criticizing Pan-Somalism.

23Predictably, Somalis’ political conditions took a sharp turn for the worse in 1969 when the so-called revolutionaries suspended the controversial 1961 constitution and their leader assumed dictatorial powers. Evidently, the new cohort in power reduced Pan-Somalism to its simplest expression and did not shun from populist contrivances. The rest of the story has been solidly documented in bloodshed, as the country slid slowly into a lawless abyss. As history evidences, the postcolonial project based on Pan-Somalism has dismally failed, and recent attempts at reviving it by radical Islamists or self-proclaimed Republicans are destined for failure. Qays, an affable poet and playwright feted everywhere in the Somali-speaking territories, voiced a poetic critique to mirror the real spirit of post-independence cultural and political anxiety, later expressed in the form of political action by various post-liberation movements. The new anti-Pan-Somalism political mood that he articulated had significant impact on the regional politics of the Somali territories, particularly Djibouti, a country where some segments of the population had strong affinities with their kin in Somalia. In the final sections of this chapter, I consider how Qays’ critique of Pan-Somalism helped to turn the tides towards a new form of nationalist discourse in the nearly-independent French colony.

Djibouti’s Artistic Scene in the 1970S18

  • 18 This section does not cover the equally significant sounds and expressions of the Afaar and Arab ar (...)
  • 19 Djibouti was home to two famous Somali studios, which copied and distributed massive volumes of cas (...)
  • 20 Interview with Ali Abdi Farah, former Djiboutian Minister of Communication and Culture and former p (...)

24Qays’ critique of Pan-Somalism reached Djibouti’s artistic elite at a time when the very basis of popular music was being transformed by non-Somali cultural traditions. In contrast to the Sudanese and Arabic influence in the early periods of Hargeysa musical sound, the development of popular arts and music in Djibouti is closely associated with French artistic production and Afro-American music. Although the country’s Somalis had access to the Somali Republic’s artistic expressions with their Pan-Somalism political undertones, Djibouti’s urban elites were more concerned with cultural contradictions.19 Hassan Abdi, one of the first Djiboutian playwrights, translated Pierre Corneille’s tragicomedy Le Cid around 1965-1966.20 Abdi’s Laba Dab Dheexdood ( “Between Two Fires”) re-imagined Corneille’s play in a new way by evoking a particular mood in the Somali-Djiboutian experience of honour and love, with their dilemmas and contradictions. The artistic experience of Djibouti’s first-generation cultural producers did not emerge solely out of Somali tradition: it began as a connection, in the Amsellian sense, with the French cultural tradition. Abdi played a pivotal role in Djibouti’s cultural scene and his approach would inspire the next generation of dramatists, who would appropriate and imitate major French playwrights, both classical and contemporary. His influence flourished among artists and people who were brought up in Djibouti’s multi-clan and multicultural experience.

  • 21 Interview with Omar Gerdon (Gabiley, Somaliland, 2017).
  • 22 Ibid.

25Amsellian connections were also visible in the development of Djibouti’s musical scene. In the late 1960s, Afro-American music rapidly becomes one the most relevant forms of musical expression in Djibouti, the largest city in the country and the seat of the colonial regime, with the arrival of recordings of R & B and Blues singers such as James Brown, Marvin Gaye, BB King, and Ray Charles, just to name a few. By the early 1970s, youth from the emerging middle class formed R & B and Blues groups, as Afro-American music and the movement of Black and Proud sounds had increasingly become the mediums for youth to express their artistic demands and exasperations with dominant Somali, Afar and Arabic genres.21 While Afro-American music had been present in Djibouti since the early 1960s, it gained prominence and popularity following the spread of the black movement identity politics in the United States and Pan-Africanism. As an imported genre, Afro-American music provided a transcontinental appeal for youth and an opportunity for them to articulate their own experiences of Djibouti as actors in search of an alternative community. Although Djiboutian musicians appropriated Afro-American music, one of my interlocutors observed that it reflected the specificities of Djiboutian artistic expressions and experiences. In his words, “we were experimenting with new Afro-American sounds, but always using local material.”22

  • 23 Hawa Geelqad (first Djiboutian woman to join a musical ensemble), Amina Abdillahi, Faduma Ahmed and (...)
  • 24 Dirdawa, a city in the Somali region of Ethiopia, never produced any Somali musicians and never had (...)
  • 25 Iglumao was led by the talented Abdulaziz Ali.
  • 26 Harlem Soul, led by Geudi as lead guitarist and vocalist, used to perform at the historical and sym (...)
  • 27 Interview with Hussein Abdi Aidarus. (Djibouti, 2016 and 2017). Aidarus is a famous Djiboutian musi (...)

