What can you say about "Cilmi Habareed"?

Asked by Anonymous - 1 month ago

First - I really admire you miss mire, you make me feel proud to be somali. I haven't read your book yet but I hope to buy it soon! A few months ago I found a book written by muuse galaal. In it he describes that somalis value 3 kinds of teachings: Cilmi Wadaad, Cilmi Habareed and Cilmi Curraaf. He also adds that if we refuse to learn Cilmi Habareed "our children will die" - I asked my mother about this and she never heard of it. Do you know what this "Cilmi Habareed" exactly entails? Is what you are writing about fertility and sacrifice part of this Cilmi Habareed?

1 Answer

Sada Mire - 1 month ago

Thank you for your question and kind words. Muuse Galaal (one of my heroes) defined the three as such:

“There is firstly the Cilmi-wadaad, the teaching of the religious leader, the sheikh, secondly, the Cilmi-habareed, the teaching of the "bush-nurse", and thirdly, the Cilmi-curraaf, the teaching of the "bush-life expert" or weather-lore expert.”

Your mother might not know the word ‘Cilmi Habareed’ but I would be surprised if she does not possess awareness of some indigenous ethno-medical knowledge or of rituals that have to be performed for a child such as waqlaal (naming ritual) and others associated with with the protection of the newborn child and fertility in general.

My book is not about Cilmi Habareed as such but about how Cilmi Habareed along with many other social and historical phenomena is part of a system of what I as well as Galaal recognised as indigenous system of knowledge and science amongst the Somali. My book is about an ideology of sacred kinship, an idea that I argue continues in transformation, from pre-Christian and pre-Islamic times to the present. 

It is true that people believe without it “our children will die”.  Hence I discuss it in the context of this belief, this ideology, a guiding principle of people’s behaviour in the past 2000 years, I believe. This fear of perishing is intrinsic in the continuity of this ideology.  Cilmi Habareed is part of this system of indigenous knowledge and science and its role in the ideology and social organisation of the peoples of the Horn of Africa, particularly the Eastern Cushitic Speaking groups. Their indigenous knowledge system is interconnected with materials, rituals and landscapes and natural and human made features. The Ritual Set is a set of material and non-material manifestations and attributes which uses specific examples to shed light on the investigation and (re)interpretation of ethnographic and archaeological material and sites in the Horn of Africa. Since people believed that baraka (in Islamic times) and blessing in pre-Islamic times comes from the sacred ancestors (you can look up the notion of ‘sacred’ or ‘righteous’ blood in my book, sacrifice had to be made to God in the name of sacred ancestors who are his representation on earth. This was the belief in the past and continues in different forms to this day. Galaal recognised early the profound interest and knowledge Somali pastoralists have about the weather, stars and time, which impact their life daily.  I discuss this in the book Divine Fertility too and nn this part of my work I collaborate with a research group in Hargeisa called Oday-Ka-Sheekee, who are the experts of astronomy and weather-lore in our generation. This is relevant to the archaeological material my work has uncovered which includes burials and rock art that link with the cosmological world views of other Eastern Cushitic Speaking peoples in the Horn of Africa, such as sites in Turkana.

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