A Nation's Artistic Treasure

Saturday January 21, 2017 - 16:55:23
Hamdi Ali
Hargeisa- The existence of an art center in every nation is a natural human desire.Every nation desires connection to the cultural and religious origins. Nations revere their historical roots as they seek to define their present. It is through traditions passed down from antiquity that one society learns about another's long existing cultures and practices.
I am from Somaliland. I was born and raised in Somaliland. My country continues to strive for recognition on world maps. For nearly three decades now, our expectations have grown with every passing day, and I share the following story from my own experience in part to explain the current situation of artistic production and cultural preservation in Somaliland.

Two years ago I visited an art gallery for the first time (aside from the small collection where I work, at the Hargeisa Cultural Centre). In Ethiopia, I also visited the National Museum; it was like nothing I had seen before. I saw art works ranging from the traditional to the contemporary, objects from ancient and medieval periods. I also saw ceremonial objects and mementos from former rulers.

I was amazed by the rich art of that country. This is my dream for Somaliland. As we continue to build a more active and rich gallery at the Hargeisa Cultural Centre, it is evident our country is rich with history, and preservation will help bring all of this to life again.Sadly, with the challenge of independent statehood following the 1991 conflict in Somalia, Somaliland has had to rebuild everything from scratch, including a political system and education and health services.

As these practical hurdles are overcome, we now seek private collectors to donate their artifacts to our museum. There is an old Somali tradition: when a man wanted to ask for a woman’s hand in marriage, he had to pay a price of one hundred camels, a horse and a gun. Just recently, a private collector anonymously donated a gun to the Cultural Centre museum section. This rifle was presented to the collector’s great grandmother as part of her dowry nearly a hundred years ago.With donations such as this now reaching the Hargeysa Cultural Centre, our future looks bright once again.

About the author

Hamdi Ali is a librarian at the Hargeysa Cultural Center Library. She is writer and activist who is very much interested in artistic production and cultural preservation in Somaliland