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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Tales Which Persist on the Tonque: Arabic Literacy and the Definition of Communal Boundaries in Sharif 'Aydarus's 'Bughyat al-Amal'
Author:Reese, Scott S.
Periodical:Sudanic Africa
Geographic term:Somalia
Subjects:rural-urban relations
Arabic language
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Literature, Mass Media and the Press
Education and Oral Traditions
External link:http://org.uib.no/smi/sa/09/9Reese.pdf
Abstract:Urban Somalis, known collectively as the Benaadiri (literally 'people of the ports'), have long sought to insulate their community and their distinctive urban way of life from pastoral influences. From the 1950s they also aimed at creating a space for themselves in the coming postcolonial State. Their most powerful tool was their virtual monopoly of Arabic literacy, which they used to reinforce their own particular town identity as well as to demonstrate that urban and rural peoples were closely tied to one another through both their common heritage as Somalis and their membership in the community of Muslim believers, or the 'umma'. This dual agenda is clearly laid out by the Benaadiri '¯alim shar¯if 'Aydar¯us b. 'Al¯i in his history of Somalia, 'Bughyat al-¯amal f¯i ta'r¯ikh al-S¯um¯al', published in 1954. Using the concepts of genealogy, sacred history, and the superiority of the written word, 'Aydar¯us sought to maintain control over the definition of boundaries between his own urban community and the encroaching rural population in an effort to preserve the identity and social position of urbanites in the Somali State. Notes, ref.