“Stories have always created understanding and connection between humans. In this great era of misunderstanding, I wish to help rein us back to our shared humanity.”
The story of Shugri’s life opened a new door for me, one that helped me to understand the life of women in Somalia. Born to a nomadic tribe, she describes the beauty and brutality of a life spent simply trying to survive on what the earth provides. The stories of her clan and the fierceness of her ayeeyo (grandmother) herding goats and camels to protect them from lions and hyenas were immersive. I loved understanding the importance of ancestry in the oral history of the nomadic people. Shugri’s circumstances were quite different to the other girls of her tribe because her father valued education. She is pulled from her life in the wild and forced into boarding school and goes from learning essential skills in one world to a completely different set of skills for a different life.
There are lots of heavy stories related to the view of females as property and sexual violence which are hard to read. Shugri describes in detail the experience of her female circumcision, known to us in the western world as genital mutilation. We learn the value of a woman is completely based on her intact virginity, her ability to provide male children and take care of the home.
I loved gaining an understanding of how religion and culture balanced with the need for the day to day survival in modern Somalia. Shugri describes the impact of disease, injury and warfare on the average citizen. She describes the attempts at bringing women to equality and how religious conservatives fought deeply against that transition. How warfare brought clan against clan without regard to the actual people within those clans. The trauma of the people forced to leave under these conditions and flee their homes as refugees.
The proverbs at the beginning of each chapter were my favorite part, they gave such insight into the Somali mind. The Last Nomad is a powerful story of female survival and what it means to equally love and feel the need to overcome your culture. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thanks to Algonquin Books for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.