The fact that the Somali first received an
alphabet in 1972 does not prevent poetry and oral
narrative from being the very foundation of culture.
There is a rich tradition of fables, legends, myths and
Somalis have cherished their language. Various 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 man.
The poets also recorded current events and satirical
elements were popular. The better a poet could recite,
the higher his status was. However, this orally conveyed
cultural heritage is considered to have been depleted in
recent decades, especially during the 1970s "scientific
socialism" (see Modern History).
Latest population statistics of Somalia, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
A special position in Somalia's modern history has
the poet and resistance fighter Sayid Muhammed Abdille
Hassan (highly alternating spelling) - the Mad Mullah,
"the crazy mullet" that the British called him. He tried
one of the Somalis in the name of Islam and led a
twenty-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 erected in an
Arab tradition, houses built under Italian rule from the
late 1800s to 1960s, but also modernist buildings, such
as national theater which was a gift from China leader
Mao Zedong in 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 brilliance digitally recreated).
The most well-known modern writer, Nuruddin Farah,
lives in exile. Several of his novels have been
translated into Swedish. Former photo model Waris Dirie
has written in two autobiographical books, including A
flower in the desert of Africa, about growing up in a
nomad family and taking a stand against genital
mutilation of girls. A new literary star is Nadifa
Mohamed, who lives in the UK, but writes about Somalia.
Her novel Lost Souls is translated into Swedish.
Songaah: List and lyrics of songs related to the country name of Somalia. Artists and albums are also included.
The older Somali music consists mostly of songs,
often about special events and in some cases accompanied
by drums. But there is also modern popular music. Among
the most famous musicians and singers are Maanta AAR,
Maryam Mursal from the Waaberi group, Abdi Badil, Ahmed
'Hudeydi' Ismail Hussein, the sisters Siham and Iman
Hashi, Amara Ali Sheik and the rapper K'naan. Many of
them live in exile.
In 2012, Somalia's National Theater reopened in
Mogadishu after being closed since the early 1990s. At
the opening ceremony of the theater, eight people were
killed in a blast attack that al-Shabaab took on the
blame for. After that, the work of renovating the
building has been redone.
One of the most influential cultural workers in
Somaliland was the composer and playwright Ali Sugule
Egal who died in 2016. Among other things, 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.
The Provisional Constitution of 2012 guarantees
freedom of press and expression. In practice, it has
major limitations. The media is particularly difficult
to operate in areas controlled by Islamist militia, but
the government side also limits the freedom of the
media. According to Reporters Without Borders, Somalia
is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for
journalists. In the Press Freedom Organization's index
for 2018, Somalia ranked 168 out of 179 countries.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ),
at least 66 journalists were killed in Somalia from 1992
until 2018. Harassment, physical violence (including
torture), kidnappings and arbitrary arrests of
journalists are common. Several media workers have also
been injured in terror attacks.
Most journalists are young, low-paid and short-term
employees. There are also major shortcomings when it
comes to journalistic ethics. Many journalists end up in
trouble when the government wants to stop them from
reporting on al-Shabaab's attacks and the militia group
demands that they do so. Few foreign journalists are
active in the country.
Also in Somaliland and Puntland, journalists are
imprisoned and harassed and there are strong
restrictions on etheric media.
It is the radio broadcasts that reach the most
residents. There are about twenty radio stations in
southern and central Somalia, but none of them reach
listeners across the country. Alongside the
government-controlled Radio Mogadishu are the private
channels Radio Shabelle and Radio Banaadir. Many also
listen to British BBC broadcasting in Somali. Voice of
America also broadcasts in Somali.
When al-Shabaab was at its strongest, the militia
group took over eight private radio channels, but in
2015 it only had control over two: Radio Andalus and
Somalis in exile have started a series of online
sites with news from their home country. Most cities in
southern and central Somalia have small magazines or
rather simple photocopied news magazines. Some of the
newspapers, especially those published in the larger
cities, contain some criticism of the government.
Television plays a limited role. In 2011, the
state-owned Somali National Television (SNTV) resumed
its broadcasts after 20 years. The satellite channel
Universal TV is based in London. In Somaliland, the
government-owned Somaliland National TV (SLNTV)
dominates, while Puntland's most important TV channel is
Somali Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). You can also
watch satellite TV in Somalia.
Only a small part of the population, mainly in the
cities, has access to the internet. In 2014, al-Shabaab
forced all network operators to shut down the Internet
in all areas it controlled. Earlier, the Islamist
militia had banned smart phones and satellite TV. At the
same time, the Islamist group is active in social media.
Its accounts are often closed down, but are quickly
replaced by new ones.
FACTS - MASS MEDIA
Percentage of the population using the
2 percent (2017)
Number of mobile subscriptions per 100
Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed is appointed new head of government
In the middle of the month, US-trained Mohamed Abdullahi appoints Mohamed as
new prime minister, who has lived abroad for many years. He cuts the number of
ministers from 39 to 18.
Rumors of crack within al-Shabaab
One week into the month, the AU force, according to its own information,
controls 40 percent of Mogadishu. However, the task is being questioned by
several independent assessors. At the same time, rumors of a growing crack
within al-Shabaab occur between the faction led by Ahmad Abdi Godane (also known
as Abu Zubayr), the de facto leader of al-Shabaab, who has his strongest support
among foreign combatants, and a more nationalist-oriented faction led by Muktar
Robow (also called Abu Mansur).
Soldiers are fired after arms deals
Local media reports that President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has dismissed the
country's top military and several others on allegations of illegally selling
weapons. Several tons of weapons should have disappeared from military
deployments in Mogadishu.
al-Shabaab launches offensive in Mogadishu
al-Shabaab launches an offensive in the capital. A suicide attack on August
24 is targeted at a hotel in Mogadishu. At least 32 people are killed, including
six MEPs. Most of the victims are civilians.
al-Shabaab kills 79 in terrorist attack in Uganda
al-Shabaab carries out two suicide bombings in Uganda, killing 79 people.
New power struggles in the political summit
President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed announces that he will replace the head of
government to end the power struggle between him and the President. Accusations
against the government on corruption and incompetence have led to falling
popularity figures for the president. Prime Minister Ali Sharmarke refuses to
leave and says the president lacks powers to dismiss him. He is reinstated
shortly thereafter by the President.
Pomegranate is directed at Parliament
Islamic rebel parliament with pomegranate fire. The fire is answered by AU
forces and at least 11 people are killed. However, the building itself does not
WFP interrupts relief efforts following threats from Islamists
During the first days of the year, the UN Food Program WFP interrupts its
work in large parts of southern Somalia. The decision is made after repeated
threats from militant Islamists.