Somalia`s New Tongue Twisting Names
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
The Somali intellectuals are deeply affected by the scars of the long civil war and subsequently are experiencing a sort of psychological complex (such as westofication, arabization, or afrocentrism). They are therefore struggling to obliterate the names and histories of this ancient people called Somalis.
First, Roobdoon Forum has to commend the creation of regional administrations that is based on “Do-It-Yourself” democracy or “bottom-up approach”.
As a rule of thumb, the renaming of geographic spots should be permitted in instances of preservation of a historical and cultural heritage of the peoples who inhabit in those regions. That is, it can be tolerated for the purposes of the return to the names widely known in the past.
However, the problem is that some of the new regional names seriously require some attention and a formula under which all Somali regions should have an agreed Somali names.
The new administrations, formed in the last two decades, forged names that are new to the Somali ears. They called their entities Somaliland, Puntland, Midland etc. Even if they concocted these names to test Somalis` level of sensitivity and reaction, these attempts are challenged and some of them would meet a disgraceful defeat and a bad name for those who planned it.
Many Somalis do not agree to names that are anglicized or borrowed to replace Somali ones – such as Somaliland, Puntland, and Midland. For them, to accept the renaming of these regions as such constitutes a betrayal in regards to the use of geographic names that do not have both historical and cultural symbolism to them.
During the colonial era, it was common to change names of places like streets, towns, and regions just to be named after a colonial officer or even a European town. However, since independence (and before this failed State) Somalis were taking more pride in their roots and heritage.
Giving Somali regions to imported or anglicized Somali names has no real significance that would make it worth to fight and shed blood. However, its usage reflects the continued state of inferiority complex inherited from the colonial period. It also reveals the contradictory thinking of these Somali leaders and intellectuals who manifest a thought that is in favour of Somali causes against the alien culture. They manifest in despising Somali names, on the one hand, and glorify Somali culture and language, on the other.
By using these imported/and anglicized Somali names, the Somali people will remain victims of the backward mentality of these leaders. Instead of perceiving all the richness of the Somali language and literature, these leaders seek to borrow foreign terms, driven by the love of foreign taste.
Adding Salt to Injury
Adding salt to injury, Professor Mohamed Abdi Gandhi made last week another unreasonably arrogant gesture when a new foreign word, Azania*, is named to parts of Somalia.
It is indisputable that Gandhi is a Somali scholar and he deserves respect. The name Azania will not prevent the Forum from confirming this fact. However, our concerns are justifiable due to the fact that Somali people were excluded from the process of defining themselves.
It seems that the new name was intended to appease our neigbour, proving that Kenya has really the control button to Jubba regions of Somalia.
Many Jubba residents have already denounced the move and indicated that the new name showed lack of experience and sensitivity on the part of Gandhi and his company. The name Azania will increasingly come under attack. Many will point out and complain that the word symbolizes the coming autocratic rule in the Jubba regions of Somalia.
Changing the names is not the only matter in here. The issue is that people have not voted to change the name of their region into something unpronounceable by Somalis. Therefore, many view this new name business as a trick in which a few want to sow discord and spread conflict among Somalis.
Somaliland officials have numerous times offered an explanation for the anglicized name they gave to parts of northern Somalia, although they received a flood of protests against this foreign naming. It is clear that this anglicized Somali name has been invented by clannish elites and chiefs of the Isaaq clan and they are trying to prove their ownership of the whole northern regions of Somalia. Their excuse for maintaining the colonial name is “to protect and retain what was then the British Somaliland”.
The Forum stresses that the names Somaliland, Puntland, Midland, and Azania have been coined by non-Somalis and thus suggests to be changed. These terms are associated with foreign-pleasing concepts.
Many Somalis want that the regions that are now called “Somaliland” “Puntland”, “Midland” should have been dropped the “land” from its name. Although the new names Azania (only pronounceable as Asaaniya in Somali), Puntland (as buntilaan) do not pose any serious tongue-twisting problems for the Somalis, it will force Somalis, who have accustomed not to have the phonetic sounds of “P” and “Z” in their Somali alphabet, to add it.
