Somali Minnesotans celebrate a different Independence Day

Safiya Mohamed reports: 

 

This weekend, Americans celebrated Independence Day. Just a few days earlier, on July 1st, Somali-Americans celebrated Somali independence day. The holiday dates back to 1960 when Somalia liberated itself from British and Italian colonial powers. 

 

Hundreds of Somali residents gathered in Eagan to mark the occasion. 

Local author Deqo Muhidin said this day means a lot to her. 

 

“Being able to celebrate our independence, being able to dance, celebrate, listen to music together, and just be a part of history as we continue to celebrate our legacy of building our nation,” she explained.  

 

Muhidin has yet to experience a peaceful Somalia, but it’s something she dreams of. 

 

The majority of Somali-Minnesotans came here in the 1990s to escape civil war. Minnesota Compass estimates that there are between 72,000 and 85,000 Somali residents in the state. 

 

As black immigrants in a white majority culture, celebrations like this also provide an opportunity to recharge and heal from racialized trauma. 

 

Hodo Ali is the financial manager of Isuroon, the non-profit that organized the event. 

 

“It means to me that I have something, that I remember where I come from. And it also means to me that I have a country and I have a culture,” she said. 

 

Ali says she hopes the event connects young people with their homeland and their history. For teenagers Luqman Abdi and Zaki Sahal, it appears to have been a success. They said the event means a lot to them, and showed them just how big their community is.  Many attendees said it was exciting and emotional to see so many Somali people gathered together in a predominately white city. 

Photo: Attendees Fartun Warsame and Ayan Abukar in traditional Somali clothing at the Somali Independence Day celebration in Eagan on July 1, 2020.

 

 

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