26The Djiboutian soul scene consisted mostly of Westernized men, who embraced Afro-American popular music and laid the artistic groundwork for the emergence of the genre. In contrast with local genres composed mainly of male musicians from modest families, the soul scene consisted of youth from more affluent families. In the context of the 1970s Djibouti scene, the conspicuous absence of female musicians in soul music reflected the male dominated space of popular music in both private and public performances.23 With the French presence in Djibouti, youth had relatively better access to Western cultural sounds and materials – musical instruments, recordings – than their peers in Hargeysa (Somali Republic) and Diredawa24 (Ethiopia). In addition, as imported Afro-American pirated tapes flooded the market via Djiboutians who visited France, Djibouti developed into a major centre of the cassette duplication industry, making the city a leading musical hub to the growth in popularity for Afro-American music in the region This aspect heavily influenced the distinctive sound of Djiboutian popular music. With their bellbottoms, Afro hairstyles and platforms shoes, youth soul bands such as Filsan (Somali), Iglumao25 (Afar), and Harlem Soul26 (diverse), among others, emerged in the native ghetto quarters of the colonial city. Formed in the 1970s, Filsan (which included lead guitarist Almis Haid, rhythmic guitarist Jama Haid, and drummer Omar Gerdon) exemplified the musical mood of this era. Although Filsan was mostly playing soul music, the band was able to appropriate Afro-American music to produce a distinct mix of Djiboutian music genres and Afro-American soul.27 While these youths had little chance of transforming their artistic capital into a profitable career, the emergence of soul music was symbolically representative of a relative shift in sensibilities. Although most musicians never left the country, Djiboutian soul artistic producers Afro-Americanized the country’s popular music through their exposure to programs such as Soul Train, and to Kenyan soul through Somali-Kenyan Slim Ali, who performed with Filsan band in Djibouti’s famous venues, Les Salines and Cinéma Le Paris.

  • 28 Guux is the sound that camel makes when approaching the water. Said Hamargod (Abdo’s older brother) (...)

27A mix of soul and Somali influence guided the artistic experience of the talented and the most soulful of all Djiboutian singers, Abdo Hamargod. According to Gerdon, Abdo, who was one of the few musicians who succeeded in crossover musical experiences, combining elements of style and thematic content from both musical traditions, Afro-American and Djiboutian. Hamargod was not, however, the only singer who took advantage of Afro-American music’s malleability. With the introduction of electrical guitar in 1960’s, Abdi Bowbow and Mohamed Ali Furshed, two giants of Djibouti’s musical experience, were also able to re-invent blues and soul to fit local musical sensibilities and situations. Bowbow, an excellent guitar player, re-invented Said Hamargod’s Guux28 (murmur or groan), a blend of Afro-American shuffle and the Somali wailing genre Calaacal. Other youth appropriated and imitated Hassan Abdi’s style in “Laba Dab Dheexdood” ( “Between Two Fires”). In 1972, LUnion de la Jeunesse, a youth club led by Ali Abdi Farah, translated Adunyadu Wa Sidee, ( “World Complexities”) a play by Abdi Qays. In addition to covering philosophical and existential themes, the play – with its a myriad of poems, songs and storytelling – also deconstructed the negative perceptions surrounding the artistic community, viewed as an immoral milieu. But the focus on social and cultural issues changed into a new political independence discourse as the anti-colonial nationalist movement started to take shape.

