Out of the all the pictures on the first day of the KULMIYE 2nd Conference was that of a much loved much respected woman I met in Hargeisa last year. She is a surviving veteran, one of the many Somaliland women who fought with the gun and took part of the suicide missions that has saved the country. When I saw her standing in the middle of the tent reciting, of course, one of her fantastic poetry, I knew the meeting was a success and women have been made an integral part of the KULMIE.
When I visited Hargeisa last year, I was shocked with the damp cloth thrown over the powerful literature of Somaliland. I did not appreciate re-runs of Somaliland’s
Plays and Songs recycled in Djibouti on Somaliland televisions, so some friends and I decided to initiate a revival of our literature at the University of Hargeisa. For that much publicized event, there were only male poets. I wanted the voice of women be heard. When I inquired about that, a friend turned on the tape in her car, and Sado’s exuberant voice filled the air but more so, her voice filled our hearts with two poems she wrote years ago but which I thought were relevant even at that time. Immediately, I asked my friend where to find her. My friend bowed her head almost in shame and told me quite softly that Sado lives in the worst ghettoes of the city and in dire need. I still wanted to see her; so we went to her shabby dwelling. On our way, my friend told me that she is a veteran who supported KULMIYE but jumped ship for survival. We parked the car outside some huts and my friend brought her back to the car.
I was unable to invite this abandoned veteran for a literature event without first apologizing to her for the way our government treated her and others like her. I was also unable to let her walk into a university hall with almost 1000 people in her well worn clothes and uncouth style but sadly, I could not find the courage to offer her money. So with teary eyes I introduced myself and begged her to lend us her poetry for an evening of goodwill. She was happy to help. My friend took over the rest. On the agenda, we did not mention Sado’s name or her poetry but we named her ‘Daljirka Dahsoon ee Dayacan’ and let her poetry speak for itself. She moved everyone in the audience.
At the end of the evening, my friend joked with her and said, ‘Sado was a KULMIYE supporter but left us in the cold into which Sado responded. ‘I am always a KULMIYE supporter even if need forced me head elsewhere. I left my heroine Sado with this note: ‘You deserve the best for your efforts. This is the land you saved and you sit behind no one.’ And today I want to say to her. Best Greetings from overseas.
Rhoda A. Rageh