In an effort to break down and deconstruct the complexities of his home country of Somalia and Somali identity within the diaspora, Dynamic African blogger Abdirashid of ‘Somali Times’ covers all aspects of Somali culture, politics and history through his tumblr blog, as well as providing essential and opinionated comments about these very topics.
Tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Abdirashid and I’m originally from Somalia, East Africa. I’m 25 years old and I’ve been living here in the Netherlands since 1991. I do however feel a connection to my heritage. I’m currently finishing my studies in tourism and the leisure industry. I hope to focus on the Somali region in the future.
Where does the inspiration behind the url of your blog come from?
Somalis are known to be pastoralists and nomads. Of course there are many Somalis who live in urban cities, but the nomadic lifestyle is part of the Somali essence. I thought it would be fitting to use the word nomad in my blog name. Amsterdam is a given.
What inspired or motivated you to start this blog and when did you start it?
I know from my studies how important (and dangerous) representation of a people can be. I felt that Somalis were never shed in a positive light or even more nuanced in the media. We are not just pirates, warlords, poverty stricken, war loving people and terrorists. I wanted to create a blog to share the beauty of our culture, developments and to showcase my narrative. I wanted to showcase our side of Africa and to do my bit in sharing the diversity of the huge continent.
Another motivation was that I felt Somalis around me didn’t have much knowledge about our culture or history. Many young Somalis I know only feel proud of Islamic or Arab history, which made me wonder how we lost our Somali pride and love for our history and culture. Our dances, poems, songs, proverbs, freedom fighters etc. Before the war we were a promising hard working people on our way to become a developed nation. With clean beautiful cities and a growing middle class. A proud tolerant people that emphasized on culture and religion, without losing any of our identities.
We’re about 99% Muslim and we even had one of the largest cathedrals of Africa next to a mosque. Even though we have been in a limbo for the last 21 years because of the civil conflict. The war does not define us.
I started blogging in August 2012.
How would you describe your experience as both a Somali living in the diaspora, as well as identifying with the greater context of the ‘African diaspora’?
As a Somali in the diaspora I know it is expected of me to contribute to the rebuilding of the nation. I feel people here do not want to see the diversity of black people. We are categorized as the same as all other black people no matter where they’re from. I have never experienced much racism here, but I don’t see this country as mine. I do feel a stronger connection with people from other countries in the Horn of Africa, such as Djibouti, Ethiopia and Eritrea. But this has to do with our interwoven history. Pan Africanism or identifying with the African diaspora is not something rooted in the Somali culture, but pan Somalism is.