The military coup d’etat in Somalia of 1969 sets the scene for Abdi Latif Ega’s novel Guba, released last year. The military junta’s justification for the coup was that the government had been rife with corruption and held hostage by clan politics. Ega examines the tension during the period of transition.
Read an excerpt from the novel, shared on Warscapes, in which we are introduced to the corrupt Colonel Ali Deray, a “magnet for making money”:
The home of Ali Deray as usual was the hub of the city’s jet-set not because he was this brilliant conversationalist, but because he was a magnet for making money, and a lot of it. They said it flowed through Ali, and he was the money flow because he was the interlocutor between the always elusive officialdom and the eager, very greedy sell-your-mother type of entrepreneur. It was a pretentious lot that gathered there, usually bearing gifts for Ali’s voracious entourage who could possibly make everything crumble into a ‘no deal’ if certain overzealous gestures were misconstrued as negligence, or worse, a sign of disrespect.
The treasures of these gatherings were the very beautiful women from most any and everywhere in the nation of the Somal. These were free spirited often stunning representations of the kaleidoscope of the Somal’s legendarily unique and unadulterated natural beauty. Depending on the position they occupied in this patriarchal society, these women were articulate and highly opinionated in such irreverent ways that they pushed Somal’s already egalitarian tradition. They neither sanctioned the institution of marriage in a society built on this particular notion of fidelity, nor were their interactions with the men around them ones of inequality.
- Guban by Abdi Latif Ega
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Image courtesy Somali Care