Somalia Religion and Customs

By | December 15, 2021

Any important event is celebrated with prolonged dances in which men and women take part; these feasts, known as “fantasies”, are performed – almost everywhere – without the accompaniment of musical instruments in the noble chalets, while in the lower chalets, drums and wooden castanets of Negro origin are used. Medicine is practiced by individuals who use a primitive pharmacopoeia based on plant and animal medicaments; some of these holy doctors even risk practicing surgery with very primitive instruments, but the most popular remedies are always amulets.

The religion of the Somalis is the Muslim of the Sciafeite rite. Islam has superimposed itself on ancient paganism of which considerable residues remain in popular beliefs (the supreme divinity was, as in general among all Cushitic peoples, the Sky-God who had the sun for his eye). Somali Islam has always been in direct relationship with the cultural and religious centers of southern Arabia (especially Ḥadramūt) and it is noteworthy that, despite the occupation by ‛Omān and the subsequent sovereignty of Zanzibar, they are absolutely not found ibāḍiti among the Somalis. Some relations have also been had with the religious centers of the Muslim states of southern Ethiopia (particularly with the Bālī for the pilgrimage area of ​​Sheikh Ḥussēn and in northern Somalia with Harar). L’ activity of Muslim religious brotherhoods, greatly intensified in the last decades, has also given reason to a small local religious literature (in Arabic) both in prose and in verse. There has also been no shortage of attempts to adapt the Arabic alphabet to write Somali. Islam is therefore progressively affecting the very social structure of the populations as there is an attempt everywhere to make Muslim law prevail over Somali customary law, which was based on gentry. At the present stage, some juridical institutes (marriage, composition [guidrigildo], etc.) allow us to recognize quite well the elements of different origins that are historically superimposed. For Somalia religion, please check

In conclusion, the customs of the Somalis are reconnected, for the most part to those of the other Ethiopian populations, but especially to those of the Danachil and the Saho; it is believed that they represent an overlap and a fusion of the totem and pastoral (Montandon) cycles, but the presence of some objects such as the wooden stool, the throwing club and the quiver with lid, could also suggest the influence of cultures paleo and neomatriarchal.

The stable Negroid farmers live in a type of cylindrical hut with a conical roof; the culture does not differ from that of the Bantu, their neighbors, and undoubtedly had a notable reflection in the evolution of Somali culture. However, some groups of hunters (Uabonis) retain, although they are rapidly mixing with the other Negroids and with the Somalis, traces of a more archaic culture with the use of a simple circular section arch, with residues of ephemeral shelters under the acacias. of the bush; however, they are becoming farmers and only a few individuals in each tribe still hunt and fish.

Completely different from those described up to now is the culture of the Bagiuni, especially the Bagiuni islanders who inhabit the archipelago facing the coast of Oltregiuba, exercising in particular fishing. Little is known of their customs, but the presence, even recently noted, of the quadrangular house with drywall walls and gabled palm leaf roof, the double rocker dinghy and the turtle fishing by means of the remora, they would rather suggest the influence of cultural forms typical of the Far East, rather than Arab or, as some have supposed, Persian culture.

As for the Amarani of Brava, who speak a Bantu language but have strongly Semitic somatic characteristics, very little is known about their culture which, rather, remarkably resembles pure Arab culture; almost exclusively trade in Brava.

In Somalia today there are only the following Galla groups:

a) some families of the Worrā Dayā tribe (from the Galla Borana branch) who live in the south-western part of the Italian Oltregiuba. The Worrā Dayā were one of the last Galla groups to leave southern Somalia, and in fact the Somali Hawiyya and Dighil designate with the generic name of Word ā y all the Galla;

b) the Bararettas, who live, at the extreme limit of Somalia, on the Tana River and north of Vitu. They are now in British territory (Tanaland); they form a confederation of people of various origins (both Borana and Baraytumā) and, despite having a social structure similar to that of the other Galla (see galla), on the one hand they have preserved some archaic cultural types and on the other hand they have suffered, until today, the proximity of the Bantu. They speak a special galla dialect.

The nomadic shepherd lives in a transportable hut, hive-like, made up of a skeleton of branches curved in an arch, covered with mats; in the regions where Somali groups own crops, i.e. along the rivers, in the black soil area and near springs, the presence of stable villages with cylindrical huts with a conical roof or, more rarely, quadrilateral roofs with two sloping. These last two types of dwelling are not, however, of Somali origin, the first being of Negro origin; the second, widespread along the entire north-eastern coast of Africa, is believed by most to be of Arab origin. The furniture that furnishes the hut is, in general, very poor and summary: the bed is made up of a mat of palm leaf ribs, supported by a crude frame of sticks and raised above the ground on four feet; in stable huts, however, this bed is replaced by a kind of angareb of Abyssinian type; a few wooden stools complete the furniture. The containers for the transport of water, milk and butter are, among the nomads, mainly made of wood, straw or palm fibers with almost always spiral weaving. Pottery is rarely used by nomads and, if anything, small vessels are used: however, its use is unknown in northern Somalia (ex-sultanate of the Migiurtini and, in part, ex-sultanate of Tìbbia). In southern Somalia, rather fine and very well fired pottery is made in Danane and in the Bur Hacaba region. The headrest, widely used by the nomads of southern Somalia, who always carry it with them, is of a different shape depending on whether it should be used for men (simple column support or double support) or for women (broad and more solid support).

Somalia Religion