Thursday 18 June 2020

Kaha Mohamed Aden (c) SImone Brioni 400px
Kaha Mohamed Aden. Still from the documentary La quarta via. Mogadiscio, Italia (2012) © Simone Brioni

Kaha Mohamed Aden is the latest in the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women Writers' dedicated author pages.

The daughter of a Somali politician and opponent of the dictatorial regime, Aden was born in Mogadishu, and came to Italy aged 20. She graduated in economics and took her Master’s degree at the European School for Advanced Studies in Co-operation and Development, Pavia and, in 2002, was awarded the San Siro prize by Pavia City Council for her contribution to solidarity and immigrant integration. Unlike most Italian authors of Somali origin, Aden was educated in Somali schools, during the socialist period, and learned to write in Somali rather than in Italian or English, as Somali has been written with a codified alphabet since 1972.

Aden’s short story collection, Fra-intendimenti, was published in 2010 by Nottetempo. One of the most significant stories in the collection is perhaps ‘Nonno Y. e il colore degli alleati’, which focuses on the Italian trusteeship administration of Somalia (1950-1960), a period that has received little critical attention in Italy. Her work also includes a theatre play, Specchio specchio delle mie brame chi è più abile nel reame?, and oral performances, among them La quarta viawhich was presented at the Seventh Conference of ISOLA (International Society for the Oral Literatures of Africa) in Lecce (2008), at the International Award ‘Alexander Langer’ in Bolzano the same year, and in Nairobi in 2010. The memory and legacy of the Somali civil war is also at the centre of Dalmar. La disfavola degli elefanti, a dystopic fairy tale, in which elephants who are escaping from the war move to the land of bears. 

Aden has given keynote addresses at the Padiglione d’arte contemporanea in Milan in 2003, the University of Warwick and the University of Oxford in 2011, the Symposium ‘Postcolonial Italy: Between Assimilation and Integration’ in 2016, and at the Italian Cultural Institute in Stuttgart in 2019. She was an Honorary Research Associate at the Australasian Centre for Italian Studies in 2016.