On this journey, I’m joined by Fousia from Naptime is Sacred podcast as we explore
Book in focus: Links by Nuruddin Farah (Somalia).
Find Fousia on Instagram @naptimeissacred and her website naptimeissacred.com.
To listen to her podcast, search "Naptime is Sacred" on your podcast app.
My other Somali fiction reads
My background research resources (not endorsements)
Transcript with time markers below.
Amina: [00:00:00] What Jeebleh had seen of the city so far, marked it as a place of sorrow. Many houses had no roofs and bullets scarred nearly every wall. In contrast to the rundown ghetto of an American city, where the windows might be boarded up, here, the window frames were simply empty. The streets were eerily, ominously quiet. They saw no pedestrians on the roads and met no other vehicles. Jeebleh felt a tremor, imagining that the residents had been slaughtered in one another's blood, as Virgil had it.
He would like to know whether, in the civil war, both of those violated and the violators suffered from a huge deficiency: the inability to remain in touch with their inner selves or to remember who they were before the slaughter began. Could this be the case in Rwanda or Liberia? Not that one could make sense of this war on an intellectual level. Only an emotional one. Here, self-preservation help one to understand.
[00:01:02] Assalamu alaykum. Welcome to a new episode of Book Nomad.
This is Amina. I hope you're having a lovely day, in sha Lillah. This episode will be divided into three parts, just so you know where we're headed. The first part will be some context for the book. Then there will be the discussion, and then there will be some book suggestions from people with a connection to the country or setting of the book. Enjoy!
My hope with this podcast is not just to explore literature and our feelings around it, our experiences, and what we learnt from it, which is important of course, but also to learn more about the world through it. And for this reason, this segment will briefly cover the wider context of the book in discussion.
I've done some research of course, and I'll try to avoid value laden language, but this segment should not serve as a reference and should be a starting point to project you into your own research, to get a better understanding. And to that end, you can find my sources on the website.
This episode is going to be focusing on Somalia. So before we get into the book, let's get a bit of context. Somalia is located on the northeast coast of Africa and the Horn of Africa. And if you look at the map, you'll see why it's called that. And it's very close to the Arabian Gulf. The capital is Mogadishu, Muqdisho, and is located in the south of the country.
Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa, and this means that it's been in contact with people from around the world for a long time. And it has a particular connection with Yemen due to its proximity. It also means that it's in a very strategic location, particularly in terms of trade. Somalia has traded with many parts of the world for a long time, and it currently holds a very important location for exports from the Gulf and goods imported from other parts of the world, for example, East Asia, particularly to Europe, which have to pass through Somali waters before they can get to the Bab al-Mandab Strait, which is the small space of water between Djibouti and Yemen. And then they go through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean.
As a side note, the significance of this area not only explains why there's so much international interest in the Horn of Africa, but also it's a key factor in the current state of affairs in Yemen. And you can do your research on that. It's worth looking up. When I read about it, it really reminded me how often conflicts that are cloaked in the language of religion or counter terrorism are actually at least in part geopolitical.
Back to the topic: this book focuses on socio-politics, we could say. So let's do a very quick overview of Somalia's modern political history. The Somali people are spread over a wider area than the present day Republic of Somalia and their lands were colonised by a number of European countries. So the area now known as Djibouti was colonised by the French, and it was called French Somaliland, which in the northwest, and then next to it was British Somaliland, which is the present day Somaliland. And then the rest of present day Somalia was occupied by Italy. And in 1950, the British gave a part of their, the land they were occupying to Ethiopia, which is called Ogaden.
In 1960, Somalia gained independence and a president was elected. And there were three presidents for the subsequent nine years until a military coup in 1969 by Siad Barre, referred to as the Dictator in this book. He led Somalia into what was called Scientific Socialism with the support of the Soviet Union. He also introduced written Somali in 1973. However, eventually in 1991, widespread famine and a lost war with Ethiopia led to him becoming increasingly unpopular and being overthrown. And the resulting power vacuum caused a rivalry between two leaders of opposition groups who were Ali Mahdi Muhammad and Mohamed Farrah Aidid, referred to as Strong Man North and Strong Man South respectively in this book. This civil war led to the UN initiating what they called a peacekeeping operation in 1992. And this was followed by US and UN military deployment in 1993, which they said was necessary to protect aid workers. This was the biggest UN operation in the world at that time with 30,000 personnel. 30,000!
The book we're reading today actually reveals some Somali perspectives on the way the US military handled this operation, but tensions rose between the military and General Aidid and eventually led to the operation by the US military on the 3rd of October, which is known as the 3rd of October events in this book or Blackhawk Down, as made famous by the American book and film of the same name. This one day battle lead to a large number of injuries and fatalities amongst the Somalis and some American casualties and the US and UN left Somalia in March, 1994. And this brings us to the point where our novel starts, so let's dive into the discussion.
[00:07:48] Assalamu alaykum. Welcome to episode 40 of Book Nomad and the first episode of 2020 today I'm joined by Fousia from Naptime is Sacred podcast. Assalamu alaykum, Fousia.
Fousia: [00:08:03] Wa alaykum assalam!
Amina: [00:08:05] Good to have you.
Fousia: [00:08:07] It's great to be on. Thank you so much for having me on the show.
Amina: [00:08:10] It's been a long time coming. A very long time!
Fousia: [00:08:15] It's one of those things where like you talk on social media and then you never like get around to actually talking.
Amina: [00:08:21] Yeah. But I mean, that's good too, but this is better. Would you like to introduce yourself?
Fousia: [00:08:32] Okay everyone. My name is Fousia Abdullahi. I host a podcast called Naptime is Sacred and that's where I met sister Amina. Obviously we're both podcasters. I'm a mum of four. I grew up in Canada, but originally I am from Somalia.
Amina: [00:08:49] Welcome. I'm trying to think if I've done any episodes with anyone from that side of the ocean.
Fousia: [00:09:01] Yeah. I mean, especially you're in England and I'm all the way in Texas, I forgot to mention that I currently live in Texas. So it's a little bit like way, way off.
Amina: [00:09:12] Yeah, but that's good. I like to get guests from different parts of the world.
Fousia: [00:09:18] Yeah, it's fun.
Amina: [00:09:20] I think you're the first Canadian.
Fousia: [00:09:23] Awesome.
Amina: [00:09:24] And the first Somali! Two in one!
Fousia: [00:09:29] Perfect.
About the book and author
Amina: [00:09:30] Okay. So today we're going to discuss a book, a Somali book called Links by Nuruddin Farah, who is a very prominent Somali novelist.
I told you before we started recording that I'm feeling a bit, I don't know. I'm feeling a bit shaky. I think it's, as I was preparing for this, actually just now I was looking through the book again and I had this feeling that I dunno, kind of a feeling of responsibility, I guess. I mean, I always have this with the podcast to be honest, but that feeling like this book is there's so much suffering, I guess, in it.
