By Africa Business
LONDON, /PRNewswire/ —
Dahabshiil, the largest money transfer company in the Horn of Africa, has sponsored the 2012 Somali Week Festival in London – a week during which the diaspora community celebrated and honoured its heritage.
Dahabshiil, which is also the largest private sector employer in the Somali region, joined the diaspora community in paying homage to Somali arts and culture. Kayd Somali Arts & Culture, in collaboration with the Redsea Online Cultural Foundation hosted this year’s festival which officially began on 19 October and concluded on 28October following a week-long exhibition of Somali heritage and traditions. The Somali Week Festival was designed to showcase artistic excellence and to foster relationships between Somalis in the Horn of Africa and the diaspora community, as well as engaged non-Somalis.
A number of high-profile guests attended to lend their support to the festival, including notable author Cabdalla Mansuur, poet and songwriter Mahamed Ibrahim Warsame ‘Hadraawi’, inventor Hussein Sheikh Ahmed ‘Kaddare’, composer Evan Christopher and politician Abdidhuh Yusuf. The festival, held in Bethnal Green in east London was attended by thousands of people from the UK, US, Europe, Somaliland and Somalia.
Abdirashid Duale, CEO of Dahabshiil, said:
“The Somali Week Festival in London is an important celebration for the diaspora community throughout the UK. Over the years the festival has become an internationally recognised and anticipated event. It redefines Somali culture and pays homage to our storied heritage – we are honoured to have sponsored such an occasion.
“The Somali diaspora is vital to the continued development of the Somali region. Our diaspora community help to drive the economy through remittance finance and are often willing to invest in what others may regard as fragile markets. The diaspora community is also in a unique position to act as a bridge between the Somali territories and the outside world – ambassadors, and arguably, guardians of the region’s future. It is imperative that the diaspora community remain engaged with the issues and culture in the region.”
According to a 2010 ONS estimate, there are 108,000 Somali-born immigrants living in the UK, while the London Somali diaspora is believed to be the largest of the Somali communities around the world. The Somali Week Festival – which falls within Black History Month, an annual remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora – primarily focuses on engaging communities with Somali history and values through the arts. The 2012 festival offered a diverse mix of events including poetry, literature, panel discussions, documentary film screenings, music and theatre from both Somalia and Somaliland. The theme of this year’s celebration was ‘courage’ to mark the challenge that the Somali territories face in challenging the status quo to rebuild and rebrand the region following decades of instability.
Some of the highlights of the festival included:
– A commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Somali script. In 1972, Somali, which had until then been an oral-only language, was first transmitted and preserved in textual form
– A live performance by New Orleans-based clarinettist Evan Christopher
– A panel debate on Investment and Development in Somaliland. Speakers included Mohamed
Yusuf, Chair and CEO of Invicta Capital and UN representative Sarah Metcalfe
Award-winning poet and songwriter Mr Hadraawi said:
“My poetry is designed to inspire and educate, literature used as a vehicle to promote change. Through different artistic forms, the Somali Week Festival explores a variety of socio-cultural themes.
“The festival is a platform to exchange ideas and to experience the richness of Somali history and celebrate hopes for the future. The theme for this year’s festival was courage, and the hopes of peace and development that we have for the region. It is truly fantastic that Dahabshiil continue to recognise the importance of this week as we reach out to our kin and kith in the diaspora who are integral to fulfilling such aspirations.”
Kayd Somali Arts & Culture and the Redsea Online Cultural Foundation were supported in their efforts by a number of high profile British organisations, including Index on Censorship, the Poetry Translation Centre and the Royal African Society, as well as local Somali and Somaliland organisations and students. The end of the Somali Week Festival marks the beginning of Eid al-Adha, an important three-day religious holiday celebrated by Muslims. Eid al-Adha, also known as ‘Greater Eid’ is the latter of the two Eid holidays.