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Sheko Hariir

July 27, 2009 | 4 Comments

To the Host:
I found PHC on public radio on a boring weekend 5 or 6 years ago. Since then I became a loyal listener on radio and even on the internet. I am originally from Somalia where I was raised in harsh nomadic life of tending to livestock.

After a long day, a good story teller has a miraculous way that soothes the effects of the day's hard work and gives motivation to go through the next day until the next story.

In Somalia , a good story teller is referred to as "Sheko Hariir" which translated to "The man/woman with silky stories." Silk feels nice against the body (for those who wear it, I never did), so is a good story against the soul. I experienced that many times growing up in Somalia (usually in the dark of night without seeing the face of the story teller).

I am glad PHC is there to deliver the same feeling in the U.S. It is a blessing that show is not on TV. It would ruin the experience.

Thank you,
Omar A.
A Loyal listener in Fairfax, VA


It is awfully kind of you to write, Omar. When I fly back to Minneapolis-St. Paul, I take a taxi home from the airport, and often the taxi is driven by a Somali and when I tell him where I live and how to get there, he looks into the rear-view mirror and says, "Are you on the radio?" I'm honored by these listeners and I think of them whenever I tell a story with strange elements in it — like ice-fishing, or Norwegian bachelor farmers, or Lent — and I wonder what the Somali cabdrivers will think of that. But now that I am a Sheko Hariir, I will not worry so much. Thanks for writing.


What a lovely letter, Omar A - almost lyrical. You've just made me intrigued by Somalia and Somali culture and Somali stories. You should be a writer (maybe you are). Take it from an English major (and English teacher): you should write down some of the stories you heard in Somalia.

I grew up on a small farm in rural Alabama and my family listened to PHC. I am struck by how my experiences might be similar enough with a Somali man to love a program so (seemingly) culturally specific and foreign to both of us.

It is quite a reminder of how people all over the world share the same experiences.

It probably would do much good for all of us to learn these stories, we would finally realize how much in common we have with the so called "others", "strangers" and we would open our mind and heart to them rather than look at them suspiciously for the way they dress or speak.

Keep up the good work.

That's why we were English majors. Truly, no joke.

My Irish/raised-in-London husband learned a huge amount about what "American" can mean from PHC. It wasn't all flash and cross-cutting and fashion, values thinner than the chocolate on an Eskimo bar. PHC helped him see through all that junk. We are all just doing the best we can in this world, in our own ways. We are ALL in this together.

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