And I don't know this, I had this conversation on Instagram a while ago about people benefiting from other people's suffering. And that struck me suddenly. So I'm hoping that this episode will bring some benefit in sha Allah and forgive me if I make any mistakes. In sha Allah khair.
Okay. So Nuruddin Farah, as I said, is a, is a very prominent Somali novelist.
I don't know if he's prominent inside Somalia. Or if it's one of those known outside more than inside situations, obviously he writes in English. So,
Fousia: [00:11:02] yeah, so he writes in English and I think he writes an Arabic and maybe Italian. I don't know. I'm not completely sure about the Italian part.
Amina: [00:11:09] Hmm.
Yeah, but not Somali. I dunno what the Somali novel situation is.
Fousia: [00:11:17] Yeah, I think his first book might've been in Somali. I can't be a hundred percent sure. I know I heard he was talking about it in an interview that I listened to a while ago. Yeah. But yeah.
Amina: [00:11:30] Yeah, I think he predominantly writes in English.
He was born in the south of Somalia in 1945. And then he moved to Ogaden in now, Ethiopia. Yep. His father was an interpreter for the British and he was born in colonial Somalia. Although I think it was the Italian part, but his father was an interpreter and his mother was an oral poet, which I guess had an impact maybe on his own work.
Then they moved back to Somalia in after independence. He studied in India and the UK and he didn't return to Somali until 96, which was over 20 years after he left. So a lot in common with the protagonist of this book. Yeah, he lives now in Minnesota, in the US and South Africa, and he's written over 15 novels. So a lot. And I think they're all based in Somalia. If I'm not mistaken.
Fousia: [00:12:50] In Somalia, someone returning to Somalia, life outside of Somalia, but then like coming back and all that kind of stuff.
Amina: [00:12:58] Yeah. So that's definitely his focus and his goal, I guess, with his writing. This book is the first in a trilogy.
I, I had dreams of reading the trilogy. That didn't happen, but that's fine. It was Yeah. So this is the first in the trilogy. The trilogy is called Past Imperfect, and I found an article in The Guardian. It's called Nuruddin Farah: Life in Writing. And the trilogy is described as being "conceived in the context of misunderstandings, misconceptions and missing the point, chief among them being that the conflict is clan warfare".
Farah does not see himself as belonging to a clan. That's what he said about the trilogy. The reason actually, one of the reasons I picked this book is because in that same article they said that Farah wanted to offer an alternative angle on the US intervention in Somalia in 93 to the portrayal of it in the film, Black Hawk Down, which came out in 2002, I think.
So I thought that was interesting. Have you seen the film?
Fousia: [00:14:20] So I haven't seen the film kind of like out of protest.
Amina: [00:14:25] I haven't seen it either.
Fousia: [00:14:26] Because I don't think that anything that would have been portrayed in a movie that came out would have gotten the facts correct on the side of Somali people, if that makes sense.
Because it's a movie for the West. Right. And I think there's a lot that goes into what happened back then with regards to Black Hawk Down and all of that. And a lot of things led up to that. So I, I just didn't think that it would be something that I would be able to watch and not like get insanely angry about.
Amina: [00:14:58] Haha yeah. So, for health's sake, yeah. Actually a couple of days ago when I finished this book, I thought, okay, let me watch this film and see, like to compare, you know, since he said that it was an alternative and I went to you know, iTunes, I was gonna get it. And then I thought, I just don't want to watch this film. So I didn't watch it.
Fousia: [00:15:26] It was going to be a movie on alternative facts as you know, so I was just like
Amina: [00:15:31] yeah, I did watch the trailer. That was my compromise. So I think I got the gist of it from that. Yeah. So this book is based it's told, focuses on Jeebleh, who is a Somali who left Somalia. And is returning after I think, 15 years or something like that.
Fousia: [00:15:57] Being Somali, his name is Jeebleh.
Amina: [00:16:01] Oh, really?
Fousia: [00:16:02] Yeah.
Because they said it was from "pocket", right? So I just read it as Arabic.
Yeah. So a jeeb is a pocket. Right. And it means like someone who has a lot of pockets, Jeebleh. And so the funny thing is like, I was looking through the book initially and I was like my Somali reading, you guys- I left Somalia when I was like two and a half, three years. Old-ish maybe a little bit older than that. So my Somali reading is like really terrible. So I was reading his name and I'm just like, Cheeb-le? I'm like, you're saying it like you, don't know Somali. And I was like, okay. So, and then when they explain what his, what it meant in the book, I was like, Oooh, that makes sense! A little bell went off and I was like, seriously.
Amina: [00:16:50] I, yeah, I guess I was reading in Arabic because pocket in Arabic is a jeeb. So I guess it's the same. Okay, good. Glad you told me that the beginning.
Fousia: [00:17:05] It it's like, cause even before this, cause you know, being a podcast, I had like an inner dialogue with myself. Am I going to correct names and stuff? Or am I, and then I was like, and I was like, I know that you love like the authenticity of the book and the culture that's behind the book and everything. I'm like, okay. I'll just, if, if she says it wrong, I'll tell her what it is.
Amina: [00:17:23] Oh yeah, please. No, I, I was also thinking about that throughout this and like, you know, hoping that names would come up in interviews and stuff, but obviously that didn't work, but that's fine.
Okay. Jeebleh. Right. Yep. Yeah. Yeah. So he's returning to Somalia in the mid-nineties. Not long after the I don't know what to call it, Black Hawk Down/Battle of Mogadishu.
Fousia: [00:17:56] So this was right after the Dictator fled the country like a few years, I think a few years later after that. Because this country is still like just coming out of that, that part of the problem. Yeah.
Amina: [00:18:09] And there's kind of I dunno battle, civil war between two kind of leaders of different groups, right?
Fousia: [00:18:17] Yeah. So basically what happened was in the civil war of Somalia the Dictator was trying to separate this, like the tribes into the haves and the have-nots kind of so when he fled there was still like a separation, so the people that were on his side be it his tribe and other tribes that were a part of like his coalition versus the tribe that was the tribes that were trying to be like eliminated from society at that time. So that's why he's calls them Strong Man North and Strong Man South. Because the fight was literally between Somalis from the North mainly like, I guess the Isaaq tribe and the tribes from the people who lived in the South. Although Somalis of both tribes and both I mean, like both the North and the South, they do live in different parts of the country. There's people who are not Isaaq in the North, and then there's people who aren't, you know, so that's the way that it's lived. And I do have to put a little bit of a disclaimer. My Somali history is not as great as I would like it to be, especially during this era, since I was so young.
But like what little I know that I know that I can like talk about, I'll do my best to kind of like, talk about that if it comes up. But by no means, am I an expert on this? And I'll try to keep my personal feelings out of it as much as possible in sha Allah.
Amina: [00:19:36] I mean, I think that's inevitable.