Moreover, because the name Azania is closely associated with southern parts of Africa (from Tanzania to South Africa), people from Jubba regions of Somalia will likely be unyielding in calling themselves to Azanians.
Did Gandhi choose Azania as Somali name just as part of his quest of authenticity and get rid of the well-established Somali histories and names?
The short answer is NO. The names Jubba and Gedo, for instance, are not colonial or foreign names.
Then, why do Gandhi and other revisionists want to obliterate what is truthfully their past and replace it with mythical ones?
The answer is probably that the Somali intellectuals are deeply affected by the scars of the long civil war and subsequently are experiencing a sort of psychological complex (such as westofication, arabization, or afrocentrism). These intellectuals are therefore struggling to obliterate the names and histories of this ancient people called Somalis.
They are imposing their invented or borrowed names and histories on Somali regions, in order to treat anything but Somali names and histories as if it is the only true one. Their adage in geographical names became as synonymous as “the mythical histories and names are much worth than factual names and histories of our settlements, mountains, seas, and rivers”.
In the last two decades, having a foreign taste is not an unknown malady in Somalia. The Forum noted that Somalis in general, have been drifting away from their Somali culture, putting Arab and Western identity to the fore when defining themselves. Somalis should instead stop defining themselves in terms of colonialism or greater regional identity and start themselves in terms of Somali tradition that is based on national cohesion and shared patriotism.
Despite the feeble historical records, the Somali oral tradition taught us that ancient Somalis established a unique culture and settlements in which its names have endured. Although Somalis are in fact Muslims and adopted Islamic ways one thousand or so years ago, they have yet a distinctive language and culture that is different from other Muslims.
The Forum says to those Somali scholars, who are charmed by foreign names and feel that they must emulate it: have at least a little faith in your Somali culture.
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
* Azania is also an academic journal published by the British Institute in Eastern Africa. It focuses on archaeological research in Africa and this year marks its 45th anniversary. In 2009, it has been officially renamed as Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa.
**Note: The Somali writing system is an adaptation of the Roman alphabet (aka Latin alphabet). There are 26 letters and twenty-one of these letters represent consonant sounds (B, T, J, X, KH, D, R, S, SH, DH, C, G, F, Q, K, L, M, N, W, H, Y, `). The remaining five letters (A, E, I, O, U) have the functions of short vowels and the doubling of these vowels represents the long vowels. To note, the Latin letters of Z and P are not in the Somali script and the letters S and B are used instead.
Somalia creates new state, Azania, latest of at least 10 new administrations recently added
By MALKHADIR M. MUHUMED
April 03, 2011
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - Somali politicians on Sunday announced the creation of a new state in the battle-scarred nation, a move condemned by Somalia`s fragile government, which said it could further fracture the already chaotic Horn of Africa country.
The creation of Azania was celebrated Sunday in a colorful ceremony in Kenya`s capital. Its creation brings the total number of new states to more than 10.
Kenya supports the new administration as it creates a buffer zone near its border with Somalia.
Azania President Mohamed Abdi Gandhi said his first duty is to retake his territory from al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab.
“Our aim of establishing this administration is to first liberate these regions,” he said. “We are not breaking away from Somalia.”
Much of Somalia`s southern and central regions, including large swaths of the capital of Mogadishu, are controlled by al-Shabab.
But Somali Information Minister Abdulkareem Jama said the new states are a bad idea.
“Taking that path is a disaster,” he said. “The idea that every region and every group of people has to form their own government without the consultation of the national government will only create more differences among communities and encourage Somalis not to come together.”
Somalia`s interim charter allows for new states. The idea is appealing to many, who still bear hatred toward the country`s last centralized government, which failed to accommodate many residents outside the capital. Somalia has been mired in chaos since the fall of that government in 1991.
In 1991, inhabitants of northern Somalia formed their own administration called Somaliland. The region is independent from Mogadishu but does not have international recognition.
In 1998, residents of the northeast followed suit by creating the semiautonomous region of Puntland.
“The whole process is being driven by local people who just said `let`s try at different options that are responsive to our local needs,`” said Rashid Abdi, a Somali expert at the International Crisis Group.
