Adua Pre-Reading Tasks


You have already engaged in pre-reading activities through your introduction to literary theory and the historical backdrop of the novel. This activity continues our pre-reading tasks to help you to think about the possible themes of the novel and its cultural references. 


Initial Post 

Complete the two tasks below; write a paragraph for each. 

1. Read “Sambus” by Hamdi, a personal, non-fiction story (  Sambus • We Refugees Archive (  ) of a contemporary migration experience from Somalia to Italy. As you read, consider the historical and cultural references. What can we understand about Somali culture and history that may show up in the novel Adua, and what themes does the story make us anticipate in the novel? Consider its themes, points of interest, cultural and historical references, and/or its possible connections to the “historical note” in Adua

2. Preview the novel by thinking about the beginning dedication, which lists five actresses and commends their success “despite the cage that the system built around them.” Turn the page and consider the significance of the song quotes from “Maria Maria” by Santana and “Papaoutai” by Stromae, a popular music artist from Belgium. This second song quote is in French, and the quoted lyrics roughly translate to “Oh, dear dad / Tell me where you are hiding? /  I must have counted on my fingers at least a thousand times / Where are you? Papa, where are you?” The lyrics reference a father and son playing the game “hide-and-go-seek.” Finally, view the video of the song below (it has English subtitles; click CC if they do not automatically appear) a couple of times, and write a reflection that discusses what the song is about, identifying its themes while considering the significance of the visuals in the video. For example, why is the father motionless? Do you feel the father’s presence is literal or figurative? How do you interpret other scenes or aspects of the video, such as the neighbors dancing, the style of clothes, architecture and decor, and the son pushing the father’s car? Overall, consider why the author referenced this very popular song and what similar themes we can anticipate showing up in the novel.  Stromae – Papaoutai – YouTube 

Reply to two posts

Respond to the posts of two of your peers by acknowledging their ideas and adding on to them with additional commentary, support (such as a quote, detail, or scenario from the reading or viewing material), and/or a new or different perspective. See “Helpful Canvas Guides” below on how to embed images and videos in your replies to students.

First peer post

The Somali history that could be brought up in Adua that was mentioned in sambus may include the war, and the people that are fleeing from that war, and how difficult and dangerous that journey is. In terms of Somali culture, things like Somali attitudes twoards marriage and childrearing could be mentioned, as well as the food and eating culture, and how it may differ from European standards. Genital mutilation could possibly appear in Adua, but hopefully not. The relationship between Somalia, and europe, specifically Italy has a strong foundation for a post colonial analysis.

Based on watching the music video for this song a couple times, and given the context of what we’re discussing, Papaoutai seems to be tale of an immigrant’s child. This child hasn’t seen their father for some time, possibly at all. One lyric mentions that the father is working hard, so it is to be believed that he is still alive, and simply inaccessible. My best guess would be that the family has been split. Given that the song is in French, The son and mother immigrated to Europe, with the father still in their original country. This explains why the father in the video is unmoving like a mannequin. The son does not have his father physically with him, just an idea of him. The scenery in the video is reminiscent of idyllic suburban life. Each character is a parent and child couple, dancing together. The son pushing the father’s car represents the absence of the father, and how the son has to pick up the slack. The author references this popular song as a way to show the human cost of a lack of free movement of people. Themes to be expected based off of this song would be themes of separation, and loneliness

Second peer post

Somali history and culture is such a fun topic to look at in my opinion. I have a Somalian friend and one of the most important themes from their culture is food and cooking. Recipes being passed on from generate to generation. This is the time that you get to spend with your family, check in on each other, and solidify your bond. My friend, and it seems like the person in the story, similarly use this time to establish their love for their mothers. I found the last couple of paragraphs from the story sad, and no matter the culture, no one should eat by themselves!

 For the Maria Maria song, I am a little confused. This was defiantly not my taste in music, but it is always good to try new things. I believe that the theme of this song is to represent the life or the hardships of someone who grew up poor in a certain city (West LA). They also mention the inequities that people have to fight against; the rich are getting wealthier, and the poor poorer. 

The  “Papaoutai” video was interesting. I believe is about the songwriter who possibly grew up without a father or father figure. He uses the dummy doll to represent the lack of the father, and how he wishes that he could have grown up with one just like the other kids. He wants a role model!

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