An African guide on how to lose friends and alienate people

Warning: The following post contains an opinion held by a complete stranger that cannot be policed or silenced because it hurts your feelings 

        The Internet is a wonderful place.  Thanks to the internet, we have access to a diverse group of amazing African writers, humanitarians, Nicholas Kristof’s facebook statuses, comedians, paradigm breakers (this is a valid occupation, don’t you dare dispute it), and Kanye West’s tweets. Ideas are exchanged, narratives challenged, and experiences shared.  But there is unfortunately, a dark side to this public discourse medium, other Africans. Inspired by recent discourse on this blog regarding polemic African figures, my anxieties about the pressures of cultural and religious loyalties were activated. Cognitive dissonance became catch of the day, as I was caught between defending my political positions and navigating the various ways on how-to-not alienate my cultural and ethnic kin. This conflict is a reality for many Africans who espouse progressive ideals like ‘the gays shouldn’t be murdered’ and ‘how about we not take a saw to a female’s clitoris because God said so’.

    These Africans (really anyone with a soul) are usually berated by the cultural and religious thought police for promoting ‘western’ ideals and essentially ‘selling out’. I don’t deny that I’m capable of both crimes, but I suspect my status as a grad student blogger would make the plausibility of ‘selling out’ worthy of further inquiry. These cultural Gestapo merely exist to hold others to essentialized/subjective, and out-of- touch accounts of what it means to be an  ‘African’, ‘a Somali’, an ‘African women’ and quite frankly usually lead to a daunting exercise for those of us seeking to challenge  the implications, the conclusions, and the methods of our individual intellectual/personal journeys (damn that was a long ass sentence). You know those people, first ones to tweet scripture, surahs, cliched proverbs in response to a political/social position you’ve posited that may challenge their sanctimonious ideals.  As a famous Somali samosa seller in a market in Mogadishu once said, “L’enfer, c’est les Autres,” and this particular brand of Homo Sapien, I speak of, is a testament to that narrative-hell is indeed other people. These individuals often use culture and religion to mask their anxiety as marginalized people, and can make the process of unpackaging paradigms and ideologies, an exercise that leaves many in fear of being ostracized, ridiculed or reduced to labels- And at times, in fear for one’s personal safety. So how then, does one challenge and reprimand these miscreants?

    I think I’ve devised a plan, but gotta be careful with how I write this, as I could potentially be writing ‘exhibit A’ in my trial for apostasy in Somalia one day, and must be careful to not leave any traces of my supposed religious abandonment in this how-to-manual on decreasing the frequency of unpleasant human interactions with the cultural/religious Polizei. Guys, the religious/cultural apologists will leave you alone if you pretend to be an atheist. I swear to God, Atheism works. Let me explain, rather than give a treatise on my sociological position on the demerits/merits of theism, I’ll instead say, ‘Hi, I was raised in a Muslim Household, and Bertrand Russell broke my spiritual soul’. In navigating and constructing my position on the nature of humans/the purpose of life, political/social leanings, and/or the existence of God, I’ve come to realize that questioning religion (more popularly known as ‘the improbable’) in many African social circles, is usually the easiest path to party of one dinner dates, twitter un-follows, solo movie nights, and snickering relatives. For a Somali woman like I, the mere thought of professing solidarity with anti-theistic positions is criminal in many circles, and by many circles I mean, people who rhyme with ‘uslims’.  :/

    One minute, you’re overwhelmed with family, friends, and a community that claims and reveres you for the wonderful work you do in challenging that idea of Somalis as the ‘locusts predicted in the book of Revelations’, and life is grand. The next, you’re the subject of conspiracy theories and irrational speculations regarding your recent  political/social proclamations. Rumors like ‘ Why would she defend the gays? She’s definitely a Zionist and my favorite, ‘You know, now that I think about it, she doesn’t really look Somali,  definitely couldn’t be one of us’ become normalized and those who dare to challenge some of the implications of  cultural and religious dogma are branded ‘un-African’ and ostracized like Romania during an EU summit.  What you once considered to be merely inclusive and progressive political positions are instead used to relegate you to the periphery of an already outlier religious and cultural community.  Religious skeptics are easily two life points bellow women and one above homosexuals (the math ends up, don’t challenge me), rendering one’s life ‘FAIL, try again’.

