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Last week marked the 10th anniversary of the Somali Week Festival in London, founded in 2008. The event takes place in October, during Black History Month, to celebrate Somalinimo (Somali-ness) and it features music, art, language, poetry, and more.

This year, BuzzFeed News went to the Final Beats event that marked the end of the festival to ask people there why they think Somali Week is important, and what Somalinimo means to them.

1. Cherrie, 27, Sweden.

13 People Tell Us What London's Somali Week Festival Means To Them
Cherrie. @Amina Adan for BuzzFeed News

Why do you think Somali Week is important?

“I think it’s important to have spaces and events where the Somali youth and Somali people overall can be connected and get some more knowledge about our culture. It’s so amazing, so I definitely think it’s important.”

What is Somalinimo to you?

“Definitely our rich culture, poetry, the music, beautiful words, and resilience.”

2. Umulkhayr Hussein, 23, London.

13 People Tell Us What London's Somali Week Festival Means To Them
Umalkhayr Hussein. @Amina Adan for BuzzFeed News

Why do you think Somali Week is important?

“Somali Week is important for the diaspora in the UK particularly, I think, just to bring us together. I think especially being in London, it’s not that you don’t see Somalis, it’s that you don’t really get to engage with each other. … You don’t get to interact with each other unless it’s your family.

“So having a festival where you can meet so many Somalis in different career paths, so many paths in life, and to just be joined together through music, arts, poetry, playwriting, it’s so important and integral to our community. It enriches our community, especially in London.”

What is Somalinimo to you?

“Somalinimo to me transcends our culture in Somalia; for us in the diaspora we’ve made our own idea, our own sense of what Somalinimo is to us, and it kind of doesn’t fit the mold that our parents have made for us.
“So I think Somalinimo to me particularly is unity. It unites us. … You can go to Scandinavia and see Somalis there and there will be barely any differences between the diaspora there and here.”

3. Amal, London.

13 People Tell Us What London's Somali Week Festival Means To Them
Amal. @Amina Adan for BuzzFeed News

Why do you think Somali Week is important?

“Somali Week is important because it has all the big names, the new, the old, the writers, songwriters, a lot of people who are experts in Somali arts, that were the firsts. We’ll be able to learn from them, the way they wrote, the work they created.

“We can learn from old and great celebrities; if they were older songs that were remade people will get to learn about it. They’ll remind them of the history. That’s why Somali Week is so important, for young people to know their culture, to know their arts, and to learn as much as possible from their people. It brings together the older and the younger ones.”

What is Somalinimo to you?

“Somalinimo, it’s very important for me. When you’re Somali it’s important to stay close to your people and to learn your culture and everything that comes with it.”

4. Amaal Mohamed, 23, London.

13 People Tell Us What London's Somali Week Festival Means To Them
Amaal Mohamed. @Amina Adan for BuzzFeed News

Why do you think Somali Week is important?

“I think for me, Somali Week is important because it’s almost like the merging of the older generation with the culture and the younger generation, kinda like putting that together.
“So oftentimes for me, the most amount of culture I get is from Somali weddings, but at Somali Week you get not only storytelling but also Somali music, bringing you into that world with the two. There’s no divide between the older and younger generation.

“The other day I went to see Arawelo [a play]; I was learning things about my own folklore and my own history. Sometimes it’s really hard to access because you either have to go on the internet and go find that, it’s not really accessible, and I think Somali Week is amazing for that because you get to just have it given to you and retain the information. It’s been amazing.”

What is Somalinimo to you?

“Somalinimo basically means being able to vibe with your people. It’s almost like unity for me and, for example, just being able to support each other. So, for me, coming from a creative background, Somalinimo is being able to produce art that reflects the story of my people, and those people support your work as well.”

5. Hanna Ali, London.

13 People Tell Us What London's Somali Week Festival Means To Them
Hanna Ali. @Amina Adan for BuzzFeed News

Why do you think Somali Week is important?

“Somali Week is incredibly important for two reasons: It’s important for Somalis to have a place to go, where they can have a platform to speak, to talk about the things that matter to them.
“It’s also important as a way of showing the rest of the UK, especially London, the ways in which Somalis contribute and the amazing things that they’re doing.”

What is Somalinimo to you?

“Somalinimo to me is a lived experience; there’s no way of being able to define it. If you see yourself as Somali, if you see yourself as it being a big part of your identity, then that’s who you are; no one will tell you who you are and who you are not.”

6. Ubah Abdullahi, 18, Sweden.

13 People Tell Us What London's Somali Week Festival Means To Them
Ubah Abdullahi. @Amina Adan for BuzzFeed News

Why do you think Somali Week is important?

“For Somalinimo.”

What is Somalinimo to you?

“Friendship, love, community. It’s bariis, basto, suqaar, it’s everything.”

7. Amal Nuur, 28, London.

13 People Tell Us What London's Somali Week Festival Means To Them
Amal Nuur. @Amina Adan for BuzzFeed News

Why do you think Somali Week is important?

