Storytelling Somalia

A Retreat, Close to Perfection

I was here
Stationed, placed by the mercy of god – to find some beauty in my displacement
Oh how amazing it is when you are able to share your pain with others – try to find this before I sleep at night, it is difficult!
The mind that doubts you, the heart that wants you and the soul keeps it in harmony

As soon as we reach for perfection
As soon as we strive to reach for perfection
I mean, the feeling is close to perfection
I am free
Free again!
Once again, for a moment or a second
Bursting flames of compassion
Close to count your blessings
Containing the everlasting word
Milk is like peace poured peacefully from a vessel
Sign it with love
I don’t know
I don’t know if I will be free again
I don’t know if I will be free again
I don’t know
I don’t know

I was here
With the storytellers of a nation
Crippled, crushed and complicated
Misplacement was forced into our names, a place we called home, before identity had even shipped over – we settled in comforting and confusing waves

We express this within our nature, we nourished our pain, ourselves -before we set foot to share closed love
Love is our common enemy
We are related in many
We debated in ways to find common realities
I found many
Heavy hearts entered
Rooms filled with deep sorrow, strangled with anger – everyone is a rebel here, we are just forced to find our answers
Emptiness, and empty promises are not promised by our ancestors I guess these perfect prophecies are pictured in our lonely eyes
I can’t wait to say
I am free
Free again!
Once again, for a moment or a second
Bursting flames of compassion
Close to perfection
Surrender to yourself
I am free for a moment close to perfection
But when will I share this moment again
I don’t know if I will be free again
I don’t know if I will be free again

I remember
I remember these times loudly
In my mind I visualise these precious moments
And the remarkable times we had
The tears we shared buried deep beneath our cheeks, we smiled after the rain has passed
I remember sitting on a chair amongst the storytellers of Somalia
I found peace, I found freedom
For a moment or a second
Bursting flames of compassion
Close to perfection
I remember
I remember these times loudly
Born free
Free of scars
But why then do we die for freedom?
I remember sitting on a chair amongst the storytellers of Somalia
Listening and admiring greatness
Take pride in these courageous souls
I remember
Fading away to evergreen falls, long forgotten landscapes, woody scented caves, I imagine my soul gliding through, and finding my existence on the sweet soil of Somalia – whilst listening and looking at these beautiful souls
I remember
I remember
I remember
Three times from your mind, heart and to your soul
In complete unity, my prayers melody!
My prayers melody!
My prayers melody!
I remember me, you and everyone
Like my prayers in melody
I remember all of you
All of you have inspired me in different ways
In different smiles, lights and shades
I truly admire all
A character of true talent blessed by the most Gracious
We are yesterday’s nomads, friends underneath the moon
Who are you calling?
Before we formally introduce bridges to one another
Sightseeing, life is a nice dreamer
We are light-savers with light-sabers, saving humanity in cold darkness
May our hunger be heard
Let us herd our strength to motivate people in hunger
And save hungered souls, even when love is not among us
For a minute
Glorious, close to perfection
Travel away, mentally before you take off physically
I see a new dawn, rise to kiss a star!
I see it rise!
Elevation of conflicting emotions, captured in the space we shared
And unexpected moments that seem unbelievable to reach
We made to be
Undress the un-lived
Relive the unimaginable
Emerge from the west you call home, uncalled books of travels waiting to be unpacked
Rise up, and run towards the fading horizon – shelter in your sharpness
Settle in these ruff corners, I can’t find myself – alone
When you creep outside the norm
Don’t be the worm of normality
When you die for what you love
It is all for freedom
Freedom is the foundation of love
This is what we breathe
This is our peace and perfection
I surrender
I surrender
I am free for a moment close to perfection
So close to perfection
I remember
I remember
From the end left side of my body, it was empty – just a plain wall, a projection screen and table decorated with pens, coloured markers and paper
On the right side, Asha Siad sat next to me
I felt safe
She shares the same name as my mother
In full glory
We witnessed
The sounds of glistening-watering eyes
The stuttering of emotional barriers
We carried the readers pain
Together in celebration
I hear you
I feel you
Do you hear me?
You feel me?
I remember
My room mate, Mohamud Yussuf stood behind me as he shared his beautiful words
It was truly remarkable to see a man of his age, emotionally open up
Whilst listening to the words of Mohamud
I suddenly remembered my father
The man who divorced my mother
From the age of five I lost sight of my father
My father never shared a tear
That is what my mother used to say
An ”emotionless rock” he was
But years of pride followed, and he finally said the words
He loves me
And I forgave him
I am happy
Happy in the end
To have known people like Mohamud, he is a blessing to my healing heart
I call him my adeero Boondheere
I remember
Sharing stories throughout the night and waking up with laughter, before the morning prayer
He is truly an inspiration towards my life
I remember
My sister Layla Bile
She shared her words
Like my sister Suban Nur Cooley and the rest of Storytelling Somalia
We struggled together, and filled the space with difficult words
The let go of inner-painful times
Words of relief
Words of escapism
Words we can relate to
When we hide behind our worlds
Glaze my impatient being, it takes centuries before your centre yourself – right
Before you find a ladder to climb on, you’re silenced to have known yourself
Know your weaknesses, only tears can justify your honesty – in deeper meaning
The transition of words
The movement of words, people and history
Do we believe that we own our words
We dive in it until we die, invisible
But when we do share our words with passion
It is revolutionary explosion
To feel, more than just words
More than this world
Universal freedom
Only you can feel it
I remember
Others sharing their words
One by one
We followed each other and found each other in this rounded gathering, we formed a united body
The horn of my oasis
Only hope shall burry us, softly
Please don’t judge me as I share my story
The readers
The listeners
We all bonded, sparkled the space with intense gravity
From the colours of harmony, hug it with compassion
Come past it
Familiarity, favours, wax fiican – in forgiveness ku soo doowey
Farta ha fiqin
Fadlan, fadeexaada fadhiga ha ku faalin
You are spectacular qaali
Gaaro naftaada
Know thyself
Prepare to find thyself
In a moment close to perfection
Close to perfection
I salute you all
I salute you in heart and soul, may I talk from within
My sister Barni Axmed Qaasim
My sister Hawwa Y. Mire
My sister Arwa Ishak
My sister Nawal Ali
My sister Hamda Yusuf
My sister Hanan Bihi
My sister Hodan Nalayeh
I salute you in heart and soul, may I talk from within
My sister Saadia Osman
My sister Annisa Omar
My Sister Zahra Idow                                                                                                       With love folded in heart and soul, I salute you all                                                       My sister Fatuma Khaireh                                                                                                   My sister Sadia Hassan

