Main Characteristics and Categories of Kenyan Somali Poems: A Case Study of Poems from the Somalis of Garissa County

Aden Muktar Haji


The study examines the main characteristics and categories of the Kenyan Somali poems with special attention paid to the poems of the Kenya Somalis living in Garissa County. Several aspects of the oral poetry of this community including the content and occasions of performance of the poems are discussed. The study also explores the indigenous classes of the Kenya Somali poetry and suggests some other alternative modes of classification of the poems.  In doing so, the study reveals that poetry, among this community, involves every aspect of the life of the community. Some of the activities specifically linked to oral performances which are discussed in the study include: pastoral duties, courting, wedding ceremonies, child care and clan feuding. The main preposition of the study is that there is a close link between oral poetic composition, performance and community’s way of life. It reveals that, in the Kenyan Somali context, the performance of oral poetry derives directly from the people’s way of life, their everyday experiences in the vast arid environment of Garissa County of Kenya, their nomadic, pastoral activities and their Islamic faith.Based on field material collected from Garissa County of Kenya the study endeavours to interpret the oral poetry from the point of view of the community which owns and consumes the poetry. It attempts to locate the poetry within the geographical and socio-historical context of the Kenyan Somalis of Garissa County.Twenty people including eight poets were interviewed. The respondents were drawn from the six sub-counties of Garissa and seven of them were female, while thirteen were men. Twenty four poems were collected but twelve were analysed.The study adopts a composite approach combing sociological and psychological theories.

Keywords: Poem, Somalis, Garissa, County

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ISSN 2422-8435

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