In of a collection, suggesting its dependence on

Topics: Environment

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Last updated: March 27, 2019

In addition to mines, the land ischarred by bombs and other weapons used in war.

Throughout the novels, we seethe land strafed with such weapons. Not only are the people vulnerable but theanimals and land itself are threatened. Nonno, the grandfather-character,observes in Secrets that: Ever present in our thoughts and preoccupations, theodor of death overwhelmed us. I wish I had a way of linking the pungent smellto the country’s slow march towards collapse. Item: the bombing of cities, likeHargeisa, which was razed to the ground; its residents massacred, their corpseslying unburied where they fell, the survivors reduced to refugees. Item:Mogadiscio’s current daily civilian casualties, their bodies hacked to deathwith machetes.

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Item: the environment. Item: Fidow and his trampled-on body.Deaths everywhere I looked.

(108) This excerpt gives a sense of the impact of the war onthe landscape. Nonno points to the bombs and bodies lying around, whichcontribute to the pungent smell and endanger those living beings lucky enoughto survive. But what motivates the inventory, the conspicuous list of “items”?The word “Item” usually denotes a tangible object. More importantly, it tendsto be part of a collection, suggesting its dependence on the whole. Therefore,itemizing the human and nonhuman casualties of war in the passagedehierarchizes and places them in a set of relation.

The item idea emphasizesthe inventory’s shared materiality and subsequent ruin as a result of the crisis.It is clear that Nonno captures the dynamic interrelation in the war-ravagedspaces. Humans directly destroy their fellow humans and themore-than-human-world, which can also hurt humans, as in the case of Fidow whowas killed by an elephant.  The networkof exchange in the above passage continues in Nonno’s subsequent remark: “Whathad been once a fertile land had now turned to fine dust, an earth as lifelessas a cut wire. Trees and forests devastated, wildlife decimated, we had ageneration of farmers dead from starvation. Many former farmers were as of now,dependent on meager handouts from their immediate families or reliant on Oxfam and the like” (123).

This passage sets up a contrast between what existed and the status quo

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