For over a decade now, Somalia has been gradually tasting freedom and safety thanks to the intervention efforts by the regional peacekeeping mission operated by the African Union (AMISOM).
Throughout the country, traditions and culture are bustling clearly indicating a return to life for the people of this coastal country at the horn of Africa. Somalia has a proud and resilient people who have always truly valued their customs and traditions.
Somali culture, like most cultures, is built on a proud and established tradition of poetry, storytelling, music, dance and unique dress which compliments the national climate and puts the countries materials to effective and beautiful use.
Since independence on July 1, 1960, there was a sustained effort to employ culture to unite the Somali speaking people and to keep alive these solid bonds that acted as connectors at a time of erected land borders and regional territorial disagreements in the Horn of Africa. The country has 15.01 million (2018) people.
Every Year, Somalis celebrate the unification of the Trust Territory of Somalia (the former Italian Somalia) and the State of Somalia (the former British Somaliland) on July 1, 1960, which formed the Somali Republic.
There are four majority clans in Somalia; the Darod, Hawiye, Isaaq and Dir. Two further clans, the Digil and Mirifle (sometimes collectively referred to as Rahanweyn), take a position between the majority clans and the minority groups.
Somali’s and Camels
“The camel is our dollar, part of our heritage, our life,” Mohamoud Abdillahi a former head of the livestock commission once said.
“What is important here is survival–anything that doesn’t have to do with survival has no place in Somalia,” said Abdillahi, a veterinarian by trade. “It’s kill or be killed. Only the toughest trees can live here, and it’s like that with people too. Only the extremely fit survive. The old or sick get left behind.”
Somali camels are the biggest in size compared to those from other countries. They are source of tough but tasty meat eaten here with spaghetti. They also provide milk, their hides are used to build tents and the dung used to build the walls of huts.
If you intend to marry a Somali woman, be ready to pay dowry of 100 camels for a beautiful bride. Elegance of the women of northern Somalia is likened to the grace with which a camel picks its way through the shifting sands.
In 1990, Somalia had more camels than people. There were 6.3 million camels in compared to 7million Somalis.
Marriage In Somalia
Somalis mostly practice arranged marriages. The father of the son goes to the girl’s father and asks permission for his son to marry the girl. They then arrange a time for the marriage to take place. The two sides also make an agreement on the costs of the wedding; the gifts, the bride’s dowry, jewellery and house where they will live.
It is frequently the case that parents arrange a couple’s wedding without their knowledge. It was suggested that around 20% of marriages take place in this way. It was also noted that such marriages might be arranged for persons who are not in the same region or country.
On Somali wedding day, there is a dinner of traditional food of rice and meat for the men of the two families and their friends. This is when the formal Islamic wedding agreement takes place. The women have a wedding party in the evening. Nowadays, the bride usually wears a white wedding dress to her party. The other women wear dirac and can wear their hair loose or covered with a scarf. The groom and his family are expected to pay for these celebrations.
It is a tradition in Somali culture that a new bride remains in her home for a week after her wedding. On the seventh day there is a women’s party for the bride. On this occasion the bride will wear traditional costume, guntiino with beads. The guests circle the bride singing and each lays a scarf (shaash) on her head. This event is known as Shaash Saar, which basically means putting the scarf on the bride’s head. This is form of respect due to her for being married and is a symbol of her becoming a married woman.