Officially called the federal republic of Somalia, the African country is located at the horn of Africa. It is bordered to the west by Ethiopia, to the northwest by Djibouti, and to the north, by the Gulf of Aden. Today, however, the federal republic of Somalia has no permanent government, with the Al-Shabab decimating the population.
Outside those, there are quite a number of other Weird about this country. For example, which set of people is it an unforgivable offence to take photos of? Why must you accept if a Somali offers to buy you anything? What kind of topic must you avoid broaching upon, no matter what you do?
Get the answers to these and more in the following 10 weird facts about Somalia. Enjoy!
President: Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud
Prime minister: Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke
Currency: Somali shilling
Population: 10.5 million (2013) World Bank
Official languages: Somali, Arabic
Government: Federal Parliamentary Republic
Weird Facts About Somalia
1. DON’T PHOTOGRAPH WOMEN
In Somalia, one weird and unforgivable offence is to take the photograph of a woman. This is so even if you (the one taking the photograph) are a woman yourself. Apart from that, you must be careful what you take photograph of.
2. PASS PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES
There are several photo opportunities everywhere! But it is unwise to take all the opportunities, as tempting as they may be. If you must take the photograph of a person, you need his permission. And if anything appears to be of national importance, leave it out.
3. RELIGIOUS COUNTRY
Somali is a Muslim country. For this reason, a visitor is under strict obligation to respect and observe all their religious laws. This is especially true in the case of dresses. Nothing skimpy; and no tube tops for women. But the Somali national dress is allowed for every visitor. Talk about weird!
4. EL-SHABAB EVERYWHERE
The Al-Shabab militiamen are everywhere, even in inhabited areas. They feel no allegiance to the government. So they usually punish any violation of sharia laws as they please, with floggings, amputations, even executions.
5. DON’TS AT MEAL TABLE
If at a meal table with a Somali, here are things you must observe:
- Never let the sole of you feet show in any way
- Never eat with your left hand
- Never hand him/her anything with left hand
The weird fact is, these parts of the body (soles of feet, left hand) are viewed as dirty by the Islamic religion.
6. ACCEPT OFFERS
In case your Somali friend offers to buy you something, it is taken as bad habit to decline. By all means, allow him/her. The weird fact is that Somali people are extremely hospitable and take offense when you try to prevent them from exhibiting it.
7. NO RELIGIOUS TALKS
Never discuss religion from any other point of view different from the Islamic point. Even Somalis who are highly educated and have lived abroad will shut their door on your face if you so do. And during the five times daily prayer time, it is advised to stay quiet and away till it is over.
8. BE CAUTIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS
Because of the ongoing unrest as a result of the insurgency, being cautious and suspicious of everything and everybody to the point of paranoia is the course of wisdom. That may sound weird. But a nicely dressed man may be armed. A gift of food could be poisoned.
9. HOMOSEXUALITY IS CRIME
Homosexuality is not just a sin, it is a crime. Yes, two men may walk hand in hand as a mark of friendship. And this might sound weird to westerners; but two men may share a hotel room to cut costs. However, they will ensure there are two beds in the room.
10. PARTIAL EYE CONTACT
When conversing with elders and superiors, indirect eye contact is the norm in Somalia. And when women converse with men, the women totally avoid eye contact with the men. But when conversation is between people of same gender, age group, social status, direct eye contact is practiced.