The fact that Somali did not receive an alphabet until 1972 does not prevent poetry and oral narration from being the very basis of culture. There is a rich tradition of fables, legends, myths and hymns. Several of today’s foremost cultural practitioners, such as the author Nurrudin Farah and Nadifa Mohamed, are in exile.
Somalis have cherished their language. Different clan groups could gather around an acacia tree for poetry competitions that lasted for days. Camels and fights about this status-saturated animal were favorite themes. The poets also covered current events and satirical elements were popular. The better a poet could recite, the higher his status was. However, this orally transmitted cultural heritage is considered to have been impoverished in recent decades, especially during the “scientific socialism” of the 1970s (see Modern history ).
The poet and resistance fighter Sayid Muhammed Abdille Hassan (the most variable spelling) – the Mad Mullah, “the mad mullah”, as the British called him, has a special position in Somalia’s modern history. He tried to unite the Somalis in the name of Islam and led a 20-year guerrilla war against the “unfaithful” colonizers in the years 1899-1920.
In the 1960s, tourists traveled to Mogadishu. There were nightclubs and discos, and many beautiful buildings, mosques and other buildings built in an Arab tradition, houses built under Italian rule from the late 19th century to 1960, but also modernist buildings, such as national theater as a gift from China leader Mao Zedong 1967. Much has been destroyed or damaged during the war years, but many buildings are being renovated or rebuilt today (read more about what Mogadishu’s former glory is being recreated digitally).
In 2012, Somalia’s National Theater reopened in Mogadishu after being closed since the early 1990s. At the theater’s opening ceremony, eight people were killed in a bomb attack blamed on Islamist al-Shabaab. A new renovation was started after that and opened in 2020 in connection with Somalia celebrating 60 years as an independent state.
In the areas controlled by al-Shabaab, music is not allowed, cinemas have been banned, as has the internet.
The most famous modern author, Nuruddin Farah, lives in exile. Several of his novels have been translated into Swedish. The former photo model Waris Dirie has in two autobiographical books, including A Flower in the Desert of Africa, told about her upbringing in a nomadic family and taken a stand against female genital mutilation. A new literary star is Nadifa Mohamed, who lives in the UK but writes about Somalia. Her novel Lost Souls has been translated into Swedish. Suad Ali, who lives in Sweden, made his debut in 2020 with the novel Your hands were full of life about a woman’s escape from Somalia.
The older Somali music consists mostly of songs, often about special events and in some cases accompanied by drums. The musician Ahmed “Hudeydi” Ismail Hussein (1928–2020), who is usually called the father of modern Somali music, worked from 1973 in London. But there is also modern popular music. Today’s most famous musicians and singers include Maanta AAR, Maryam Mursal from the group Waaberi, Abdi Badil, Ahmed ‘Hudeydi’ Ismail Hussein, sisters Siham and Iman Hashi, Amara Ali Sheik and rapper K’naan. Many of them live in exile.
One of the most influential cultural workers in Somaliland was the composer and playwright Ali Sugule Egal, who died in 2016. He was known for several protest songs written during Siad Barre’s dictatorship. Egal lived during his last 20 years in exile in the United Arab Emirates.
Somaliland is approaching Taiwan
Taiwan will open a representative office in Somaliland. It is yet another sign of closer relations between the two de-facto states. Already in February, Somaliland and Taiwan agreed to cooperate on agriculture, mining and health. Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi says Somaliland, which proclaimed itself an independent state in 1991 but has not been recognized by any other state, will open a similar office in Taiwan.
- Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of Somalia, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
Somalia accuses Iran of illegal fishing
Somalia makes a formal accusation to Iran for illegal fishing of tuna in Somali waters. According to Somali authorities, about 100 Iranian-flagged fishing boats have been able to detect via satellite. Somalia says that compensation should now be sought from Iran. Somalia cut off its diplomatic relations with Iran shortly after Saudi Arabia did. Pakistan has also been arrested for illegal fishing in Somali waters.
Soldiers protest against missing wages
According to Abbreviationfinder, Somali soldiers block traffic in parts of Mogadishu in protest of not getting their wages. Some of them say they haven’t received any money in a year. Somali TV shows pictures of how the soldiers stop vehicles from the African Union force in the country, Amison. According to some media reports, the protesting soldiers have participated in a campaign against the militant Islamist group al-Shabaab in the state of Shabelle. In addition, two assaults are carried out during the weekend. In Bacadweyn, in central Somalia, three soldiers are killed in a suicide attack. The deed is performed by three men in a car that unleashes the bomb after refusing to stop at a roadblock. In Wanlaweyn, about nine miles northwest of Mogadishu, four people, both civilians and soldiers, are killed when two bombs explode outside a military residence in the city.