We're not this isn't a history experts podcast, right? Yeah.
Fousia: [00:19:44] Yeah. This is just like a very, a touchy topic still till this day. Yeah.
Amina: [00:19:49] Yeah, no, I know. That's another reason why I'm feeling a bit. Yeah. The more I read, I did quite a lot of reading to prepare for this, which is not something I've done that much before.
And the more I read, the more I was worried about talking about this book, that's why I add that disclaimer at the beginning.
Fousia: [00:20:15] And if we stick to what he wrote in the book , yeah, that'll probably be best. That way we don't get tangled in the, in the webs that have been woven before our time.
Amina: [00:20:24] Yeah. Okay. So he returns to Mogadishu right in that time.
And he says it's because he wants to honour his mother who's already passed away. And then he gets involved in searching for his half-brother's lost niece or kidnapped niece. And I mean, it, it has a plot, but it's, it's quite.
Fousia: [00:20:55] It's like all jumbled up a little bit, like like he's giving background about the war and what happened and then what's going on right now.
And then it's all tangled in this mystery of what happened to, to the two, these two young girls and his relationship with his kind of like his, I guess it would call him like an adoptive kind of brother since his mom used to babysit this kid. And then that man's a real half-brother where they shared a mom, but not the father.
So yeah, it's just, it was all kind of like back and forth, back and forth.
Amina: [00:21:26] Mm. Yeah. I don't know if that's really an overview of the plot, but I think it's a good representation. Maybe to start then I'll, I'll start at the end and ask you how did you feel when you got to the end of this book?
How did you feel at the end of the book?
Fousia: [00:21:44] I felt like after all that buildup, then it just ended, you know I was hoping for like a bigger explanation of everything, of what happened. And getting like a story of like the whys and like, and get details about everyone's involvement, you know, but it was kind of like at the end, it kind of finished really quickly.
And then the explanation was not so much about what happened to the girls. It was more about what happened after the girls came back and how everyone was reacting to it. As opposed to like finally getting some sort of you know, ending to what had really happened.
Amina: [00:22:24] Yeah. I think that as I was reading it, I was trying to, I mean, obviously it doesn't need to go into a specific box in terms of genre, but it felt like it was half, you know, those crime novels, like very popular crime paperbacks. Yeah. It felt like it was half one of those and then there was kind of a- other
Fousia: [00:22:49] half, a crime, half autobiography, half like history of civil war, so it was like a lot to read, to be honest.
Amina: [00:23:00] Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, I think that's probably why. I don't know if it's necessarily a bad thing. I mean, we can get to that, but I think the style, yeah, it was a bit, I didn't feel emotionally engaged with it with, especially with the protagonist.
I wasn't particularly bothered about him. You felt the same?
Fousia: [00:23:32] The only thing was like, please don't let it be one of those stories where someone goes back to Somalia and, and something bad happens to them. Like, you know what I'm saying? So that, like, I just wanted it to be like, okay, the man left Somalia and he was fine.
Amina: [00:23:44] Oh right. Yeah. I mean, he was fine. Not everyone was fine. Yeah, I think also, as you mentioned, right, the way he's written it, it's very clear that he was trying to give some historical and political context to the reader. Like there were a few chunks where it was basically just explaining things. Yeah.
Reliving family experiences in Links
Fousia: [00:24:12] So those are the parts that I personally had hard time with, like being Somali. So like describing the war and the aftereffects of people and how life changed for them and how they became, like, after the war. That was a part that I found difficult to read. I think the rest of them, the mystery part of it was okay.
Cause I was just looking at it from like a mystery, kind of like whodunnit perspective. But the part where he shares like in great detail, like what he sees from the people and their attitudes and how things have changed and other people and people sharing their experiences through their, like what happened to them after he left the country. And that was a difficult part to read.
Amina: [00:24:49] In what way?
Fousia: [00:24:51] I think personally, because I left at such a young age , that like, I've heard other people's accounts of what happened. And you kind of like start to, especially at a young age when people are all together in a new country , they kind of like reshare trauma like talking about what happened to them specifically where their families are like waiting for that letter that might come from a family member or a phone call they might get once every few months, you know?
So, and when that happens and it starts all over again, you hear about everything bad that happened. So like rereading that just reminded me of like personal stories that I heard from other people growing up and just like try and like reading it and trying not to reabsorb that kind of trauma again.
It was, it was interesting.
Amina: [00:25:38] Okay. So you mean it's not the way he portrayed it, but the kind of emotion than it raised?
Fousia: [00:25:44] It invokes a lot of emotions, I think it would for any Somali, like a young Somali who either had grown up in that time and saw these things with their own eyes or someone who was retold those stories.
Like I was because I did leave at such a young age it was a bit kind of like, Oh God, like I can understand what he's saying and the impact that it had on people, because even after those people fled Somalia after a long time they're still going through the process till today, you know?
Amina: [00:26:12] Hmm. Yeah. Hmm. I mean, I was wondering when I read it who his target reader was.
Fousia: [00:26:21] Yeah. So I think he writes these stories for Somalis, right. Predominantly, but also for non-Somalis to learn the intricate details of Somali life during that time and like things even now that affects society.
Amina: [00:26:36] Yeah.
Yeah. I think as we were saying those background information parts made me feel like it was for a non-Somali. I mean, obviously it can be for more than one audience, I suppose. And I guess because he didn't use names- I don't know if this is the way people refer to people in Somalia, like he used The Dictator, Strongman South rather than the real names?
Fousia: [00:27:05] No. No one really calls him that outside of this book.
Amina: [00:27:08] Yeah, he's done it on purpose.
Fousia: [00:27:10] He said it on purpose to kind of like, I think he's trying to use "strongman" as a way of like, you know, two men fighting each other, no one's going to back down, right? It's a battle of like, I'm stronger than you. My will is stronger than you, or I'm like more physically capable of taking you on. So I think that's why he says Strongman North and Strongman South.
Amina: [00:27:30] Right . Maybe he also is doing that to make it, I mean, I was trying to read it as someone who hadn't just read a history book about Somalia. If you have no context, can you understand it? I think you can, to an extent. Obviously you wouldn't get everything and I, I didn't get everything, but yeah. I think as well he said in interviews, but he also said in this book, in the mouth of one of the characters about wanting a diversity of voices, I guess, in telling stories Yeah.
Yeah. It's also what you mentioned about his intention. Yeah, in the book, the protagonist says "he was pleased that Somalis were recording their ideas about themselves and their country, sometimes in their own language, sometimes in foreign tongues. These efforts, meager as they might seem, pointed to the gaps in the world's knowledge about Somalia."
So I felt like in that bit he was telling the reader why he writes these books. Yeah. And that actually made it easier for me to read this because we obviously know no one book can represent any group of people, but I think it's sometimes useful to emphasise that. Yeah. Because then you're not holding anyone responsible for-
Fousia: [00:28:50] yeah, because I mean, when you're talking about civil war, there's always like someone that someone else is holding accountable. Or circumstances that people say led to it. So I think being who he is and the way he thinks about tribalism and Somalia and civil war, I think his tone is just very kind of like showing both sides as much as possible.
