I started following Somali Sideways a while ago on Instagram. I loved the photos and especially, I loved the stories. From Somalis all over the world with all kinds of backgrounds, goals, hopes, ambitions…I love how the photos and stories celebrate each individual and what they bring to the world. The project reveals what should be self-evident – that Somalis are so much more than pirates and terrorists and a failed nation. I was excited to hear the photos and stories are being pulled together into a book and I was really excited when the founder, Mohamed Mahmoud, agreed to answer some questions for me, and for Djibouti Jones readers.
How did you get the idea of sideways photos and stories? (I love what he says about the revealing yet partly hidden nature of a sideways image)
I got the idea of photographing people sideways when I took a sideways photo of a friend of mine (the first photo) by chance as I was taking a photo of a beautiful garden in London. The idea then sort of came about after that, I wanted to take pictures of Somalis standing sideways in London and soon later on, I started receiving photos from around the world. The sideways element also illustrates that a part of you will reveal certain aspects of your life to others and some will remain within you for you to hold on to.
When did people start sending their stories to you and were you surprised by how many came in or where they came from?
People started sending me photos within six months of the project and I was very surprised with not only the amount of photos received but where they were coming from also. I received stories from China and Costa Rica to name a few. I would share different stories each day or week that was different to the previous one. An example would be someone would share a story on travel, the following day or week the next story will be on culture and so on.
Did any particular story really impact you?
I can’t say that one particular story sticks with me as all the stories are inspirational in their own way. Somali Sideways connects with all Somali across the globe and because of the platform, people have been able to connect with people whether it be on Instagram or Facebook so I’m very happy that I was able to facilitate a platform to do that.
What do you hope readers will take away from the photos and the stories?
I hope people who purchase the book and start reading the photos and stories will be able to be inspired and learn from the individuals in the book. It is also to change the negative stereotypes of what are perceived of Somalis and to be able to bring positivism and enlightenment to the Somali people.
Will you continue to post stories and pictures or are you moving on to another project?
Once the book is published, I will be working on new projects in the Somali region. Something that I’m working on at the moment.
How can people find the book?
The publishing company is called Looh Press and they are based in Leicester, United Kingdom. Details on how to purchase the book will be updated soon. Follow the Instagram page @somalisideways and my personal one @moamohamud. Twitter: @moamohamud.
Thank you Mohamed, and congratulations. Waad mahadsantahay iyo hambalyo.
Stay tuned for news about the book’s release.
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