Between 19 and 28 October, London will host the tenth annual Somali Week Festival. Taking place during Black History Month, the event celebrates the art, culture and heritage of Somalia, while bringing together one of the largest gatherings of Somalis in the diaspora.
In the past, we’ve featured a lot of Somali poets and spoken word artists, largely because of the country’s rich history of storytelling. To mark this special week, we’re kind of sticking to the same theme. Except, in this case, the stories are written on a page, not performed out loud.
Fadumo Ibrahim is a teacher and mother of two in London. Along with her historian husband, Mohamed, she writes children’s books that aim to educate young Somalis about their culture, language and heritage; while letting them see people who look like them on the page.
Growing up, Fadumo never saw books for Somali children in libraries. As an adult, the situation hadn’t changed, and she was disheartened to know that young Somalis still had little chance to learn about their heritage, or improve their literacy with stories they could relate to. So she decided to change the situation herself.
Her books feature vibrant illustrations and words that tell tales about family values and Somali traditions. Notably, they are written in both English and the Somali language. This allows young people in the diaspora to feel a sense of pride for Somalia, while allowing parents – who may not speak the best English – to read to their children, something Fadumo describes as “one of the best things we can do for a child’s development.”
We believe representation is so important. If a young person doesn’t see themselves in the culture, art and media presented to them, then they will often feel as if they’re an outsider. When this happens, it’s tough for them to develop a sense of pride and self-belief.
While Fadumo is only just getting started, her books are already giving young Somalis something they didn’t have before: the chance to read a story that they can relate to.
In fact, one of Fadumo’s books is already being taught in two primary schools in London.
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Today's event went well Masha Allah, I had a very successful journey with my books Alhamdlilah. I am pleased to share with you all that my bilingual English and Somali Eid Book will be taught in two Primary Schools in London. I am hoping many more Schools to fellow and teach what's Eid about to all children and specially to Muslim children. #alhamdulillah #somalichildrenspicturebooks#hooyadaiyohowlaheeda#somalia#somali#bookstagram#book#lover
We’re sure it will have a powerful impact on the young minds who read it.
For more information about Fadumo and her books, check out her website.
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