Amina: [00:29:13] Well, I think that's also evident in the different characters, the main characters. Each one has a different perspective ; like he's someone who's lived outside Somalia for over 20 years. He wasn't there in these events that he's talking about. And then you have the adopted brother, Bileh?
Fousia: [00:29:36] Yep. You were perfect on that one.
Amina: [00:29:40] Who was that obviously and spent a lot of time in prison. And so he had a very different experience. And then you have this Irish guy who's unexpected ,Seamus, which was interesting because then he's kind of drawing parallels with Northern Ireland and that context.
Fousia: [00:30:00] So that, that was interesting. Like Seamus came from, he came out of nowhere, like, huh, like, okay, like two Somali guys and an Irish guy. And I'm like, you know, I can actually see that.
Amina: [00:30:13] It was an interesting choice.
Fousia: [00:30:15] Yeah. I think the interesting part of this group of like characters was Bileh's half-brother that he shared a mother with. So that makes them the two fathers were from different tribes and, just like Arabs, in Somalia you're whatever your dad's tribe is.
Yeah, so like the part where he's talking about how C a loosha took him out of prison or had him released, but then he had, he kept his brother in lockup was really interesting to me cause that makes you think about how crazy tribalism is that two brothers who came out of the same womb, who are from different fathers will still treat each other like that. And the depth that tribalism has kind of like reached into the belly of Somalia.
Amina: [00:31:02] Mm. Yeah, I actually missed that. I mean, he didn't answer explicitly why he didn't release his brother, but he released him. But yeah, obviously now you said it.
Fousia: [00:31:17] Yeah, it's crazy, man.
I mean that's probably not the only reason too, because then he talks about how Bileh's dad used to torture Caloosha. Because Caloosha was like, quote, unquote, like a naughty kid or a bad kid and had like behavioural issues.
So I'm sure that plays a part in it as well. Yeah, but it's just like all together. It was, it was a lot. Yeah,
Amina: [00:31:38] It was a lot, yeah. I mean, how do you decide if someone is successful in addressing so many themes? Yeah.
But I guess it's just each person when they read it are going to focus on different things.
Mental and emotional impacts of instability
Fousia: [00:31:54] I mean, I would venture to say that this book is kind of like a representation of a Somali mind because it's not just any one thing about the civil war and that time, but it's death by many cuts, right? Both mentally and physically . And I would venture to say the mental is worse because a lot of people have lived for a long time with all of this on their mind. And we can see the effects of that in their lives still today. When we're reading it right now, it seems like a jumbled up bunch of hot messes together, right? So many things are happening. They're happening really fast and we're having trouble processing it. And I think he wants us to think about how the people in the book and those stories that are actually living this are processing it.
Amina: [00:32:38] Yeah. Mm. I think actually that was possibly for me the strongest point of this book : the way he created that feeling of disorientation, instability, physically and emotionally and mentally. I think he really did that very well in so many ways. It kept coming up.
I saw a review on Goodreads and it was a one-star review. It was funny because he said exactly what I liked about it. He said "it felt like flying over a landscape with a heavy, dark rain cloud beneath you. All you want is to dive under the cloud and see the landscape. I wanted to understand the book, but a big dark cloud followed every single page." And that's why he didn't like it, but I actually felt like that was the strength of it. Even just conversations, you know, like people ask questions and they never get the full answer and unanswered questions or...
Fousia: [00:33:41] Because the answer that you get is going to be having a layer of bias to it, right? Cause everyone's looking at it from their perspective. So that, I think that's why a lot of things go unanswered because they can't be answered in a, in a rational way.
Amina: [00:33:56] Right. Yeah. And that really adds to it, I guess, because as well, we're seeing it from Jeebleh's perspective as someone who hasn't been there for a long time . You see the way it affects him as the story progresses as well that he becomes increasingly confused and just never quite knows what's going on.
I really felt that like Farah is asking that question: what does it do to a person to live in that kind of situation where there's complete lack of security and stability? Yeah. Yeah, that was powerful, I think.
Returning to the homeland as an emigrant
Fousia: [00:34:39] Yeah. I think that that left a, like a big impact. Hmm. From what I've heard from other people, if you go back having left, I guess as anyone over the age of like five , when you go back, you're still in that mindset that that's home. But they're in the mindset that that used to be home for you, right? So you're living in this limbo of like the country where you immigrated to and the country that you came from and you never quite fit in in either one. And he's so like when he's calling home and he's only sharing half-truths because he knows that his family is going to get worried, but at the same time, when he's there people are treating him like the way that he thinks about things is odd. And the fact that he's only trying to do what's right and, you know, take the course of justice versus vengeance. And that seems like odd to the people that he's going back to too.
Amina: [00:35:29] Hmm. Yeah, I think that was another major theme. Obviously it's specific to the Somali context of being an emigrant or an exile, I guess he was kind of in exile, right? But there were were also themes of that identity negotiation for anyone who has moved out of their home country, that negotiation of who am I? And what's my relationship to these different places?
Fousia: [00:36:01] Yeah. And like, do you want to remain the same person when you go back home Hm You know, and because I think that's a lot of like why the ending was kind of abrupt too. Like he'd completed what he needed to do there. And then he was just like, I got to go before I get further into this, I need to go. But I think it was really interesting.
And I think one part that actually kind of stood out to me was the difference between someone who grew up during that time in the civil war and before it and - I think it's on page 139 - when Jeebleh is talking to Af-Laawe and he says "some of us are of a we generation on others are a me generation" that really kind of like took me aback a little bit, because I was, I was like, "Whoa, that's like the most accurate explanation of it."
And then he goes on to say "You mix the two modes of being and things become awkward, unmanageable. I belong to the me generation whereas the elders belong to the we generation " and being Somali this really hits a tone because even when I was getting married and I was moving from Toronto to Texas my dad was like, I don't know who to put you in touch with. I don't know, like anyone from our tribe in Texas. And then he called me a few months later and he's like, Oh, I found someone from our tribe in Houston. And I'm like, really? I was like, you made a couple of phone calls and traced down another person from our tribe. To me, that was hilarious because growing up- the person that I am is kind of based off of, I guess, the me culture that he's talking about, like the me generation, because we were just literally like trying to learn the language, trying to assimilate into the country and hearing tales from like, this is what happened to us when we were younger and this is what we left behind. And our parents like wish and desire to go back to that. And they still, to this day live in a we generation. And that's something that's not going to change for a lot of people.
