Keeping Alive Somali Traditions and CulturePhoto | Somali women at an exhibition of traditional dress and utensils/Photo/Nimco/Ergo
A cultural centre in Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland, is playing an important role in educating young people from home and abroad about Somali traditions and customs.
The SOCSO Centre focuses on keeping alive knowledge of old traditions, such as folk dance, traditional foods, clothing and tools used by nomads.
Hussein Abdikadir Mohamed is chairman of SOCSO Centre. He said traditional performances and recreational games are used to teach young visitors to the centre. “Some of the most important aspects of our teaching are folk dances from the region. These include the Zeila folk dance of the famous Zeila city of Awdal region, Dhaanto ceremonial dance from the western regions, Hirwa and Jafla from the eastern regions, and various kinds of Bartar folk dances, known in both the eastern and western regions”
The centre also exposes visitors to the Somali tools and traditional culinary implements, like fandhaal (wooden spoon), xeero (wooden bowl), dhiil (wooden milk bucket), toobke (milk pail), among others. The centre has a collection of antique items to preserve the past for the present and future generations.
Visitors to the centre are not only Somalis; there are also foreigners who wish to learn about Somali traditions. Radio Ergo’s visit coincided with a live performance of the Zeila folk dance.
Hamdi, one of the young performers, said: “I came to this Centre in 2008, and I learnt how to perform a great number of traditional dances. This is what I had dreamed about for a long time and the centre made my dreams come true.”
Young Somalis raised overseas appreciate SOCSO’s cultural initiatives. Khalid Hassan Aden said: “I learnt about our culture here, and enjoyed the fantastic Somali entertainment that makes you forget the difficulties of the world.”
SOCSO also carries out public educational campaigns on FGM, HIV/AIDS, child marriage, illegal migration, and others, and harnesses drama to convey important messages.