Muhubo’s hut for Harmony Day

Three women wearing headdresses holding brightly coloured weaved textiles.

Head to Carlton Harmony Day to share a meal and explore a traditional Somali hut expertly woven from dried grass, wool and scrap fabric.

Muhubo Sulieman learnt to weave from her mother as a child in East Africa, and showcases exquisite rugs and bags on market days at the Carlton housing estate.

Amid the hustle and bustle of people buying fruit and vegetables, and chatting over Somali tea, Eritrean coffee, and stuffed pastries called sambusa, passers-by are fascinated by Muhubo’s colourful handcrafts.

This inspired her to lead a series of workshops where people from diverse backgrounds could work together to weave a traditional Somali dwelling, or aqal. We supported Muhubo with an arts grant to ensure the workshops could be open to all.

‘My ultimate dream has been to build a hut showcasing my cultural heritage and allowing me to reconnect with my childhood,’ Muhubo said.

‘Once these huts were built, our neighbours and family members would gather and enjoy a cup of tea and sweets under the cool shade of the hut.’

Traditionally constructed using animal skins and whatever else was to hand, the aqal is made in such a way that it can be moved from place to place, in keeping with a nomadic rural lifestyle.

This spirit of resourcefulness shines through in the Harmony Day hut project, which has made use of many recycled and donated materials.

‘Once the base is built, the making of the hut is simple – any individual with the right training can put it together,’ Muhubo said.

‘People now use the huts in celebrations, whether it be a wedding, welcome party or when community meetings are being held. ‘I even believe individuals can take it camping instead of using tents, as it is quite warm and water resistant.’

In addition to the finished hut, the Carlton Harmony Day celebrations will feature a 200-strong sit-down lunch, where participants can contribute a favourite dish from their cultural heritage.

Councillor Beverley Pinder, Chair of the People City Portfolio, said the theme of the day is ‘get to know your neighbour’.

‘The City of Melbourne is home to one of the world’s most harmonious and culturally diverse communities, with around 140 cultures represented,’ Cr Pinder said.

‘Carlton Harmony Day and Cultural Diversity Week, which runs from 16 to 24 March, are perfect opportunities for everyone to get out and discover the many cultures, crafts and cuisines of Melbourne.’

Carlton Harmony Day
Saturday 30 March
Carlton Housing Estate
Corner of Drummond and Palmerston streets

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