I salute you in heart and soul, may I talk from within
My brother Elmi Ali
My brother Zach Jama
My brother Muhyadin Ahmed Roble
My brother Abdifatah Faisal Hussein
My brother Abdisalam Aato
My brother Abdi Latif Dahir
My brother Abdi Osman
My brother Ahmed Sheikh Ahmed
My brother Ahmed Gure
My brother Abdulkadir Yaqub Farah
My brother Mohamed Haji Abdullahi ‘Ingiriis’
I salute you in heart and soul, may I talk from within
My habo Kinsi Abdulleh
My habo Shirin Ramzanali Fazel
I salute you in heart and soul, may I talk from within
I remember
My sister Hodan Ibrahim
You left the room in tears and came back with more, for mercy
I salute you in heart and soul, may I talk from within
Take the memory train back, you are home – and safe
My sister Halima Jama
I salute you in heart and soul, may I talk from within
To find patience in strangers, invisible miracles, I surrender
We are grateful                                                                                                                       My sister Safy Hallan Farah                                                                                           I salute you in heart and soul, may I talk from within                                                 From within, it makes sense, alive,  I salute you in heart, beating, my life – thinking of you all

I salute you in soul, sweet, spirit-loving – dreaming to find ya’ll
In remembrance of our togetherness
Please let us converse from within, deeply
I remember
I remember you, walaalo Idil Jama
From the moments you shared, your time of space
Precious memories, printed in our history – together
We take it
To ours
And back
May we deepen ourselves and think of our positive contributions
To all
I remember
I remember your courage
Your time
Your space
I remember
I say
If she is troubled
Let her speak
She is the historical experience of millions of roaring araweelo’s,
Hawwa Tako’s, Hawa Abdi’s and nothing but mother Africa’s beauty
Waaley, she walks!
Let it be heard
The complexity of words
Sounds of ancient memory
Rumbling rituals reviving inside the subconscious mind
This folk-aged tradition is embedded in our nomadic being
Know it or not
The framework of Somali oral history, is transmitted through whispers, sounds, tongues, hearts and eyes
Even if a heartbeat stops to transmit
The memory of Somali proverbs will continue to flourish far beyond the borders of Somalia
This will not kill the nomad
Even in the collapse of the physical land, again – this will not kill the nomad
The nomadic being exists within the universe, home is in mind
For the nomad is all, remembered, cherished, praised and reimagined through Somali bodies
We remember this
We are the storytellers of Somalia
The tradition of shared customs
In terms of understanding the nomadic being – in western light
In the eyes of the ‘imperialistic adventurer’
The ‘other’ being the nomadic being, is far more than just a colonised body
The ‘other’ is not outlawed, but preserved as the ‘exotic’ society – they want us to be
The contribution of literary interest in relation with white academics and white institutions, changing the face of Somali affairs and moving generations of Somalis – is this what we need or what we have asked for?
As Somalis we endured a fragmented history
And a structural development that which led to romanise our language – and we are still drifting in the current sphere of reconstructing Somalia/s
To bear to loose ownership of the Somali the language, in general
Is to damage the character of the nomadic being (Somalis)

