Skip to main content

Murray Journal

The Passion and Poetry of the Somali People

Apr 07, 2016 02:57PM ● By Alisha Soeken

By Alisha Soeken | [email protected]

Murray - The feet of ancient Somali people beat the earth while roaming the horn of Africa. They were nomadic people that moved to find food for their livestock. They also filled the skies with the songs of their clans and the poetry of their hearts. 

The Somali people have been described as a nation of poets.

“The country teems with poets. Every man has his recognized position in literature as accurately defined as though he had been reviewed in a century of magazines. The fine ear of this people causing them to take the greatest pleasure in harmonious sounds and poetic expressions. Every chief in the country must have a panegyric to be sung by his clan, and the great patronize light literature by keeping a poet,” 19th-century British explorer Richard Francis Burton said of Somalia.

As well as poets, the Somali people were great architects, musicians, potters and artists. Preserved in caves and rock for more than 5,000 years, the earliest known rock art is found on the African continent drawn by these nomadic poets. 

Today, the feet of Somali people are scattered not only across their nation but among many. Our community is improved with the lives of Somali people like Abdirizak Ibrahim. Ibrahim is a refugee from Somalia who became a citizen in 2004 and helps incoming families assimilate. 

“I decided to help incoming refugees because I understood the barriers that they experience when resettling in the U.S.,” Ibrahim said. “I recognized the lack of support for Somali and refugee families. I was inspired by the people who helped me when I first arrived and wanted to pay it back.” 

Ibrahim is passionate about helping Somali families, many of whom are single-mother households that need the basic necessities of life. With a lack of English skills, obtaining a job or helping their children in school is a colossal undertaking. 

Ibrahim’s passion extends to his new life and home in Utah. He wants Somali people to enjoy life here as well, but he appreciates the obstacles in their path. 

“The people in Utah have been very welcoming to the Somali community,” Ibrahim said. “However, there is a lack of job opportunities for individuals who are still learning the English language. It is really important that we recognize that housing and employment are basic needs of all people. The Somali community needs to be given more opportunities to obtain safe housing and reliable jobs.” 

Lexie Levitt, a social worker for the community, agrees. As well as need, she sees in the Somali people strength of character and intellect that will assist them in their future. 

“I have been inspired and amazed by the Somali individuals I have worked with,” she said. “Many have been through a lot of hardship but continue to find ways to learn, grow, enjoy life and help others.” \

The Somali culture is very community oriented, and Ibrahim knows the benefits of the Murray community reaching out to make a difference for these people. 

“By welcoming the Somali community as part of our own, we can achieve much more together,” Ibrahim said. “Building cultural awareness in our community is essential to the success of our families with refugee backgrounds.”