Lesson: Somali Poetry and Rap Lesson


Learn about continuity and change in the Somali language

Learning Outcomes:

  1. To become familiar with the history of the Somali language and the role of poetry.
  2. To be exposed to the Somali language and watch Somali dialogue.
  3. To explore the local and global influences on contemporary Somali youth culture


  1. Video:
    1. World Cup conversations - Two versions, one with English and the other with Somali subtitles
    2. Baraanbur Qiimo Badan: an example of a genre associated with women.
    3. Short introduction (to be added soon)
    4. Wiki Articles and background websites:
      1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somalian_literature
      2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somali_language
      3. http://www.somaliculture.net/poems/index.html
      4. Scholarly Readings:
        1. Andrzejewski, B. W. 2011a. “Poetry in Somali society.” Journal of African Cultural Studies 23 (1): 5-8. doi:10.1080/13696815.2011.581451.
        2. ———.. 2011b. “The poem as message: verbatim memorization in Somali poetry.” Journal of African Cultural Studies 23 (1): 27–36.
        3. ——— . 2011c. “The nineteenth century documentation of Somali oral literature.” Journal of African Cultural Studies 23 (1): 19–25.
        4. ———. 2011d. “Is there Arabic influence in Somali poetry?” Journal of African Cultural Studies 23 (1): 59–72.
        5. ———. 2011e. “Alliteration and scansion in Somali oral poetry and their cultural correlates.” Journal of African Cultural Studies 23 (1): 37–47.
        6. ———. 2011f. “The art of the miniature in Somali poetry.” Journal of African Cultural Studies 23 (1): 49–57.
        7. Andrezejewski, BW, and I.M. Lewis. 1964. “Somali Poetry. An Introduction.”
        8. Andrzejewski, B.W., and S. Andrzejewski. 1993. An anthology of Somali poetry. Indiana University Press.
        9. Banti, G., and F. Giannattasio. 1996. “Music and metre in Somali poetry.” African Languages and Cultures. Supplement: 83–127.
        10. Johnson, J.W. 1979. “Somali prosodic systems.” Horn of Africa 2 (3): 46–54.
        11. Orwin, M. 2003. “On the concept of ‘definitive text’in Somali poetry.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 66 (03): 334–347.
        12. Maps: (links to be added soon)

Lesson Directions

Before Class Preparation

  1. Exposure to Somali language
    1. Watch and Listen to five of the Somali language videos
    2. Write a sentence or two that describes what you hear in the language. Post in class wiki space.
    3. Research
      1. Read one of the wiki’s or websites
      2. Read one of the scholarly articles
      3. Watch the Knaan video (on CASHAO Youtube site…to be uploaded still)

In class activities

  1. Lecture (ppt ) to be uploaded
  2. Watch short Knaan
  3. Small group discussion (2-3): Discuss your observations from videos with your partners.
    1. Are the sounds familiar? Unfamiliar? Can you pick out words?
    2. What do you think “baraanbur” means?
    3. Discussion questions (large or small groups…)
      1. What are the important elements linguistically, historically, culturally:
      2. Do you recognize stylistic elements in the music videos?

Out of Class Assignments

  1. Wiki Edits: With partners, do at least one edit on the wiki site, including references
  2. Create and annotate a Somali music mix-tape (video).

Testing and Assessment

  1. Essay: Trace connections if there are any between contemporary Somali language music (rap, hip hop, other) to ‘classical’ Somali literature.
  2. Perform…!