   But fret not; It’s not all doom and gloom, and I’ve discovered the perks that come with secular living after turning in your God card (I didn’t say I was atheist. Important point here incase someone should indict me). For those of us more socially challenged, abandoning religion is the easiest way to lose dogmatic and irrational  friends and alienate annoying Africans. This is a good thing, guys.  Other than the obvious benefits of not being held to a subjective rubric of strict ‘African-ness’, and intellectual freedom, skepticism can also offer  something much more attractive…let me explain

   For example, remember that meddling aunt whose always critiquing your above-the –recommended derrière size? Or that time she berated you for your inability to procure the affections of your twice removed cousin, secure his monogamy, and make babies? No? just me? Well, for all 3 of you who’ve had the pleasure; I can safely report that outing yourself as a godless vagrant will end her meddling phone calls, and your aunt will only be stuff of nightmares. Goes as follows

Aunt: You’re already 28, you’re womb is poisoned and soon only 70 yr old men will find you attractive.

Moi: But auntie, it’s hard finding a good Somali man who believes in evolution

Aunt: wtf :/

It doesn’t stop there. It gets better folks- unannounced family members suddenly take on the role of absentee fathers, and disappear faster than most friends at the arrival of a dinner bill.  No more uninvited houseguests, and matchmaking attempts by well-meaning relatives. No one wants anything to do with you now. You’re no longer under the protection of God, and very few will stand by your side as the Almighty could very well potentially strike your vagina down with a Thunderbolt. You sacrilegious hoe.

     But wait, the perks don’t stop there. I remember I was recently on the receiving end of unsolicited and an unrequited sexual solicitation from an unsavory and an awfully boring man. This man was relentless. You know this type, the ones who post copious facebook pictures of  *insert your African city’ and write nothing but esssentialist and nostalgic bullshit about your shared homeland, usually between random declarations of love for his mother and Quranic verses. Anyway, this little gremlin managed to evade all my attempts to respectfully reject his advances, and tenaciously continued to harass my Facebook inbox. That’s when I decided it was time to bring out the big guns, and end this farce. The thing is, Patient X was a devout Muslim, and often spoke of a near future where he would settle down in some outrageously devout Islamic yet to-be-recognized state that would be known as the Islamic Republic of South Somalia (I suggested Ikhwaan-Al-Haaywan and he promise to entertain my recommendation) to follow the Quran and Sunnah. This was my in. I had one shot at ending this amorous hostage situation, and I took it. I told Patient X that I was unsuited for theocratic living due to my unwavering love for Russian spirits, atheist writers, unrequited fellatios, and found life according to Islamic doctrine to be quite honestly, a tad bit much. Before I could finish my rejection, I was subjected to an onslaught of choice epithets that rhyme with ‘clut’ and ‘hitch’, and then he un-friended me. It seems there was a God after all, as he answered my secular prayers. I’m kidding. There’s no God (that’s not an admission of apostasy either).

     And that’s when I decided to patent this genius, and use it as my go to mechanism for ridding oneself of unpleasant African company online and offline. This trick is particularly useful in reducing excessive facebook friends, annoying twitter followers, you’re too passive aggressive to delete and/or unfollow. We’ve all been there. Logged online, only to be bombarded with statuses and tweets like ‘God is good, keep him in your heart, and all will be great’, and my favourite ‘Ughh, just saw a bunch of men staring at a woman’s butt, so glad to be a Muslim woman!’, that left you wanting to Fisticuff babies quit earth and its wretched inhabitants.  But wait, why not fight back, and bombard your fictitious facebook friends, social media buddies with proclamations of your own to the beat of something like ‘Ayan Hirsi Ali is great. She’s my favorite’ and gleefully watch that facebook buddies quit you like a retail job.  It works like a charm. But I’ll warn you, it does get awfully lonely out there.  Not that I would. I’m a woman of God. :/


25 thoughts on “An African guide on how to lose friends and alienate people

  1. Great article: informative, bold, humourous…! When I started reading, I wondered why the “two ideals” you formulated in the first paragraph are so carefully worded. The dilemma dissolved by the further dev’t of your thought process. However, I’m still of the opinion that the two are not per se ideals but simply basic and inalienable human rights…

