Somalia Culture

Somalia Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in Somalia

According to FRANCISCOGARDENING.COM, Somalia is a country located in Africa. Media distribution in Somalia is very limited. During the Siyad Barre regime, all newspaper publishing, as well as radio and television, was subordinate to the Ministry of Information. The only daily newspaper was Xiddigta Oktobar (‘Oktoberstj√§rnan’) in Somali, but since 1991 has been added. English-speaking The Country in order to broaden the range of opinion. However, the press is forced to act under great caution. The various political groups in Somalia often have their own radio stations to broadcast propaganda. Since 1983, TV has been broadcast on Mogadishu. There are 60 radio and 14 TV receivers per 1,000 residents (2000).


According to ALLUNITCONVERTERS, 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 work songs.

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).

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.

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.

Mass Media

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 Radio al-Furqan.

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.


Percentage of the population using the internet

2 percent (2017)

Number of mobile subscriptions per 100 residents

49 (2017)




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

May 16

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 meet.


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.

Somalia Culture

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