Many say the rush to form these states may create conflicts among communities because of the lack of demarcated borders. The national government can do little, as it can barely control a few blocks of the capital, where it is busy battling Islamist militants.
“The biggest danger of this trend is that in a few contested areas the declaration of regional administrations could trigger armed clashes between clans or other social groups,” said Ken Menkhaus, a Somali expert at North Carolina`s Davidson College.
By law, the government is required to promote and develop state governments to ensure that the process of federalism takes place within two and a half years.
“The government has failed those people who are establishing new administrations,” said Asha Gele, Puntland`s minister for women and family affairs, and one of the founders of the administration. “If the government gave them directions they would not have acted by themselves. What is missing is the government`s role.”
© 2011. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
Somalia: Islamic Administration Changes Colonial Names of 20 Villages
Baydhabo Radio Andalus in Somali 1000 GMT 09 Jun 10
June 09, 2010
Islamic administration of Lower Shabeelle has announced that it has changed the colonial names of at least 20 villages in Lower Shabeelle Region given by the Italian colonialists.
Shaykh Muhammad Abdalla told the media today that they had changed signs and names of villages in the Lower Shabeelle Region.
He called on the residents to implement the new names given to the villages, adding that it is based on Islamic teaching and to abstain from what he called un-Islamic culture.
(Description of Source: Baydhabo Radio Andalus in Somali -- Al-Shabaab owned radio station)
© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved
What`s in a Name? [analysis]
by Philip Ochieng
August 28, 2007
Nairobi, Aug 28, 2007 (East African/All Africa Global Media) -- What if some or all if the communities had evolved of their own accord into a single European-type nation and Britain had not colonised the nation? What would it have called itself? PHILIP OCHIENG writes WHAT WOULD KENYA now call itself if Britain had not colonised it? But that question presupposes that there would have been such a geopolitical entity as Kenya. This is hard to assume. Yet it is quite possible. Many modern European entities became nations only by tribes swallowing one another.
But the fact remains that, up to the latter half of the 19th century, what is now Kenya was inhabited by dozens of ethnic communities at various levels of socio-economic development and with disparate strategic and demographical strengths, most completely independent of one another.
It was Britain that herded them into a single political stockade to facilitate the supervision of ogirimiti, which was how Dholuo rendered the fake “agreements” by which young African men were lured into hard labour for a pittance at, for instance, the Kericho tea zone.
It was only as recently as 1920 that London imposed the name “Kenya” on those tribes. Where did the word come from?
Apparently, they took it from the Bantu communities that lived around the mountain that rises on the equator and still bears the same name. Just as Chagga, a consanguine Bantu tribe living immediately to the south of them, knew their own high rise as Kilima Njaro (Njaro Mountain). So it is on the cards that the Kikuyu, Embu and Meru knew theirs as Kilima Nyaga (Ostrich Mountain), for ostriches abounded in the region.
Alternatively - since, like the Japanese and Chinese, they have a problem with the liquid letters “l” and “r” - they called it Kirima Nyaga. The story is that this was what was thinned down both into Kirinyaga and - by taking the first syllables of the words Kirima Nyaga - into Kinya. But they may also have taken it directly from the Kamba name for the mountain - Kinyaa.
Kinya is how the country`s name should be spelt because, among the tribes concerned, the “i” in Kinya would have been as short as the “i” in “king.” But the British colonialists insisted on pronouncing the “i” in “Kinya” like the “e” in “key.”
To achieve this mispronunciation, the colonial regime was forced to change the spelling to “Kenya” in all official records and all public media. Thus, throughout the colonial decades, Kenyans were forced to pronounce their country`s name something like “Key-n-yah” or “Kee-nia.”
It is interesting that the misspelling (Kenya) has been retained but its pronunciation has been subjected to the phonetic requirements of all African languages and is simply “Ken-yah” or - as in German, French and other European languages - “Ken-ia.”
Richard D. Wolff tells the story of Kenya`s colonial constitution in his book Britain and Kenya, 1870-1930. Following Europe`s mad rush for Africa`s wealth - the Scramble for Africa - a “partition” treaty was signed in Berlin in 1885 by which what is now Kenya was allotted to Britain.