    1. Hurting/murdering people doesn’t solve the slightest problem. Quite on the contarary, it only/mainly aggravates the situation! Even the death sentence imposed on unequivocally proven murderers is imo not a just, judicial measure that compensates or
    punishes either of the two parties; it’s rather a helpless, legalized revenge murder. Why then are we fussing about, let alone willing to transform, silence or even eliminate those who’re sexually differently oriented?!
    2. If someone cuts half of your ‘useless’ smallest nail, you’ll feel the pain temporairly and protest angrily. Why on earth do we accept or keep silent about the permanent mutilation of vital parts of our sisters’/duaghters’ body in the name of a tradition that is not only archaic and barbaric, but also (originally) alien to the funadments of our culture OR religion?!…

    Cultural, religious, ideoligical indoctrinations are rive in all countries/creeds and with people of all credentials. Fortunately, the willing can imo reach enlightenment without necessarily shunning or spitting on their background. Somali culture and the Islam both offer standards that the “western ideals” didn’t even dream of when our ancestors were practising them. Just to give a couple of examples: Our customary law (Xeer) developped and abided by a separation of the legisaltive and spiritual domains that’s broader and 7 or 8 centuries older than the western separation of church and state. Right from its inception, Islam also granted women many human rights western women only started enjoying 12 centuries later…As many feminists and other reformers do, we can utilize those precepts to bring our cultural and and religious life up to modern standards and combat those who are keen upon transporting us back to the middle ages. — Anecdote: Al-shabab guys once invaded Dr. Hawa Abdi’s camp and orderd her to leave as the islam doesn’t allow women to be working there. Instead of decamping, she challenged them by asking them to show where the islam says such a thing. Predictably, they couldn’t! They departed to wreak havoc elsewhere and she stayed to continue saving lives!

    It’s imo unacceptable that atheists/apostates are going though harsh times in the Somali/Islamic world. Apostasy was initially punished by death in the Islam as it practically amounted to defecting to the enemy in times of war. (Btw, In many countries, including western democracies, desertion to the enemy is still regarded as high treason that’s constitutionally dealt with capital punishment). Nevertheless, there are a growing number of msulim scholars who believe and advocate this is no longer the case and accept/respect atheism and apostasy… and imo rightfully so!
    On the other hand, questioning the (non-)existence of god has proven to be a time-consuming and futile occupation. One can neither conclusively prove nor definitively refute the existence of a supreme deity. Many philosophers tried, some of them ended in mental rehabs, others invented/found solace and satisfaction in a new creed: Agnosticism!

    PS. Fantastic to ‘allude’ to the possibility that some “Somali samosa sellers” could have confrered Jean-Paul Sartre… if they were offered and had seized the required tools/opportunities. L’enfer, c’est plutot ceux/celles qui n’osent pas donner leurs avis!

    • Cumar, I absolutely loved your response, i mean wow, just wow. and spot on, mate. One of my favourite pastimes is antagonizing the intolerant and the tone behind a particular piece like this is to challenge the ‘sacred’, and not necessarily attack it. I think there is a trend of anti-intellectualism in our community, and skepticism is discouraged.

      I’m not religious, but do take issue with essentialist depictions Islam, and quite honestly find that type of rhetoric useless(no problem with Islam, beaucoup problems with its followers). But with that said, I do have an issue with many Muslims, and religious folk who’ve hijacked theology and spirituality to mask their cultural insecurities. I’m not personally in the business of challenging/attacking scripture, but definitely in the business of promoting secularism, human rights and plurality. Sometimes these two worlds can collide and produce devastating consequences.


      But more than that, I wanna see our people welcoming open dialogue while remaining committed to their particular ideals, but open to the experience of others. In the context of our shared homeland, I wanna see devout muslim Somalis, christian Somalis, Homosexual somalis, liberal Somalis, agnostic Somalis, a plurality of identities that is not new to our cultural history. The new wahhabist movement in our community is a travesty to our tradition, and a travesty to the Islam (though this gets philosophical murky, as it’s quite difficult to prove an objective version of islam).

