Somalia - The Horn of Africa


We often hear about Somalia for the wrong reasons. The nation of Somalia is always in the news for some reason or the other; most of the time it is for the misdoings of the rebels or militia against its own people. Often we get breaking news across news channels about the latest developments on Somalia such as Somali pirates hijacking an oil tanker or an international merchant ship. However, Somalia also called Horn of Africa, has an ancient past that is never mentioned. It seems that even the people of Somalia too have forgotten its own past during the terrible civil war.

Culture of Somalia

Culture of any country develops based on the accumulations left over by every group survived in the nation. Culture of Somalia is also an accumulation of neighbouring countries like Ethiopia, India, Persia and Yemen. A culture is a group entity formed by several distinct entities like language, families, clans, religion, music, food and literature. All of these together influence the culture of a nation. Every one of these entity might have been formed from any of Somalia’s neighbour. Every neighbour has influenced the culture of Somalia by contributing to one of these entities.

Religion in Somalia

The major religion in Somalia is Islam. Among the Islamic religion, several denominations and traditions are being followed like the Sunni, Sufism and Shia. It was as early as the medieval age when the Muslims came first came to Somalia. It was when Muhammad the Prophet sought refuge in Somalia; the Islamic community was established in the Horn of Africa. However, initially there were only a few people following the religion, later there were many people following Islam. Several Mosques were built across the country and hence the initiation of a great religion started.

Language of Somalia

Language is one important factor influencing the culture of people. People of Somalia speak the Somali language, which has a close relationship to that of the Afar and Oromo languages. Both of them are related to both Africa and Asia, because, Somalia has its boundary in the Indian Ocean through which it had many traders from Asia too. Therefore, Somali is a mixture of both African languages and Asian Languages. After a lot of changes and dialects, Somali was finally divided into three types;

1) The standard dialect, which is followed only by the northern regions of Somalia.

2) Change of dialect on the coastal region led to the development termed as “Benaadir”.

3) Third change of dialect in the southern region led to the development of “Maay”.

Each of these dialects interact with each other easily, the dialects are representative of the region to which they belong. Interestingly, Somali music and songs were very popular throughout the region which has been banned by the rebels this year. 

Families and Clans

Several social units and clans are involved in the politics of Somalia. Some of them are Isaaq, Dir, and Darod. Other clans also include Hawiye and Rahanweyn. People wear formal dresses like jeans and t-shirts. Somalia men wear turban on their heads. After Muslim invasion, Somalia people closely followed the Arab culture and wore the “Jellabiya”.

Such a strong culture rooted in a great nation has shown its power in the ethics and moral of people. It’s a shame to see a country rich in heritage decline into oblivion.

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