Somali Life IMMIGRANTS around the world

For decades now, Somalia has been locked in a civil war that has split the country into two factions; those who hail from Somalia and those who hail from Somaliland. Each region of the country is broken into various clans who each have a rich history based on religion, traditions, and various roles that help form their culture. The main religion of the region is Muslim with the majority being that of the Sunni branch of Islam, although some are adherents of the Shia Muslim denomination.

Here we see the flags that make up the two factions in Somalia. The blue represents Somali, and the one tri-color flag represents Somaliland.
Henna is one of the many traditions that Somalis take part in; especially with weddings. The Hindi word “Mehndi” is used to describe the henna plant, the act of henna painting, and the designs used in the paintings. Used for centuries for beautification and conditioning, henna is used as in celebratory rituals from North Africa, the Middle East, as well as in India. Hindus as well as Muslims have used henna as a cosmological cosmetic. Primarily used for festivities and celebrations, it is also a way of making the sacred visible, and communicating with a higher power
Somali culture is rich with tradition
Culture is defined as learned patterns of behavior and attitudes shared by a group of people. (Martin & Nakayama, pg.83)

Due to the civil war that has plagued the region since the early 90's, many families are displaced and scattered across various countries which results in difficulties in getting the family together for weddings. Still, this doesn't keep the festivities from happening. Somali weddings tend to be more about the extended families and not so much about the bride and groom. In some cases, the bride and groom might not even be present. Instead, the head of the two families are there and represent the bonding of the two families into one.

A proper Somali wedding has two parts, the ceremony (nikah) and the party (aroos). The ceremony is performed by a Muslim sheikh according to Islamic law. It is essentially a marriage contract between the family of the bride and the family of the groom. The main part of the contract covers the bride price that the groom and his family pay to the bride’s family, and the dowry (meher) that the groom will give to the bride as her personal possession. The bride price used to be paid in camels, but these days, cash is preferred. The dowry comes in the form of gold jewelry; apart from showing appreciation to the bride, it also acts as an insurance for her in case of a divorce.

Somali Fashion tends to be bright colored and filled with beautiful patterns.
Somali fashion is becoming brighter and allows the wearer to speak volumes about their personalities without actually saying a word.

During regular, day-to-day activities, women usually wear the guntiino, a long stretch of cloth tied over the shoulder and draped around the waist. For more formal settings such as weddings or religious celebrations like Eid, women wear the dirac, a long, light, diaphanous voile dress made of cotton or polyester fabric. It is worn over a full-length half-slip and a brassiere. Married women tend to sport head-scarves referred to as shash, and also often cover their upper body with a shawl known as garbasaar. Unmarried or young women, however, do not always cover their heads. Traditional Muslim garb such as the jilbab is also commonly worn.

Additionally, Somali women have a long tradition of wearing gold and silver jewelry, particularly bangles. During weddings, the bride is frequently adorned in gold. Many Somali women by tradition also wear gold necklaces and anklets. The xirsi, an Islamic necklace likewise donned in Ethiopia and Yemen, is frequently worn.

Somali food is rich in textures, flavors, and represents much of their history that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Somali's tend to start their day off with a cup of tea or coffee as breakfast is viewed as one of the more important meals of the day. The tea is often in the form of haleeb shai (Yemeni milk tea) in the north. The main dish is typically a pancake-like bread known as Canjeero. It usually is broken down into small pieces and eaten with ghee and sugar. For kids it is usually mixed with tea and sesame oil until mushy. It might also be eaten with a stew or soup.

Lunch tends to be bigger than breakfast and can consist of a pasta or rice dish of some sort. Spaghetti plays a major role during this meal and even though it was introduced by the Italians, Somali's have made it their own by introducing a more of a stew like consistency rather than a sauce.

Finally, we have dinner. This can be served as late as 9pm and tends to have a bean dish known as Cambuulo as the main dish. Dessert tends to be on the sweeter side with baklava making an appearance. If you haven't experienced the delightful treat that is Baklava, do yourself a favor and go out and get some right now!

Reaching for that dream!

Even though this slideshow is short, I hope that I have shed some light on this amazing community and culture. Hopefully your interests have been peeked and you might make a trip out to a restaurant to try some new food, or maybe you will look at the Hijab differently. In the end, Somali people are a very down to earth group of people who have rich traditions that define their culture in a way that has no copy cats. To those who are immigrants that are trying to start over or escape the hardships back home, we welcome you here and hope that you can plant your feet down and begin anew....

Martin, J. N., & Nakayama, T. K. (2000). Intercultural communication in contexts: instructor's resource manual to accompany. Mountain View, Calif.: Mayfield Publ.

SOMALIA 2015 INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM REPORT. (n.d.). Retrieved March 29, 2017, from

Mehndi (Henna): Origins and Myth. (n.d.). Retrieved April 08, 2017, from


Created with images by Fibonacci Blue - "Conservative Somali-Americans at Minnesota anti-tax rally"

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