Somali storytelling: our people, home and landscape

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5:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Virtual Event
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Photo credit: Paul Patrick Borhaug/SOAS Image Bank

Hidden Histories Seminar Series

A seminar series curated by the Library Decolonisation Operational Group, led by Farzana Qureshi, Dr Ludi Price, Amma Poku and Angelica Baschiera.

Hidden Histories seeks to highlight stories from African, Caribbean and Asian communities in the UK and beyond, bringing to light a shared vision of decolonising knowledge production, and documenting the unique voices and experiences of diasporas in Britain and across the world.

About this event

Since 1991 Somalia has suffered a civil war that has played out a brutal history. Words that come to mind are humanitarian crisis, Islamist militants, piracy and terrorism. Removing this perception, we culturally understand Somali people as oral storytellers for centuries with a rich history reflected through a love for poetry and short stories.

We dedicate this Hidden Histories to the people of Somalia, to discover more about the cultural landscape and to understand how community projects by today’s young artists are shaping our perception of Somali people in a positive light. Please join us with what will be a fascinating panel, discussing artifacts, migration, health, digital archives, architecture, photography, International relations and a celebration of the Somali diaspora.


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Somali storytelling: our people, home and landscape

About the panellists

Abira Hussein (PhD Student, UCL) curator of digital and virtual reality exhibitions of Somali cultural artifacts and images from before the Somali civil war. an Independent Researcher and Curator specialising in Somali heritage, digital archives, migration, and health. In recent years she has worked with the British Museum, British Library, London Metropolitan Archives, Refugee Council Archive and Somali Week Festival, to deliver a number of projects and workshops engaging with the Somali Community. In 2017 she created the VR experience ‘Coming Home’ – in partnership with the British Museum and funded by Brighton Digital Festival and shown at Sussex Humanities Lab.

Mohamed Mohamud studied International Politics and has a keen interest in Development, Conflict Resolution and Human Rights. He is the founder and published author of an international platform called Somali Sideways. Somali Sideways began as a photo project that looks to focus on re-positioning perceptions of Somalis and the diaspora – a people who often suffer from negative stereotypes. Mohamed believes that marginalised groups are portrayed with negative connotations hopes that projects such as this will change the misconceptions on how the world views the Somali region. He also has an MSc in Politics of Conflict, Rights and Justice at SOAS, University of London.
Mohamed has travelled to more than 23 countries participating in speaking engagements, panel discussions, book events and signings. His publications are called Somali Sideways: Photobook in Changing the Perceptions of the Somalis and Somali Sideways Araweelo Edition.

Yusuf Shegow is a Part 2 Architectural Assistant at An award-winning international practice in Manchester. Born in Mogadishu, Somalia. Yu studied at Manchester School architecture where he gained his Bachelor’s and Master of Architecture. Whilst studying, he founded Somali Architecture in 2015 during his Master’s Studies. What started as a platform to share images of pre-war Somalia evolved into a research project involving the recreation of historic buildings into 3D form.

In 2018 Somali Architecture have been invited to London Design Biennale along with 40 other countries and cities to exhibit at Somerset House revealing how design influences our emotions. With their exhibition “What Remains”. The Somali Civil war left its rich architectural heritage in ruins. Their exhibition celebrates the remnants of the country’s past and offers the hope that they can be the foundations of a brighter future. After the success of the exhibition in London, they have been invited to exhibit in Manchester as part of PushFestival as well as UNESCO AfricaWeek.

Late in 2018, Yu was invited to give a talk at the Mogadishu Tech Summit where he was a guest speaker to talk about Somali Architecture and the importance of preserving the country’s heritage.

The works of Somali Architecture has been featured in many news articles and publications. These include not only specialized news agencies such as ArchDaily, CityLab, and Design Indaba – but also mainstream news such as the BBC, CBC, The Guardian, Quartz, and UNESCO Youth.


This event is free and open to public. If you would like to attend the event please register. Please register via Zoom.

Organiser: SOAS Decolonising Working Group (DWG)

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