Letter from the Editors: Xagaa 2018

Thus we found ourselves mid-summer, preparing the Xagaa 2018 issue of Hargeisa Literary Magazine, and inundated with submissions touching upon this topic, including visual and poetic references to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and even suicide.

Rites of escapism

Dear Readers,

Some say that chilly winter months lend themselves to introspection and reflection, as well as feelings of listlessness and melancholy, existential anxieties, and the “blues.” While statistics show that season and sunlight indeed play upon our moods, in truth mental illness knows no boundaries. Thus we found ourselves mid-summer, preparing the Xagaa 2018 issue of Hargeisa Literary Magazine, and inundated with submissions touching on this topic, including visual and poetic references to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and even suicide. Mental illness weaves its way through several works in this issue, sometimes subtly and elsewhere, as in Ladan Abdi’s poem “Mental Health is a Bitch Sometimes,” more assertively.  Two important works of art from the Trinidadian multi-media artist of color Marinna Shareef—“The Mental Institution” and “I’m Melting”—make appearances as well, fitting in beautifully among creative writings about mental health struggles from Somali voices.  Anisa Hagi-Mohamed works to answer deceptively complex questions in “Maxaa Kaa Maqan?” while Karima Osman and Naaima Abdi lend strength and purpose to inner and outer battles in their respective poems  مكتوب (Maktub) and Poem, Untitled (2). Mental illness is an equalizer, affecting communities across the globe without exception. Yet, only where it is acknowledged and embraced can it be challenged. We stand with those on the path to wellness, and we celebrate creative outlets as a means of expression, self-acceptance, and wholeness.

We are proud to feature some stunning works of fiction from talented writers, including Asma Ismail’s “Hinterlands” and “الحلم الجميل (Beautiful Dream)” by Saloomi, among others. It is a joy to read such a breadth of style, from harrowing tales of escape, to practical discussions among friends, to phantasmagorical explorations of paradise and what lays beyond.

We acknowledge, as well, a dual trend of digital and analog art from contributors. In the twenty-first century, art springs forth from software and stylus as often as paintbrush and pencil. To wit, you will find on our pages charming and symbolic sketches like “Du’a (Prayer)” from Asha Mohamed, while Shukri Janagale brings “Abaayo and Awoowe” boldly into the modern age, and a collection of soft, loving portraits from Nuura Axmed, including “Macooyo and the First Granddaughter,” which we fell for long before we discovered she had rendered them from photographs on her smartphone! A series of fantastical digital artwork ties together these parallel lineages, featuring black-and-white drawings imposed on photographs, from a digital collaboration between two remarkable visual creatives.

And as always, we are grateful for the the wonderful photography submissions that give visual life to this digital platform.

Enjoy our second issue, made possible thanks to contributions from talented creatives and thanks to you, Dear Reader, for your interest and encouragement.

From Hargeisa, wishing you a healthful and creative Xagaa 2018.

Salwa & Erin, Editors


Ahmed Magare (Artist) is a multidisciplinary artist, poet, and writer and is a member of the Birmingham-based international writers group, Writers Without Borders. He is originally from Somalia. He migrated with his family to the Netherlands during the Somali Civil War, aged three, and lived there with his family for his teenage years, eventually moving to England to pursue an education in creative arts. In his writing, he explores the notion of hyper-dislocation and the experience of living in the West, through the poetic and static lenses of self-reflection and perseverance. He navigates mentally between Somalia and the West, questioning states of longing and belonging, and commenting on sociopolitical and cultural subjects in the spaces of global Somalis.

Find Ahmed’s books on Amazon: When Heroes Hide Behind Curtain Ropes, and Vessels.

Twitter@ahmedmagare

Historian of the Hunted//Achebe

I will speak for the silent
For the quiet & meek
For lions without historians
When their time is most bleak
I will speak for the mothers
Whose children are deep
Six feet under earth
Their hearts aching in grief

 

 

I dare to speak up for the ones who are silent
The perished
The dead
Who were taken by violence
By hatred so evil It sets off the sirens
In hearts of the many
Affected by climate
Imposed by the powers
Want life for us, gory
Oppress us & kill us
Then rewrite our stories
Use ignorant persons
To push their agendas
Then blame them
Condemn them
Say it’s their dilemma
Real narratives living
On tongues of the spared
So shook they stay quiet
They bury despair
Their silence a guise
That shields them from torture
But the truth beats them harder
Than any enforcer
It crawls up their throats
In the night as they sleep
Wake up soaked in fear
And they weep, and they weep
I will speak for the silent
For the quiet & meek
For lions without historians
When their time is most bleak
I will speak for the mothers
Whose children are deep
Six feet under earth
Their hearts aching in grief
I will speak for Aleppo
For Flint
For Treyvon
I will speak up for Hamza
And baby Aylan
I will speak up for Deah Yusor & Razan
I will speak for Ciara
Those who’ve done nothing wrong

