Somali students’ event shares culture with campus

The Somali Culture Day fell on a Friday this year, which are religious for Muslims.

Elizabeth Cook

At noon Friday, approximately 200 people met outside Northrop Auditorium to pray.

The prayer was part of the second annual Somali Culture Day. For this noon prayer, other Muslim communities from around the campus area were invited to participate.

Fridays are religious days for Muslims, and they pray at noon on those days. Because Somali Culture Day fell on a Friday, the Somali Student Association decided to not have music and dancing like last year, said University student Abdiweli Ali, a member of the association.

Before the prayer, he spoke about the Somali culture and religion that is derived from Islam. Somalis are 100 percent Muslim, he said.

For the prayer, shoes had to be removed, Ali said. The title of the person who gives the prayer is the “imam,” he said, and men and women are separated during the prayer.

“This is to enhance awareness of our culture and to educate others about our culture,” Ali said.

Ali explained some of the misconceptions some students might have about the Somali culture.

He said people wonder why Somali women dress the way they do, especially in the summer. They have to, Ali said, because the clothing doesn’t change with climate. The main purpose of their clothing is to cover up their bodies.

Ahmed Jama, the association’s president and a University student, said there is a large number of Somali students at the University.

“We wanted to show (our) culture to the general students,” Jama said.

University student Hibaq Warsame, an officer for the association, said the event gave people a chance to ask questions about the Somali culture.

“Make a bridge between the University community and the Somali community Ö and help with some misunderstandings,” she said.

At the event, tables displayed copies of the Quran and books written by Somali authors. Artifacts, including a relaxing pillow, a guitar, a drum, wooden cups and traveling mugs, which were used in a Somali’s daily nomadic life, were on display as well.

A poster hung outside a white tent read, “Find the Answers You’re Looking For.” This was the theme throughout the entire event.

Pictures showed statues and buildings in Somalia, the country’s currency, Somali presidents and depictions of Somali jewelry. Appetizers of “sambusa,” “xalwo,” “shushumow” and “sisin” were available.

University student Ker Vang said she attended the event for a class project about the Somali culture.

“This is nice, I had some misconceptions,” Vang said.