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An Evening with Shugri Said Salh

Sunday, January 30 2022
doors at 5:30pm
RSVP strongly recommended!

SPACE currently requires masks and vaccination for all event attendees. Medical exemptions can be accommodated. Please refer to our health and safety policy for more information.

Due to the incoming storm, we have moved this event to Sunday at 6pm.

Maine Youth Network presents an evening of storytelling and conversation with Somali author Shugri Said Salh.

“I am the last nomad. My ancestors traveled the East African desert in search of grazing land for their livestock, and the most precious resource of all—water. When they exhausted the land and the clouds disappeared from the horizon, their accumulated ancestral knowledge told them where to move next to find greener pastures. I am the last person in my direct line to have once lived like that.”

These lines open Shugri Said Salh’s captivating and utterly original debut memoir, The Last Nomad: Coming of Age in the Somali Desert. Chronicling Salh’s remarkable journey with engaging wit, a fierce feminism, and vivid writing that transports readers instantly, The Last Nomad portrays a rich portrait of one woman’s indomitable spirit, and the vastly different worlds she has encountered in one lifetime.

Born in Somalia in 1974 as the fourth daughter in a society that saw daughters as a burden, Salh was sent to live with her beloved ayeeyo (grandmother) at the age of six to learn a once-common way of life. She left behind her parents, her father’s multiple wives, her many siblings, and her home in the city of Galkayo. Though the desert was a dangerous place threatened by drought and hunger and plagued by predators, she grew up courageous and free, learning how to herd camels, raise her own goats, and become a part of the community found through the courtship rituals, nightly stories, and cooking songs of her ancestors.

After the death of her mother and the violent political turmoil that took over the country, Salh was wrenched from the nomadic life she loved. Living first in a refugee camp on the Kenyan border, and ultimately moving to North America, she became a different kind of nomad who was thrust into a new way of life – a life that required navigating everything from escalators to cold weather to marriage and parenthood.

“There is a saying in my culture that loosely translates: death is inevitable, so make sure your words prevail,” Salh explains. “I realized that if I didn’t write this story of mine, it would die with me. It is not only my story, but the story of my family, nomadic culture, my country, and what it is like to be a Somali woman.”