The 8th Annual Somali American Independence Day Tournament began this past weekend at St. Paul Central High School and will come to a close when a champion is crowned on July 4th. The tournament celebrates both the Independence Day of Somalia, which is July 1st, and the Independence Day of the United States, the Somali community’s new home.
“We are not coming here to play the best players in the world or the best in the United States, we are coming here to play with people that have a common identity with us. We are Somalia, and we are American now,” says Guled Dalmar, 27, of Dallas, TX, in an interview by Andy Gerder in the Pioneer Press. The tournament not only unites Somali refugees from all over the country to share the sport they all love, but it also creates an open forum for the players and spectators to share their stories of hardship and triumph with their fellow countrymen.
As Guled Dalmar mentions, a shared Somali American identity unites the participants. But as we discover through Minnesota Historical Society’s Becoming Minnesotan: Minnesota Immigrant Oral Histories Project, the topic of identity is difficult for all recent immigrants, including the Somali population.
Throughout this series of wonderful interviews, the issues of cultural preservation and identity, assimilation into American culture, and the difficulties navigating the transition are especially difficult given the deep traditions within Somali culture. For example, Maryan Del, a participant in the oral histories project, discusses the importance of the Hijab, the traditional headscarf worn by devout Muslim women for the sake of modesty, and tells how women make a decision whether or not to wear it.
To hear more Somali oral histories and learn more about the Somali community in the Twin Cities, follow this link and click “Somali Stories.”