And I know the author is different. He's more of a me generation. He doesn't see the benefits of a tribe. Yeah. And I think there's a lot of people and I would venture to say it would be a lot of, kind of people who are philosophers and maybe even touch agnostic if I could say that. Yeah, so like, that's kind of, because I think if we look at Islam, Islam is also very, like, it started off in a way that was very tribal. But till this day Arabs still find each other through that, right? Like I know who you are and I knew your grandfather and blah, blah, blah. And my dad is your dad's blah, blah, blah, blah. Like that's how they still find each other. So I think that a lot of people who were raised in Islam that way also kind of maybe have a tendency to be a little bit tribalist.
But he writes from perspective of like, no one person is better than another based on their tribe . And we're going to help everyone if they need help, not just one specific group of people. Right. So through like his storytelling, you don't get a sense of him thinking one is wrong outside of like the whole dictatorship and what has happened to people and what happened in government. Other than that, you don't really see kind of like this person is bad and that person is bad. It's kind of like circumstances that led to the actions of these people,
Amina: [00:39:24] Yeah.
Fousia: [00:39:25] It's not like the, like any one person, even though Caloosha is used as kind of like the main figure of bad guys. But then when he's telling about his childhood and what happened to him and the fact that he's like, he's not taking a side. He's kind of like a mercenary; he'll go with whatever side is beneficial to him as opposed to like right or wrong. Hmm.
Amina: [00:39:51] Yeah. I mean, there was that quote , I can't remember who said it to be honest, but he said "there are only good bad men or bad bad men."
Yeah, yeah. I guess that's kind of what he was doing there. Because there are goodies if you like, but everyone has nuances, right? Shadows, I suppose.
Fousia: [00:40:13] Yeah. And I think you see people you would consider to be not so good at the end become helpful. Yeah, so it's kind of like, okay, he is right about the bad bad men and the good bad men!
Amina: [00:40:29] There was a line - you reminded me - that I highlighted about that even bad people can say wise things or something like that. I can't find it now. Yeah. I guess it's trying to bring nuance to people's actions and who they are and what led to what they're doing.
But yeah, I think that pronoun thing that you mentioned the we and the me that was obviously a huge theme as well; he kept mentioning it.
We generation vs Me generation
Fousia: [00:41:01] One thing that he mentioned later on in that page where he's talking about like their European counterparts and people just like outside of Somalia being a me generation.
Hmm, because even though you yourself are not like a tribalist and you don't ascribe to that, he mentioned in our minds, we're a me generation, but we have to be a we sometimes because people still depend on you. So that means like you're sending money back or like someone gets sick and they can't take care of their kid properly.
And you're taking that kid into your home. You're providing education for your community. You're helping build roads. When all of these things are still to this day, like if a road needs to be built somewhere in Somalia or Somaliland, like a tribe who lives in that area will get together and call all of their like family overseas and stuff and be like, we need to do a fundraiser.
And they'll do their fundraisers. Some of them go around to the community, collecting money from their people and then they'll build the road. Oh yeah. So there's still a lot of chances of you being part of the we, even though you don't agree with that way of doing things.
Amina: [00:42:06] Right. When I was reading it, I felt like he was a hundred percent resisting that clan kind of- you know, he gets visited by the elders and he doesn't want anything to do with them, but that's obviously because they were asking him to do something he had no interest in doing.
Fousia: [00:42:25] Yeah. I think maybe if they had asked him for maybe they needed something that wasn't about war - like needing a tank or whatever it was restored - I think he might've been more generous with it. 'Cause in Somali culture, like what he did, even though you would not agree with it, you would still give them some money. And some people believe that, like, if you anger the elders or you don't help someone who's asking you for help, then you're taking like a curse upon yourself, kind of so like to a Somali reading that I was kind of like, I wish that he would have given them something, not necessarily enough to rebuild whatever they needed to rebuild.
But like when someone comes to you, let's say you go back home and they're seeing you for the first time after a long time, you can't let them leave without giving them something. And I think that's why a lot of people don't go back for a long time because they have to save up for it. It's not just a plane ticket and your living expenses while you're there. You have to take into account that there's going to be a lot of people from like your mom's side of the family, your dad's side of the family who are going to come to you, who are going to come and wish you well obviously, and talk to you about the good old days and how your life was and your family and all the things that they remember.
But at the same time, you can't let them leave without giving them something. Whether it's like 50 bucks here or a hundred dollars or whatever. It could even be like something even smaller than that, but you can't just let them leave without it because then it's kind of like a disrespect.
Amina: [00:43:45] Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense. I think a lot of people would sympathise with that, I mean, from many different countries.
Fousia: [00:43:51] Yeah, I was like, ooh, sweetie, you should have just given them something like a little something something and call it a day.
Amina: [00:43:57] Like, I mean, yeah. He went all out, didn't he? Couldn't quite control himself.
I think that negotiation of who we is and depending on the context, in this case, he didn't want to be part of that we, right? But then in another context, he might have been, as he said. And there's so many, I mean, there's the clan issue of we and I, but then you have the emigrant kind of America versus Somalia. Who is he in that context?
The position of Somalis living abroad
[00:44:32] Also, he wrote a book or he maybe he was the editor or he wrote a chapter in a book about I think it was Somali, diaspora nonfiction. And he was saying in that, that , I'll just read the quote : "There were areas of their lives that I had no access to because I was not there when the horror came to visit their homes. They were part of a we sharing the communal nightmare. That I was not included in the we was made clear to me, but then I was not assumed to be part of the they either." So it's also like an experience kind of we.
Fousia: [00:45:09] Yeah. Cause people think about it like even when you go back home, you weren't there during the toughest time of civilisation for those people. So when you come back, they see it as like a, well, you haven't been through what I've been through because you were lucky enough at some point, whether it was before everything had gotten started, or just when it was at a tipping point, or it was after it started, or maybe five, 10 years after you were finally able to leave.
But you got to leave . But these people had to start all over again. And you weren't part of that. So there's still till this day, that kind of like invisible line, right? Where people are different in the way that they will treat you between like someone who was there the whole time and someone who had come back.
And I think as people who grew up outside of Somalia for the majority of our lives , One of the things right now is that there's a lot of the diaspora going back to quote unquote help. And I think in some ways, especially when it comes to the medical field that that's really important, but it's also equally important to give the Somali people who've been there the whole time and lived through this the ability to rebuild themselves without interference from people who have a different way of thinking. Because at the end of the day, we weren't there. We didn't have the same experiences. There's a lot of places that we should be able to help with, but I don't think inserting ourselves into the politics of the country and taking over all of the businesses without providing enough employment and resources for the people that have been living there is good.
I think if we're going back, it should be in a service that is much needed, like creating more hospitals and ambulance services and fire departments, working on the roads and infrastructure, as opposed to becoming a leader of a cabinet because you're so-and-so's cousin twice removed from the same tribe. That doesn't make sense to me unless the person is highly educated and is part of the country. There's a lot to unpack within the we!
