Somalia hosts first cultural festival in decades

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Addis Ababa, 26 June 2014 (WIC) - Somalia held its first cultural festival in decades in the capital Mogadishu on Sunday 22 June 2014. The Festival, hosted by the Ministry of Information, drew participants from different regions of the country.

More than 20 years of war made it impossible for the Somali people to convene at public events.

In a press release UNSOM Public Information Services sent to WIC, the festival had performing artists drawn from Baidoa, Beletweyne, Kismayo, Garowe, Hargeisa and Mogadishu. Featured performances included music, dance, poetry, drama as well as broadcasts from the archives of Radio Mogadishu.

Speaking during the festival, the Somali Minister of Gender and Human Rights Development, Khadija Mohamed Diriye, urged the artists to utilize their talent to advocate for unity in the country.

“Today, I would like to urge the performers and artistes to strive in uniting the government and its people. Make use of theatre, music, poetry and other cultural performances and use it to unite the people. I want them to promise us that,” she said.

Mustaf Sheikh Ali Dhuhulow, the Minister of Information, said the success of the festival was a huge breakthrough. He noted that such events are crucial to reclaiming Somali heritage.

“I can say this is a programme that really needed to happen. One of the biggest casualties of the civil war is our culture. So reclaiming our culture is one of the most important things we can do. Every society has something to be proud of. For Somalis, it is an enduring, historical culture and it is something we can be proud of and we need to reclaim. It is what our fathers and grandfathers passed on to us and we need to pass it on to our children. And our history is something we need to have special consideration for,” he said.

Speaking at the festival, the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, appealed to the Somali people to embrace their culture as a unifying factor.

“Culture is what a society is recognized by, it is the identity of a people, it is their symbol. It never goes bad, it is nothing to be ashamed of and it has spanned over hundreds of years, with each generation passing it on to the next,” he said.

The festival was organized with support from the United Nations, France, Germany and the United States.