I have started reading again, Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In this book she describes the intricacies of tribal culture and the various myths that shaped this culture. One thing is standing out in this reading of the book that I had forgotten—-even though her father was the patriarch of the family he was a bit “liberal” and that definitely had an impact of Ms. Ali. I’m sure contributed to her rebellion at age 22 and her rejection of her entire culture. The first “mistake” her father made…in reference to the dictates of the tribal gods (i.e. Allah)…was that he got a Western education at Columbia University, majoring in anthropology. And her mother also was a bit of a rebel herself, leaving home on her own at age fifteen and moving to the city, Mogadishu I think. And, Ali’s parents met casually and engaged in courtship and married without an “arrangement” by parents. Furthermore, political turmoil abounded in Somalia in the seventies, wreaking havoc on the country in all respects, including culturally. This instability there was the opportunity for “mischief”, meaning an opportunity for some brazen children to begin to “question the gods”, that is to say in this case, Allah.
This is a very important book and is very relevant to any culture, tribal or modern. Ali eloquently portrays the iron-clad grip that her culture had on her, particularly its Muslim religion, and the excruciating pain that it inflicted on her and other females. She writes in detail of her own genital mutilation when she was aged five. It was painful to read. But equally painful was the total and brutal denial of the rights of women and the extremes that her culture went to to keep it that way.
Culture can be ugly. Or, to be more accurate, human beings can be ugly.