We remember
Dispersed blackness, all, scattered over the surface – the west
Can I call you home, oh my diaspora
Isolated minorities in odd and new spaces
Can I call you home, oh my diaspora
*silence – no answer*
Can I call home
*silence – no answer*
We remember this
We remember this
As the mythical foreigners of strange lands, we exhale, we suffer
As the spiritual ‘nom-addicts’ we wonder
As the magical migrants, we are tremendously thunder
Let there be change
May the new generation of Somali storytellers, not be ignored or demotivated
Let our people, our children nourish the movement of Somali narratives
Zoom in, to create what is yours
Dispose the negative cold
The nomadic being is not barbaric, wild or inhumane
But humble, one with the earth, the sun, the moon and the universe

I remember
Holding back
For days
I followed the weight of time
Nothing, less, but I and my mind – to conquer
To digest this blank canvas, was difficult
In a span of a second, a moment of change, so close
I remember
The revolution of meaningful tales escalating inside of me, marching towards the youthful sun
I remember
Being overwhelmed by emotions, spiralled by past events, dizziness – and more compressed feelings
Trapped, tensed senses, numb
I could not name them all
Or recall every precise detailed feeling in perfection
Here I am in happiness
Close to perfection
Close to perfection
But then I stormed away
To the restroom, I sought refuge
Erupting emotions, I could not control
I fought my tears, tenderly in terror
It felt like I didn’t cry for years
So I looked in the mirror
*talk to me*
*Ahmed, you there?*
For a second raised to minutes
And I asked myself
Why I’m I crying?!
Stop crying!
I can’t
I can’t
It was to beautiful
To damn beautiful to resist
To beautiful to let go
I made it!
I washed my face
The taste of salted tears, twining with water, each splash is perfected in fusion – so natural
I breathe, back to reality
Everything made sense – around me
For a moment so glorious, close to perfection
So I prayed
I prayed
I prayed to have some strength left over to chew on, Alhamdulilaah
And I carried on
I moved with patience
I remember
For a moment or a second
Bursting flames of compassion
Close to perfection
Surrender to yourself
I am free for a moment close to perfection
But when will I share this moment again
I don’t know if I will be free again
I don’t know if I will be free again
My sister
My brother
You are the wondrous spirit, struggling in faith
wandering inside the neighbourhoods of Mogadishu, waking up inside the mystified city of Zeila, departing through portals and finding spirituality – close-in your gyre
Expanding thy soul desire
Let us explore the surroundings of this ancient port
Lay down your heavy mind, and be welcomed by the marvellous shoulders of Borama.
Stay on course
My barefooted loving soul
Follow these forgotten lands
You wish to see
Walk to be spoiled, in rich perfumed soil, you plunder
For endless miles, become like minutes, seconds – perfected in your presence
Your sweet sweat incense-scented aroma – is sentenced in your aura
Stay on course
Keep your dacas in your backpack, patrolling the name of love, in protective ocean shells
Your thoughts, notebooks and duas in check
You are welcomed
Not as a guest, but one, in heart, Somali I say!
We have missed you, forever
Don’t let go
Let your walking be a healing, a statement of your inner-calling
Be welcomed
By the cool breeze of the night, were dreamers find a purpose
Forgotten in the wild, but not lost
Stay on course
Open your eyes again
And kiss the lips of Kismayo
Oh I will befriend you bountiful Beydhabo
We are but forever stretched, as far as the backbone of Somalia
The body of the horn
The coastal spine of Africa
We are a fountain of fishermen, rowing, rowing, rowing
The sleepless traders of the east, traveling across boarders to trade in spices, frankincense and livestock
We are the herders of tomorrow
The mothers of courage and beauty
The teachers of hido iyo dhaqan (our heritage and culture)
The promised keepers of golden artefacts
The land beyond the clouds, my never-land
So-maal our Somalia, milk our tears, pure!
Milk our tears, pure!
So we can walk gently by yours
Sing our favourite lullabies on Liido beach, lavender – my love on earth, I truly seek your pleasure
By the Benifencent, most Forgiving
We are but just fallen hearts, crops hanged underneath the heavens bed
You are the universe – more and complete
The moment of happiness, we reached, preciously perfected
Close to perfection
I remember
Close to perfection
I remember
Being one of the last
To perform, for you
As I stepped back into the room
Calm but slightly weary
It was weird, in a way
I felt the dried printed-tears piercing underneath my eyes
I suddenly felt the warm presence of my footprints
Calling me back
Leading me back to the room
So I walked
With a box of tissues in my right hand
I smiled
We are the sacred embodiments of Africa
The rhythmic grounds of diversity
To be able to water the earth
With hope, is a start
We dried our tears with soft tissues
Assemble thy broken dreams!
My brother Santur
Our sensible sensitive nature
Has come to a saving
Happiness has finally arrived
Come on aboard!
I come to you
Once again
for a moment so beautiful, close to perfection
Bursting flames of compassion
Close to perfection
I am free
Free again!
Once again, for a moment or a second
Bursting flames of compassion
Close to perfection
Surrender to yourself
I am free for a moment close to perfection
But when will I share this moment again
I don’t know if I will be free again
I don’t know if I will be free again
I don’t know
I don’t know
I don’t know

