AFRIKULT.’S OVERALL RATING:
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Ignorance is the Enemy of Love (Aqoondarro waa u nacab jacayl) tells a fatalistic love story of Calimaax and Cawrala. Faarax M. J. Cawl wrote the novel in the Somali language, which did not have an official orthography until 1972, and published the novel in 1974. The English translation by UNESCO linguist B.W. Andrzejewski is no longer available in print. This is not just a fanciful tragic love story rather the novel has political and historical tropes which draw on the tensions between British colonisers and the Muslim Brotherhood of Sayid Maxamed Cabdulle Xasan (1856-1921). Calimaax is a dervish of Xasan’s Muslim Brotherhood who saves the young Somali girl Cawrala from the capsized ship they were b oth travelling on from Aden to Somalia. Through his heroic gesture- Cawrala subsequently devotes her irrevocable love to Calimaax- and her resilience in loving him despite the tragedies that befall her illustrate the spiritual resilienc e of Somali women. Calimaax realises too late Cawrala’s love for him, which was declared in a love poem she wrote and had sent to him, and though he cannot read or write her poetry inspires him to learn. However by the time he learns to read, Cawrala had fallen prey to the misfortunes of life. This novel deals with social, political and cultural issues of the dervish era in Somalia; i.e. education, marriage, gender roles and Islamic morality.