We’ve had some rather interesting customs in Somalia at one time, though most of these customs have gradually died out with the advance of Islam. I’ll start with some hairdos.
A young girl’s hair was shaved in such a way that a ring of hair was left to encircle the smooth scalp. Sometimes it was shaved so that in addition to the ring of hair that surrounds the head, a line of hair also goes through the centre of the head just as in the picture above.
Upon reaching maturity or reaching a certain age, she was then circumcised. Once circumcised, it was customary that the girl’s head is completely shaven off. This was a must. When the hair grew back it was left to grow and never to be cut back again. A band of beads was rested on her head and her hair, once it became long enough, was braided. This denoted that she was ready to engage in acts of courtship and choose a husband.
Once she found someone appealing to her and they were engaged, the girl would be required to cover her hair. If at anytime she covered her hair before she was engaged, she would be taunted with remarks such as;
“Ma jinni baa ku guursadey, iska siib gambada”
Were you wed by a Jinn, get rid of this gambo.
Gambo being a small embroidered cloth that women use to cover their hair.
Upon accepting the proposal of her partner, as well as a generous provision of camles, she was then expected to wear a Garbasaar – a three/four yard cloth draped around the shoulders – as a sign of her engagement, which if she didn’t people would remark;
Meher baad qabtaaye timahagaa qari
you have dowry now, cover your hair
or sometimes, being superstitious, they would say;
Cirku noo soo di’i maayee timahaaga naga qari
the sky would not pour down, cover your hair
Once the official wedding ceremony took place and the girl moved in with her new husband, it was expected that she must fully cover her hair and drape her Garbasaar around her as a sign of modest clothing.
As for young boys, the head was shaved so that no hair was left on the sides of his head until he reaches puberty. Something similar what most people do nowadays by shaving the sides of their head and leaving the top untouched. Upon reaching puberty the young man can scout for his bride and once married can let his hair even on all sides – an Afro. In the initial stage where his hair was shaven on the sides, he would have been known as a Taabog.