Gacan Macaan’s New Direction

28As the anti-colonial struggle intensified in the early 1970s (especially, in the backdrop of the anti-Charles de Gaulle unrest in August 1966 that ended with the violent colonial army crackdown) in contrast to the less political overtones of the mid-1960s, Djibouti’s popular music more explicitly expressed Djiboutians’ political demands. Into this era of social and political upheaval Gacan Macaan, the most influential art and music band in Djibouti, was born. From its establishment in 1972 through to the early 1980s, Gacan Macaan used music to provide political commentaries, describe the country’s living conditions and articulate anti-colonial and Pan-Somali discourses. Through fusing various musical styles, and in response to the poetic critique of pan-Somalism taking hold at the time, Gacan Macaan proposed an alternative way to conceptualize and categorize the colonial power. In this last section, I trace how the group’s nationalist, anti-colonial vision was re-articulated, drawing on Gilroy and Amselle to make sense of their artistic and political project.

29Before Gacan Macaan’s founding, the band’s main figureheads – Ibrahim Sheikh Saleban Gadhleh, Hassan Ilmi, and Aden Farah had identified with Somalia’s poets’ pro-Somalism. In 1965, Ibrahim Gadhleh wrote Guubaabo (Awareness) in which he is expressing his desire to unite the Five Somali Territories:

  • 29 The poet is referring here to Shanta Somaliyeed (the five Somali territories): British Somaliland, (...)

Shanta kala go’doomaan lahaa

My Aim for the Five29

Meel isugu geeye

Is Unification

  • 30 It goes without saying that Farah, Gadhleh and Ilmi were not the only leaders of these artistc coll (...)
  • 31 Interview with Abdi Nur Allale (London, England, 2004). Allale is an original member of Gacan Macaa (...)
  • 32 By associating the territory with only one Somali clan, the Issas, the Colonial Office’s intention (...)

30At the time, Somali music bands in Djibouti were also all pro Pan-Somalism, even though the artistic scene was clearly divided along clan lines: Caareey (led by Aden Farah) was predominantly Isa, Bonne Espérance (led by Hassan Ilmi) was mostly Gadabursi and, finally, Union de la Jeunesse (led by Ibrahim Gadhleh) was mainly Isaaq30. On a night in 1972 at a house on Rue de Zaila, the leaders of these bands came together to create something new.31 Significantly, the new band’s founders decided to tone down their Pan-Somalism messages. The role of the artist was about identifying important political problems caused by the French colonial power that required artistic imagination to be creatively addressed. After the demise of Pan-Somalism, precipitated in part by Qay’s poetic interventions, they all became broadly preoccupied with what the colonial administration did or did not do. These changes in focus can be ascribed to a fundamental shift in Gacan Macaan’s political perspective. French colonialism became the only target. There was virtually nothing about the Northern Frontier District (NFD, i.e. the Somali-inhabited region of northern Kenya), norabout the Haud and Reserve Area. In addition, the band’s political outlook was further shaped by other events that spelled the demise of Pan-Somalism in Djibouti. While a significant proportion of Djibouti’s population was Somali, 80 % of the territory was inhabited by Afars, who had their own culture and language. In the 1950s and 1960s, the French colonial power, with the support of the Afars and some segments of the Somali community, reconfigured Djibouti’s local political dynamics culminating to the 1967 official change of Côte français des Somalis (French Somaliland) to Territoire des Afars et des Issas32 (French Territory of Afars and Issas). This move served to turn aspirations of independence away from a Pan-Somalist ideal towards a distinctly Djiboutian state. The story of Gacan Macaan’s creation seems to support this turn.

31Gacan Macaan’s new direction was also reflected in the style and tone of their music, which fused traditional genres and referents with Afro-American, Arabic and Indian styles. On the one hand, many songs and poems used by the band in its attempt to deconstruct the colonial discourse evoked traditional Sufi musical genres. In an effort to reconnect with the country’s pre-colonial Islamic period, the band’s main figures had spent most of their time collecting every Sufi piece they could find. This approach resonates with Amselle’s Branchement framework, connecting with one tradition in order to mount resistance against another by mixing artistic creativity with political and social commentaries. Yet the band also drew influence from Afro-American music, particularly in their performance of Guux. Some of the metaphors, analogies and poetic and musical styles in their music can also be traced to Asian roots (Islamic, Arabic and Indian). While Gacan Macaan’s nationalism is a clear departure from Gilroy’s post-national model, and his focus on the Atlantic obscures important Asian/ Middle Eastern conjectures, these musical fusions could be read within Gilroy’s analytical approach as post-national cultural constructs.