Amina: [00:47:15] Yeah. Actually it also struck me, towards the end, when he gets someone else to kill the man he wants dead. So like he doesn't do it himself, right? He gets someone else to do it and then he just leaves. And actually there was this part Where he's talking about the job and he says he just wants to get in and out. And it reminded me of like US military jargon, like a military intervention, like just go in, get it done and then leave. And, you know, what's left behind?
Fousia: [00:47:53] Yeah, and the other person has to live with it on their conscience.
Amina: [00:47:56] Yeah. So that struck me as that kind of distance from the lived reality. He went there, but he always has that- he doesn't have to deal with the whole thing.
Fousia: [00:48:08] Yeah, he went there, but he was always planning to leave once the job was done. And I think helping with the mystery was important to him to help his friend. But at the same time, his initial goal had been to come and take care of business. And to seek vengeance for what was done to him and his friend.
Amina: [00:48:25] I mean, when I was reading, I was thinking, okay, he's not going to do it, he's getting someone else to do it and they have to stay there. But then at the same time, everyone that he knew at least wanted that man out of the way so I dunno, it's not a black and white thing, I guess. Yeah. But it struck me as that kind of, yeah, it's again, I think it's kind of hard as someone who lives outside. Like even for me going back to Algeria, I wasn't born in Algeria but I go back quite a lot. In a way, I feel kind of the same because there are certain things there that people have to deal with that I don't have to deal with. Right. So, yeah, it made me think about that.
Fousia: [00:49:17] Yeah. Because when you go back, people treat you differently. Right. It's kind of like a guest but not a guest, you know?
And at some point you're going to go back . I think that's always an interesting experience for someone when they go back.
Amina: [00:49:30] Yeah. So I'm guessing you haven't been back?
Fousia: [00:49:35] No, I haven't actually. My sister has, my mom has; she lives there like half the year. My dad has been back. He goes back and forth as well.
But I personally haven't gone back and Inshallah. I hope that I can soon. At the same time, it's kind of like preparing yourself in a way for how things are, because I don't, I don't remember. I remember the street that I grew up in and playing out there. I remember how the veranda looked in my parents' home, remember living in an extended family. And I remember like, you know, sometimes you've heard a story so much, you don't remember if you actually are remembering it or you remember people telling you so I think that's a lot of- because I was really young.
Cause after Somalia, we lived in Nairobi for a short period of time. And then we came to Canada. So the end of my time in Somalia and getting to Canada is all really a blur because I was just a really young kid.
But I remember people telling me things like, Oh when my parents started getting inklings of what was going to be happening and stuff like, you know, being told that if I'm at home I would have to answer the door so my male relatives didn't have to answer the door. Because, depending on whatever tribe that they were, they were either going to be taken in to be part of the military and the dictatorship or that they were going to be imprisoned or killed . So they would go and hide in the, in the roof or wherever, and I would answer the door and they would ask like, Oh, is anyone there? And it's like, no, it's just me and the woman taking care of me and she's cooking or whatever, you know . And there's things like that that people have told me in that kind of like, I don't know if it's a memory or a memory, you know, so there's, there's that.
So I don't really remember anything outside of that. Like, I can't go to any one place. Like I have a picture of how my house looked and the street around it, but I don't really have a sense of anything other than that. So it's always interesting to think about what going back would be. And if I went back, it wouldn't be to the area like my family was at the time where I grew up, I'd be going to a different area where they later started living. So it's, it's kind of like, it's strange.
Amina: [00:51:40] Yeah , that makes sense. In the book, you have small glimpses of his family who have no direct relationship with Somalia. They have these images that are dictated by what they see on American television. Yeah.
Fousia: [00:51:57] And I think that has to do with the part of like the whole interracial marriage part of it, because his wife is American. And obviously these kids are biracial and you know, I think he mentioned the oldest one is in university, so that's a long period of time to be out of the country, right? To be raising college aged kids or high school aged kids. And then I think you can tell from the way that he thinks about Somalia as well, that he's coming from a place of like, kind of being Americanised .
Amina: [00:52:23] Hmm. Yeah. He definitely has a distance, even emotionally, and you can see that he feels like in a way he's not part of it anymore. I mean, he says that, doesn't he? I was wondering when I was reading it, how you were reading it, considering you have children who obviously haven't been there. Do you think you would want them to be able to go?
Fousia: [00:52:50] I really do want them to be able to go. I think I would probably go first and scope it out, you know , and see how things are and like set up wherever they would be staying.
Because my son is asthmatic, my daughter has a nut allergy, so I'd have to go over there and see what, what are the ingredients in the everyday food that people are eating. We don't really have a high nut kind of ratio, but if someone's cooking with different kinds of oils and stuff and just all that kind of stuff.
So as a mom, I'm thinking of how do I keep my kids safe, but like not safe from outside danger but health wise like, do I need to get an oxygen tank and take adapters for the inhalation, like the nebuliser and all that kind of stuff.
Because currently, even in 2020, like the healthcare in some cities are not that great. And finding good oxygen or anything like that is difficult in a lot of rural areas. So just being mindful of that, I think, is what my biggest concern is, but I really want them to go back. I want them to see Somalia and the culture and the people and be able to say that they had that experience at a young age,
Amina: [00:53:52] In sha Allah.
Fousia: [00:53:54] In sha Allah .
Amina: [00:53:55] Were there any other kind of themes that you...?
Women and the impacts of war
Fousia: [00:53:58] Yeah, I think one of the important parts that we haven't gotten to yet was the women in the story.
And I think in Somali and probably every war torn country the biggest victims are the women and the children because the men are the ones making the choices. And I think where is it Shanta made...
Amina: [00:54:19] Bileh's sister.
Fousia: [00:54:21] Yeah. Yes. "It's always fallen to women to forge the peace between all those hot blooded men always ready to go to war at the slightest provocation." And I think that's the case, right? A lot of what we see in Somali culture right now is the culture of women building back the country in a lot of ways. And I think this has to do with the fact that a lot of them when they emigrated, they had to become the breadwinners, right.
They often emigrated by themselves, or theyemmigrated with a husband who wasn't fully able to like be there mentally or emotionally because of like internalised trauma or an inability to assimilate to the culture outside of Somalia. But I think as women, we kind of have this inner strength of like, I have to do whatever it takes to take care of my family and make sure that my children and I survive.
And there's always like the opposite that happens whether it's a strong man that is able to go back to school in a new country, get a job and be able to support his family. There's always those stories. But I think being Somali, we always hear the negative aspects of the people like going through this.
But I really liked that she said that because that's not just a Somali problem, it's a world problem. Always having to pick up the pieces of men who started a war, because I mean, they, they necessarily don't lose anything, but if you're a woman you're losing your father, your brother, your uncles, like all the people, your son, even all the people that are there too in society take care of you. You're losing them to war in some way or the other. And you're left picking up the pieces if you're even able to do that, if you're able to get over your own trauma enough to be able to do that.
