By: BBC WORLD
Finland’s first Somali-born MP, Suldaan Said Ahmed, has wowed audiences gathered in London for the Somali Festival Week with his singing voice.
He was attending one of the events put on for the ongoing annual festival, which takes place during Black History Month in the UK.
The 29-year-old, who moved to Finland from Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, in 2008, was on the bill to talk about the importance of Somali culture and the role it plays for Somalia’s large diaspora – many having left the country over the last three decades because of civil conflict.
Mr Ahmed treated the crowd to several famous Somali songs, one of which was Soomaaliyeey Toosoo, meaning “Somalis, Wake Up”. This even served as the country’s national anthem for 12 years until 2012. The lyrics underlie the Somali spirit of resilience, summed up in the phrase: “Do not let the enemy rule over you. You are a camel.”
People in the audience clapped along, others stood up to sing with him.
“In our Somali culture, arts and literature are very important to us, it’s used to convey messages,” the MP said.
This incapsulates the incentive of the festival, now in its 14th year – to showcase the diversity of Somalis through literature, poetry, art and music.
Events are also being held in Bristol and Leicester with people typically dressing up in their finest clothes to celebrate, some in traditional attire.
This year’s festival launched hundreds of books and brought together many from the Somali creative arts, including photographer Nuura Alhuda who presented her book on Somaliland’s wildlife and endangered heritage sites:
“Somali Week is not just for senior Somali artists on the map, but we encourage young artists in the UK, around the globe and also those back home,” said Ayan Mohamoud, founder of Kayd Somali Arts and Culture, a London-based group.
The festival will end on Sunday evening with a concert by three big Somali music stars: Awaleh Aden from Djibouti, Ali Dhaanto from Ethiopia and Ikran Jama from the self-declared Republic of Somaliland.