      • Sorry for the belated response, time is quite elusive these days…

        Well said! Challenging or even attacking the sacred doesn’t necessarily mean disrespect, denial or desecration – though that’s also fine with me as one can always rebut. No subject, including religion/culture or even scientific facts, should thus be immune to (constructive) criticism if we want to get things moving…

        There is imo nothing wrong with intellectualism when it critically combines knowledge, common sense and (intuitive) emotions – yours as well those of the others. In my experience, it’s specially when an intellectual criticism/critique fails to take the last element into account that some people, incl. myself, may disregard it, treat it as a condescending and/or misinformed arrogance…

        I think the adepts and amateurs of “anti-intellectualism in our community” (or anywhere else) associate knowledge with the West, or worse yet with (bowing to) Western imperialism. They often forget or are unaware of how the Islam prioritizes indefatigably seeking knowledge, the major Islamic contributions to science, how Somali poetic tradition historically encourages critically analyzing yourself before subjecting your neighbour to scrutiny and admonishes the poet who fails to do so…

        Instead of “piety-policing”or demanding respect for our worldly or religious sancta sanctorum, we’d better stay open to external influences that could improve our present and future, as well as engage the ‘opponents’ while simultaneously showing all due regard to what is sacred for them. This attitude may even generate more respect than we expected.

        We’d also get rid of the insecurity generated by the superiority-inferiority paradigm by delving into the (hidden) treasures of our own roots. For that matter, how many Muslims have ever heard of, let alone are inspired by the Koranic verse “Oh, my lord enrich me with knowledge” which is 1100 years older and internationally less familiar than Kante’s famous “Sapere Aude”? What about the the Somali proverb “Xidid baa lagu hooygalaa, baal baa lagu horumaraa (Roots are necessary to feel at home, wings are required to fly to progress)?…

        In critical discussions/debates, form is imo more than a mere stylistic exercise (sub)serving the content; it’s crucial for the clarity of the messages and the results we would like to achieve. I personally prefer those, like you, who discourse directly with the autochthonous ‘owners/custodians’ of whatever they’re challenging. I grew skeptical of the motives of people, such as AXC, who criticize/attack while conspicuously talking to or even catering for an audience that’s alien to, and sometimes/often unabashedly hostile to the subject matter. Criticism, even well intended, reeks then of self-serving greed, vainglorious self-promotion, uncalled for vilification, cheap demonization … a declaration of war of sorts.

        The latter methodology is imo often counterproductive and can eventually lead to a total isolation/ alienation of the challenging minds: The criticizers run the risk of being instrumentalised to preach against the folks and values they rejected in front of a theater mainly/exclusively populated by those who adhere to whatever they embraced – with a conditional/artificial acceptance by the group they now believe to belong to and, even worse, a minimal or negative reformative impact on and hostility from their original group.

        Moreover, one can say adieu to culture, religion or even colour, However, without looking like a Jacksonite ape, one can’t change racial features which constitute the immediately visible identification traits and arguably the foremost source of discrimination and rejection. Unfortunately, for the average Joe or Jiijo looks (un)consciously determine who you are and ever can be. Many a ‘derouted/’estranged traveler has woken up in a nightmare… and that’s imo when “it does get awfully lonely out there”…

        Having dished out all that rigmarole, anybody who decides to reject his/her roots or physical features is AFAIAC free to do so and should be protected from any form of harassment. Besides, riding roughshod over dissidents, traitors or whatever one may call them indicates, at best, lack of adequate capacities to address the issues they raise, and at ‘worst ‘it proves their righteousness…

        The reaction is getting out of control…! Let me finish with the following observation: Plurality/diversity is, indeed, ontologically inherent to humankind and mutual respect, tolerance, dialogue etc. are priceless – and alas currently somewhat endangered values. A pity they’re not for sale in shops coz they’re the basic recipes for outright, true and tangible miracles. Hope for better days should, nevertheless, be kept alive and kicking at any cost!

        Take care:)

        • Mahubo! totally honoured and a huge fan walaal! Definitely graced by your presence! I’m sure you of all people know the extent of crazy on the part of the piety police. Thanks for dropping by 🙂

  2. Like I said on your page, this is deserving of a break and a second read. Now I’m ready to join the discussion.

    First of all, there is no such thing as ‘paradigm breakers’. There, I’m in dispute. And I can only handle one social medium, so I wouldn’t know anything about Kanye’s Tweets. Gooooooo Facebook! 🙂

    But jokes aside, you’ve hit on a whole lot of great points; especially the topic on homosexuals. I’ve had heated debates with both Christians and Muslims – asking them to show proof/facts on their belief that homosexuality is a choice. The “God” of everything that is perfect created a world full of imperfections and yet, religious zealots won’t even chance the thought that homosexuality might be a genetic defect (I’m not saying it is; I’m saying I don’t know).

