Magazine article New Internationalist

Aman: The Story of a Somali Girl

Magazine article New Internationalist

Aman: The Story of a Somali Girl

Article excerpt

Do not be deceived by the dust - jacket of this book. It appears to be selling the veiled mystery of Somali girlhood, of static enclosure. This could not be further from the dynamic spirit of this story -- and its narrator.

Figure not transcribed Consult original publication

Born in 1953 Aman tells the story of her life up to the age of 17. It is an extraordinary tale, which also sheds light on Somalia and the dramatic changes it has undergone in this century. From goat - tending nomadic toddler, to 13 - year - old runaway wife, to city - dwelling quasi - prostitute, Aman takes us through a picaresque life that includes murder, imprisonment, decadent parties, a military coup, exile -- the lot.

Coming from a vigorous oral tradition (Somalia has had a standard written language for barely 20 years) she knows how to tell a rattling good story. Her rhythms, inflections and humorous asides (recorded by anthropologists Barnes and Boddy) reveal a true entertainer's love for language. But what makes her narrative so compelling is her candour. Every now and again she says: 'I'm telling the whole story' and she certainly seems to be, whether or not it presents her in a good light. …

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