Department of Culture was set up in 2013 with the primary aim of supporting the national music.

The mission of the department is to foster a balanced and harmonious Somaliland Society through promotion of creativity and the celebration of cultural values.

Its main objectives are:

  • to preserve and foster cultural values both at individual and collective levels;
  • to promote cultural interaction among different cultural components within the country and abroad for mutual understanding and enrichment;
  • to upgrade, strengthen and extend the existing cultural infrastructure and to construct new structures;
  • to provide support to associations of artists and to individuals involved in artistic and cultural activities;
  • to organise cultural activities for the public at large
  • to encourage the development of a dynamic arts and culture sector

Major issues facing the country’s culture include artists’ sub-standard living conditions and lack of protection for intellectual property. Therefore, artists are trying to adapt laws to protect investments while encouraging creativity and converting cultural and artistic works into modern formats. The conversion of the cultural heritage of the country into a digital format is a major economic challenge.

National artists are not showcased in libraries, archives, museums,or other national cultural institutions.

The infrastructure that belongs to the Culture Department includes:

  • Two National culture centres that is located at Hargeisa and Burao
  • National theatres that is located at Hargeisa, Buroa, Berbera, Gabiley and Borama.
  • The centres for the national music stars
  • The Waaberi compound at Goljano

Radio Hargeisa

Radio Hargeisa is widely considered to be the most powerful medium of communication in Somali society, thanks to its compatibility with Somali oral culture. Consequently, the history of radio in Somaliland is inseparable from the political history of the territory.

Radio Hargeisa was officially established in 1944 under the British Military Administration. But a number of indigenous transmissions systems preceded this colonial enterprise, including the first experimental radio broadcasts in Somaliland, which began in 1941, followed by Radio Kudu, which was inaugurated in December 1942. Although initially a small operation, the scope of Radio Hargeisa’s influence grew once its transmission power was gradually increased from 1 kilowatt in 1945 to 5 kilowatts in 1957. With the invention of the transistor, radios spread to Somali owned teashops and private individuals across the country, increasing Radio Hargeisa’s audience to a large segment of the Somaliland population.

Radio Hargeisa initially served primarily to consolidate colonial rule in Somaliland. Government announcements, policies and regulations were disseminated over the radio, and the Somali audience was exposed to British norms and values.

At the same time, Radio Hargeisa played an important role in the development and dissemination of Somali literary works. It served as an organizing institution for national musicians, actors and singers of the time, who used the outlet as a focal point from which to enrich society with songs, poems and short plays. In addition, the country operated a photography unit under the leadership of the management of the radio station. The photography unit was responsible for filming and documenting many of the events of importance to Somaliland’s unique historical legacy. Unfortunately, these photographic archives were for the most part destroyed during the Somali civil war. The Radio management also ran the War-Somaali-side (“Somali news carrier”), a weekly English paper published by the colonial administration. The management of Radio Hargeisa, which carried out these various media activities, in essence served as the information department of the colonial administration, a function it ran for many years. In later years, the Ministry of Information assumed most of these activities.

The era of unification with Somalia and the period of conflict and liberation struggle against the Barre regime were both characterized by abuse and marginalization of the Somaliland people and their institutions, including Radio Hargeisa. Under the military regime of SiadBarre, radio reached full maturity as an instrument of political propaganda. Radio Hargeisa operated between 1:00– 3:00pm in the afternoon and 6:00–9.00 pm in the evenings.

In order to counter the Barre regime propaganda disseminated through Radio Hargeisa, the Somali National Movement (SNM), the main organ of military resistance against the government in Mogadishu, established Radio SNM as part of their arsenal. During this period, Radio Hargeisa’s longstanding presence in Somaliland was put on an extended hiatus when it was destroyed in heavy fighting during the SNM’s 1988 invasion of Hargeisa and Burao.

During the first week of February 1991, the Barre government forces were routed and the SNM took power in the northwest, proclaiming the newly-liberated territory the independent Republic of Somaliland. Following this victory, Radio SNM was symbolically renamed Radio Hargeisa in June 1991.

While the premises of Radio Hargeisa were entirely destroyed during the course of the war, its archives were rescued and survived largely intact. Being the oldest Somali radio station, Radio Hargeisa has inherited one of the richest recording archives in all of the Somali territories, allowing the institution to serve as a source of music, literary works and poetry for other Somali radio stations. Rehabilitation of the Radio Hargeisa premises, begun in 1991, received a major boost in 1998 through a publicly supported self-help program, and broadcasting activities resumed there on 9 November 1999.