Hargeisa – Marriage proposals, dresses, feasts, and dances – the story of two weddings in Somaliland, with traditions old and new.

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Hargeisa, Somaliland, June 12, 2020 – When it comes to weddings, Somaliland has many approaches. Some couples stick with tradition while others go for more modern marriage ceremonies.

This film tells the story of two weddings, one in a small desert village and the other in a busy city while highlighting everyday life in different parts of the country. It also contrasts traditional ways of life with modern ideas that come from younger Somalilanders and social media.

Two Weddings, Somaliland Style
Jamalli and Hoda’s wedding followed traditional Somali customs [Screengrab/Al Jazeera]

In the remote rural village of Toon, herder Jamalli Muhammad Ahmed can only marry a local woman called Hoda after first getting permission from her family. In a tradition going back generations, they all gather in the shade of a large tree to decide whether they are a suitable match. Only then can Jamalli and Hoda start planning their lives together.

Two Weddings, Somaliland Style
Abdullatif and Najma’s ceremony was in the city of Hargeisa [Screengrab/Al Jazeera]

Abdullatif Deeq Omar in Hargeisa city, however, first met his future wife Najma on Facebook. They eloped but eventually returned to their families who accepted their marriage plans.

Both weddings have the same pressures: buying outfits, inviting guests, finding a venue, and arranging feasts – but each tells a unique story of family, community, and tradition.

Two Weddings, Somaliland Style
Elaborate preparations for wedding celebrations often include creating ornate henna tattoos [Screengrab/Al Jazeera]

In Somaliland culture, many people also believe that getting married in the run-up to Ramadan ensures additional blessings on the couple, making them happy occasion even more special.

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Source: Al Jazeera

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