Somaliland: Celebration Of Art And Culture

When you first walked into the Panorama Hall that night, one could not help but notice the paintings that lined the walls. Thirteen gifted artists based here in Hargeysa, displayed beautiful images reflecting traditional and contemporary Somali society. Paintings of camels walking with grace as they were led across the plains, to those drawing attention the challenges faced by Somali people, such as migration and war were on display.

Afrikanation Artists Organization (AAO) and Somaliland Culture and Sports Association (SOCSA) teamed up to present a “Celebration of Art and Culture” in Hargeysa, Somaliland on April 28th, 2010. This was a celebration of traditional and recent artistic flavors and for the foundation of Afrikanation, which is a local non-profit, non-governmental organization designed to empower African artists and their communities under the belief that art does have the power to positively change society and the world.

Gazing across this long line of evidence affirming the talent that exists here, your eyes were then led to a table filled with many tiny hands busily working to create our artists of our future. Working with Najma Axmed Xaashi, an artist from Mogadishu, the youth produced some dynamic pieces with art supplies donated by students at California College of the Arts and supporters. Afrikanation partnered with Defne Beyce, a Graduate Design student at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, California, USA and Ismail Ismail, a great supporter also residing in California, to organize and deliver these much-needed art supplies. Art supplies are virtually unobtainable in this region due to high price and proximity, and it is one of Afrikanation’s founding goals to make supplies accessible to artists who need them. Crayons to professional level acrylic paints donated were quickly put to use in the youth art station and weekly Afrikanation Artist Workshops.

The night officially opened with a Koranic reading and song by Ilyas Mohamed Omar, a dynamic eight year old, then cultural song and dance by Somaliland Culture and Sports Association. SOCSA is a local, non-profit, non-governmental organization that educates the youth on current economic, social and health related challenges and the importance of physical education through sport. The dancers lit up the room dressed in traditional Somali attire as they swirled to the beat and songs of our ancestors. Seeing the faces of the young people that filled the crowd lit with excitement brings hope that these traditions will be passed on for many generations to come.

Following the cultural dance were the break-dancing Groovies. The Groovies enlivened the audience with their creative storytelling through dance. This dynamic group of teenage boys and SOCSA together represent the diversity that exists in our youth today. Hani Abdi Ali utilizes fashion as a tool to address traditional styles of dress with a new flair through her new line of dresses that were worn at the event.

Mohamed Bulshaawi and Abdirahim Daalalayn shared their gift of song with a crowd of excited listneners anxious to hear more. All in all, this night was a blessed celebration of art, talent and culture that Allah gifted us with right here at home.

This event would not have been the same without great support of the community. To Panorama, Lucy University, Defne Beyce, Ismail Ismail, California College of the Arts, art supply donors, friends of the arts and certainly not least the artists, musicians, poets, dancers, designers, supporters and friends shared their gifts and helped during the celebration, thank you. This sets the stage for many positive exchanges in the future celebrating our art and our culture with the community at large.

For more information about SOCSA, please contact them at or visit their website at

For more information about Afrikanation Artists Organization, please contact them at or join their group page on Facebook under Afrikanation Artists Organization today.

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