    So how does one live a pious life in a world full of hate and contempt? That, to me, sounds like a life reeking of selfishness. If my neighbor is starving, I will offer him food; rather than prayer. If he is sick, I will give him medicine; not prayer. If he is lost, I will take it upon myself to guide him; not leave it to God. What has God ever done to rid the world of disease, hunger, and violence? Let me guess, this is all part of a higher plan.

    Don’t fret. I’m not here to speak ill of religion. I fault my parents and the society I grew up in for indoctrinating me as a child. They should fault those before them who did the same to them…so on and so forth. There was no reason to force me to memorize a book I did not understand. Force me to memorize it in a language I did not speak.

    Oh, the stories I was told of heaven wooed me to Islam. I…was…in…LOVE! As a child, I was willing to fight and kill in the name of my religion so as to get me to a heaven with flowing rivers of honey. That’s all I wanted then; flowing rivers of honey. In my teenage years, when my penis started demanding attention, they told me of a heaven with no vixens at all; just 72 (where did that number come from?) of the most gorgeous virgins ever created. And to top it off, I would have the libido of a god and plow them all – EVERY NIGHT! The next morning, they would all wake up as virgins. HEAVEN!

    Naaah, I can’t fault religion for all that is wrong in this world. Religion opened up the path to literature, algebra, cosmology, health care, philosophy, etc. The brilliant scholars of the past held open debates and shared knowledge. Even Muhammad, the prophet we idolize, asked of his people to travel as far as China in search of education/knowledge. Where did we all go wrong? Fuck!

    Cumar, I do agree with you on the questioning of the existence/non-existence of God. I went from being a devout Muslim to an ardent Atheist and now, I’m just a lonely Agnostic. And yes, it is pretty lonely out here.

    • hahaha Mr.Anonymous, totally loved your scathing indictment of theism, great stuff there, and anyone whose honest about their previous/current debates have asked similar questions and expressed similar concerns.
      I, too, went through a period of ‘oh man, these idiots can’t possibly be serious’, and now i’m in this mellow stage of ‘honestly, let’s live and let live’, and find this new perspective a much more comfortable space. Skepticism is a rigorous aspect of intellectual inquiry, but I fear that many atheists/agnostics/areligious/pan-theists spend so much valuable time arguing with subjective text, that they forget the implications of dogma….We see how religious extremism manifests itself from the deep south to the streets of Mogadishu,and i think an emphasis on secularism and pluralism is needed more than an emphasis on anti-theism(but granted that for many, atheism=secularism lol).

  3. You see, I knew you were xabash:) First of all, I’m your nr fan. I love your writings and the way they eff up my brain, I adore the way you bring us out of our comfort zone. You are a party crasher. Also, you have my respect for serving yourself up on a plate for all the internet trolls..not to mention the Somali trolls, we troll with such passion, we invented this trolling shyt. lol.

    I agree with much of what you have written, but I have some issues with parts of your post.

    The first part; the picture with Richard Pryor and his comment about Christianity. This is really nothing that affects many of us Somalis and I think you should have stayed true your party-crasher attitude and posted a similar thing about Islam or Muslims. And this also touches a bit about the “African” part, I think your discussion about the ways of the Africans is monolithic. It is easy to read your text as “stuff Africans like to engage in” being FGM, homophobia, believing in irrational sky creatures etc etc. So if you’re African and pro light rights, freedom of religion, anti-FGC you are automatically western? Much of the views you write about (for instance, the “manshLah, alxamduliLah crew who believe that Islam will cause peace on earth and only un-Islamic chicks get raped etc etc) could fit in what views held Muslims from the middle east for instance. What I’m trying to say there is; those regions are imaginary, it is difficult, if not impossible to draw the line btw “Africa” “middle east” “the west” “far east” “eastern Europe” etc etc (and also, patriarchy is intergalactic, incase some would read what I’m writing as middle eastern ppl being misogynist).

    The second part; you come of as condescending in your text. Sort of like “I was oh so irrational before, like them other Africans/Muslims-but then I learned to read and was set free”. The list of the usual dead white dude, and this is not anti-intellectualism from my side, I adore every dude on your list, but this goes with a white supremacist view of what “real” knowledge is and who is capable of producing it.

    Sending you an OD of love, this is an African you can’t rid yourself of:)

    • Agreed. You can’t write about disliking Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s patronizing and paternalistic attitude to Somalis, Africans and Muslims at large and publish something like this.