I will speak for those sinking
In deep seas of sorrows
Holding hope in their palm
For a brighter tomorrow
It is they who push me
To be great
To be proud
I will speak for them loud
No guise and no shroud

I will speak, I will speak
‘Til I can’t speak no more
And when that day comes
Some must take up the chore
Show them to be louder
Teach the children their voice
Of resilience is power
Tell them all to make noise
They must speak for the silent
There is no other choice
They must fall on all ears
Then one day we’ll rejoice
In a land known as paradise
Prepped for arrival
Of those who have fought
For what’s right
What is vital
For humanity
Love
For what makes us all great
On that day we will rest
No more pain
No more hate


Shukri Janagale (Artist) resides in Garowe by way of Toronto, Canada. Since her return to her homeland, Somalia, she has been blessed with a sense of peace. This is the healthiest she has ever felt, spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally. This nuance of balance has ignited a surge of creativity that Shukri hasn’t experienced since her adolescence. Due to her experiences she has chosen to make Garowe, Somalia her home base. In an attempt to alter the negative perceptions of her country and inspire other diaspora members to return home, Shukri has chosen to challenge her private nature and share her experiences via Instagram. Her Art Work focuses on the abstract human portrait. Due to religious reasons, her paintings are devoid of eyes. The absence of eyes adds another layer of depth to her subjects; it’s as if the void serves as a layer of protection to the windows of the soul. You will find bright contrasting colors and black are reoccurring themes in her work.
Digital portfoliohttps://janagale.crevado.com
Instagram@cushiticqueen
Hanan Hassan (Author): The poem is inspired by Nigerian poet, novelist and critic Chinua Achebe. He was once quoted stating “Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter”. This quote resonated with me as a young Somali woman in America. Through my written works, I dare to speak up for those who aren’t allowed the space.

Instagram: @onedesertflower

Somali Proverbs

My people say to leave what is on this side for the flood
And to leave what is on that side for the wind:

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My people are beautiful:
They say if people come together they can mend a crack in the sky.
My people are funny:
They say tea is for men and talk is for women.
My people are naïve:
They say a broken tradition angers God.
My people are nomads:
They say a man prolonging his life sees a camel give birth.
My people are wise:
They say these youth taught their mother to give birth.
My people are lovers:
They say a thousand assignations, one marriage.
My people are honest:
They say there is no life without a women.
My people say to leave what is on this side for the flood
And to leave what is on that side for the wind:
My people have been left in the past.


Nuura Axmed (Artist) posts poetry and personal essays about identity, mental health, and travel at her blog Thoughts of a Big Head. Nuura is also a visual artist who focuses on the attire (hijab) of her subjects, and the overall mood of the piece, in lieu of emphasizing facial features. She enjoys taking photographs of her grandmother, and making digital edits on her phone. She resides in London.

The above artwork is titled: Macooyo and the First Granddaughter

Instagram: @wordsbynourz

Ali Hagi (Author) is a Somali male living in San Diego, California. He is 28 years of age and was born in Qooryooley, Somalia during the civil war. His family fled and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Kenya until they were granted entrance to the US as refugees in 1993. Ali took some time off from school to find his place and figure things out. He is now pursuing a Bachelors degree in English Literature, Insha’Allah. Ali is an avid reader and writer and has been writing poetry from a young age. He takes inspiration from poets he reads as well as the stories and poetry of his grandfather, Muhammad Omar Dage, a renowned poet in his own right. Ali plans to pursue a career in writing and publish a collection of poetry as well as a novel in the near future, Insha’Allah.

Macooyo

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Nuura Axmed (Author & Artist) posts poetry and personal essays about identity, mental health, and travel at her blog Thoughts of a Big Head. Nuura is also a visual artist who focuses on the attire (hijab) of her subjects, and the overall mood of the piece, in lieu of emphasizing facial features. She enjoys taking photographs of her grandmother, and making digital edits on her phone. She resides in London.

Instagram: @wordsbynourz

! الرومانسية الشرعية

دعني أعرفك عليها ؛ فأنا لدي تجربة ممتازة.

كانت لدي صديقة نسميها (الشبكة) ؛ لأن الشباب كانوا يصطادون الفتيايات بها ، هي التي عرفتني على المدعو بأبو القعاع محمد بن محمود الملقب بأسد اﻹسلام .

63 Amani _ Safa

دعني أعرفك عليها ؛ فأنا لدي تجربة ممتازة.

كانت لدي صديقة نسميها (الشبكة) ؛ لأن الشباب كانوا يصطادون الفتيايات بها ، هي التي عرفتني على المدعو بأبو القعاع محمد بن محمود الملقب بأسد اﻹسلام .

كان رجلا ضخم الجثة ، يملك شعرا طويلا وعينان عسليتان ، ووجه صغير مقارنة بجسمه ، يصر على موقفه ولو كان تافها.