-Ahmed Magare

©Copyright 2015

New Writing

To Catch a Sailing Boat

I understand you my mother, everything your heart hides in silence, let me find it with you!

I understand you my Hooyo

I am just a breeze that is passing
A longing wave that is everlasting, grasping for life that’s never lasting

You will know it when death has come close, it hurts

You will feel it when my spirit sinks low, limbs of shattered hopes

Oh, I will sing your songs of gold!

I am just a wind that is following, running to catch a sailing boat
To catch a sailing boat!
To catch a sailing boat!
I am but a sound, a name, a vulnerable flesh – dying to give back to those who deserve me in my emptiness

With foolish love, steady-down my struggle – I was bound to explore the universe

I am just a soul that is sailing for inner peace!
My Imaan please rescue me!
I’m consumed by tender tornado’s
Few hopes are left over, less is sometimes better than most!
Control my tears, let the pain walk away, let the pain walk away!

Bloody tides and rainbow ravines
Every inch of hope travels through an ocean of fate
So why wait!
Why wait!
For tomorrow is another riddle of doubt and fear
Mother, keep faith behind every tear
Please let’s have some sabr
Let’s have some sabr
Let’s have some sabr

-Ahmed Magare

©Copyright 2015

The son of Somalia

I am the son of Somalia
The son who flew away
The son who is far away
Hoping to get back
What is lost had gone astray
Forgotten but not lost
Somalia, Somalia, Somalia let’s make a change!
Somalia, Somalia, Somalia let’s make a change!
Somalia, Somalia oh let’s pray!

And so we wake up
For you, I open eyes, when you force change it creates doubts, it’s dangerous
Close in heart, I am close
For helping hands are found in strangers
I welcome you proudly – I adore patience in positivity
Felicity, favours, favoured, flavoured in the deepest parts of your nature
I wish the best for you – as you wish the best for me

An oath not whispered, is faith not practised
And so we wake up
Face these sleepless tales, awakened – I see you close

I am glad that you are able to share your tears with passion
Compassion is what we need
Compassion is what we bleed secretly
May our hopes be bright
Through light, we venture to dream together
Hear my skin, it shall bear in nomadic hideouts – please cover me in diaspora-bed sheets
The cold wont last forever!
And we won’t hang here for nothing!

Hear my skin
Rumble, it shakes – untold secrets of buried conviction
Hooyo I listen, when you speak, I feel your hunger for change
Me and the others, we are all the same
And she says, hear my skin
A collection of collective memories, moments, and dreams – deja vu delicacies – I am vacant, in temporary displacement, mentally balanced, in place
In dreams, we hide, precious metaphors, in tune – don’t reveal this to your loved ones, soon enough it will haunt your caring heart – keep the experience of waayo arag!
We shall wander more, identity, identity, is what we cry for at night
And die for when it’s all to late
Oh well, it is human I guess
To hope is to await a miracle – to be hopeless is impossible because hope has no limitations and hope is much greater than the denier
And so we all seem to dream to sacrifice ourselves for the desire of a little comfort that leads to success
We scratch, and continue to scratch on the surface of perfection – what is perfection?
If this is not enough for us to be together, than why has false “pride”
meddled with our children
Literature and language, listen to the way words are perfumed, purified in longs, compressed, released and then it feasts on rolling tongues –
this must be the natural force of my culture
So if one is born in the language but does not speak it
Don’t judge the soul
For he or she might breathe more essence in the richness of the culture
The cleanliness of togetherness, is far more appreciated
If you try with a firm heart you will get far
We are sons and daughters
We are sons and daughters
We are fathers and mothers
We are one, shaking thy ribs!
For love is knowledge and forgiveness
Today is the day
Let it shine!
Shine we will
Lift a poor spine – be kissed on the forehead, soft, in the safety of your soul
Entwined within clarity, precious glare
We smile in the middle, I celebrate in silence
I imagine lounging underneath the sun
Whilst eating away fresh xalwo and drinking the finest spiced tea poured in floral decorated porcelain cups
So fade away
Fade away my colonial nightmares, my war-lord broken time
Heal our victims, our heroes
Heal our neighbours
The ones who hate will not make it
Heal ourselves, our cries left unanswered, our bullet wounds are printed on the walls of our beloved city
Our land, our crops, our nature
Our loss of wealth, our greed, our endless hills of grudges, our immense loss and pain
Fade away!
By the One, most Gracious, most Beneficent
In the end, we are most vulnerable
All but the same
And only our god can save us
Fade away!
Fade away my corrupt laws and policies – pockets-filled-taking politicians
My fisherman-pirates, who were misled, and mistreated by the orders of the sea
Fade away!
The shabaaby youth of facade, blood is the promise of never-land
Never to come back
It is difficult to forget
I forgive you
I forgive you
It is difficult for us to overcome
It is difficult for us to come together, I understand
But let us at least try
Try to give hope
Give up the keys for the next generation, to blossom – patience is passing
For the presence of coming together, I welcome unity, love and forgiveness
Honesty and integrity

