The literature in Italian by Somali writers has recently been explored in some detail (Lori 2013). But cultural creativity in Somalia itself, and the ways in which it was affected by and responded to Italian colonialism, has received less attention. Somali Oral Poetry and the Failed She-Camel Nation State by Ali Mumin Ahad (Peter Lang, 2015), based on his PhD thesis at La Trobe University, is the first analysis of the connection between oral poetry and politics in Somalia and provides vital background for both the Italian colonial period and Somalia’s contemporary conflicts. Analysing the most expressive medium in Somali culture and politics, Ahad brings out the difficulty of trying to combine an image of society structured by loyalty to clans and support for the idea of nationhood and the rule of law. This analysis describes the circumstances that preceded the civil war and is therefore of particular value for helping us to understand the subsequent failure of the Somali state.