Nuruddin Farah, Somali Writer, Novelist, Ogaden.
Ogaden - Excerpt from Nuruddin Farah's Maps:
In a 1956 speech to the Somalis of the Ogaden, Emperor Haile Selassie said: "Go to schools, my people. For there, you will have a good chance to learn to read and write Amharic. Only then will you be able to take over the various positions in the central government administration.
And remember this: lack of knowledge of Amharic, which is the national language of Ethiopia, will prove a great barrier to economic improvement and individual and communal betterment.
Learn to read and write Amharic. It will do you a lot of good."
Nomadic camps were rounded up and their children taken away to schools in Upper Ethiopia- boys and girls who were barely six years old.
They were sent to different schools in the non-Somali-speaking regions of the country; so they would lose contact with other Somalis and with one another.
Amharic- the language of a minority imposed upon a majority, Arabic- an alien language with its alien concepts and thoughts imposed forcefully upon the mind of a child.
One is not beaten as harshly when one is learning in one's mother-tongue, surely? Does learning come naturally? Do things flow smoothly, then?
The brutal force of the written tradition imposed upon the thinking of one belonging to a non-written tradition? The brutal force of adults imposed upon a child?
I am not sure why I kept the cutting giving the full text of the famous 1956 speech which Emperor Haile Selassie delivered to the people of the Ogaden.
On its margin, I can read Uncle Hilaal's scrawling hand: "It is revolutionary, isn't it, that we vindicate our people's language, culture and justice?"
To vindicate. To be vindictive?
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