Friday, June 8, 2018

Foreigness and Swahili Iftars.

The sea at Ishakani village in Lamu one of the last villages in Kenya before crossing into Somalia's Ras Kamboni.
 “At the end of the day, it isn’t where I came from. Maybe home is somewhere I’m going and never have been before.”-Warsan Shire.

The civil war in Somalia has led to the Somalis fleeing their country, this is no news I am sure.As a result Somalis are conquering and running the world.Allow me to jog your memory about famous Somalis-my love Warsan Shire,British marathoner Mo Farah,Canadian model Sabrina Dhowre and beauty icon and model Iman to mention but a few 😂😂.

Thing is Somalis are a resilient people with an unmatched business acumen that is why they own and run Eastleigh and unapolegitically so.They care so little for Swahili or blending in for that matter and this part of the city has had to change to accommodate them.Vendors,touts, generally anyone who has a business in Isli now speaks a bit of Somali.This is how much power they wield because they have CASH and we all know cash is king.It is rumoured that they do not bargain for stuff and so if they move into any estate in the city the place automatically becomes expensive.

There are Somalis who unfortunately do not rule the places they have migrated to.An example is those that are from Kismayu and have moved to Lamu's Kiunga island.They are a minority living amongst the Bajuni community.Their hosts have welcomed them with both hands and they co-exist peacefully but what a cultural contrast between the two communities.They don't do the same thing for income,they don't dress the same,they don't speak the same language and even live differently with the Bajunis being the more liberal community of the two.

War forces you to do hard things like blend in where you would never have even thought about it.Now the Somalis fish for a livelihood,speak swahili (coastal swahili) at that and there is even intermarriage between them and the Bajunis.

The Bajunis on the other hand have learnt about the Somali sea bounties and are now increasingly going to fish in the Somali waters that they say is so rich that fish catches are only measured in tonnes.They wear deras,travel to shop in Kismayu which they say is much cheaper that Lamu or Mombasa and even wear jilbabs more.

Iftar set up 😊 #myhappyplace
Food forms a big part of the Swahili culture,yaani these people can cook and if you live amongst them you will inevitably pick up one or two things about food. For Iftar they have a somewhat standard list of dishes that could be eaten which are;bhajias,fish samosas, fried fish,chapatis,viazi vya rojo,dafu,black tea,tamarind juice and tambi.They sometimes switch it up and include viazi vya nazi,mhogo wa chumvi,mahamri na baazi za nazi.If I was a man I would seriously consider marrying a Swahili solely for her cooking skills.

Dafu to break your fast.
Fish samosas to be eaten before maghrib as part of what is known as kifungua mwadhini

Chapatis to be eaten after Maghrib mainly eaten with viazi vya rojo or maharagwe za nazi.
Deep fried fish to be eaten at any time between after Maghrib salah and before the next day's fast.
Somalis on the other hand are less elaborate with food and are a meat and milk people but those in Kiunga Yo! are learning fast and turning into Somali-Bajunis real quick.

From my little escapades outside home I have learnt being a foreigner is hard and this is for me who has the comfort of knowing I am going back home in a few days or weeks.I sometimes think how hard it is for people who are forced to leave everything behind and move to new places to start new lives.In most cases in lands so different from theirs.May Allah give us peace and making it very easy for everyone struggling through foreigness.

Have you been to a place where you felt distinctly foreign? where? and what was the experience like?

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