Culture is the sum of total of the learned behavior of a group of people that are generally considered to be the tradition of that people and are transmitted from generation to generation.
Some cultures identified themselves by their Religion; i.e. their religion was the center which held the culture together. Home, farming, relationships, marriage, birth and death, these are all common events in cultures; often these events have a religious significance.
My topic will target on Culture and Religion Norms of Somalia.
#LOCATION AND GEOGRAPHY OF SOMALIA:
Somalia is on the outer edge of the Somali Peninsula, also called the Horn of Africa, on the East African coast. It is bordered on the north by the Gulf of Aden, on the east by the Indian Ocean, on the southwest by Kenya, and on the west and northwest by Ethiopia and Djibouti.
At approximately 246,200 square miles (637,658 square kilometers), Somalia is about the size of Texas. Its coastline extends about 1,800 miles (2,896 kilometers). Somalia is hot for much of the year, with two wet and two dry seasons.
Somalia's two rivers, the Jubba and the Shabeelle, flow from the Ethiopian highlands into southeastern Somalia.
The Shabeelle River does not enter the Indian Ocean but instead turns parallel to the coast and runs southward for 170 miles (274 kilometers) before drying up in marshes and sand flats. The Jubba flows year-round into the Indian Ocean.
In spite of the death toll due to famine and civil war in the 1990s, 2000 population estimates range from 9 million to 14.5 million.
# LANGUAGE AND RELIGION OF SOMALI PEOPLE:
The Somali people share a common language, Somali, and most are Muslims of the Sunni sect. Somalis also live in northern Kenya; in the Ogaden region of eastern Ethiopia; and in Djibouti, to the northwest of Somalia. In spite of national boundaries, all Somalis consider themselves one people. This unity makes them one of Africa's largest ethnic groups.
Somali language did not become a written language until January 1973. Common Somali is the most widely spoken dialect, but Coastal Somali and Central Somali also are spoken. Somalis frequently use wordplay and humor in everyday communication.
# FOOD CULTURE OF SOMALIA:
Milk from camels, goats, and cows is a major food for Somali herdsmen and nomadic families. Young men tending camel herds during the rainy season may drink up to ten quarts of milk a day.
Aging camels may be slaughtered for their meat, especially when guests are expected for a celebration, and the fatty camel's hump is considered a delicacy. Meat, including liver, from sheep and goats also is popular, but meat is served only a few times a month, usually on special occasions.
Honey, dates, rice, and tea are other food staples for nomads.
Farmers grow corn, beans, sorghum, millet, squash, and a few other vegetables and fruits. Boiled millet and rice are staples, but rice must be imported. The most popular bread is muufo, a flat bread made from ground corn flour. Somalis season their food with butter and ghee, the clear liquid skimmed from melted butter.
# DRESS OF MEN AND WOMEN:
# Men's traditional attire:
Somali men wear sarong-like clothing (a long piece of cloth wrapped around the waist). Usually it is a white cotton piece, but it can also be colorful. It is called "macawiis". Similar attire is used by men in Asia, large part of Africa, Pacific islands and Arabian Peninsula. Macawiis replaces trousers for African people. They consider it to be much more convenient and efficient.
To cover the top part of the body men in Somalia use another white piece of cloth that is worn like a shawl.
As Somalia is situated close to the Arabian Peninsula, there are some clothing items which are common for both areas. For example, Somali men wear khameez (kamis) – ankle-long attire made from natural materials. It looks like a long shirt with long sleeves. This garment helps people survive in very hot climate. That's why it is very popular in Middle East, Africa and Asia.
As headdresses Somali men wear colorful turbans and embroidered caps (called "koofiyad" and "taqiyah").
#Women's traditional attire:
Somali women are very conservative, so they wear clothing that covers their body entirely. Also there are a lot of Muslims in Somalia, and their attire is even more virtuous and modest. You will seldom see Somali women in depraved clothing at the streets.
In everyday life women wear guntiino. It is a long piece of cloth which is tied over the shoulder and draped around the waist.
Guntiino can be of many various styles, colors and fabrics. Traditionally it is white with decorating borders, but today women use this garment of any other colors.
A silk underskirt called "gorgorad" is worn with dirac. Dirac is similar to a short-sleeved Arabian kaftan dress. It is very colorful, beautiful and charming.
Married women of Somalia always cover their heads. They use a special scarf called "shash". They can also cover the upper body with a shawl called "garbasaar". Conservative women use not only scarves but veils as well to cover the face too. Unmarried young girls sometimes also cover their heads but not often. Usually girls don't do that.
Women of Somalia have the tradition to wearing jewelry. They often use golden and silver jewelry: necklaces, bangles, anklets and so on. The wedding attire of Somali woman is adorned in gold; there is also much jewelry on a bride. She looks like a real princess or queen.
Somali wedding ceremonies are not primarily about the bride and groom; they are about the extended families. Whether the couple is present does not matter all that much, so long as the heads of the two families are in attendance.
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, showing appreciation to the bride, it also acts as an insurance for her in case of a divorce.
Traditionally, Somali wedding festivities last for three entire nights. On these three nights there, is plenty of singing, dancing and celebrating on the part of the bride, groom and their guests.
Among the celebrations held at night, there is a particular festivity called the Gaaf. People close to the wedding couple including those who live in far of places come together to recite and listen poems; riddles and sing throughout the night during the Gaaf celebrations.
ASAL RAAC BOOK
PREPARED BY: Yusuf Abdulkadir Mohamed