How a hash-tag trend is re-branding Somalia’s image

By Zuhur Halgan

Mogadishu beach (Photo Credit: Ugaasadda #my252)

Mogadishu beach (Photo Credit: Ugaasadda #my252)

In 2014 Wall Street Journal reported that Google was to invest $1b in fleet satellites so that it can beam Internet services in the developing world. Even though most people are still offline in developing countries, millions are connected and they use their Internet and cell phones for a variety of purposes such as texting, taking pictures, social networking, getting information.

The UN has stated that, in the developing countries, more than half of young people between the ages of 18 and 29 are online, where they are staying in touch with family and friends and sharing their views on a range of topics including politics, popular culture and religion.

In the context of Somalia, the percentage of people online throughout the years has soared and large numbers are connecting to social media and receiving information and partaking in the country’s political development. In the past, dominant feeds on Somali social media networks – on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – featured young Somalis expressing their interest and fascination with Western pop culture.

Breakfast in Hargeisa (Photo Credit: Hamza_Africa #my252)

Breakfast in Hargeisa (Photo Credit: Hamza_Africa #my252)

But more recently, a new movement has started on social media with young Somalis eagerly showcasing what Somalia has to offer. In these are, photos and videos of the people, the landscape and the constant progress that is taking place in Somalia. The range of leisurely activities that are on offer such as soccer fields, gyms and swimming pools in Hargeisa, Mogadishu or Garowe are shared throughout the Internet. One can even argue that young Somalis are developing their own “hipster” culture, where food is photographed and both young men and women are making their own unique fashion statements.

Two hash-tags in particular – #my252 and #daljoog – are constantly trending movements that illustrate the benefits of living in Somalia and what it has to offer.

The young Somalis behind this hash-tag phenomenon invite their audiences to come along on their journey through our land, the beaches, the countryside, the livestock and native animals, and the ever-appetising food.

Outside Garowe (Photo Credit: Ali Duale #daljoog)

Outside Garowe (Photo Credit: Ali Duale #daljoog)

Such culture formation is significant as it sheds positive light on living conditions and the immense opportunities that exist within the country. This can ultimately become the antithesis to counter the ever-increasing exodus of young Somalis.

What is evident in the photos attached to these hash-tags is pride and sharing it with the world seems to bring joy and patriotism back to a country that is truly in need of it. This also has the affect of changing the war imagery of Somalia that is embedded to our societal psyche.

As an avid social media user, I have accepted the invitation from #my252 and #daljoog hash-tags. Until I can join the fun, I will continue to like and share those photos and tags from my mobile phone screen.

Zuhur Halgan is social editor of SomaliReview.com.

Source: Somali Review

Zuhur Halgan

About Zuhur Halgan

Zuhur Halgan is a sociologist, entrepreneur and SomaliReview.com's Social Editor.

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