Book Review By Carrey Francis Ronjey. Carrey Francis Ronjey is a constant wanderer and a chaser of multiple dreams. When he is not busy being unsettled in Nairobi, he’s locked up in Solitude dreaming. He runs his blog www.nairobiunderground.com and a bunch of other stuff.
Robert Frost’s idea that “Poetry is when an emotion has found thought and the thought has found words” can never be more accurate as you read any line from Sahro Ahmed’s anthology of poems. Hers is a sincere and artful expression of how she feels about life, death and hope for one day finishing the gathering of that which was long scattered in numerous directions.
To better understand this work, its best to first know a little bit about the poet. Sahro Ahmed Koshin left her motherland, Somalia as a child. Many years later, she has gone back to participate in rebuilding the country and healing some of the deepest wounds of 21st century. This she does with the great care of a mother, skill and beauty of a great artist and hope of a fragile plant.
One does not need to know Sahro, or even the story of Somalia to see the pride she has for being Somali and at the same time, the loath she has for the negativities among her people. “You Lit a Candle” is a sad celebration of the life of a slain peacemaker while “The Somali Tea” is one of the poems in the book celebrating the rich cultural heritage that the coastal country has.
The beauty is that the whole collection is written in very light verse which makes it easy for anyone to read and understand without losing a dot. There is also depth and insight if you can figure out the struggles that Somalis live with every day for the last twenty years.
One theme that stands out the most throughout the experience is the issue of identity but also women’s empowerment. Identity- could be as a result of the need for everyone to be proud of whom they are. “I Am” and “I Refuse” come out especially as a defiant declarations of her identity as a Somali woman. The strength of the Somali woman and of womanhood in general is also largely celebrated in many pieces but especially in her award-winning, much-acclaimed poem “I Am a Somali Woman” and “Tell Me Somali Mother”.
It’s quite easy to relate and draw lessons from this book as Sahro alludes to war that has for several years torn Somalia apart. The verses will also invoke in you the pain of always carrying a bleeding country in your heart. “Blood Of an Innocent” says in part that,
“The chill that sets in freezes him so
Yet he hides in the warmth of sorrow
And refuses to be thrown out of his only home
He will stay here and take his stand…”
The love for and emphasis on pride for being black is magnified through “Black Mystery” where she says,
Are dark times
However, she goes ahead to say in “Shades Of Skin” that “We are all different, but yet the same”.
The book in some light comes out as a representation of Somalia and its people as it’s been known world over for the last two decades, but with a lot more than the same world has ever imagined; dreams for a better day, the unique and beautiful culture, hope, love and self-awareness. One of the most powerful and my most favorite phrase in the book is about love and it that “…no one is perfect, until you are in love”.
Sahro is an artist as she is an ambassador. Simply put, anyone that holds “Sounds Of Laughter” in their hands holds the whole of Somalia as a country but with a little bonus of every other part of the world.
Review by Deqa Osman. Deqa Osman is a former VOF Correspondent with WorldPulse and currently a student at Future Generations Graduate School. Puntland, Somalia
“Sahro Koshin takes us on a journey of emotions through her poems as we smile, tear up, and cringe. Every poem has a different story to tell and touches us in a certain way. There are the deep, heavy poems that tackle serious issues in our Somali community such as FGM, GBV, inequality, tribalism and so on.
There are the feminism and resistance poems that inspire, empower, and remind us of vocal female poets from our Somali ancestors. And then there are the lighthearted joyous poems that make us smile, feel loved by family and friends, and soften our hearts as humans.”
Yes, the Somali woman is complicated and does not fit into one box! Thank you Sahro for making that needed point in poetry.