Amoeblog

What is the deal with Somalia?

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 26, 2008 01:35pm | Post a Comment
Somalia in the news
If you're like me, you may feel like the media only provides confusing, fragmented glimpses into what remains, by and large, an obscure part of the world that makes regular appearances in the news regarding (usually) famine, war or piracy. And yet, the newscasters seem perfectly content to repeatedly ask, "What's going on?" and "Why do they kill us when we bring aid?" and (most inexcusably stupid) "Aren't pirates a thing of the past?" Yet they seem content merely to ask and never to attempt an answer. So, in the face of another wave of gawking, 30 second snippets provided by the news, here's my humble attempt to shed a little light on the region; one where long-simmering tensions and colonialist pressure have caused the Somali people considerable strife and difficulty for centuries, with no hope of apparent change in the future. And yet, I hope the music and cultural bits I've thrown in will provide a balance to all the misery.

Introduction
Somalia's history (and the horn of Africa, for that matter) for the last few centuries has been a familiar history of extreme hostility and violent retribution. Begrudging neighbors are made pawns of European powers and played against each other with suffering resulting on all sides. Somalia, whilst one of the only countries with only one ethnic group, has never very unified. Originally the Somali people organized themselves on the coasts of the mostly barren country in tiny city states (and later, after conversion to Islam, Sultanates). 


Tubeec & Magool

Ancient Beginnings

In ancient times, the region was widely known and valued by its neighbors, from China to Rome (who referred to the Horn of Africa as "Regio Aromatica"), for its dragon's blood, frankincense, and myrrh-- two of which were good enough for the Christ child and which remain popular commodities today. For a while, everything was apparently chill and, for centuries, Muslim Somalia maintained good relations with Christian and Jewish Ethiopia. The prophet himself commanded Somalia to never take up arms against Ethiopia... unless (foreshadowing here) Ethiopia drew first blood.
 

(Left) A giraffe bought in Somalia by Zheng He. (Right) Ibn Battuta.

Pearls from the Red Sea: Treasures from the Clearance Sections

Posted by Mark Beaver, July 9, 2008 02:13pm | Post a Comment
                                                                                                                                                                   
What does an Amoeba blog have to do with that busy inlet of the Indian Ocean between Africa and Asia? Not a damn thing, really. The Red Sea to which this blog refers is that reservoir of red price tags that floats somewhere in the vicinity of the checkout counters at all three stores--that beguiling ruby pond that calls to you with promises of Buying Three and getting the Fourth absolutely FREE!
   
It’s a lonely sea, the Amoeba CD Clearance section, a bastard half-brother to the regular Rock or Soul or any genre section, really. But what I know, and I know that many of you know, too, is that CDs end up in the red tags for many reasons, many of which have nothing to do with the quality of the music on those sad, overlooked Lucite and aluminum discs. As it happens, some really great recordings sit around without the word getting out that they are great and need to be heard and cherished and talked about.

Thus…Pearls From The Red Sea. I will regularly be reporting on some fine, fine listens I’ve plucked from the ever-churning waters just off the coast of the checkout registers. Maybe you can find another copy out there, maybe I got the last, and maybe you and I will make it so popular that it never ends up in Clearance again. In either case, the price was right…at least for me.


BACK  <<  1  2  3  4  >>