Encyclopedia of African Literature

By Simon Gikandi | Go to book overview
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Galaal, Muuse Xaaji Ismaaciil

b. 1920, Somalia; d. 1980, Somalia

scholar and poet

Muuse Galaal was a very important figure in the study of Somali oral literature and culture (see oral literature and performance). He was an avid collector of oral poetry, proverbs and stories and worked to bring these to a wider audience through his writings, broadcasts and lectures. He also undertook important research on Somali indigenous knowledge and education which he wrote up in two as yet unpublished books, including "Stars, seasons and weather in Somali pastoral traditions" (1970), an important work which deserves much wider recognition. A keen advocate of the writing of Somali, he developed orthography for the language in a modified Arabic alphabet and later in life contributed greatly to the development of the present writing system using the Latin alphabet. He is known also for his collaborative work with B.W. Andrzejewski, which resulted in some important works on Somali literature and culture. A poet himself, he composed a number of plays, including Qayb Libaax (The Lion's Share) and some fifty poems including "Hengel" (Mourning Cloth) (1952). He is remembered by Somalis as one of the great scholars and poets and has been commemorated in great poetry of today including in a poem by Maxamed I.W. "Hadraawi."


Gallaire, Fatima

b. 1944, Algeria


The Algerian playwright Fatima Gallaire was born in east Algeria and studied literature in Algiers and cinema at Vincennes in France, where she now lives. Her professional career has been divided between fiction writing, drama, and cinema. Although she has published short stories in magazines and literary journals, most of the few novels she has written so far have not yet been published. Gallaire is mainly known for her plays, which have earned her popularity in French and Francophone theater. Many of her plays have been translated into English. Her most popular play is perhaps Princesses, ou Ah! Vous êtes venus, which was translated as You Have Come Back and performed by the New York Urbu Repertory Theater in 1988. In her plays Gallaire deals with issues related to gender and patriarchy in the Maghreb (see gender and sexuality). She discusses polygamy and the ordeal of women in a polygamous marriage, the segregation between the sexes, and the place of women in patriarchal societies, where they are often conceived and represented as part of male property. In her plays, especially Princesses, Gallaire describes the wives in a polygamous family as furniture and the daughters as merchandise. Her plays are often dramatic attempts to question the subordination and objectification of women in patriarchal societies. In making the question of gender


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