  • 33 Aware of arts’ subversive potential, the colonial administration had established a censorship commi (...)

32Sensing the new collective political and artistic project of Gacan Macaan, La ligue populaire africaine pour l’indépendance (LPAI), the main political movement, commissioned the group to create a pro-independence play to move away from the long years that were rife with ambiguities. In a way, the band co-opted LPAI’s nationalist rhetoric and took a populist turn33. Still, Gacan Macaan’s willingness to articulate an oppositional political and social discourse through a reinvention of black expressive cultures could be viewed as a counter-culture production of modernity, to use Gilroy’s terms. Hassan Ilmi produced the first play of the band: “Ilmo Geeska Afrika” ( “Children of the Horn of Africa”) one of the most memorable pro-independence plays, which reconstructed the arrival of the French colonial enterprise. Ilmi’s play attempted to demonstrate how the French colonial drive constituted the “natives” as static clan groups rather than historical peoples. According to him, erasing the Djiboutian history, after all, was fundamental to full colonial rule. In some ways, Ilmi’s vision of a new national narrative was a vision of what official history should become. History was to draw from all the sources: notably Sufi musical traditions, Afro-American and Pan-African genres, and Arabic musical resistance. Ilmo Geeska Afrika laid out the goal and purposes of Gacan Macaan.

  • 34 Siinley was a poetic debate started in 1972 by Abdi Qays, where close to 35 poets discussed the sta (...)

33As Ilmi did in Ilmo Geeska Afrika, others members in the band started composing music and poems about the French occupation. In their view, colonialism discourse presented Djiboutians “in the imagery of static, almost ideal types, and neither as creatures with a potential in the process of being realized nor as history being made” (Said 1979: 321). But it was Gadhleh who openly declared the specificity of Djiboutian political experience in a 1973 poem, which was part of the Siinley34 debate:

Aniguna sidaydaba

Personally,

Kama helo sawaxankoo

Noise does not confuse me

Waan ka meel samaystee

I control my destiny

34Departing from his previous political stand, Gadhleh depicts Pan-Somalism as Somalia’s own problem, and implicitly advises Djiboutians against adopting the trans-clan ideology noise advocated by some segments of Somalia’s political elite. Such outright critiques of Pan-Somalism, combined with Gacan Macaan’s use of multiple artistic references provided audiences with an alternative nationalist discourse – one based on local specificities, and against the all-pervasive Pan-Somalism. Out of this confluence of Qays’ critique of Pan-Somalism and Gacan Macaan’s methods of appropriating multiple music experiences, there emerged a particular Somali-Djiboutian form of popular music that came to define the 1970 Djiboutian way of artistic – and nationalist - expression.

Conclusion

35This chapter has explored the evolution of nationalist discourses in the Somali Horn through the expression of Somali poets and a Djiboutian band. I have suggested that while at times Somali poets and musicians lent their creative talents to supporting the idea of Pan-Somalism, they were also responsible for its deconstruction. By the early 1970s, this critique of Pan-Somalism re-shaped Gacan Macaan’s political and artistic productions, when they began to articulate a different kind of nationalist discourse, now divorced from the ideal of Pan-Somalism. I have suggested that certain aspects of Gilroy’s model help to explain Gacan Macaan’s new directions: in particular, their musical fusions, particularly Guux, represent a form of post-national cultural productions. But against Gilroy’s predictions of the demise of nationalism, Gacan Macaan used these productions for nationalist ends, re-articulating anti-colonial agenda in the process. In Gacan Macaan’s work we also see a longer and broader network of cultural exchanges that reach beyond the Atlantic, as Amselle’s notion of ‘branchement’ suggests. In sum, this chapter has highlighted the way that artistic modes of expression sometimes tack with, and sometimes against, prevailing political discourse, at times being shaped by them and at other times – drawing on myriad musical inspirations – playing a critical role in defining the terms of debate. Gacan Macaan’s artistic productions, as in the work of the Somali poets’ who influenced their work, also highlight the need to pay attention to the interplay of local historical developments and transnational cultural flows, while being wary of framing nationalist and post-national discourses in dichotomous terms.