      I understand that cultural criticism must come from within and being within [that is, African – although diasporic] offers the author leniency and some legitimacy, but that does not give you the right to make wanton, essentialist statements that reproduce the western enlightenment paradigm. We should leave the irrational venting to our friends (I know I do)

      • This post( albeit satirical, tongue in cheek) was directed at a particular demographic, and i’m confused as to when exactly did i ‘reproduce western enlightenment paradigm’ . Are areligious values ‘western’ ? Are pluralistic/ human rights based declarations like the denouncement of homophobia and misogyny also part of my supposed ‘western enlightenment paradigm’ efforts? Are we not allowed to value religious and cultural autonomy without pandering to ‘western enlightenment’?. Unfortunately for many Somalis, any form of dissent, criticism is ‘wanton and essentialist’.

        Irrational venting? lol unfortunately satire doesn’t translate so easily, and humour can often elicit offence (it’s how i express my ideas, no one is forced to engage my method). I think you wildly missed the point of this piece, and I’ll hint that it has little to do with making an academic truth claim. Did you also miss the disclaimer in the beginning? the part about this being the opinion/personal anecdote of yours truly, and not an objective truth claim that ought to be appropriated as an universalizing paradigm? no? sigh.

        I don’t know how to exactly engage your comment your language is nuanced with a sense entitlement to policethe experiences/opinions/writing style of anyone who dares to challenge ‘us’. You also hinted that because I critique Hirsi, I lose all legitimacy to then critique/satirize a particular community? umm no. it doesn’t work that way. Identities, social-political positions are multi-layered, complex, dense and at times challenge/push each-other. That’s the beauty of cognitive dissonance, that is the beauty of intellectual inquiry-one often finds oneself with several truth claims that challenge the other (this is a good thing) For example, find something perverse about Hirsi’s tactics as she antagonizes something held sacred (the prophet, quran, etc) by billion plus people, but appreciate her willingness to challenge the sacred, i just wish she would find a more tactical and respectful way to do it (she’s not humorist, satirist or comedian so i suspect she’s being serious when she speaks, and take her opinions as such)’ . That is my personal reading of her cultural criticism. I, on the other hand, do not hold people particularly sacred, and find it useful to challenge/satirize/deconstruct Somalis/muslims/Canadians,etc rather than declaring war on subjective text( sometimes humour is employed, like in this post). That’s my stance. I suspect you have an issue with anyone who dares challenge particular communities, and that’s where we part ways.

        I believe I have the right, as you do, to make any claims I wish, but the value, validity, accuracy of these claims is up for debate. Moral of the story? Offer criticism, give your own perspective, engage text, but do not police others. We are individuals, and hell yes being Somali (you’re ‘although diasporic’ snide was not missed) gives me carte blanche to satirize this community. It’s a community I belong to, and these are my experiences while navigating this particular cultural space, and luckily there are individuals like amoozi who can challenge me in a constructive way, forcing me to re-evaluate and deconstruct my own particular biases without the policing tactics you often employ on this blog. Afrolens is not here to defend ‘Somalniimo’ and many of my posts will be offensive, and I suggest you start getting use to being uncomfortable as I did not create this space as a medium where we can all collectively ejaculate to the flag.
        That’s all my longwinded way of saying, I do not take kindly to being policed, but feedback always appreciated. 🙂

    • Hey amoozi..

      man you keep me on my toes….I actually wanted to extend your critique into another post, but horrible with finding time for it. But I definitely want to address your concerns, and particular your second point of contention…However, before I proceed, I first need to ask..

      What’s wrong with the ‘I was irrational, but then i learnt to read and was set free’ narrative? I find this issue so perplexing as so many people in our community find that admitting our inadequacies=pandering to the white man. What’s wrong with admitting that many of our positions stem from western sources? Most of us who use words like ‘privilege’ and quote Audre Lorde are products of the west, and why deny this? I can admit that as a member of the diaspora, much of my education is the product of the west, and many of thinkers who reject western hegemony, ironically used western tools like academia and their means of knowledge production to spread these ideas. This is an uncomfortable truth many of us need to start getting use to. Also why do people conjure images of dead white men when the usage of ‘enlightenment’ ‘rationality’ ‘skepticism’ is served for dinner. This idea of Africans/the Other as the religious/cultural versus the materialist and rational westerner is a false dichotomy. Why do people not think of Japan? or Chinese philosophy, or aboriginal communities, or anti-monotheistic Africans who reject what we in Africa/Muslim world hold sacred? I think we need to understand that there are black and brown faces who also find many of our ‘sacred truths’ to be also, a bit much. I think we need to engage that reality as well. Unfortunately, many of those black and brown faces do not have the hegemonic punch to tell us how they really feel about…All the can do is cosign with the west lol.

