Somali Independence Day Festival begins June 30 and lasts an entire week. That week is filled with music, games, entertainment, and of course, plenty of delicious food. This year celebrates Somalia’s 58th Independence Day, commemorating the unification of the Somali Republic on July 1, 1960.
Put together by Ka Joog, a nonprofit focused on mentoring and enriching the lives of Somali youth, the Somali Independence Day Festival is the Minnesota Somali community’s largest celebration of the year. In it’s inception, the weeklong event began with 5,000 people coming out to celebrate Somali Independence Day and to bring together a community. The festival has now grown immensely welcoming over 40,000 people from across all communities.
This year’s theme is Promoting Diversity through Unity and Inclusion with the festival spreading over three blocks in Minneapolis on Lake Street between Blaisdell and Stevens Avenue. This year the family-friendly festival will include a soccer tournament, lottery giveaways and prizes, carnival games, a petting zoo, face painting, a health and wellness area providing free health screenings, and a sports zone for the kids. The festival will also focus on Somali culture and arts with live entertainment, music, and food. And you’ll definitely enjoy the cultural dance performances presented by the Somali Museum of Minnesota Dance Troupe, the various art exhibits, Somali artifacts showcase, crafts, and Henna.
The festivities continue all week with Xasuuso (Remember) 1960 where you can learn all about Somali culture, history, and the significance of Somali Independence Day. This event educates and inspires through a photography exhibit, performances, and shared stories from Somalia as well as from the Minnesota Somali diaspora. This year Xasuuso (Remember) 1960 will also showcase the documentary Somalia: A Nation of Poets produced by Ka Joog, the Somali Museum of Minnesota, and Twin Cities Public Broadcasting. Somalia: A Nation of Poets is a 30 minute documentary highlighting the oral tradition of Somali poetry. Featuring artists from both older and younger generations, the film highlights the influence of these ancient Somali traditions on the Minnesota diaspora.
Xasuuso (Remember) 1960 and Somalia: A Nation of Poets will have two showings: July 1 at the Southern Theater from 6:30-9:00pm and July 5 at Twin Cities Public Broadcasting from 6:30-8:30pm. Be sure to come early before the film to enjoy some free food and refreshments.
During the week you can also catch the Movie in the Park event on July 6 which will be screening the movie Men in the Arena. The film is a heart-warming story of two Somali National Football Team friends that chase their dreams in the face of impossible challenges. The movie will start at 7:00pm at Whittier Park.
The Somali Independence Day Festival keeps growing every single year and you can be a part of it. The festival is completely free for everyone and goes from 1:00-8:00pm on Saturday, June 30.