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Somali Culture

Cultural activities primarily consist of poetry, folk dancing, the performance of plays, and singing. These traditional activities still retain their importance, especially in rural areas, and are practiced not only at family and religious celebrations but also at state ceremonies. On such occasions traditional local costume is generally worn. 
The varied cultural life of the Somali includes both traditional activities and, especially in the towns, many modern interests.
Cultural activities primarily consist of poetry, folk dancing, the performance of plays, and singing. These traditional activities still retain their importance, especially in rural areas, and are practiced not only at family and religious celebrations but also at state ceremonies. On such occasions traditional local costume is generally worn.
Especially in the towns, traditional culture is rapidly being superseded by imported modern influences, such as television and videotapes, cinema, and bars and restaurants. Urban Somalian cooking has been strongly influenced by Italian cuisine, and young townspeople are much influenced by Western fashion in the way they dress. Football (soccer) is a very popular sport.
There are many famous Somali artists, poets, musicians, actors, and dancers, some of whom live in exile. Nuruddin Farah, whose novels are written in English, has achieved international fame.
Somalia produced a large amount of literature through Islamic poetry and Hadith from Somali scholars of the last centuries. With the adoption of the Latin alphabet in 1973 numerous Somali authors have released books over the years which received widespread success, Nuruddin Farah being one of them. Novels like From a Crooked Rib and Links are considered important literary achievements which earned him the 1998 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.
Cultural institutions in Mogadishu are the National Museum, the new Historical Museum, and the National Theatre. The Somali Academy of Sciences and Arts promotes research on Somalia.
Somalia has the distinction of being one of only a handful of African countries that are composed almost entirely of one ethnic group, the Somalis. Traditional bands like Waaberi Horseed have gained a small following outside the country. There are two bands of Somali Jareer in Jilib District Shanbara and Shimama. Others, like Maryam Mursal, have fused Somali traditional music with rock, bossa nova, hip hop, and jazz influences. Most Somali music is love orientated.
Toronto where a sizable Somali community exists replaced Mogadishu (because of the instability) as the centre of the Somali music industry, which is also present in London, Minneapolis, and Columbus. One popular musician from the Somali diaspora is K'naan, a young rapper from Toronto, whose songs talk about the struggles of life in Somalia during the outbreak of the civil war.


Last Updated on Friday 13th November 2009