Try to start a dialogue between Somalia and Somaliland
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Somali leader Muse Bihi Abd meet for talks in Djibouti to try to resolve the dispute that emerged since Somaliland declared itself independent in 1991. The Presidents of Djibouti and Ethiopia, Omar Guelleh and Abiy Ahmed, mediate at the meeting Guelleh points to the initiative as an important attempt to resolve regional conflicts through dialogue.
At least ten dead in the bombing of a bus
At least ten people are killed in a bomb attack on a bus on the road between Afgoye and Mogadishu. All the victims are civilians. Twelve of the bus passengers are also injured in the act. No group has undertaken the act, but it is suspected that the militant Islamist group al-Shabaab is behind it.
The political crisis has deepened
Most of it suggests that Somalia will not be able to hold general elections to Parliament at the end of the year or presidential elections in February as the plan has been. One solution is to extend the mandate of incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Parliament’s two chambers. At the same time, the political scene is becoming increasingly fragmented and dissatisfaction with the president and the government is increasing. This is not least due to the fact that the current government has become increasingly authoritarian and centralized. The deliberations that would have been held with the various states, the political establishment and civil society have not disappeared. Although it is officially pointed out that it is the ongoing pandemic that is putting sticks in the wheel, the problems are much deeper than that. There are no suggestions on how Somaliland, which in 1991 proclaimed itself an independent state,Islamist violence group al-Shabaab.
The ICJ postpones dispute cases until 2021
The International Court of Justice in The Hague decides to postpone the process of trying to find a solution to a dispute about where the sea border between Kenya and Somalia goes. The conflict concerns an area that is believed to be rich in both oil and gas. The decision is made following a request from Kenya that wanted the hearing to be moved forward because of the ongoing corona pandemic.
Governor killed in suicide
Ahmed Muse Nur, governor of Mudug, a region of partially autonomous Puntland, and three of his bodyguards are killed in a suicide attack. The Islamist group al-Shabaab takes on the deed.
Ethiopian forces were behind the crash
Ethiopian military admits to accidentally shooting down a Kenyan freighter in Bardale southern Somalia. The soldiers who caused the crash do not belong to the African peacekeeping force Amisom. According to analysts, the soldiers are unlikely to have deliberately acted against a civilian plan with humanitarian cargo.
Kenya wants Somalia to investigate air crash
Kenya urges Somali authorities to investigate as soon as possible what caused a private Kenyan freight plan to crash in unclear circumstances near the city of Bardale in southern Somalia on May 4. All six on board died. The plane was loaded with equipment that would be used to fight the virus that causes covid-19. Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has promised that the country’s authorities will cooperate with the accident investigation. The militant Islamist group al-Shabaab is in the area, but the place where the air crash happened is controlled by Somali government troops and Ethiopian forces. The crash also comes at a time when contacts between Kenya and Somalia are strained.
Africom admits civilian deaths in aviary 2019
The US Africa Command, Africom, admits two civilians were killed and three injured in an air raid in Kunyo Barrow in Lower Shabeller in southern Somalia in February 2019. The information is included in Africom’s quarterly report, which also states that two members of al-Shabaab were killed at the same time, and it was their war material that exploded and caused the civilian casualties. This is only the second time Africom has admitted that civilians have been killed during its raids in Somalia. The report also states that Africom conducted 91 flights in Somalia and Libya in February and March 2020.
The Corona crisis strikes Somalia’s economy
The Corona crisis is devastating for Somalia’s economy, says the country’s finance minister Abdirahman Duale Beyle, not least because Somalis abroad no longer send home as much money as before. In the case of Somalis living in the UK, referrals have decreased by about half. State income has decreased by 40 percent, due to the fact that it has become more difficult to collect taxes. And in a situation where there are over two million refugees in the country and six million out of 15 million Somalis risk not getting enough to eat. In addition, at the beginning of April, there were only 25 intensive care units throughout the country and just over 200 other care sites, but capacity expansion is ongoing. WHO has also trained 500 health workers in Somalia since the beginning of January.
The “King of Oud” dies in London
Musician Ahmed “Hudeydi” Ismail Hussein, who is usually called the father of modern Somali music, dies in London after falling ill with the covid-19 viral disease. He was born in 1928 in Berbera, and learned to play the string instrument oud in Yemen when he was 14 years old. He lived in the UK for many years, and continued to play at concerts around the world even after he turned 90.
Clan battles require at least 20 lives
At least 20 people, including several civilians, are killed in clan battles in an area three miles from the port city of Kismayo. Even more people are injured during the violence. The conflict concerns land rights.