“For me personally, it’s a way for us to connect to our culture. To hold on to that little piece of us that we don’t get, and also to showcase that to everyone else, we don’t [always] have that opportunity.
“This is like the second time I’ve come; I’ve always wanted to come. Last year was the first year. Alhamdulillah, I had an amazing time — this year I had to make sure I came again.”

What is Somalinimo to you?

“Somalinimo to me? Wow, to me it’s my being, it’s my fabric, it’s what makes me me.”

8. Hanad Darwish, 25, London.

13 People Tell Us What London's Somali Week Festival Means To Them
Hanad Darwish. @Amina Adan for BuzzFeed News

Why do you think Somali Week is important?
“It’s incredibly important, especially as someone who is quite young, grew up in the West. To sort of have the basis to reconnect with your culture, and, I mean, it’s one week in the year, but then also it’s a great platform for new artists who are coming through and also to inspire young people who are interested in keeping that connection.
“Obviously growing up here, with the horn and the arts and the culture that comes from Somali tradition anyway, so it’s a good cross between the two. So I think that’s why it’s incredibly important, and I think to have it go to a bigger platform, and also we have artists like Cherrie that are coming along and bringing Somali culture to a wider audience. I feel like as you go on, year on year, you’ll see a lot more non-Somalis coming through to find out about Somali culture.”
What is Somalinimo to you?

“To me, it really means many things, but I think on the basis it’s sort of a sense of brotherhood. I think there are a lot of values attached to Somalinimo — being a Somali, a family of kinship, I think incredibly kind, charitable, I think of all of those combined.
“I think being Somali is incredibly fun in one way; it’s a funny community. So I think it’s a lot of things.”

9. Abdullahi Nuur, 18, London.

13 People Tell Us What London's Somali Week Festival Means To Them
Abdullahi Nuur. @Amina Adan for BuzzFeed News

Why do you think Somali Week is important?

“I think Somali Week is important because it connects the diaspora and the older people for the dhaqan [culture]. I think this year has definitely been the most, like, the littest year for sure. Cherrie came; that was the highlight.”

What is Somalinimo to you?

“Somalinimo to me is basically dhaqan, that’s basically important. I think that’s Somalinimo to me.”

10. Suhaama Elmi, 22, London.

13 People Tell Us What London's Somali Week Festival Means To Them
Suhaama Elmi. @Amina Adan for BuzzFeed News

Why do you think Somali Week is important?

“I feel like I learn more about Somali people, the Somali culture as a whole. This is the first time for me ever attending Somali week, and it’s been incredible. I learned more about the culture that I didn’t even know. I absolutely loved it.”

What is Somalinimo to you?

“I really don’t know how to put that in a sentence. I don’t know how to describe it other than, like, love; Somalinimo is like love to me. Whenever I see a Somali there’s already that relatability. That connection, like Hooyo [mum] talking about Somali singers and things like that so you already feel like, wow, those are my people.”

11. Mohamed Ali Nur

13 People Tell Us What London's Somali Week Festival Means To Them
Mohamed Ali Nur. @Amina Adan for BuzzFeed News

Why do you think Somali Week is important?
“It’s very important because I think it will unite Somalis, it will bring together the youth, the elders, and I think it will contribute to the unity of Somali people.”

What is Somalinimo to you?

“Somalinimo is very important to me; I think it’s something that all Somalis should believe in. Somalinimo is something that we should cherish in ourselves, especially Somalis in the diaspora — the youth should learn about Somalinimo. I think as I said before, it brings us together.”

12. Hibo Nuura, Somaliland.

13 People Tell Us What London's Somali Week Festival Means To Them
Hibo Mohamed (Hibo Nuura). @Amina Adan for BuzzFeed News

What is Somalinimo to you?

“Somalinimo to me is like the air we breathe with, the oxygen we breathe in; isn’t that something rich? Isn’t it something that you love? That’s how it’s for me.
“The Somali people live in five areas: Somaliland, Djibouti, the Somali state [of Ethiopia], federal of Somalia, and the state of Kenya; all five of them are loved.”
Why do you think Somali Week is important?

“It’s important for the Somali community, the five that I mentioned, it will connect them.
“They will forgive each other, befriend each other, and become one big, meaningful government. They will be self-reliant.”

13. Rahma Jamal, 25, London.

13 People Tell Us What London's Somali Week Festival Means To Them
Rahma Jamal. @Amina Adan for BuzzFeed News

Why do you think Somali Week is important?
“I think Somali Week is important because we live in a country that is not ours, so at times we can forget our languages, we can forget our cultures.
“Being able to have a week where we come together and share the language, the banter, and the culture is amazing for those that are born here.”

What is Somalinimo to you?

“To me, I feel like our people are so unique, especially our banter. So Somalinimo to me means, like, love and hospitality, and just love, sharing love. That’s Somalinimo to me.”

Ikran is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Ikran Dahir at ikran.dahir@buzzfeed.com.


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