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Sounds of East Africa
By Karin Elton
Independent Staff Writer
Used by permission

MARSHALL — It was a beautiful day Saturday at Justice Park — lively music was heard, tasty Somalian food was sampled. At one picnic table, hands were outstretched while henna tattoos were applied by a young Somalian woman.

At Saturday’s Sounds of East Africa, long-time Marshall area residents came to an event that new Marshall residents from East Africa had planned.

Pat Thomas, the coordinator for Adult Basic Education Southwest Minnesota, said so often Somalians attend events for Marshall area residents that it’s nice to see the reverse happening.

“I was extremely pleased to see the community participation in the Sounds of East Africa,” Thomas said.

Marshall residents Dorothy Johnson and Lois Miller attended the event, one of many they took in during the Sounds of Summer weekend.
“I was impressed,” Johnson said of the Sounds of East Africa event. “I enjoyed every minute of it.”

Johnson said she “enjoys music” and thought this would event be “different.”

“From my perspective,” Thomas said, “we as an agency work to deliver a service to Somalians so they can understand the (American) language and culture they now live in,” she said.

“It’s mind-boggling all the changes they have to go through. It’s neat to see the community members respond to an invitation by the Somalian community to participate in pieces of their culture for an afternoon. It was just neat, neat.”

Thomas said the high point of the afternoon was watching the eight individuals be honored for having recently passed their citizenship interview. Next month they will participate in a swearing-in ceremony that will officially make them United States citizens.

“To see what they have accomplished and the pride they take in being a citizen of the United States,” she said. “It was just refreshing to see.”
On Saturday afternoon, Thomas made a big splash as the dunkee in a dunk tank fund-raiser. The activity made a little money for Iftiin, an organization that acts as an intermediary between the East African community and the greater community.

Iftiin and Lutheran Social Services sponsored the event, which was organized by Iftiin employees Abdullahi Osman Noor and Nicki Enersen.
Osman Noor said the day was “definitely” a success.

“I believe it was the first picnic day that Somalians have held,” he said. “It went very well. I’m happy about the contribution my countrypeople have made and also the Marshall community’s contribution.”

Osman Noor enjoyed seeing the “young girls dancing and playing without being shy and wearing heavy clothes.”
In addition to music and dancing, there was plenty of food to eat. Somalians brought trayloads of their country’s traditional dishes such as sambusa, which is sauteed ground beef, green peppers, onions, and garlic tucked into triangular-shaped dough which is then deep fat fried.

“They are best when they are hot and freshly-made,” said Osman Noor. “We also use lamb in our food.”

The sambusa can be made with meat or vegetarian-style, he said.

Other items available Saturday included a shredded cabbage cooked with other vegetables and peanuts.
“It’s boiled and fried,” Osman Noor said.

Osman Noor would like to see another Sounds of East Africa event take place — “better than this one.”

 

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