- Ugaaso Abukar Boocow has amassed more than 68,000 followers
- Her photos reveal a side of Somalia that most people have never seen
- She moved to Canada with her grandmother to escape the civil war
- The 27-year-old moved back to Mogadishu last year to be with her mum
The mere mention of Somalia elicits images of poverty or violent conflict for most people who have never travelled to the nation in the Horn of Africa.
Their only exposure tends to be upsetting scenes on their television screens or negative stories in the newspaper, but its people are using the power of social media to show their homeland in a positive light.
One of the brightest stars, Ugaaso Abukar Boocow, has become a celebrity on Instagram, where she is trying to change people’s perceptions with photos and videos that reveal a side of Somalia that most people have never seen.
With 68,000 followers, Ugaaso’s Instagram feed is a mixture of selfies, snapshots of daily life and Somali traditions, and humorous photos or videos.
The 27-year-old’s followers and others who stumble upon her posts are surprised to see pictures that showcase peaceful scenes, happy faces and stunning beauty spots, including the blue waters of the Indian Ocean and white-sand beaches.
It’s also a project of discovery for Ugaaso, who works as a civil servant, and was two years old when she and her grandmother fled Somalia’s civil war and moved to Canada.
Ugaaso settled in Toronto and lived there until she moved back to Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, last year to reunite with her mum.
She told MailOnline Travel that she began posting photos as a way to keep in touch and assure her family and friends in Toronto that she was safe.
She said: ‘I try to be true to my world when I post. I post what I see and know to be true about Somalia – beaches, fresh fruit drinks, hauntingly beautiful architecture.’
She soon learned that there was an appetite for photos that showed a positive side to Somalia, and has amassed a legion of followers since she began posting pictures and videos regularly last August.
Ugaaso said she is embracing her newfound fame and believes it’s her responsibility to show outsiders what everyday life is really like in the East African nation.
She said: ‘They’re delighted to see a different Somalia. I believe they’ve been furtively rooting for us in their hearts all along.
‘Rooting for us to be courageous, to overcome. They’ve dreamed a better world for us and now they get to see that world materialised on Instagram.’
She’s still getting used to strangers recognising her from her photos and stopping her on the street.
‘They’re really proud of me here in Somalia. I’m amusing to them. They’re often stunned at my ability to speak the language flawlessly and they encourage me to continue showing the world “our” world – the ravishing Somalia known to “us”.’
Source: Mail Online