Somalia has long been known as a nation of poets. A people with few possessions and no written language until the 1970s, Somalis developed an oral tradition of poetry and storytelling, that has been passed down through generations. Many of these poems and stories were written down in the late twentieth century. A popular new genre of song on the radio in the late twentieth century was heello, taken from Somali poetry. Some themes of Somali poetry are history, philosophy, and politics, as well as praise or ridicule of humans or animals. Probably the best-known Somali poet is spiritual and military leader Muhammad Abdullah Hassan, leader of the Dervishes.
Somali plays were performed in the late twentieth century at the National Theatre in Mogadishu and at small theatres in other cities. Somalis began to write plays under the influence of neighbouring countries and their cultures. Somali plays are now written in Somali, Arabic, English, and Italian. A well-known modern Somali playwright is Hassan Mumin others in the diaspora like A. A. Ibrahim (Raggii soo qabanwaaye hablayahow nabaddoona).
Somalia has a rich musical heritage centred on traditional Somali folklore. At first, Somali music might be mistaken for the sounds of nearby regions such as Ethiopia, Sudan or Arabia, but it is ultimately recognisable by its own unique tunes and styles. Somali songs are usually the product of collaboration between lyricists (midho), songwriters (lahan), and singers (‘odka or “voice”). Native instruments include the batar drum and the kaban or oud.
The strained notes of the Somali music as if remind of the turmoil and the suffering that the people of Somalia have gone through. These Somali songs represent the collective experience of the mass and leave a lasting impression on the listener. Somali music hence is an intricate part of the Somalia Culture.