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Our Dying Language: Somali Stopped Growing Due To Destruction Of National Literary Institutions

17 November 2009

By Abdi-Noor Mohamed

The civil war in Somalia has brought large-scale catastrophes; among them is the systematic killing of the Somali language. All schools are taught in foreign languages such as Arabic and English. There are also few schools that teach French and Italian. The entire school curriculum has been borrowed from foreigners who have set these curricula to suit their own national goals. Besides that our Somali literature has stopped growing due to destruction of national literary institutions. Rarely has a new Somali poetry been recited within a perspective of national unity during the “Lost Years” of war and famine. Most of our poets and singers are scattered all over the world after they ran away from the tribal conflict which had swept across the their motherland. Those who insisted to remain behind have either lost their lives in shootings or died a natural death due to neglect and starvation.

Without having schools and poets with a national calibre how are we going to save our language? Poetry is the shield of any language and without poetry a language is just a victim, which can be easily swallowed, by other languages. Poetry is the beauty of a language and without poetry a language is just colourless, as it cannot reflect the images of life. Poetry is the protection of language roots, as without poetry language has no identity. Poetry in oral and written form is the best way of saving a language from dying. Even myself I´m contributing to the death of our language since I am preaching to save somali language while writing this article in English.

As we have no national goals or vision at all we have adopted foreign languages in our schools and that will bring alien cultures to our children and more seriously, murder our language in cold blood. In the distant horizon of Time, I see a looming disaster. The social breakdown of Somalia will triple if the current pace of horror continues. Those who have opened schools in such a difficult situation deserve our praise and appreciation but the fact that each school has adopted a different curriculum is a case of major concern.

In Somalia Today
There are hundreds of schools
Each one has its own curriculum
None of them reflects our needs
They were all borrowed from outside
Schools are run with foreign funds
Each donor has its own interests
Our mother tongue is rarely taught

In Somalia Today
Children do not know their country
They do not know their history either
They do not know their national anthem
They instead know other songs and cultures
They do not know our beloved heroes
They do not know what freedom means

In Somalia Today
Our education has no national goals
Divisions will ruin the new generation
Children of the same family go to different schools
They can't help each other in home assignment
Each one does not know what the other is reading
They are growing up in the same house
Yet they are living in different worlds
I worry much about our new generation.
I worry much about the looming disaster

Abdi-Noor Mohamed
Writer and film maker
Vaxjo university



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