Literature and Dignity
Medicine is to the body, as good literature is to the soul. During turbulent times, such as ours, once in a while, a book appears on the horizon, to enlighten us, expand our horizons, stretch our imaginations, and sometimes gently challenge us to readjust our cultural lenses by forcing us to think anew, and to travel on uncharted waters. The book under review does all of the above with remarkable adroitness and deftness of the writing hand.
The reward is a book by a young emerging author, Mr. Anwar Maxamed, Diiriye, and the name of his book, Literature of Somali Onomastics and Proverbs.
The book is organized around explorations of the meaning of Indigenous names, and an exhibition of Somali and English proverbs. Both topics are amply rewarding. They are first rate treatments of important themes in the understanding of the cultural history of a unique nation that shares the glorious past history of the Arab world and the living fountains of African world.
An understanding of contemporary Somalia challenges us to come to terms with a historic nation seeking to determine its rich history by paying homage to Islam, Arabism and Africanity, since Somalia partakes the horizons of a triple heritage.
Chapter two delves deeply into Arabic or Islamic names. The attributes of Allah are the ideals that name givers yearn for as they want to grace their children with holy name, hoping that names will map out the destinies of their children. . Such names are collected in the Quran (Hadith). Great are the names that are available in the Hadith so that proud parents can locate them and choose them as the blessed names of their children. For example, Abdul means servant of the most gracious. Such is the living power of the second chapter that introduces the reader to a wealth of names, which are simultaneously identity providers, and meaningful conveyors of tradition, customs and history of the Somali nation.
Consider the following proverbs as mediators of philosphical insight, which are analytic and ethical at the same time.
Wisdom is content out of the knowledge ‘Science’
God’s grace does not come in a day’s duration.
Prevention is better than cure.
These proverbs and hundreds like them are a wealth of philosophical instruction that we must read.
Teodros Kiros (PhD)
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