التقينا بمنزل الشبكة ، و جلست في أقرب مقعد إلى الباب .

إذا كنت في غرفة مع رجل ضخم ، فأنصحك أن تجلسي بالقرب من الباب .

نفذت كل ما قالتة لي شبكة ، ثبت عيني على الأرض ، ووضعت يدي على فمي ، كما يجب على الفتاة أن تفعل عند اللقاء اﻷول ، مع أنني لم أكن أشعر بالخجل ، كنت حذرة وكنت أرغب أن أنظر إليه من عينيه ، وأقرأ ملامح وجهه الصغير وانفعالاته ، وأعرف إن كانت لديه عيوب خلقية خاصة إن كان يملك مشية بطريق ، فهذا أسوء شيء قد يحدث للفتاة في أول موعدها الغرامي ، ولكنني فضلت نصيحة شبكة فهي أدرى مني بتلك الأمور .

صاحبي جلس في قبالتي ، وبعد السلام تحدث عن محاضرة سرمدية عن مشروعية وأهمية الزواج وفضله ، ثم أخرج من جيبة ورقة طويلة ، وبدأ يقرأ قائمة من الشروط والطلبات واﻷوامر التي تبدأ كلها بعبارة [ كوني] وأنا كنت أستمع بوقار شديد ، وأحدق في رجلي .

وفد صادف أنني أنا وهو ندرس المساء كتب الأمهات السبع من الشيخ درر في مسجده ، وهذا كان بالنسبة لنا أمرا في قمة الرومانسية .

كان يملك ابتسامة جميلة ، لم يكن يمشي كالبطريق ، كان يحضر لي شيكولاتتي المفضلة كل مساء ، ويقول “خذي يا أم قعقاع ، وأسأل الله أن لا تسمني ” فآخذها بإصبعين ونعود إلى المسجد وكلانا لا يقوى على النظر في عيون اﻵخر ، وفي المقابل أكتب له رسائل أقول فيها ما لم أستطع قولها له في التيلفون .

كنت أوقظه لصلاة الليل ، ويؤمني من المايكرفون ، ثم نسبح لله ما في السماوات ونقرأ وردنا من القرآن ونتسابق عليه ، وبعدها نتحدث عن أحلامنا وأولادنا ، وحياتنا التي تضحك لنا .

لقد وعدني بأنه سيشرب من حيث شربت .

الرسول قدوتنا ، والحياة الرومانسية لا تخلو من التسباق .

وعندما كنا نلتقي في بيت شبكة ، كنت ألبس حجابي الوردي ، قال لي مرة أنه يليق بي ..

لا أدري ولا يهمنا اﻵن نهاية تلك الهرجة ، ولكنني رغبت في الحديث عن الرومانسية الشرعية فقط و لا أدعو إليها .

بحق اﻷرض والسماء إنها إهانة .


This above work is part of a collaboration between:

Amani M.
Instagram: @4nine2 
Website: www.4nine2.com
&
Safa M., professional photographer based in Vancouver, BC.

 

Saloomi (Author) graduated from Hargeisa University, and writes in both Arabic and Somali. Saloomi resides in Hargeisa.

Aqoonso

Dhagta ugu rid waanada
U wanqalo odhaah daada
Wakhtigana u meel dayo
Samirkana la noqo wehel

65 Amani _ Safa

Dhagta ugu rid waanada
U wanqalo odhaah daada
Wakhtigana u meel dayo
Samirkana la noqo wehel
Is aqoonsi waa kow
Waa seeska noolahaa
Dhaxal abida weeyaan
Af-gobaadsi waa u nacab
Waa u wehel kalsoonidu
Garashaduna waa weel
Waxa wiiqa gocashadaa
Waydeeya ruux wacan


The above image is part of a collaboration between:

Amina M.
Instagram: @4nine2 
Website: www.4nine2.com

&
Safa M., professional photographer based in Vancouver, BC.

Hanad Darwish (Author) is an adopted Londoner, having grown up in Birmingham and moved to London to study law. He considers himself as well a part-time resident of Hargeisa, and he frequents the city every chance he gets. Hanad has been in love with Somali art and literature since hearing Mohammed Mooge’s “Saxarlaay ha fududaan” at the tender age of 13 or 14, but it wasn’t until the beginning of this year that he was inspired to write his first-ever piece of Somali poetry. “Aqoonso” is his second piece of writing, which explores the beauty of reflection, acceptance, and confidence in oneself.

Art, Untitled

dazmyart


HIMILO DARWISH (Artist) is a 23-year-old business student. She has been drawing since she can remember. Her artwork currently revolves around her identity as a Muslim, Somali, Black woman living in the UK. This piece of art is about a song that recently inspired her (Janelle Monea’s “Django Jane”), which discusses the Black woman and what she means to society: “In an era where being a Black women is still not widely appreciated, it’s great to hear music you can relate to.” Himilo resides in London.

Instagram: @dazmyart