On the evening of Friday 7th October 2016, the Somali Object Journeys project hosted a performance-filled event to celebrate the new Somali display case in the British Museum’s Wellcome Gallery. The display case, Objects of Survival: the Beauty of Somali Craftwork, is a culmination of a year’s hard work by the Somali Object Journeys community partners.
This event, Eye on Somali Culture, celebrated Somali culture through music, poetry, talks led by the project group, and opportunities to engage with the British Museum’s Somali handling collection. It also gave visitors a chance to speak with the project’s community partners, who co-developed the programme of events for the project, and hear more about the work they undertook in curating the exhibition. Over 100 people attended the event and over the course of the evening enjoyed presentations, poetry and music performances. Here are some short videos from the event featuring the artists who were kind enough to preform for the event!
First up, we have Aisha Afrah, a poet and short fiction writer who was raised in Mogadishu and now lives in London. Her poetry carries themes such as nature, being a woman and a refugee. She recently graduated with a B.A in English Literature with Creative Writing and she is currently undertaking a postgraduate degree studying African Literature at the The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London with a focus on Somali Literature.
In this poem, Aisha looks at how Somali faces carry many stories. In the city, Somali people always recognise each other, but the stories run much deeper than what is on the surface.
This next poem is part of a group of poems about Aisha’s family. She writes about the important role her Grandmother played in her life, her memories, and how her knowledge of how to perform and pray are part of her Grandmother’s legacy.
We were also joined by Amaal Said, a Danish-born Somali photographer and poet currently based in London, UK. She is concerned with storytelling and connecting with people to document their stories. Her photography has grown out of her writing, and she is fascinated with the way we can use photographs to bring people closer.
Lastly, we had a wonderful performance by Hudeydi, the ‘King of the Oud’! Hudeydi is a Somali-British oud player, singer and composer. The Oud is a pear-shaped string instrument that is often considered an ancestor of the modern guitar, and it is a popular accompaniment to Somali singers.
Known as the ‘King’, Hudeydi learned the oud from Abdullahi Qarshe, the “Father of Somali music” and played in Somalia during the 1950s and 1960s. He moved to the UK in 1974, where he has continued to be a performer and teacher passing on the musical traditions to young Somalis in the UK.
We want to thank again all the wonderful performers and the Somali Object Journeys group for all their hard work in making this an enjoyable evening and a successful launch of Objects of Survival: the Beauty of Somali Craftwork display. We hope you are able to come by and see the display up now at the British Museum!