Let us come together
What is so difficult to let go?
What brings us together?
Is it the destruction of the past – that which brings us together?
Or is the process of unity reconstructing our current change?
Is it our land?
Our flag?
Our regions?
Our borders?
Our history?
Our culture?
Our future?
Our heritage?
What makes us Somali?
Let us come together
Let us breathe
Let us breathe, for once
Let us think
Let us be free
Free to choose
Free of choice
Free to vote
Free our justice
Free our sisters and mothers
Free of mind
Free to express
Free our culture
Free our people
Free of hate
Free of all negativity
Let us dream
Let us dream, for once
Let us dance
Let us dance with swords, we feast!
I wish I had a weapon, cold words have wounded my soul with shrapnel
Let us dance!
Let us dance and be free to catch severe memories with me.
Don’t be afraid, but be free to witness the sounds of melodic heartbeats, bonding together
Listen when we go back into the night – tremendous, tender trips to the tip of our hearts – find your inner-truth
Listen, when sharp corners rub spirits
Symbolic sounds are measured
Let us dance
Let us dance, break feet until the youthful morning
Celebration to count ultimate shapes of happiness and appreciation – appreciation is what need
I feel it when a brother is down
I feel it when a sister is drowned
My world please don’t stop dancing
Please don’t stop dancing
People will always judge you for your pockets, your gender, appearance and the colour of your skin
Be brave
Be honest
But never the radiant, uncovered lies that will cover your character
Be brave
Be honest
Smile and give heart
A heart filled with smiles, will walk for miles, and inspire endless crowds – with a glowing nature
I surrender
I am the son of Somalia
The son who flew away
The son who is far away
Hoping to get back
What is lost had gone astray
Forgotten but not lost
Somalia, Somalia, wake up, wake up!
let’s make a change!
Somalia, Somalia, tooso, tooso!
Somalia, Somalia, tooso, tooso!
Let us make a change!
Somalia, oh my poor Somalia let us pray!

-Ahmed Magare

©Copyright 2015

Intro-duction – The Art of Ahmed Magare

My Practise 

The core focus of my practice is heritage, identity and culture. I explore challenging avenues to depict personal journeys as an urban nomad, a traveller and storyteller.

I work in the formats of installation, sculpture and photography but I mainly specialise in ‘uunsiincense and henna drawing – I draw on fabriano paper, canvas, wood and fabrics (traditional Somali fabrics)

I tend to draw from memory, focusing on past events, which become childlike and playful drawings – these then form into written material for my poetic and performance work.

In particular, the nostalgic feel of ‘fabric drawings’ which I call  ”celebrate sculptures of past memories.” My interests lie in the poetic sequence, not remembering my words but rather reading out passages to remember lost thoughts.

I am currently focusing on the notion of cultural authority, ownership, displacement and sleepwalking as a meditative process in my performance.

Art & Writing

To further understand the developing progress of my practice:

My practice is split between art & writing.
Both disciplines stimulate my creative drive and support my practice development.

  • Art : physical work which is supported by the written material – both shift in contrasting order.
  • Writing : consists of writing my diary, short stories and poetry – and creating performance plays based on the written material.

In my writing, I question ‘nomadism’ and what it means to be a modern-day nomad. I explore identity through the idea of borrowing cultures. One way I do this is by using traditional, scented pigments/minerals as communication tools to connect with my own life and others.

I perform spoken-word poetry and am currently working on developing a poetry collection for publication.


‘My Sleeping Queen’ 

(my grandmother Khadijah)

In the early stages of my practice, I worked with the memories of my grandmother Khadijah who I visited in the summer of 2012. I have made photographs of my grandmother when she was asleep on a chair – during the day. The space that we both shared had a silent atmosphere and the photographs showed a relieved expression on her face. I found this powerful and fitting to her character and in the narrative of my work. This made me feel emotionally obsessed and relaxed whilst constantly drawing her throughout my sketchbook. The drawings later became a passage of remembrance.

