There are certain customs and practices peculiar to every locality that only people from that region can relate to. Some countries comprise of people from diverse backgrounds like Djibouti where the rich cultural values and systems are different and beautiful.
The influences of people who have passed through Djibouti still reflect in the varied languages spoken in the country located in the Horn of Africa. With the fascinating ethnic composition of the people, most people in Djibouti are multilingual. It is not uncommon for one person to speak Afar, Somali, French and Arabic. The people are highly superstitious and ancient and Islamic practices form a core part of the moral fabric of their lives.
Here are five customs that only people from Djibouti will understand.
1. Marriage principles
Marriage is sacred for Djiboutians because Islam holds it in high esteem, and it is an essential and pivotal rite for the people as it helps build their society. The people here tend to marry rather young as it is deemed a great feat for the bride and her family so the weddings are always big celebrations that could level up to that of a festival.
Also, since Islam permits polygamy, it is also very common for Somali Muslims in Djibouti to marry as many as four women if they can take care of them.
However, the Afar people are monogamous and in many remote areas of Djibouti, some of the girls marry the moment they reach puberty.
2. Death and the afterlife
Most people practice Islam and Muslims and the people of the Somali tribe are of the belief that everyone will be judged by God. Although different tribes have their beliefs pertaining to life, death, and the afterlife, Muslim Somali Djiboutians believe their lives are represented by the leaves on a tree which to them is the limit between heaven and earth.
It is also believed that on the first day of the Islamic year, the leaves of this tree are shaken by an angel and the number of leaves that will fall represent those who will die in that particular year.
According to custom, when a Muslim Djiboutian man dies, his wife must mourn him for 10 months 10 days. During that period, a big tent is mounted to accommodate well-wishers and mourners who go to the house of the deceased to sympathize with them.
3. Rites of passage
In Djibouti, clitoridectomy and circumcision are a part of their reality and as such an Afar, Arab, and Somali tradition, despite these practices being highly criticized by human rights groups across the world.
Many Djiboutians believe that these practices bind them and strengthen social cohesion and fertility. Virginity is highly regarded in Djibouti because it brings immense honor to the family. So to them, it is necessary to perform clitoridectomies which preserve virginity.
Nonetheless, most Djiboutian women are very sensitive to this discussion and anyone looking to engage in this conversation must tread cautiously.
Superstitions have been in existence for ages and are inherent in many cultures. However, in Djibouti, superstitions “have the power to influence social conduct, important decisions and money flow,” according to Culture Trip.
For instance, if you see three lizards approaching you, it means you will get married soon but if you see four lizards headed your way, then death is hovering around you and someone in your immediate surroundings might die soon. Seeing a black cat at night will also bring bad luck into one’s life, they believe.
Some rituals practiced since the Punt Kingdom, which were greatly influenced by the culture of Ancient Egypt, is performed to ward off evil or demonic spirits.
For example, smearing or anointing one’s body with orghee or subag, which is a runny clarified butter, purifies the body from demonic possession. At other times, this same practice is said to bring good luck or is a sign of hospitality, said the report by Culture Trip.
Folklore involves storytelling and the recital of chants and poetry and the Somalis and Afar who were nomadic for centuries use it in their villages to document and preserve their history and culture.
Today, folklore is not common in modern Djibouti homes, however, some families still chant during funerals and weddings, according to the report by Culture Trip.
Jenile is an Afar dance that is inherently tied to the Cushitic religion and practiced today by a sect of Islam called the Sufi people during their ceremonies, the report adds.