      I also agree with your point about ‘real knowledge’ often being a tool to further white supremacist/imperialist agendas (enter stage left, colonialism) but that’s also quite essentialist because we’re conflating issues about scientific progress, imperialism, the arts, philosophical movements of a diverse region (Europe) to simply ‘white supremacist production of knowledge’. Is it really that simple? Can we not read Hobbes, and find ‘knowledge’ in how he articulates the role of human nature in its relation to power structures/politics, while simultaneously recognizing the particular cultural/hegemonic space he belongs to. Both narratives exist. My point is that the production of knowledge can both serve the pursuit of knowledge and the pursuit of imperialism. I can be inspired by the renaissance in Europe (a time of exciting intellectual growth) while challenging/dissecting the legacies of this particular period and what these ideas have meant for us.

      I will not dismiss the philosophy of Rusell simply because was a privileged Englishman. With that said, i agree that we have a responsibility to be critical about the production of knowledge/power, the privilege position of the ‘knower’, but these facts do not necessarily diminish the value of a particular truth claim, but it can complicate it. Another example, Carl Linneaus is the father of taxonomy, and one of the foremost authorities on ecology, but ironically, is also one of the forefathers of scientific racism with his ridiculous attempts at classifying varying ethnicities. Both narratives exist, and our knowledge of his racism can challenge the validity of his taxonomy, but it doesn’t mean we reject it- it means we take his work on taxonomy as that, test it, measure it, and then decide its validity. That’s how I consume all knowledge. I absolutely love and idolize many pan-african male thinkers for their work in critiquing colonialism and white supremacy, but find their misogyny and patriarchal positions hard to swallow. I’ve stopped dismissing them, and now believe, that the best forms of knowledge gathering are ones that complicate my truth claims and force my competing ideals to challenge one another. So I suppose it’s my way of saying ‘so what if we admit w’ere outrageously illiberal and kinda irrational, who wasn’t/isn’t? let’s move on and not dwell on that, but un-package what this means’. The same western world that is held as the standard of social evolution (we can’t deny their successes) is the same world that has personified human ugliness and capitalized on our capacity for evil. Again, two competing narratives, but can coexist.

      as per your first point. Guilty as charged. Running an African blog, one risks essentializing communities with overarching labels like ‘we, Africans’…I totally agree, and often find it difficult to navigate this as a blogger. Working on doing a better job of being specific and not pandering to essentialism.

      In conclusion, yes I think we’re pretty fucking irrational when it comes to many aspects of the human condition as Somalis and this truth claim does not diminish the existence of white supremacy, neocolonialism, race, classism and oppression. It’s just another layer to our experiences.

      • I understand that having a blog means having your critics. And that having your critics means distinguishing between that and trolls. Be assured I’m the former. Nor am I a proponent of thought police. I’m actually a fan of this blog and your work – I just comment when I disagree with something. Also bear in mind that this is the interwebs, so snark, tongue and cheek humour and sarcasm can mean miscommunication.

        By western enlightenment paradigm, I was essentially repeating Amoozi’s criticism that many of the thinkers you listed were European. Married with your critique of our culture, it just looked like a they = good, us = mad problemzzz kind of dichotomy (whether intentional or not).

        Not to say we don’t have problems. Of course we do. Cultural criticism is necessary! As a Somali, female Canadian I’ve experienced and said almost everything your wrote (except the strategic line about unrequited fellatio’s – to which my reaction was “He reacted negatively to that?”). After many of those annoying interactions I thought “the hell is wrong with men and elders in our culture – and their female apologists?!”

        Approach is everything. Condescension – or the appearance of such – will only create barriers to change. As a grad student in humanities, I’ve learned it’s easy to engage in cultural criticism in a dominate culture, but when you’re a minority both in and outside that dominate culture (like Somalis) people will hold onto ideas and practices that, had they not experience subjugation and ridicule from the outside*, they may have actually gotten rid of a long time ago. But the perceived or real accusation of primitivism makes them hold onto to such tired and counterproductive beliefs tighter than ever before.