I learnt a lot from my grandmother during my stay in Somalia. My grandmother told me about the importance of her traditional clothing and how it signifies the sunrise of Somalia. The simplicity of the nomadic way of living impacted on her character, and the modernising transition from her moving to the city is key to my work. I was influenced by her poetry, folk tales and personal stories – in which she told me about her life. These were vital ingredients for me to build my work.

My Sleeping Queen, (2012)

‘Uunsi Drawing’

I have developed a new type of drawing – ‘uunsi drawing’ which consists of ‘earthy materials’  a common practise which is used by Somalis worldwide in cultural domestic settings – the drawing aspect of using ‘earthy materials’ questions ‘cultural authority’ , ‘ownership’  and ‘normality’ in culture.

‘Uunsi’ in Somali translates the burning of frankincense and the fusion of mixing hot charcoal with frankincense + other scented minerals such as: Oud and Bakhour.

  • Henna: the human skin/texture
  • Incense: distorted landscape + space                                                                                                                                                                                                                             I have carefully studied the concept of each of the ‘earthy materials’ – and I have explored ways to depict smell, touch, sound and visual.

In short, ‘uunsi drawing’ is of ritualistic value, cultural expression,  spiritual meditative practice -and a celebrative-navigational medium to communicate with people within space.

The process of action drawing explores the performative side of sleepwalking which ties in me becoming the ‘urban nomad’

Untiled, (2013)

Becoming the ‘urban nomad’

I am not focused on finding my roots. ( not searching for Somalia as the physical belonging of the land rather the mental idea of it) Moreover, I don’t have to be on the land to connect with my heritage, culture or tradition. I am breaking the barrier- not fully understanding my culture but showing signs of neglecting, displacement and hope for the old forgotten culture (it is through my performance that I relive celebratory moments.)

Longing or belonging?

‘challenging normality’ and the moral ethics of how one culture is supposed to be viewed/practised. ( if you don’t fully understand the language of the land it takes away your cultural identity and membership. ( how can we then create our own path of understanding towards this odd culture? Possibly, by developing a new language of storytelling – how do I feel about my heritage, culture and tradition. (this can also relate to the wider perspectives of the new generation of Somalis living in the diaspora : ‘diasporic-relation’)

Furthermore, I see the Somali cultural artefacts as moving sculptures. Moving people, the artefacts have memorial + ceremonial value – I call them ‘survival packages’  I am interested  in the change of narratives and the common domestic use of the artefacts. By changing narratives, I build a new language this gives more value to the artefacts and explores the relationship between me and the objects.  ”These are essential vessels of life” just like the materialistic world we live in, these objects become of daily remembrance. I am almost obsessed with them. I read to them, speak to them and remember them.

In fact, I am challenging ‘cultural authority’ and the moral ethics of culture, particularly in the Somali culture. Taking household practise such as incense burning into making art.

The artefacts remind me of the connection of people, personal relationship, spirituality, ancient practise and the belongings of my ancestors.

I’m focused on finding me, fixing broken pieces of my identity (parts of culture, language and lifestyle)

I’m interested in creating a new world (post- apocalypse time)  I see this in my dreams – and while I drift off, sleepwalking. ( I become this person of the future, the legendary nomadic hero I seek.)

Everywhere can be called home, but for me home is where I feel happy in my mind and in memory. (erasing/taking away the nomadic belonging to the land, however elements taken from the land + culture that can suggest belonging  and thus important to me because that is all I have for now – a document, a memory and a dead space of time. Through sleepwalking (spiritual reconnection) and performing with incense burning and henna drawing I get to come closer to this world and almost become this heroic nomadic character.


• restriction +resistance + to rebel : breaking boundaries of space + law ( bound by natural law of existence : study has elements of science and philosophy)

• sense of belonging – everywhere can be called home but the mind most attentive to the soul.

• time traveler, time travelling avatar (through sleepwalking performance + ‘uunsi drawing’ + and becoming the ‘urban nomad’

•  the legendary heroic nomad (mythical figure) of Somalia and by re-imagining  moments through meditative sleepwalking process, in this state of mind – I am transforming into the modern-day nomad – becoming art of my own. (the nomadic being)

The Artefacts 

the common reality of the objects

IMG_9567 copybarki : headrest

IMG_9558 copytip iyo mooye : pestle and mortar

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‘Survival packages’ 

the uncommon displacement of the objects 

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Digital Fusion & Nomadic Pop – Study of the Developmental Stages:

Nomadic Pop is the foundation and influence; Digital Fusion is the sequence development that satisfies the outcome of the work. Both combined become one. Nomadic Pop is first produced through watercolour drawings that are then developed further in the second stage of Digital Fusion. I use picture-editing applications from my IPhone 5 to digitally manipulate images. I am interested in notions of ownership, the role of technology, consumer authority and what role the individual plays in voicing their own narratives. Nomadic Pop begins to look at “Nomadism”, which can be described as a search for an authentic Somali-ness.  (to see more, follow my previous post – Manifesto – Digital Fusion & Nomadic Pop)

To further understand this,

  • Nomadic Pop : Internal outlook on the concept – nomadic state of mind, ‘hido iyo dhaqan’          (heritage and culture of Somalis)  and traditional element of fine art: drawing and painting.
  • Digital Fusion : External outlook on the concept – the element of fusion, ‘digital-force’ and bringing worlds together.

