Tag Archives: somalia

Aqoon la’aani waa iftiin la’aan.

-Somali Proverb

-Translation: “Without knowledge, there is no light.”

Khalif was born to Somali immigrants in Minneapolis, MN. “My parents told me this all the time,” he said of the proverb, which he believes is quite common among Somalis. The phrase translates in English to “Without knowledge, there is no light.” He grew up hearing it as a reminder to put effort into learning and pursue higher education. 

The proverb serves as somewhat of a cautionary warning. It brings up the widespread but elusive concept of “light” as a metaphorical synonym of, perhaps in this context, goodness, wellness, success, joy. It also implies that without knowledge, one’s life will be, in contrast, dark–messy, ugly, difficult to navigate. Therefore, this Somali proverb is also saying that without knowledge, one cannot see. In that, one cannot make decisions, at least informed ones, that improve his or her life (or the lives of others). 

It evokes the lightbulb imagery associated with ideas. Knowledge lights the way.