Amnesty calls on Africom to investigate civilian victims
Amnesty accuses the United States Africa Command, Africom, of killing two civilian Somalis, an 18-year-old girl and her elderly relative, and injuring three in a plane crash on the city of Jilib on February 2. Later in February, a 53-year-old farmer and eight-year-old father were killed in another air tree, in the village of Kumbareere, near Jilib. In connection with both raids, Africom announced that it had killed “militants”. Amnesty now requires Africom to openly show how investigations have been conducted following allegations of killing civilians. In 2019, Amnesty claimed that 14 civilians had been killed in connection with similar raids in 2017 and 2018, while Africom has only admitted two civilian deaths in 2018 (see also March 2019).
Governor killed in suicide in Puntland
Abdisalan Hassan Hersi, governor of the Nugaal region of Puntland, is killed in a suicide attack. A former police officer and a civilian are seriously injured. The Islamist violence group al-Shabaab takes on the deed.
Debt amortization clear sign for Somalia
The World Bank and the IMF announce that Somalia has taken the necessary steps to agree on debt relief of approximately $ 557 million. The country’s total debt at the end of 2018 amounted to approximately $ 5.2 billion. At the same time, the IMF grants new aid to the country of $ 395 million.
At least four dead in new suicide
At least four people are killed and seven injured in a suicide attack against a tea house near a roadblock in Mogadishu. The militant and Islamist al-Shabaab are suspected of the act.
International air traffic is stopped
The first case of covid-19, the viral disease that causes the ongoing pandemic, is reported from Somalia. It is about a person who has visited China. As a result, the government will suspend all international air traffic from March 18, except for humanitarian flights. As a result of the halted flights, imports of the khat drug also ceased. Usually, Kenya exports 50 tonnes of khat a day to Somalia, according to Kenyan sources.
At least twelve soldiers are killed by al-Shabaab
At least twelve Somali soldiers are killed when the militant Islamist group al-Shabaab briefly occupies a military base, El Salini, southwest of the capital Mogadishu. The military recovers the base after calling in reinforcements.
Amnesty criticizes Mogadishu for media threats
Amnesty accuses in a report, “We live in perpetual fear “, the Somali government for creating groups that monitor social media and trying to limit journalists’ reports, by reporting them for rule violations in order to have their Facebook accounts shut down, thereby silencing uncomfortable votes. In June 2019, ten accounts were closed. Amnesty gives more examples of how Somali authorities are trying to limit media freedom, among which 38 journalists were arrested in 2019 in Somalia. At least eight journalists have been killed since 2017 and at least eight have fled the country since autumn 2018. One of the latter is radio journalist Ali Aden Mumin, who fled to Turkey in the heyday of 2020 after being threatened by Somali security forces. However, it is pointed out that all parties to the conflict are facing threats to media workers. The government of Mogadishu denies that there is anything in Amnesty’s information.
Power struggles in Galmudug
The state parliament of Galmudug elects Ahmed Abdi Kariye (also known as Qoor-Qoor) as new regional president. He is welcomed by the central government of Mogadishu. At the same time, two people have claimed that their leaders have won the presidential post, but through other electoral processes, and that Mogadishu is trying to exert too much influence over the states. Mili Ahlu-Sunna Waljama’a believes that Sheik Mohamed Shakir will hold the post, while former state president Ahmed Duale Gelle “Haaf” also claims it after forming his own parliament at the end of January. Media sources point out that Qoor-Qoor has only a limited influence as his administration only has control over a smaller area in Galmudug.August 2019). Old tensions are being diluted as Mogadishu acts in various ways to reduce Madobe’s influence in the region, with some support from Ethiopia exerting pressure on local leaders to break with Madobe. In addition, Jubaland’s security minister was arrested while on his way to Ethiopia.
Grasshopper swarms create emergency in Somalia
Somalia announces a national emergency due to the extensive grasshopper attacks affecting parts of eastern Africa. The grasshopper swarms, according to the UN Food Agency FAO, are the largest in Somalia in 25 years and there is great concern that it will be even more difficult to manage the food supply in the country than before, as the insects attack both crops and pastures. The hope is that you will be able to fight the insects before the harvest takes place in April. The grasshoppers have spread to eastern Africa from the Arabian Peninsula, where extensive rainfall in late 2019 created favorable conditions for the insects. Climate experts believe that the increasing number of cyclones in the Indian Ocean is contributing to the growth of grasshoppers.
Erdoğan: Turkey is invited to search for oil in Somalia
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says Somalia has invited Turkey to look for oil in the sea off the Somali coast. Turkey is now one of Somalia’s main donors, and has among other things invested in road construction and training the Somali army.