To start, I would like to share and explore concept of Digital Fusion & Nomadic Pop, by adding relatable terms and keywords that drive this project. This is shown below, were I break the words into ‘sub-terms’ and give a thorough explanation. After this, I will give an insight how I have developed the artwork in stages. (and also how this is guided by the concept of Digital Fusion & Nomadic Pop)

Key words to note

• Transition + transformation of Somali people. (now and then, from Somalia to the diaspora)

• Adaptable progression, particlarly looking at renowned Somali models, how they have blended in their new environments, spaces inside the diaspora, but still kept in touch with their heritage and culture – even if some of them don’t, I imagine them to be.

• Some aspects/points of the text might relate to the concept of Afro-Futurism.

• Storytelling and myths, to create mythical characters (or to recreate Somali mythology) – and to further look into the unique qualities of these mythical characters that shape this new world.


  •  Nomadic Pop is the foundation and the start of Digital Fusion.
  • Digital Fusion is the ‘predecessor’ and the ‘final outcome’ of the whole concept.

Digital: is ‘consumer authority’ and the ‘final outcome’ of my imaginative world, my dream. The power to google images freely and access the internet (digital universe)  with ease. I can manipulate, destroy, create, break, control, repair, construct and deconstruct  – this is relevant in the physical and mental state of the nomad.

Fusion: is to fuse, to blend, to merge the new with the old. Bring past and new generations together. It is forgotten culture for the young, it is patience for all, trying to reconnect to a place we can call ‘home’ (my dream). Where is this home? The dream of this project is to bring people together, to challenge, find comfort, ease and understanding.

Nomadic: is quite similar to ‘Fusion‘ but ‘Nomadic’ references the older generation and the global understanding of the nomadic character. One that has no place to call home, ‘placeless’ but walks from place to place, as a symbol of long term progression/process to find home in oneself.
I am redefining this through my personal experience (as a modern-day nomad) but also through my practise.

Pop: is the founding father of ‘Digital’ it is bright, colourful and glamorous. It is happiness, pink bubbles, ‘rich in space’ and celebration.
It is Warhol inspired, but not yet focussing on the material gadgets and must-haves but this project is giving more value to the figures/characters that shape this new world.

The project also looks at the golden era of Somalia (this could be from medieval Somalia to the current reconstruction of Somalia) , however I am particularly intersted in the post-colonial era of Mogadishu – also looking at Somali currency, vintage photography and post cards. (and again, how this links with the idea of  borrowing cultures, entering new/odd spaces, diaspora and the western influence that has shaped the landscape of  Somalia. Moreover, my dream envisions hope, I look back and listen to my parents and grandparents, how they had experienced ‘good times’ and shared romance and freedom – and how this dream can be lived again. (by generations to come)

The concept of this project also looks at modernisation and educating the new generation – that we as Somalis once lived free in prestige lifestyles and we danced wearing traditional attires – together in unity.(without any extreme religious/ideologic intervention)
Finally, it is all about celebrating forgotten times that we have left deep in our closets, buried deep in our cupboards that house us in the diaspora.

Digital Fusion & Nomadic Pop is celebrating times when men, women and children would stage to take pictures in front of imaginative ‘praised spaces’ and backgrounds. Was this something we couldn’t reach? Something we had in our lands but not cherished? (like our captivating nature: palm trees and sandy beaches) or was this something we imagined ourselves to be in?(in times of war, corruption and western imperialism) A dream?

They were more than selfies, these photographs were carefully set to document times of Somalia (times of peace) but also to share great moments with family/friends and distant relatives from the diaspora.
(Pop art)
Just as Warhol was inspired by his environment and the lifestyle of consumerism, that which is now called Pop art. I am simarlarly interested in my environment and how we are changing as people, moving  from place to place (focussing on the transition of borrowing different cultures) and adapting to new and odd spaces.
This is my journey of finding myself through this project, even though I’m not trying to find my roots in some way but feel enclosed between two distant cultures and feel more leaning towards my the land that I live in currently but I dream to reconnect to the land that ‘let’s my soul speak’ – in the process of ‘finding my place’ I would want to learn from the people that still have significant hold within the Somali culture, community and history.

