Facts File

10 Weird Facts About Somalia You Should Know

Weird Facts About Somalia
Somalia City Photo Credit to somalinet.com

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!

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Capital:                         Mogadishu

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.

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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.

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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.

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