But originally it was called the British East African Protectorate, divided into two parts - a 10-mile coastal strip ruled by an Omani Arab dynasty based in Zanzibar and the rest governed by a “private” concern known as Imperial British East African Company (IBEA).
It was not until 1920 that the protectorate was declared a “crown colony” and an apartheid-type Registration Act was imposed requiring native males over 16 to carry a kipande - an apartheid-type identity certificate carrying their fingerprints to monitor their movements and facilitate their control.
In an anthology called HIStory, edited by Roland Oliver we read that 1920 brought with it the need for installing direct “...colonialism as a new political form of economic exploitation...” It was what necessitated the change of name from “East African Protectorate” to “Crown Colony of Kenya.”
Which brings us back to the question we posed at our peg. What if some or all of the communities had evolved of their own accord into a single European-type nation and Britain had not colonised that nation? What would it have called itself? That is an idle question. We just cannot know.
BUT ONE THING IS KNOWN TO those who delve into prehistory. It is that, once upon a time - thousands of years ago - the African littoral of the Indian Ocean, all the way from southern Somalia to Mozambique and perhaps South Africa, was known to the civilised world as Azania.
I first came across this term in Dar es Salaam in the early 1970s, when I worked closely with an anti-apartheid movement whose title included “Azania.” One of the aims of the Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC), I gathered, was to rename South Africa as soon as it took power in Pretoria.
But it never panned out. In the final 100-metre dash for power at the end of the 1980s, PAC was beaten hands down by the African National Congress. But it may be just as well because, as I now know, what is today Kenya - not South Africa - was the heart of ancient Azania.
The second time I came across the term “Azania” was only in the late 1990s, when I began reading seriously on comparative theology - especially Cushitic and Egyptian theogony, Canaanite, Sumerian, Vedic and Mesoamerican pantheons and what is known by the misnomer of “Greek mythology.”
It was in “Greek mythology” that I first met Azania in its proper context. Yet it was also in that mythology that I first learnt that Greece was neither the origin nor the epicentre of any of the engrossing stories that pass in European self-consciousness as “Greek,” that is to say, Hellenic, that is to say, Aryan mythology.
These stories became “Greek” only when certain Hellenic mythographers - especially Hesiod (in the Theogony) and Homer (in the Iliad and the Odyssey) - became the first to put them in writing, thereby stamping all of them with the powerful and unmistakable patriarchal Hellenic character.
In short, we know these stories only through the pens of writers thoroughly committed to the Indo-European androcentrism being imposed by the Hellenes when they invaded Greece via Anatolia (now Turkey) from the Caspian Sea area during the latter half of the second millennium BC.
But the stories themselves were already spread throughout an expanse much wider than “the Greek world.” Azania (Kenya), Cush (Sudan), Punt (Somalia), Hekaptah (Egypt), Libya (all of North Africa west of Egypt) and Ethiopia (the rest of Africa south of the Sahara) were the epicentre of the drama that Hellenic mythographers capture in their spellbinding epics.
Quite evidently, however, the theatre of those myths sprawled as far as from the Ganges, the Hwang-ho and the Irrawady to the Congo, the Senegal and the Severn - and beyond the ocean to the Arkansas, Rio Grande and Rio de la Plata. As Shakespeare later knew, all the world was a stage.
Yet one single thread runs through all the “Greek myths” as they have come down to us. They depict a grim reality - a fierce struggle between, on the one hand, the Mother Right and Goddess worship of the Hamitic natives of the eastern Mediterranean and, on the other, the patriarchy and sun-god worship of the invading Semito-Aryans.
As is now well known, the Semito-Aryans carried the day over the Hamites and imposed their supreme male god, Indra-Zeus-Jupiter-Baal-Marduk-Yahweh, over their goddess Isis-Athena-Minerva-Tiamat-Tehom. But the “withdrawal syndrome” from matriarchy to patriarchy was extremely painful.
