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There have been Somalis in Cardiff since the 1870s. The city has one of the longest established Somali communities in the UK. The first settlers were sailors who came here shortly after opening the Suez Canal in 1869, when Cardiff was developing as a major international seaport. During the 1980s, another wave of Somali immigrants arrived, fleeing from the civil war in the Horn of Africa. It is estimated that currently over 8000 Somalis live in the Cardiff, Newport and Swansea areas, making them the largest ethnic minority community in Wales.

There are about 10-15 million Somali speakers worldwide. It is a language which has a long, rich tradition of poetry and literature. However it was only in 1972 that the Somali language became the official language of Somalia, replacing the colonial languages of English and Italian in government and education.

Listen to Faisal Mohamed Hashi talking about his Somali-speaking background in Newport, Gwent. His father was a merchant seaman who came to Wales with the British Merchant Navy.

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  • PagesDifferent Voices

    5 May 2011
    Different Voices

    Explore the history and sounds of Wales' languages from Early Medieval to the present