Poetry's Political Future(s): Deliberating Democracy and Justice in Somaliland

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Abstract

In February 2017, a poem titled "Muddici" ('Plaintiff') by Hargeysa-based poet Weedhsame went viral on social media. The poem accused members of Somaliland's government of corruption and quickly elicited a series of supporting and opposing responses. Together, these poems formed a debate "chain" (silsilad) that became known as Miimley ('in m'). Beginning from the premise that forms of popular art both reflect and inform processes of sociopolitical change, this paper explores the poetic and political "future)s" charted by the content and form of Miimley. Placing Miimley in the longue dureé of Somali poetic debate, I specifically consider how the future is implicitly and explicitly evoked in the content of poets' verse, and how the participatory dynamics of the unfolding of Miimley index and foment emergent forms of democratic engagement. I ultimately suggest that the futures invoked in Miimley balance respect for "tradition" -- especially Islam and poetry -- with a desire for more just and inclusive politics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Journal of African Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jun 2024

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