For a long time, the vanquished portrayed the victors as matricides. This is what appears in “Greek mythology” as the Erinnyes or Fates. This trio of dreamlike females echoed the defeated Triple Goddess (known as such because she appeared as maiden, nymph and crone).
The Erinnyes subjected certain patriarchal “executioners” of the Mother - Orestes comes to mind - to a permanent nightmare, tormenting them like a kind of mental gadfly till they lost all their sanity and perished.
But, to come to the point, we learn from Robert Graves (in The Greek Myths) that, after every chase, these females retreated to a redoubt called Azan, just south of Punt or Put. Put - named in Genesis as a son of Ham - is identified with that part of the Horn of Africa that has recently renamed itself Puntland.
AS ANDREW COLLINS REPORTS in Gateway to Atlantis, the Aztecs - heirs to the highly civilised Toltecs and Maya of Honduras, Belize, Guatemala and Yucatan - relate that their forefathers came from a land across the eastern ocean (the Atlantic) and that this land was called Atzlan or Atzan.
This tradition would have been taken to Mesoamerica by the Hamitic Phoenicians - a nation of indefatigable globetrotters by sea which had itself originated from East Africa - and its Olmec associates, individuals unmistakable as Negroes from their statues in Yucatan.
Azan or Atzlan - the latter of which is linked to the Pelasgic titan Atlas and Plato`s myth of Atlantis - was what the Helleno-Latins rendered as Azania. But we also find an Azania in the Peloponnesian kingdom of Elis I on the southwestern shores of the Gulf of Corinth. But this Azania is located on the same spot as Arcadia or Olympia. This again is highly instructive because Arcadia was the redoubt in which the Pelasgians took refuge for centuries after the Hellenes had captured their country.
Arcadia was where the Africa Mother tradition lasted longest in the eastern Mediterranean.
© 2007 AllAfrica, All Rights Reserved
Map of the New World
The Hamilton Spectator
August 28, 1992
In Europe, the long-rebellious Basque and Catalan regions formally leave Spain. Brittany splits from France. Belgium disintegrates into the new states of Wallonia and Flanders. And Samiland is carved from the northern Lapp-populated areas of Norway, Sweden and Finland, then joins the northern regions of Canada and Russia in the new Circumpolar Arctic Confederation.
-- In Russia, new states emerge in the Far East, the Urals, and East and West Siberia; assorted small ethnic enclaves such as Tatarstan and Dagestan gain independence, and places like Kaliningrad, Tuva and Buryat become virtually independent autonomous zones.
-- In Asia, India loses Punjab and part of Kashmir. Afghanistan breaks into at least three ethnic pieces. The Philippines loses Muslim-dominated Mindanao. And a large part of Kazakhstan secedes to join Russia.
-- In China, despite the longstanding dominance of the Han Chinese, Tibet and Xinjiang move out on their own. Taiwan is absorbed, while Inner Mongolia merges with independent Mongolia. Three new areas, Inner, North and Southeast China, gain autonomy, while developed Guangdong and Shanghai become quasi-independent economic hubs more like present-day Hong Kong than Beijing.
-- In Africa, Ethiopia loses northern Eritrea and Tigre to secession and southern Ogaden to Somalia, while Kasai and mineral-rich Katanga secede from Zaire. Sudan splits into two. And South Africa splits into three pieces, creating “Azania” and “Zululand” in the process.
-- In the Americas, Brazil breaks up into three autonomous pieces; Canada, as it has been known, disappears altogether; Mexico separates into four or more distinct pieces, and over time, even the United States takes on different form, disintegrating into regions grouped by major industries or agricultural products.
© Copyright (c) 1992 The Hamilton Spectator.
Blacks set up new group in S. Africa
The Globe and Mail
May 02, 1978
JOHANNESBURG (Reuter) - South African blacks have formed a new organization to oppose the white government`s apartheid policies and to provide new leaders to replace those detained by the authorities.
About 60 black delegates from all over the republic attended the inaugural meeting of the Azania People`s Organization (Azapo) in Johannesburg at the weekend.
Their slogan is One people - one Azania, Azania being the name given by some local blacks to South Africa.
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