Bibliographie

Bibliography

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Amselle, J-L. 2001. Branchements: Anthropologie de l’universalité des cultures. Paris, Flammarion.

Austin, J.L. 1970. Quand dire, c’est faire. Paris, Éditions du Seuil.

Andrzejewski, B.W., Lewis, I.M. 1964. Somali Poetry: An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bourdieu, P. 2013. Manet. Une révolution symbolique. Cours au Collège de France (1998-2000) Suivi d’un manuscrit inachevé. Éditions du Seuil/Raisons d’agir. Cours et travaux.

Ducaale, B.Y. 2006. Diiwaanka Maansada: Cabdillahi Suldan Maxamed (Timacadde), Daabacaadi 2aad. Addis Ababa: Flamingo Printing Press.

Gellner, E. 1964. Thought and Change. Chicago, The University of Chicago Press.

Gilroy, P. 1993. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. London and New York, Verso Press.

Muhammad, N. 1972. The Legal System of the Somali Democratic Republic. Charlottesville, VA: Michie Company.

Said, E. 1979. Orientalism. New York, Vintage Books.

Samatar, I.M. 1997. Light at the End of the Tunnel: Some Reflections on the Struggle of The Somali National Movement, in Adam H & Ford R (ed.) Mending Rips in the Sky: Options for Somali Communities in the 21st Century. Larenceville, The Red Sea Press: 21-48.

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Notes

1 Many authors have been critical of Black Atlantic, but they have not ignored it or dismissed it.

2 Also, Latin-America is absent from Gilroy’s conceptualization of black experiences

3 Interview with Abdillahi Qarshe, London, 1997.

4 Radio Goodir (Kudu), later known as Radio Hargeysa, was created in 1942-43. Abdirahman Abby, a Somali-British whose mother was white, was one of the first Heads of the station.

5 In March 1941, the British Colonial Office moved to Hargeysa from the coastal city of Berbera as part of its hinterland policy.

6 Interview with Abdillahi Qarshe. The balwo dance company was founded by Abdi Deqsi ‘Sinimo’ and a few artists, including Kadija Balwo, close to him.

7 The Haud and Reserve Area.

8 Even though the British colonial office allowed musical and artistic expressions, the imprisonment of anti-colonial artist was common throughout the 1950’s. Abdillahi Qarshe and Mohamed Ahmed Kuluc were jailed for composing subversive songs or speaking out against colonial rule.

9 Qarshe was a prominent musician and an original member of Walaalaha Hargeysa band, whose Pan-Somalism position attracted wide popularity thanks to his patriotic songs. Hussein Aw Farah, a brilliant poet and an original member of Walaalaha Hargeysa, was also one of the members of Heesahaga Hirgalay committee.

10 Interview with Ibrahim Meygag Samatar, Ottawa, Canada, 1998.

11 Lafoole was the teachers’ training college created by the military regime in 1972.

12 The play’s messages included the importance of local intellectuals over foreign-trained elite, women’s rights and work ethics. But in reality, the Lafoole Group was legitimising the military regime’s pseudo-nationalist stand.

13 Poets are evaluated on their knowledge of law (customary law, religious law, and previous legal cases), their ability to remember previous and current arguments, and persuasiveness.

14 Perhaps, with the exception of I.M. Lewis and B.W. Andrzejewski, thanks to their reasonable command of Somali and longtime close proximity with Somalis’ ups and downs.

15 Here, we are not arguing that poets have better understanding of Somalis’ cultural, political and social realities.

16 For example, Somalis conceive of the he-camel as the driving force of pastoral life and the she-camel as the mother of all humankind, and related pastoral metaphors infuse Somali poetry. Maandeeq, a popular name of the she-camel, symbolises the nation. Although poets in the 1960s and 1970s were mostly city-dwellers, the pastoral mode of production was still the main source of inspiration when composing poetry.