Amina: [00:56:09] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Women are a big part of his writing. Generally that's the impression I'm getting. That's one of the things that he addresses a lot.
Fousia: [00:56:19] Yeah. I think in one video that I watched, he mentioned that when he has a trilogy or two books, the second one is always a narrative of a woman. And he does that because people are obviously going to come back and he's able to centralise the character of a woman in the second story.
Amina: [00:56:38] Yeah, that is the case with this one, the second book in this trilogy, I mean .
Living with violence
[00:56:45] I think the other major presence, which is not surprising, is violence in many ways And maybe also part of this, what we said about the way he changes the longer he stays there. There's a striking scene of when he's- holds a gun for the first time and realises that he's not entirely repulsed by it.
I guess he was trying to show that Jeebleh's perspective on this violence kind of changes as the story progresses, the longer he stays there.
Fousia: [00:57:24] Yeah. The more you have to become like everyone else there, whether you like it or not. And I think that's the point that he was trying to make.
Amina: [00:57:31] Yeah. Yeah. In the end he says "given the choice, Jeebleh would oppose all forms of violence, but what is one to do when there is no other way to rid society of it?" And, and that's kind of his final statement on that. So yeah. Changes a lot.
Fousia: [00:57:51] But I think that's probably why he left before it could get any worse.
Amina: [00:57:54] Right. Yeah. I mean, to be honest, the very last line, I didn't understand it. It was poetic. I don't know what he actually meant. Yeah, it says "he left before the mist in his mind cleared, afraid that he might alien alienate his friends to whom he owed his life. He left as soon as he sensed the sun intruding on the horizon of his mind." Did you understand that?
Fousia: [00:58:23] I think what he was trying to say is like when you start behaving in a way that's like inauthentic to who you really are.
And I think this is going on throughout the whole story when he would talk about like, not feeling like himself or feeling under a fog or like not being able to think clearly. And he wanted to, he didn't want to talk to his friends in a way that kind of made, you know, just the way he's been thinking about things and placing blame and you know, the blurred line between bad bad guy and good bad guy . He didn't want to make enemies of the people that he cared about. So I think that's why that he wanted to leave because a lot of the problems in the mystery part of this story was a lot of like man-made problems that came from people not having open and honest discussions. It was a lot of misunderstandings and and it that'd be turned into like deep-seated like anger between people.
Yeah. So I think he wanted to leave before he had anything negative to say to his friends about the circumstances with which they lived.
Amina: [00:59:27] Mm. Yeah. That makes sense. What did you think the title was referring to: Links?
Fousia: [00:59:36] I think I don't know. There's, there's, there's always something that takes you back home in some regards.
And I think that he, him going back because of the deaths of his mother and then being propelled into the, to the dramas of these people's lives just shows you that there's always going to be a link. And there's a lot of links that bind us, whether we're from the same tribe or not a lot of things that have happened in the past.
And I think that it can either pull us together or take us apart and having to break those links.
Amina: [01:00:07] Hmm. Yeah, there's a lot of links. It's a very central theme, in many different ways. Family and country, connection between home country and residence...
Fousia: [01:00:19] Two women, both trying to raise their kids and the kids get tangled up in this, in this life that they have to live long after their mothers have passed.
Amina: [01:00:28] Mm.
Yeah . I think it's a clever title.
My final question is in this book or about this book, he says, you know, that he writes as part of a wider narrative, right. He's just giving one perspective or one viewpoint. So after reading this , what perspective would you want to read next?
Fousia: [01:00:58] I think he kind of touched upon that, on that video that I watched that was talking about how he makes his second book about women, because throughout this whole story, the women are kind of like background noise to what's actually going on.
And he's discussing like the male aspects of what has led to these issues. So I've, I would like to see more details about the lives of the woman. I think he, you said that he does that in the second book in this trilogy.
Amina: [01:01:24] Yeah, I think for me when I was reading it, the thing that I missed, or that I wanted to see more of, not in this book, because this book obviously is clearly a perspective of someone who, you know, who's lived outside and they're coming back. But I would like to see the perspective of someone who lived through it. We do get it, but we don't see behind the scenes, I guess. Yep. Yeah, that would be mine, I think. Would you recommend this book then to someone who's looking for a novel related to Somalia?
Fousia: [01:02:06] I think that it's a decent book to get started with, especially since it's a trilogy, just to see how the author carries this kind of narrative to his other books. But I think there's a lot of other books that they could also read that might be an easier read for them. Because a lot was going on in this story.
But, yeah, I don't really have any like criticism, so to speak other than it's just, it's, it's a hard book to read sometimes. Because there's so much going on and it can get jumbled up in your own head. Like it doesn't the, in the in Jeebleh's own head. So I think that would be something to keep in mind.
But from just having read some other Somali novels, I would say that they're always going to leave some sort of heartache in your heart because just of the experience and the trauma that people have gone through . It can be really sad sometimes depending on the book.
Amina: [01:03:00] Yeah. I mean, I suppose if someone reads the context of this book or reads the blurb, then they should be preparing themselves for that.
And I guess, I mean, I don't know if I'd say it's necessary, but it's valuable.
Fousia: [01:03:20] Yeah. Especially if like you don't know much about the Somali civil war or something like current politics or anything like that. I think it's a good window into why people are still doing the things that they're doing and why it's still divided in a lot of ways.
And I think it might make it easier if I could recommend another book for people to read it would be Nadifa Mohamed's book that I read a while ago: The Orchard of Lost Souls. That was also really kind of hard to read at times. But it centralised women a lot. And if you have Somali women in your lives, you can see them as some of those characters. So I think that that was a good read to read, especially if you're a Somali woman.
Amina: [01:04:03] Hmm. Have you read what's the other one?
Fousia: [01:04:06] Black Mamba Boy? Yes. Yeah. I started that off. I haven't finished it yet though.
Amina: [01:04:12] Okay. Yeah, I read that one and I did an episode about it. It was my first episode actually, but looking back, I don't think I did it justice.
Fousia: [01:04:25] You could always do like a revisit.
Amina: [01:04:27] Yeah, I'm definitely considering that. Yeah, that was really good and just a completely different perspective and time. Cause it's set in the Second World War.
Fousia: [01:04:39] I think , as Muslims, any time, I've read a lot of books where you're like, Oh great the characters are Muslims and they're coming from Muslim country and they're sharing their perspective. But then the author's coming from all like, Oh, Islam did this to us kind of perspective. So I think that's always like something too. You sometimes don't even realise it until you get into the bones of the book.
But I think that's always like an interesting aspect of reading novels about your home country or Muslim countries in general, depending on who the author is.
Amina: [01:05:08] You mean that you get a perspective of someone who doesn't centre Islam?
Fousia: [01:05:14] Not even centre Islam, but people who have grown to blame Islam for things that have happened as opposed to like power, right? And toxic masculinity and all that kind of stuff. As opposed to Islam. So that's, it's always interesting to pick up a book and be like, Oh, okay.
