Somali Culture and Writing

Writing is not in a far-reaching spot in Somali culture compared to the prominence of the oral side of the Somali culture,and having said that, this cannot set aside some degree of importance that writing has in Somali culture. On the other hand, in Somali culture, writing cannot compete with the oral preference or prominence among everyday Somali speakers, and that usually happens naturally and spontaneously in the Somali culture, because the Somali people have been oral creatures for so long or as long as the modern history can remember. And this oral preference or prominence will not fade away easily in the Somali culture. When we say ‘fade away’, we don’t mean that ‘the oral prominence’ of the Somali culture is a bad thing, but we mean to approach the issues from a more balancing angle where we give writing its proper place in the Somali culture, because writing is indispensable tool in any culture in the world now and it is also a very effective communication tool.

The oral prominence in the Somali culture has its own advantages and disadvantages. In a nutshell, the disadvantages are pretty simple and they stem from the tendence by Somali oral addicts, if you like, where they communicate more through oral means than through writing means, and that is why, for instance, you might hear ‘what does the news say today?’ in Somali frequented coffee shops, businesses or other shopping hubs around the world.

I googled and scoured the Internet for hours for anything relevant or for anything that is partially about the topic I’m taking on in this article, and by conducting my Internet searches, I have not come across one single thing about the topic. However, I have come across an article on Somali writers from the perspective of the Western literature and audience, entitled Nadifa Mohamed on Somali Writers. The article is touching or is dancing around writing books by Somali writers in English for English speaking audiences. And whether those books and their authors are free from blame in terms of professionalism, accuracy and credibility is another matter, but what is worth mentioning is that Somali writers no matter what language they write in are in short supply.

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