17 Dir and Darood are two major Somali clan families.

18 This section does not cover the equally significant sounds and expressions of the Afaar and Arab artistic communities. The works of such towering figures like Ali Oudun, Taha Nahari, Mohamed Houmed Moussa “Petit Fanaan” ( “Petit Artist”) and the multi-genre and versatile musician Kamal Haji Ali, just to name a few, shapped Djibouti’s multicultural music sounds. It is worth noting that Djibouti’s three main communities -Afar, Arab and Somali – shared at the bigining one music studio group, whose members were all Arabs, because Afar and Somali artists were around this period just starting to incorporate new musical intruments - oud, violin, flute, piano- into local traditional sounds (finger snapping, feet stamping, hand clapping, etc.)

19 Djibouti was home to two famous Somali studios, which copied and distributed massive volumes of cassettes: in Quartier 5, Abdi Sinimo Studio (named after Abdi Deqsi “Sinimo”, the inventor of the balwo genre); and in Quartier 4, Boodhari Studio, (named after Ilmi Bodari, the father of Somali love and owned by Ibrahim Gadhleh, one of the founders of Gacaan Macaan).

20 Interview with Ali Abdi Farah, former Djiboutian Minister of Communication and Culture and former president, in the 1970s, of l’Union de la jeunesse (Djibouti, 2016).

21 Interview with Omar Gerdon (Gabiley, Somaliland, 2017).

22 Ibid.

23 Hawa Geelqad (first Djiboutian woman to join a musical ensemble), Amina Abdillahi, Faduma Ahmed and Nimo Jama were the few only female singers in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

24 Dirdawa, a city in the Somali region of Ethiopia, never produced any Somali musicians and never had a significant musical scene to my knowledge. Often, many musicians from this town discovered their artistic calling either in Djibouti or the Somali Republic.

25 Iglumao was led by the talented Abdulaziz Ali.

26 Harlem Soul, led by Geudi as lead guitarist and vocalist, used to perform at the historical and symbolic Les Salines venue throughout the early 1980s.

27 Interview with Hussein Abdi Aidarus. (Djibouti, 2016 and 2017). Aidarus is a famous Djiboutian musicologist, composer and singer.

28 Guux is the sound that camel makes when approaching the water. Said Hamargod (Abdo’s older brother) first introduced Guux by reworking Guux sounds from the Somali Republic. This genre’s tradition continues with the Guux Brothers Band, a musical group that reincarnates the sounds and expressions of popular music from the 1970’s and 1980’s.

29 The poet is referring here to Shanta Somaliyeed (the five Somali territories): British Somaliland, French Somaliland, Italian Somaliland, the Northern Frontier District (NFD) in Kenya and the Somali Region in Ethiopia.

30 It goes without saying that Farah, Gadhleh and Ilmi were not the only leaders of these artistc collectives.

31 Interview with Abdi Nur Allale (London, England, 2004). Allale is an original member of Gacan Macaan and one of the most gifted performers produced by the Djiboutian musical experience.

32 By associating the territory with only one Somali clan, the Issas, the Colonial Office’s intention was to label other Somali clans as foreigners, an exogenous population. The assumption here was that Issas constituted a distinct group and were less concerned with Pan-Somalism, even though historical Issa figures such as Ali Bahdon Buh and Mohamud Harbi wanted to bring all Somalis under one nation-state.

33 Aware of arts’ subversive potential, the colonial administration had established a censorship committee to check Djiboutian plays beforehand. During the performance, about 10-20 censors were dispatched to observe if playwrights added new anti-colonial messages, hidden or otherwise. Interviews with Ali Abdi, Abdi Nur Alaale and Mohamed Jama Abdi Gahnug.

34 Siinley was a poetic debate started in 1972 by Abdi Qays, where close to 35 poets discussed the state of Pan-Somalism and the military regime of Siyaad Barre. Somali poetry uses the method of alliteration: in the Gadhleh’s poem, Siinley S is the alliterating letter. So, Siinley simply means the poem that has S as the alliterating letter.

Auteur

Is Associate Professor at Mount Kenya University (MKU) and the director of the Centre for Frankincense, Environmental and Social Studies (CFESS). He is currently involved in several ongoing research projects focusing on the Horn of Africa: the international frankincense trade, journalism and democracy in Somaliland, and the development of nationalist discourses in relation to poetic and musical expressions in Djibouti, Somaliland and Somalia. Kenedid holds a PhD in Sociology from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).

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