The Legend of Arawello, the Somali Goddess by MaryAnn Shank

Image of Arawello. Since there is no known portrait of Arawello, this is an artist’s interpretation.

I did not intend to find her.  In fact I wasn’t even looking.  But there she was, soaring before me, on my last night in Baidoa.  This majestic Somali woman reached high into the heavens, engulfed in a glorious wraparound garment that reflected the hues of the world around her: the azure of the Indian Ocean, white sparks of the splendiferous Milky Way, the orange of the clay soil beneath her feet.

The golden snake wrapped around her arm identified her immediately.  This was Arawello, the Somali Goddess.

I had only heard hints of this treasured goddess.  She was born of her people in the first century.  She took the beatings, the whips that scarred her as a child, and escaped to the aromatic fields of myrrh in the northern Somali mountains.  Female torture was rampant at that time, an outgrowth of the centuries-old clan wars.

In the fields of myrrh Arawello found many women like herself, women who ran to save their own lives, women who wanted to help their sisters, mothers, aunts and friends left behind.

And so she formed her plan.

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