For me “Nomadism” has unshackled itself from its traditional territorial borders by flowing within the current sphere of globalisation and through the diaspora. With the diaspora it has maintained its character by morphing into a ‘trans-border’ entity. This is in part why it has survived well into the 21st century. By combining the old and the new it has mutated into its current shape and this is reflected in my work, my dream.

So moreover, my dream ventures to capture this new world of togetherness and celebration. The concept of “Nomadism” transforms the narratives of Digital Fusion & Nomadic Pop through personal levels and relating with Somalis alike.

There are different definitions in defining “Nomadism” – I try to capture my definition through visual stories and imaginative figures that I create. I see them as folk tales and characters with individual personalities. So in fact, I am taking different aspects of my time and the times of my ancestors, by then creating a world where all generations can coexist.







‘The Crooked Swan, Jasmin Warsame’ (2014)





‘The Green Qalanjo, Ayan Elmi’ (2014)




‘Vogue Miya?’ (2014)



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‘She Lived Before Cleopatra, Iman’ (2014)




‘Diva Dahab’ (2014)




‘Dr Hawa Abdi’ (2014)





‘Dabaab’ (2014)




‘Cushitic’ (2014)








‘Our Child’ (2014)




‘Tales of The Sleepless Nomad, Classic in No-Man’s Land’ (2014)





‘Geeraar for The Forgotten Youth of The Diaspora’ (2014)












‘Sugraad, The Revolutionary Wizard’ (2014)




‘A character of Home’ (2014)

Text and work by Ahmed Magare

Instagram: i_am_yoses

Facebook: Ahmed Magare


My Sleeping Queen


mixed media + acrylic paint on Somali traditional fabrics, 2012

My Sleeping Queen


Follow my deepest thoughts
Follow my journey back to the rivers of my precious, blessings
Back to the rich essence of truth
My lovely heart
I call
Heal my scars
Pure soul
My queen, so blessed, I see you, sleeping inside the silent darkness I honour you regardless!
Wake me up with your summer-time-wishes
I miss your love
My heart is drowning in a thick mist, way up to the sky
Peace is promised in my fist
I keep it consisted
I’m twisted by different cultures, evicted by mine own shadow
– Rainbow twisters!
The west calls for my soul to gain riches
While I call for my culture, it is within you but I feel that no one listens!
Is it dying?
Where I’m I going?
Heal my blisters
My grandmother
My queen
Khadijah, Africa is you, you are more than my Africa
The mother of my mother
The guardian of my hido iyo dhaqan  (heritage and culture)
Dusty sandals of my sunshine
I paint my pain in a dark basement
Bright colour lights for every word I say
Let the pain age in time
Let the pain age in time
For experience is beauty, wrinkled in my grandmothers face

I pray for your dedication
Admire all your strength
Your history is in the name of my future
You’re welcome
I always keep a smile on my side, safely by you
My queen, I see you sleeping
You’re dreaming about my ambitions
Look at the way I drawn you in my pictures
I wish you could see
You far away, on the other side of the world
Please tap on my back if you hear me
I hear you
My culture is on hold, slowly fading, sleeping right beside you

Forgotten is more than a loss, forgiveness is a must!
My queen I wish you could see, I am way up – I feel so alive with your trust, protected by love
I wish you could see
Help me!
When I can’t save myself
I am falling, holding on the edge – scratching on the skin of my bed
Oh, how I miss your truthful words
Never ending nomadic traditions, folk stories and mythical visions You kept it sacred
You kept it sacred
My heart is favoured by these thoughts
Little bubbles fill up my memories
My past, born as a traveller
The sweet scent of decaying trees, keep it strong, this will lead us to peace
Please believe my tears, you forever true!
I thank you greatly!
I remember when you used to look after me
From a baby to a crawling monkey, running through the sand
You held my hand and you hugged me
And sometimes in your right hand you would keep your spiritual beads
Preciously perfect
Patience plunders her pearls in a cold evening
Struggle and she breathes…
Struggle with some ease…
Struggle with some ease…

So let the scent of our culture rise
And let the pain age in time
Let the pain age in time
And let pain age in time
For experience is beauty, wrinkled in my grandmothers face

This is my letter to you, before you leave this earth
Sleep and rest on your throne
For you reached a humble age
My queen
My queen
I promise you I believe
Sweet dreams…

-Ahmed Magare

©Copyright 2012

Instagram: i_am_yoses

Facebook: Ahmed Magare


Diverge 2: Limitation (Ictus + Ahmed Yoses)


Mark Pringle: Clarinet
Lucy French: Cello
Ben Lee: Guitar
Dan Searjeant: Alto Sax

Ahmed (Yoses) Magare: Spoken word

Ictus and Ahmed (Yoses) Magare perform with the theme of ‘Limitation’ at diverge, 05/11/14


Interdisciplinary performance programme creating new work and encouraging dialogue and collaboration between artists and art forms.

Photo by James Banner (