With the conclusion of the holy month of Ramadan, the Twin Cities Somali community steps out to celebrate Somali Independence Day with a festival this Saturday, followed by additional events throughout the week. Commemorating Somalia’s independence on July 1, 1960, organizers of Somali Week hope both the festival and subsequent events will provide education and entertainment for local Somalis and the greater community as well.
Somali Independence Day celebrations have taken place in the Twin Cities for over a decade, and were first organized by the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota. Since 2013, Ka Joog, a youth-focused non-profit, has taken the lead in organizing the event. “They gave us the torch to go ahead and start hosting it,” says Mohamed Farah, executive director of Ka Joog.
Through Ka Joog’s leadership, young people from the Somali community have taken ownership of the planning of the event, transforming it into something not only for Somali Americans but the general public as well. It was the young group — mostly high school students — who decided to expand this year into a whole week of happenings. “[They've] been meeting over the past 12 months to plan for this,” Farah says. Activities include the opening celebrations of Somali Independence Day on Saturday, a gallery and spoken-word happening at the Minnesota History Center on Sunday, titled “Xasuuso (Remember) 1960,” and a Cup of Nations soccer tournament next week.
In addition, the Somali Museum of Minnesota will host Nomadic Days at the Somali Museum, where they will take apart a nomadic Somali home on Monday afternoon and rebuild on Wednesday, offering insight into the process. Somali museum will also host weaving courses later this month. Saturday’s festival includes an event stage, where different musical acts will play, a job fair, a health section, and an area where visitor can ride ponies and interact with exotic animals. The Somali museum will host cultural dances throughout the day. There’ll be plenty of food and art activities as well.
Ka Joog’s mission is to build leaders of the community at city, state, and national levels. “In order for young people to live in society, they have to be connected to other communities. We want to create a world where everyone is thriving,” says Farah.
IF YOU GO:
Somali Independence Day Festival
West Lake Street, between Blaisdell Avenue and Grand Avenue
1 to 8 p.m. Saturday