By; Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The Somali language with over 100,000 proverbs is among the richest languages in the world.
This was said by Dr. Georgi Kapchits during an interview with the Horn newspaper in Hargeisa where he also disclosed that lengthily studies he has undertaken reveal that the Somali language has no proverbs for lies.
Dr. Georgi Kapchits, an elderly Russian citizen is currently in the country attending the 5th Hargeisa Book Fair, where he presented his latest Somali language book titled ‘Soomaalidu Been ma Maahmaahdo’ (Somalis do not use Proverbs to Lie) on 14th July 2012, a presentation that amazed many book fair participants who have never seen a Caucasian fluent Somali speaker.
Queried on his views as per Somaliland-Somalia talks Dr Kapchits said that politics are not in his menu and the issue of separation or union for is a matter for citizens of the concerned countries to discuss and agree on, Said he, “Though I am a Somali & Amharic linguist, political issues of these countries as well as those of Russia my motherland have never interested me”
The prolific writer of Somali language literature, whose visit is the second having first visited in 2001, said he was amazed at how fast Hargeisa has changed. He informed that the Somaliland capital city, Hargeisa, which is now endowed with many high rise buildings, world class hotels and posh residential houses is a far cry from the 2001 city where most houses were ruined by bombs and streets littered with debris.
While commenting all Somalilanders for their reconstruction efforts, Dr. Georgi Kapchits bemoaned the visible want of employment opportunities for the youth whom he has observed idling around coffee shops.
Read below full verbatim excerpts of the Horn newspaper interview with Dr. Georgi Kapchits
Horn- Dr. Georgi Kapchits the Geeska Media Group thanks you for accepting, at short notice, to this interview with the Horn newspaper.
Dr. It is a pleasure
Q. To begin with Can you kindly brief on your personal background
A. I was born in the former Soviet Union on 2nd 10.1939; I currently live in Moscow Russia with my two daughters.
In 1967 I graduated from the Institute of Asian and African Studies of Moscow State University with Qualifications as a linguist in the field of Amharic and Somali studies. From 1967 to 1994 worked as a broadcaster in the Somali Section of Radio Moscow’s World Service. Since 1994 has been working as a commentator at the Information Department of the State Radio Company “Voice of Russia”.
I have twice visited Mogadishu Somalia once in 1989 and Somaliland, Hargeisa Twice in 2001 and now 2012. I Visited Djibouti in 2003.
Q. How did you become fluent Somali language speaker and prolific writer that you are today? Which is the first word you learnt?
A. If I remember correctly the first Somali word I learned was ‘AFKA’ which has the two meanings MOUTH and LANGUAGE.
My Somali language studies started in a dramatic way in 1961 at Moscow university where I was pursuing Amharic language studies when Professor Alexander Rostov then the only Somali language speaker of Russian origin asked my class, who wants to Somali? “I need a substantial number of students to start a class”
Professor Rostov who is currently residing in the USA thus introduced to the language in which I graduated from the Institute of Asian and African Studies of Moscow State University with Qualifications as a linguist in the field Somali studies
Since then there has been no looking back as I have lectured on the Somali language at the Universities of Moscow and Berlin as well as defended PhD thesis on the Somali syntax in 2000.
Q. How many Somali language books have you written?
A. I have written 8 books while I have so far collected over four thousand proverbs as part of my ongoing project on 100,000 Somali proverbs.
The latest book is the one titled ‘Soomaalidu Been ma Maahmaahdo’ (Somalis do not use Proverbs to Lie) which I came to present here at the Hargeisa Book Fair.
Q. How many Somali proverbs do you hope to collect?
A. I hope to collect 100,000 proverbs; this figure has become a target after consultations with many Somali language experts.
Q. How many proverbs does your mother tongue have?
A. The Russian language has about 500,000 proverbs
Q. Apart from books have you tried poetry?
A. while I am good in Russian poetry, though I can read and understand the prose of great Somali poets like Hadraawi and Gaariye I am yet to maneuver through the intricacies of the Somali language thus dabble in its poetry.
Horn- Thank you very much for you time and information Dr. Georgi Kapchits, we wish you luck in your future endeavors
Dr. Georgi Kapchits- It was a pleasure
Other notable attending and or presenting their works at the 5th Hargeisa Book Fair include Mohamed Ibrahim Warsame “Hadrawi”, Nadifa Mohamed, Said Salah, Mary Harper, Ahmed Sheikh Jama, Jama Muse Jama, Laura Hammond, Michael Walls, Mahmud Sheikh Delmar, Mohamed Yasin “Olad”, Helen Conford, Saeed Jama Hussein, Ned Cranborn, Iara Lee, Mohamed Saeed Gees, Muse Ali Faruur, Hasan Ganey, Hasan Qawdan, Shay Mire Da’ar, Sahra Ilays, Suleiman Guleid, Abdulla Haji, Ahmed Ismail Hudeydi, Feisal Omar Mushteeg, Amina Milgo, Dr Saad Ali Shire, Hussein Abdillahi Bulhan, Abdirahman Yusuf Du’ale “Boobe”, Abdirahman Yusuf Artan, Ahmed Ibrahim Awale, Hasan Abdi Madar, Evan Christopher, Adam Beleloo, Zainab Dahir
Dr. Georgi Kapchits is the Author of:
1. Somali proverbs and sayings in Somali and Russian with Russian equivalents. Compilation, translation, introduction and commentary. Moscow, 1983.
2. Waxaa la yidhi – sheekooyin hidde ah (Somali folktales in the Somali language). Compilation, introduction and commentary. Cologne, 1996.
3. Folktales of the Somali people (in Russian). Compilation, translation from Somali, introduction, glossary, commentary and appendices. Moscow, 1997.
4. Qaamuuska maamaahyada soomaaliyeed – The Dictionary of Somali Proverbs (in Somali with introductions in Somali and English). Collected and arranged. Moscow, 1998
5. Hubsiimo hal baa la siistaa/To know something for sure one would even part with a she-camel. Somali Proverbs: A Study in Popularity. Moscow, 2002.
6. Sentence partciles in the Somali language and their usage in proverbs. Aachen: Shaker Verlag, 2005.
7. Faaliyihii la bilkeyday: Sheekaxariirooyin Soomaaliyeed. Waxaa habeeyey Georgi Kapchits / A Soothsayer Tested: Somali Folktales. Compiled and translated by G.L.Kapchits. Moscow, 2006.
8. Somali proverbs and sayings in Somali and Russian with Russian equivalents. Compilation, translation, introduction and commentary. Moscow, 2009.