Ismail Einashe examines Somalia’s changing story-telling traditions in our collection of African journalists’ letters.
Recently, I met Ubah Cristina Ali Farah, a renowned writer from the Italian island Sicily.
She is one of the few Somali female writers who are internationally recognized, along with Nadifa Mohammed, who was just shortlisted for Man Booker Prize for The Fortune Men.
Somalia is known to be the “nation for poets”, but the tradition was largely the preserve of men.
Somali women are not usually the primary storytellers. However, diaspora members now have the opportunity to do so.
Ali Farah explains to me that they have more freedom outside Somalia than they do in Somalia, which allows them to fulfill their literary dreams.
Their freedom to write is further enhanced by the fact they can use colonial languages like English and Italian that are theirs.
Ali Farah, a son of Somalia and Italian parents, was born in Verona (Italy) in the 1970s.
Her father, who had fled Somalia to complete his education, returned to Somalia in order to create a new country and take his children with him.
Ali Farah grew up in Mogadishu and was educated both in Somalia and in Italian.
Her passion for reading led her to keep a daily journal of all the things she saw in Somali capital.
Ali Farah, a father of a child, was 18 years old when he fled the growing violence in the country. The civil war that would follow continued to this day.
After her first return to Italy, she now lives in Belgium.
Many thousands fled Somalia, and her experiences inspired her writing – particularly about women’s stories.
Because they were on the frontlines of conflict, she says that they are able to recall what was [email protected]