||Istunka is a three-day annual festival in Somalia, coinciding with the Somalian New Year. The festival shares its name with the traditional Somalian stick-fighting tradition. It is a mock battle between the population of the different sides of the Shebeele River running through the city Afgooye. The festival and its stick-fighting event marks the beginning of the new planting season in August/September and is supposed to bring good fortune (Mukhtar 2003: 123; HAMA Association, s.d.).|
||According to the legend the tradition stems from an ancient battle to decide who would be allowed to use the water from the river during the dry season. Another possibility is that the festival used to be for training the warriors in defending their territory (Mukhtar 2003: 123). The festival attracts many visitors, including foreigners (Mukhtar 2003: 124).|
Originally combat gear including axes, swords and daggers were used, but nowadays they are replaced by sticks for safety (Ahmed 2015). There is no intention to harm each other (Hama Association, s.d.). Men are naked with the exception of a loin cloth and headband. Amulets are worn around the neck or arm. They carry fresh sticks in their left arm which are used, one-by-one, to hit the opponent (Mukhtar 2003: 124; HAMA Association, s.d.).
||- HAMA Association|
||- Mukhtar, M.H. (2003). Historical Dictionary of Somalia, Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press.|
- HAMA Association. (s.d.). “Istunka: A New Year’s Ritual”, https://hamaassociation.wordpress.com/2019/03/19/istunka-a-new-years-ritual/
- Ahmed, A. (2015), ISTUNKA- A YEARLY RITUAL https://wardheernews.com/istunka-a-yearly-ritual/