Posts tagged women

The Women of Puntland

A collection of photographs from the late 19th century and early 20th century.


Coastal Sanaag & Bari, Puntland - Mid to late 1840s

Illustrations done by French explorer Charles Guillain, between 1846 and 1848, during his visits to the coastal Sanaag and Bari regions of Puntland.


Traditional Elders - Mudug, Puntland Boqor Osman Mahamuud Sultan Yusuf Mahamuud, brother of Boqor Osman Mahamuud Sultan Yusuf Ali Kenadid Sultan Mohamoud Ali Shire

Portraits of Puntland’s Past ( Part II ) : Photos From The Early 20th Century.


Puntlands Past: Portraits from 1880.


Maryan Muuse Boqor (b. 1938) and the Women Who Inspired Her


Lidwien Kapteijns and Maryan Muuse Boqor

In light of Somalia’s recent history, Maryan Muuse Boqor’s recollections of her coming of age, as recorded by Lidwien Kapteijns, seem to describe a paradise lost. This is not at all to say that Maryan’s early years were without challenge and loss. Rather, it is to say that, as the country struggled toward independence, Maryan’s family and people around them believed in a brighter and more hopeful future. The descriptions of these times inevitably lead us to ask if we can see the elements of future developments in Somalia through the details of everyday life in the middle twentieth century recounted in the pages that follow. Is it possible to connect the local lives of Maryan and her family and friends with larger issues that may help Somalis recover from the civil war that began in 1991 and rebuild their state?
Maryan also tells a wonderful story of inter-generational solidarity among women. Her mother, her aunts, and older women friends of the family provided encouragement to her and served as crucial role models in her youth. She indeed emphasizes that she would not have become the woman she is today without their example. It is also true that she had close ties with some men in her family, notably her father, and that some of them also encouraged her to think beyond the boundaries often assigned to women in Somalia. These dimensions of the chapter lead us to ask how similarities and differences in age and gender roles between women and men influenced Maryan’s early years and transition to young adulthood.
Finally, Maryan’s tale, with its wealth of detail recorded by Lidwien Kapteijns, shows how the roles and possibilities open to women in Somalia were perhaps more various and more public than might be expected in a Muslim society. What paths were open to Maryan for personal and professional development? At what point did she strike out in new directions on her own? What were the benefits and burdens of being part of a generation that spearheaded such changes for women? Were the very high expectations of women only positive or perhaps at times also constraining? What specific aspects of Maryan’s story change our impressions of Somalia and growing up there in the years between World War II and Somali independence?

To be a Somali in this era of civil war and communal violence is hard and heartrending. In the diaspora of Somalis living abroad, many people, especially women, fight the bitterness in their hearts with the memories of earlier solidarity and try to repair the social fabric through innumerable and never-ending small acts of kindness and mutual support. Nevertheless, since the civil war, even presenting a narrative about an individual or family exposes one to the mistrust that remains among people representing the many sides of the civil war. The complex civil conflict has also left distorted hate narratives in its wake, constructed especially by people with bad consciences or unsavory ambitions. Although women, generally speaking, played a different and less destructive role in the civil war than men, no man or woman, insider or outsider, has remained untouched by what we know, or think we know, about the war. In addition, although Somalis generally acknowledge the value of oral history, many still frown upon anyone who makes the personal public and the ordinary special, and even more so if that person is a woman: "Maxay dadka dheertahay?” (“What makes her better than other people?”); "Yay is moodday?" (“Who does she think she is?”). Despite these obstacles, we must tell the life stories of real women. Unless we do, the collective historical experiences of Somali women and their efforts and contributions to Somali history will remain unknown and unacknowledged.

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The women of Puntland:
A rare photo of two Somali women in the Bari region of what is today known as Puntland ( taken in 1912).

The women of Puntland:

A rare photo of two Somali women in the Bari region of what is today known as Puntland ( taken in 1912).