There are many cultures practice by the 7 billion of world population where each culture is unique to particular society, some cultures overlap and has similarities. The Somali culture has unique attributes which goes into some extent length which makes a Somali person proud. This is the culture of ‘giving’ our religion encourages to look after the poor and support relatives who are less fortunate. While our religion thought us to do this, Somalis take extra steps to support relatives, poor, neighbours and strangers through financial and material donations.
To examine the extent of this culture of giving, there is a Somali proverb that says “sadaqo wad Iyo geeriba way fududaysaa” (charity can ease off death). We all know we will not pass our determined death date and nothing can ease off the pain of death apart from Allah and the new scientific developments.
But the proverb intended to emphasises the wisdom of charity giving. Many of us experienced our sixty cousins calling to ask for support where our parents insist we help and this certainly does make no sense to many young Somalis born and grown up in the diaspora. But this is a culture that has been passed on from generations that saved millions of lives before and after the clan driven civil war.
Before the urbanisation of Somalis there were many forms of charity given used and just to mention few. When somebody marries, neighbours used to come together to collect livestocks from each other and hand in to the new married couples. known as Hala xooleeyo, in today’s context it can be gifts for the new family whether it is buying TV, washing machine, dishes or simple gifts.
Another form of charity given was for the religion educators known as tabriiq who used leave their families behind to spread the teaching of our religion and very family they come pass used to donate few goats and sheep. They used the livestocks given for food, aid their families and material exchanges and this enable the Tabriiqis to continue the teaching.
I remember listening to a great poem recited by one of our early 1900 poet, I can’t recall whether it was Qamaam Bulxan or Salaad Carabay. who made poem for his uncles and cousins for neglecting him when drought wiped out his livestocks and the poem calls them betrayals of Somali norms and labelled their action alien to Somali culture.
This demonstrates how shameful and inappropriate it was not to help relatives in need. This culture of kindness and generosity has saved and continue to save millions of Somalis after the civil war and it is what makes us unique from others and that is what being Somali is about.
It is always difficult to slice your hard earned wealthy to somebody else who you never met or heard of it but it is worth examining this beautiful culture. And there is a possibility that your family lineages has benefited from slice of somebody’s wealthy.