Amina: [01:05:34] Yeah. I mean, interesting is a very diplomatic word
Fousia: [01:05:39] choice.
Yeah. Podcasts live forever, man.
Amina: [01:05:47] Yeah. I mean, I intentionally avoided that topic, because I mean, when talking about this book . His opinion is, is clear in his interviews. And in the next two books religion is not a major factor.
Fousia: [01:06:05] Yeah. And this one, religion is not a major factor at all. But I think like he reminds me in his interviews of a lot of older Somali men from his generation with, with his kind of, sort of like educational background, like people that I know.
So to me, it's like, I don't really think about it. It's kind of like you know that one person in your family, that's kind of like odd, but still a good person. I always see like when Muslim people do that in stories and stuff, or of the narrative that they live in their lives. I always just look at it like maybe something happened to them personally that they can't get over. And I think what things happen to us in life, or we have grievances with society in some way or the other. We're looking for something to blame and a lot of people do choose to blame religion for that problem as opposed to the circumstances of the lives of those people.
And I think, I don't even think the civil war can be put in a religion/not religion perspective. It's all about power and tribalism. So I think he, he did a good job in this book without having talked about Islam at all. None that I noticed anyway. Instead of like, except for parts, when he's talking about like, you know, burials and all that kind of stuff and how he wants to respect his mom after she's passed, you know, with the Qur'an reading and all that kind of stuff, but he doesn't want to go into like prayer or any of that stuff, or ...
Amina: [01:07:31] Well, we know that they don't pray, right? I mean, they characters us online. This is not a Somali specific thing at all. It's I would say, I mean, it's very common in books. I've read from like the Arab world and yeah, South Asia, the majority of the characters are not practicing and sometimes they don't have a good impression or picture of Islam I guess so...
Fousia: [01:08:05] and I think a lot of people like the older generation that grew up in like the fifties and sixties and saw that like revolution of like religion in their country, where people were becoming more modernised and then having left the country and then looking back and seeing, Oh, Islam is coming back.
I think that leaves a negative taste in their mouth because the time of their childhood or their teenager, this was this time of perceived liberty and an ability to be whoever you want it to be in society. And then when it goes back to religion, they're like, "Oh, see religions like destroying everything", which is not the point of this book at all.
But I think that's something to keep in mind for future books. When people are reading books from Muslim authors you're not always going to agree with the author, you're not always going to agree with some of the central characters in the book. But I think it's always a good idea to put your own feelings aside and read about people's perspectives on things.
Whether we agree with it or not, I think nothing good ever comes from shutting off our minds off other people's point of view, but I think there's always something to learn. We don't always have to agree with what we learned, but there's always something to learn.
Amina: [01:09:13] Yeah, definitely.
That's the best way to approach it, I think : being aware, but still being open to learning what it has to teach us and I guess, yeah. What a nice conclusion.
Fousia: [01:09:28] It was fun. I was glad to be able to read this book with you and be able to discuss it. It's like my first actual, in-depth book review. And so this, this has been fun.
Amina: [01:09:39] Yeah. And you brought a lot to the discussion. Thank you, Fousia.
Fousia: [01:09:43] Yeah. So I'll just say that all over again for you guys that I left Somalia when I was really young, I'm not into politics a lot so take whatever I say with like a grain of salt and always do your own research if I misinterpreted something or I got some historical fact or something wrong. But I think I just tried to keep it as whatever was in the book and my own feelings towards that and what I've either seen or heard through other people's experiences, but yeah, that's my little disclaimer. I'm not a history buff on Somalia.
Amina: [01:10:11] No, me neither.
Yeah. I mean, I'm trying to see this podcast as in the same way that he framed his vote, which is part of a patchwork, right? Okay, Fousia, where can people find you online?
Fousia: [01:10:31] So you guys can find me on all of social media, as @naptimeissacred. That's the name of the podcast, which you can also find on Apple podcasts, Google podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, all those good places, and at naptimeissacred.com.
Amina: [01:10:48] Okay. I'll add the links as well in the description, in sha Allah.
Fousia: [01:10:52] Awesome, this was so lovely. Thank you so much for having me on the show.
Amina: [01:10:56] Thank you, Fousia . Assalamu alaykum.
Fousia: [01:10:58] Wa alaykum assalam.
Somali book recommendations
Amina: [01:11:00] Whether you've already read this book and you're wondering what to read next, or you're planning to read this book, but you want more ideas or you're not planning to read this book, but you want more ideas. Here are some personalised book suggestions. You'll notice something familiar about the first recommendation, but I decided to keep it in any way, because it was a nice reflection on the book and a personal connection to Somalia.
Abdullahi Haji: [01:11:30] Assalamu alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh. My name is Abdullahi Haji. I'm one of the co-founders and hosts of Unleashed Potential podcast. I was born in Somalia in 1993 and I left when I was three years old. Besides my language, heritage and culture being rooted in Somalia and having family and extended family in Somalia. My connection to Somalia is a love and hate relationship. I love it. I would love to go back. I haven't been back since. In sha Allah I plan to go sometime, either this year or next year, in sha Allah.
My recommendation for a book would be Links by Nuruddin Farah. It is about a young man who left Somalia at a younger age and lives in one of the Western countries as part of the diaspora. And after 20 years of being away from his motherland decides to go back home. And this book really touches on the experiences and the links one faces once going back home, the culture clash and it's really linked to a lot of the experiences that anyone of us from the diaspora would face when they're trying to go back home. It's a good read and I definitely recommend it for anybody that is planning to go back home and for those that have been back home. That'll be a good chance to see if your experiences were similar, if you can relate to those experiences. Lovely read, in sha Allah.
Anisa Hagi: [01:13:09] My name is Anisa Hagi Mohammed. I'm currently an elementary school teacher living in St. Cloud with my family. My connection to Somalia is that I was born there. Unfortunately, due to the civil war, my family and I had to flee and we came to America as refugees when I was around five years old. And I've been here ever since.
One book that I recommend that is about, or from Somalis is Amilah by my sister, Halima Hagi Mohammed. Amilah is a collection of stories. It's an anthology and it deals with really important topics in our community that are hardly ever discussed. For example, mental illness, domestic abuse , and many other issues. So I think it's definitely a great discussion starter for those issues so that we can heal and grow as a community.
Book Nomad contact information
Amina: [01:13:57] Thank you for listening to Book Nomad podcast. I hope you found it beneficial in sha Allah. If you'd like to get in touch, and it's always a pleasure to hear from you, you can contact me on Instagram @booknomadpodcast or by email on email@example.com and you can visit the website booknomadpodcast.com, where you can find the details of guests on the episode and related reading to the episode, written reviews, all the past podcast episodes, and a list of books organised by world region among other things.
I hope you'll be back soon. For now, assalamu alaykum.
Reader. Occasional writer. Muslim.
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