        Hope that clarifies things! 🙂


        *That includes the intimate outsider as well.

      • Thank you love for your reply. Let me say some things that were a bit unclear from my side:

        1)I am all for everyone critizing our ways of living, our philosofies etc. I’d just love to hear from other folks, like the ones you mentioned. You are definetly right about the false dichotomy btw “religulous” and “rational” also I should just have easily been thinking of japan rather than “the west”. My point is, much of what we are fed with talking about muslims being “anti-democracy”, africans being “anti-individualism”, “anti-technology” etc etc, linking it with how brown/black people didn’t have the same historical evolution as “the west” and are therefore inferior is pure racist BS. And you point to this so eloquently in your post, how the “other(s)” don’t have the same platform. I am all for critique.

        2)Humanity is a mess. Our identities are messy. Offcourse I acknowledge that much of how I view the world is shaped by me living in “the west”, for good and bad. I acknowledge the privleges it brings aswell as the traumas. I try to take this into account in the voices I choose to listen to, but it runs deep. And again, humanity is messy. The view that bothers me though is; for instance if I am anti FGC and pro lgbtq rights some would see that as being informed by “western” ideal .. at the same time, had I been anti-abortion, anti lgbtq rights, that would mean that I against these “western” ideals (regardles of how long I had lived in “the west”). And offcourse, it’s obvious that you don’t hold those views. Your consitency is definetly the reason to why so many of us are your groupies.

        3)The rest, I have to think about it.

        Sending an OD of Love

  4. Sorry to tell ya, I’ve been doing this for years to Christians and Muslims.

    It sure does work great, saves you from all the religious dogma and rhetoric.


  5. I laughed so hard reading this, thanks for sharing your wacky, entertaining and bold mind, lol. Beautifully written and so true, I couldn’t agree more. We need more of this kinda stuff, the piety police have taken over our lives and we need to claim them back.

  6. I learnt something new. Nobody had ever told me that Jean-Paul Sartre once sold samosas in Mogadishu. Thanks for the enlightenment. 😉

  7. Aha! Nectar of the gods sort of read. How to get rid of back-seat-drivers in our short ride of life. Important talking-point.

  8. I may not agree with you on everything, but I think your writing is amazing. And I always look forward to reading your blog. You seem like a smart person. I hope you someday go back and teach our people, cause Somalis/Somalia need more people like you.

  9. “But auntie, it’s hard finding a good Somali man who believes in evolution”.

    This response of yours sums up to: There is definitely a good Somali man, but i don’t want to, because he does not believe in my religion which obviously is Atheism; and The Evolution is the Bible of the Atheism.
    This shows that you have neither understood Atheism, the religion of No-God / No-Creator, nor Evolution which is “War” as it’s about the survival of the fittest.

    This has two conclusions:
    1) Evolution is a natural hierarchy that serves for a natural supremecy; it means that there is A NATURAL SUPREME; it further means everything is programmed – whether we have a choice or not in a given situation or in all situations and if we do then how much or if we have any choice at all. Furthermore, in order to qualify a natural supreme, one has to be naturally above or outside of the war physically, hence A TRUE SUPREME (unlike the rise and fall of individuals, familes, communities or empires, species or particular sytems, toughts or religions, all under the Evolution); simply put, Evolution which is a Creation byway of War loudly says that there is THE NATURAL SUPREME, that logically is THE CREATOR / The Originator (the concept of God).

    2) In light of the evidence, Atheism not only it is a lie but it is also contraray to the natural existence; therefore ironically Atheism counter opposes the natural purpose of the humanity: SURVIVAL; because suicidaly it surrenders to war without purpose other than the immediate short-lived gain, i.e., without end.

    To rephrase your sentence, it would say: “But auntie, it’s hard finding a good Somali man who believes in Colonialism”. By the way, it is because of colonialism that the Somali people are suffering; the same colonialism that privileges Uncle Sam.

    • @Al-Tuke Tuke. Your post shows that you clearly misunderstand both evolution and atheism. Your argument is full of non-sequiturs, incomprehensible grammar, unnecessary use of the definite article and illogical reasoning, and consequently quite simply makes no sense whatsoever.
      I have neither the patience nor the inclination to explain your inconsistencies.

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