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5 Interesting Facts About the Somali Culture


Family is very important in the Somali culture. The two cornerstones of Somali culture, according to popular belief, are poetry and (Islamic) spirituality. Margaret Laurence, a well-known Canadian author and academic, referred to Somalia as the "Nation of Bards" (together with the "Nation of Poets"). Before colonialism, British explorer Richard Burton visited Somalia and made the following observations:

“The country teems with poets... every man has his recognized position in literature as accurately defined as though he had been reviewed in a century of magazines - the fine ear of these people causing them to take the greatest pleasure in harmonious sounds and poetic expressions ... Every chief in the country must have a panegyric to be sung by his clan, and the great patronize light literature by keeping a poet.”

The value of poetry and their language

Somalian quotes in the Somalian language.

In Somalia, a person's language use served as a proxy for intelligence. Poets held a prominent position in Somali society, and anyone hoping to establish themselves as a legitimate poet had to fight their way up the rungs of ever-harder and more sophisticated poetry, which took years. Poetry is a component of storytelling, music, almost every celebration, wedding, politics, and even war in pre-colonial Somalia.

About Sayyid Mohmmed Abdullah

Statue of Sayyid Mohammad Abdullah, Somalia. credit: Pinterest

A well-known figure in the Somali resistance to colonialism, Sayid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, wrote both patriotic poetry and poems concerning his conflict with British colonialists. Even though British soldiers had weapons at their disposal, they fought Mohammed and his troops on horseback for years with only swords and daggers. To have a chance against him, they bombed and shelled Somalia. It is thought that his poems inspired his people to support him in his fight against foreigners. He also exemplified Somalis' ferocious perseverance trait, which is that they fight for their homeland and people even when it seems impossible. This characteristic appears to be typical of nomadic peoples. Desert survival alone promotes toughness and strength for them.

The love for Camel’s milk

The Somali camel milk and traditional vessel: credit: quora

Somalia is the only country in the world where the camel was initially domesticated, and there are more camels there than anywhere else. The traditional manner of life is that of a nomad, unlike other regions of the world where farming is a traditional occupation and lifestyle that some still return to. Camels are regarded as devoted and significant animal that supports a nomad and bears their load. What cow's milk is to the West, camel milk is to Somalia. Few individuals in Somalia consume cow's milk. According to one idea, the expression "go milk (the camel)" or "soo maal," which is frequently used to address guests, is whence Somalia gets its name. This expression highlights the significance of the drink in the culture of Somalia and the importance of showing hospitality to visitors.

The Somalia local dishes

Laxoox is also known as Lahooh, flat Somali bread. Credit: mysomalifoods

Every region in Somalia has a different local dish, making the cuisine diverse. Injera, also known as laxoox, is a flat sourdough flatbread that is frequently served with meals. Malawah, its sweeter sibling, has similar popularity.

Malawah is similar to crepes. Malawah, sweet pancakes. Credit:

Somali sambuus or samosa. Credit: Ayan Nura cooking.

Sambuus is another well-known dish that is frequently baked or grilled while being packed with a variety of meats and veggies. Somali tea, which is spiced, is also very well-liked.

Somalian Henna

The Somalian woman’s Henna at a wedding. Credit: Istock images.

A few thousand years ago, the history of henna begins in northeastern Africa. Today, Berbers and Cushitic women from the Horn and North Africa wear it as is customary. It first arrived in the Middle East and Indian subcontinent millennia ago. Somali women decorate their fingers with henna for a more laid-back look and dress more elaborately for special occasions like Eid or weddings. Henna is frequently used by older men to color their beards.



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