Somali Cultural Awarenes


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Courtesy of Abukar Arman who presented at the Westerville Public Library's In-Service Day, October 2008. Arman is associated with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio.)

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Somali Cultural Awarenes

  1. 1. Bridges of Understanding: learning the Somali Culture Abukar Arman Council on American-Islamic Relations CAIR-Ohio
  2. 2. SOMALIA Jamhuuriyadda Dimoqraadiga ee Soomaaliya
  4. 21. SOMALI HISTORY <ul><li>COLONIAL ERA </li></ul><ul><li>( 1884-1960) </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural Characteristics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The majority are from the nomadic culture </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Religion & Values </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Islam is the widely practiced religion; and people generally uphold conservative values </li></ul></ul>
  5. 22. Religion <ul><li>Religion is part and parcel of the average individual and family life </li></ul><ul><li>Religious materials and leaders are respected </li></ul><ul><li>Religion is both private and public affair (Jama’ah) </li></ul><ul><li>Prayers, especially the five daily ones, are offered wherever the worshipers happen to be </li></ul>
  6. 23. Cultural Values <ul><li>Language: Somali, and other tribal languages </li></ul><ul><li>“ Bantu” & Somalis- two faces of the same coin </li></ul><ul><li>Shared nation different cultural and historical experience </li></ul><ul><li>Oral culture is highly valued </li></ul>
  7. 24. COMMUNICATION <ul><li>As an oral society, Somalis give a great deal of attention to oratory and words said </li></ul><ul><li>Good conversation is a lifeline to the majority </li></ul><ul><li>Poetry and tribal folklore are given special attention </li></ul>
  8. 25. SOMALI IMMIGRATION <ul><li>FIRST WAVE (70’s and 80’s) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mostly educated- they did not need assistance with resettlement </li></ul></ul><ul><li>SECOND WAVE (91-PRESENT) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mostly under or uneducated- they needed a lot of assistance with resettlement </li></ul></ul>
  9. 26. Somali Immigration Continued… <ul><li>Refugee Camps: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Harsh life- very tough for children, mothers, and elders </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Resettlement Process: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Life-saving opportunity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Families could request to reunite with loved ones </li></ul></ul>
  10. 27. LIFE IN THE NEW WORLD <ul><li>FAMILY AND SOCIAL ISSUES </li></ul><ul><li>Second Generation & “1 ½ Generation” </li></ul><ul><li>Communication and Cultural Gaps in the Family </li></ul><ul><li>Stereotyping </li></ul><ul><li>Community Relations & Conflict resolution </li></ul><ul><li>Nomadic Instincts </li></ul>
  11. 28. LIFE IN THE NEW WORLD <ul><li>Hard Work </li></ul><ul><li>& </li></ul><ul><li>Persistence </li></ul>
  12. 29. Education <ul><li>Culturally, education is widely seen as a ticket out of poverty </li></ul><ul><li>Many of second and 1 ½ generations are enrolling in colleges and universities </li></ul><ul><li>Due to lack of language skills, parents have a limited capacity to help their children with school work </li></ul>
  13. 30. SOCIAL SERVICES <ul><li>Access to services: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Difficult start in the beginning; smooth process afterwards </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Acceptance Levels: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Central Ohio ranks high in the best category </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Stereotypes & Misunderstandings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There are isolated incidents, mainly in schools, to learn from </li></ul></ul>
  14. 31. Civil Servants and Technocrats in the Dictatorship Era <ul><li>Clan-based vs. skill-based </li></ul><ul><li>Little or no accountability </li></ul><ul><li>No Policy and procedure nor transparency </li></ul><ul><li>Great deal of power abuse </li></ul><ul><li>Bribery was a common practice </li></ul><ul><li>The poor got the short end of the stick </li></ul>
  15. 32. Expectations <ul><li>To be treated with dignity and respect </li></ul><ul><li>To be offered clarifications when necessary </li></ul><ul><li>To be able to understand the message being communicated to </li></ul>
  16. 33. Most Common Dos and Don'ts <ul><li>Do greet, but don’t shake hands with the opposite sex unless they initiate that </li></ul><ul><li>Do visit homes when necessary, but don’t bang on doors </li></ul><ul><li>Do come in when invited, but don’t come in with your shoes on </li></ul><ul><li>Do converse, but don’t ask personal things </li></ul><ul><li>nor tell jokes with sexual innuendoes </li></ul>
  17. 34. Most Common Dos and Don'ts <ul><li>Do remember that people have their own individual identities and preferences </li></ul><ul><li>Do learn key phrases for icebreaking </li></ul><ul><li>Do compliment when necessary, but not to the opposite gender </li></ul><ul><li>Do browse Somali websites </li></ul><ul><li>Do remember that hospitality is one of the highly valued norms </li></ul>
  18. 35. Most Common Dos and Don'ts <ul><li>Don’t talk to someone who is praying </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t pass in front of someone while he/she is praying [if you must, try to put something between the two of you] </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t call someone with your finger </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t try to hug someone of the opposite gender </li></ul>
  19. 36. Most Common Dos and Don’ts Continue <ul><li>Don’t invite someone for a meal that contains pork </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t invite someone for a beer or any alcoholic drinks </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t tell religious jokes </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t use foul language </li></ul>
  20. 37. Common Phrases <ul><li>Iska warran? (How are you?) </li></ul><ul><li>Maalin wanaagsan (Good morning) </li></ul><ul><li>Galab wanaagsan (Good afternoon) </li></ul><ul><li>Habeen wanaagsan (Good evening) </li></ul><ul><li>Magacaa? (What is your name?) </li></ul><ul><li>Halkeed degantahay? (Where do you live?) </li></ul><ul><li>Caruur ma leedahay? (Do you have any children?) </li></ul>
  21. 38. Problem-solving <ul><li>Traditional approach led by community elders commonly used to solve problems </li></ul><ul><li>Solutions mediated by the elders are commonly accepted </li></ul><ul><li>Individual problems might carry clan implication </li></ul>
  22. 39. Questions & Answers