Apr 10 17

Amina Ahmed Osman


Amina Ahmed Osman is a poet of Somali heritage who has written extensively around women’s issues, including female genital mutilation. Below are some excerpts from her first collection,.as yet unpublished. This poetry came to after I posted a status on Facebook about working with a group of girls in the UK, some of whom were affected by FGM. Although currently living and working in Somalia, Amina sent these through to me that night – and there will be more coming. For critical notes to accompany a reading of these poems click here.


Guilty Pain:
Afterwards neighbor in the white coat wiped his blade,
They said that it was over and I could go –

But I couldn’t,

it burned when I squatted over the seat
Nothing came out,
The white porcelain turned crimson.
My thighs stuck to the rim
When it dried,
After sitting for almost an hour
Trying to pee.

When it came out I forget all about the blade
All I could think of was acid pouring on an open wound
The smell of clotted blood and disinfectant
And all those eyes hovering over me, legs open.
Too young to understand modesty but
old enough to know shame.
I wished they’d cut it all off
so I would never need to pee again.

When it was over
I slept for a whole for a century
Until it woke me up in the middle of the night
And I walked bow legged back to the task
Surely this time,
A scab would form.

And then I’d think of my mother
Who was me once,
But instead of a house in Essex
And a friend of the family, with proper tools,
She was in an open countryside
Made of bright orange sand
In a clay shack, covered, wrapped in a veil of U.S aid bags
To stop rain the rain that would never come.
And a holy woman
Hovering a blunt knife in the dark
Over dancing candles
And Dettol waiting on the floor by a bed
Honey and sugar smeared on afterwards

Like the chocolates my grandmother gave me,
When I came back from the toilet,
Because I didn’t scream.

The witch doctor and his bride:

She brings to him a plate of steak
And hands him the knife
Tough meat is only massaged, she squirms at the sight of
Rubber quivering against a dull, blunt blade
Rosy fluid seeps out
But no clear slice is achieved.

Forgive him for he knows not what he does,
What he has done.

She takes the knife in her hand,
And smiles as she cuts through his meat,
His plate shatters
A clean cut through the table, where she has no seat,
Into his lap
A dark crimson fluid seeps out.


The women leaned in
And took careful note,
At the Somali wedding party,
Of the elder woman
Who advised the bride
Sitting with her legs crossed;
That even though it was cut off
Pleasure is all in her head.
And to remember
The woman sitting in front of her,
Paralyzed from the neck down,
Who reached full climax
When her pharaoh licked her toes
And told her she was beautiful.

My dad’s a sheikh, yeah, so he’s right about everything.
He told me God loves us all,
But he a right knob to the ones he really fancies.
You know, the ones who go Masjid every night,
And memorize the really long chapters, with the throat noises all perfect.
Yeah, he’ll have them upstairs for tea.

But you know the ones who top themselves?
They aint invited, they’re off to a dark place, them –

But not Fridah, my sis in law
She was on point, she even volunteered ‘n that.
Taught the Somali kids on Saturdays at that Islamic school in Mornington Cresent, I went once.
I reckon she chose it ‘cause it reminded her of our symbol.
She never stopped, that girl… even did the little prayers!
Like before you go toilet, or when you put on new clothes,
Or when you have nightmares,
she probably tons of em.

She’d stick ‘em round the house, you know? These supplications,
I think that’s what they’re called
For me and my sis.
Mum and dad liked her for that –
Even when she had a baby and got all weird –
But I guess she never knew it,
That any of us were bovered.
Me and my sis used to peel ‘em off after.

God must have really liked her, ‘cause he gave her a bitch of an exam,
He liked her right from the 7th floor,
Off her and Mo’s balcony,
And against the pavement, bang in the middle of the estate.
I thought her head would be all smashed in when we washed the body
But it was sort of swollen, I knew better than to look away.
One of her eyes was sort of open, you know?
Mum sat her up… what a sight,
Blood started pouring right out her nose.

No one really talks about that anymore.
But I’m gonna name my daughter after her, I don’t care what Mo says.
But he won’t say fuck all ‘cause no one talks about her anymore.

I asked dad if she was gonna be alright.
He told us that Fridah was different, had special problems ‘n’ that
Didn’t know God was watching –

But Dad, she was on point… really she was.

He goes to me, other people that sign out? They’re weak, so she’s gonna be alright,
None of that hellfire business for her. Special privileges.

That was the last we heard of it.
But I see her every day, little Abdi’s got her nose.

They boarded up that balcony door wiv wooden boards,
As if he could reach the handle anyway,
But you never see things coming, do ya?

Moe’s got another one on the way now,
Wi’ the new missis,
Abdullah calls her mum, so he’s alright I ‘spose.
Anyway, Fridah, that was her name…

If you say it fast enough, it sounds like Frida,
You know, like that painter?
Here, now bring your lips together after,
Yeh, that’s it… well
…I reckon that’s where she is now…..
Come to think of it,
Don’t even sound like a Muslim name at all does it?