The Somali community in Bristol is celebrating the independence of Somalia this week.
A week of celebrations is taking place to honour 59 years of the county’s independence.
This was won in 1960, after breaking from British, and Italian colonial rule.
Somali independence is being celebrated in Somalia and all over the world including in Bristol. In Bristol there is a significant Somali diaspora, mainly living in Lawrence Hill and Easton areas.
The history of the country is complicated, and there are infact three significant days that are celebrated. At the time under colonial rule Somalia was divided into three parts, British Somaliland, French Somaliland, and Italian Somaliland.
The first to gain independence was British Somaliland on June 26, 1960, and joined five days later by Italian Somaliland on July 1, both came together to form the Somali Republic.
French Somali and which would gain its full independence from France much later on June 27, 1977, became the Republic of Djibouti.
All three days are celebrated and national holidays in each place today.
In 1991, after civil war broke out in the Somalia Republic, Somaliland the former British colony, proclaimed its independence in 1991 and people from there also celebrate the day it happened, May 18.
Somaliland is, however, currently not internationally recognised and still seen as an autonomous part of Somalia.
Bristol Live spoke to individuals in the various Somali communities about their thoughts on the days, and what it means to them.
Abdihakin who runs the Bristol Somali Community Association in Barton Hill said: “Both parts of Somali, the north and south, fought for their independence in different ways. Like most of African nations we had unlawful occupation from Western powers.
“The north was occupied by the British Empire from the end of the 19th century, and the south the Italian fascists. So wherever we are, across the globe, we are trying to remember those heroes who paid their lives in order to give us, Somalis, the nation we now have.”
Families will be gathering for celebrations at home and at various places locally.
He added: “It isn’t easy for the government, but since 2012 Somalia is experiencing steady growth and peace in parts, and there is a steady growth of the diaspora returning to contribute to the rebirth of the nation.”
Local community worker Khalil Aden Abdi feels remembering and honouring this piece of history is very important.
He said: “The days are very important to us all. It is a big moment to gain independence.
“Every human being has a right to be free, and it is a great way to celebrate us gaining independence. It is a real great joy. People will be celebrating everyday.”
Local business woman Muna Abdi, who is from Somaliland, said: “It is a very positive week. And forgetting all the politics, it is really a celebration for all across the Somali and East African region. To break free.
“There will be some big events in London over the weekend, and in Bristol are coming together.
“In Somaliland more and more people are returning there, where there is now peace.”
Chair of the Bristol Somali Resource Centre Saeed Ali is proud of independence day and excited about July 1 in particular.
He said: “July 1, 1960 was a great day for the whole of Somalia. It marks the day every Somali felt the sense of belonging, freedom and enjoyed being a nation.
“The song of Somalia belongs to all Somalis.”
Head of Somali Youth Concern Mohamed Abdi Sayaqle feels there is greater integration in Bristol, and good to see people celebrate their different days.
He said: “In Bristol most are from the north. Somaliland, and there are more people now coming from the south in Somalia, and also from Djibouti and Kenya.
“People are integrated here, so it is important for us all to celebrate.”
Whichever part of the Somali region people come from, in Bristol it will be a week of celebrations.