Forty friends and neighbors from Searsport and Belfast joined us last Sunday at Searsport Shores to share a Somali Bantu Feast.
Prepared by Atiya Haji along with her family and other members of the Somali Bantu Community, the menu included wood-fired bread called muuffo, and flaky chapati bread expertly made by Hawa. There were several varieties of Sambusa, which is a crispy dough wrapped around a savory filling, there was beef as well as a vegetarian option. Common spices used in Somali Bantu cooking include chili powder, garlic, cardamon, curry and ginger. There was also Bean Stew and Sukuma a mixture of spinach with potatoes, onion and spices. A sweet treat called Mandazi, traditional fried dough from Kenya,
In addition to being a fabulous cook, Atyia is part of The Women’s Empowerment Project which has developed a number of initiatives including The Basket Weaving Program!
Muhidin Libah, Executive Director Somali Bantu Community Mutual Assistance Association of Lewiston and Auburn Maine, spoke briefly to the group about some of the challenges faced by the Somali Bantu Community members. SBCMALA is a 501©3 non-profit organization with a mission to assist the Somali Bantu refugee community with the transition to our their lives and to their new home here in Maine.
Since 2005, SBCMALA has worked tirelessly to offer programs to help give refugees the skills and education they need to find employment. Bantu people are incredibly hard workers, seeking economic independence for their families. Muhidin stated that 2015 is an important year as it is the 10th anniversary of the organization.
A good time was had by all! We look forward to getting together again at Fiber College in September for great food, dance and the opportunity to learn more about our new friends!