Mahdi Abib is the 29 year old entrepreneur behind www.SomaliBaro.com and has made it his mission to improve the language skills of at least ten thousand young Somali’s by 2020.
Every summer, thousands of Somali families make their way back home for the holidays. The cities are sprawling with teenagers and young adults from the Diaspora community in their distinct fashion wear and unique way of walking and talking that makes them stand out from the crowd. They bring a flavour to town that is clearly visible, but there is one problem, they all seem to be speaking foreign languages many of whom only know the basic Somali vocabulary equivalent to that of a 5 year old.
It’s been a developing trend amongst the young Somali Diaspora, which has slowly been losing its mother language, with majority of those under the age of thirty being born in foreign countries. The question now is how do we reverse this decline and prevent the Somali language from going extinct amongst young people?
Is E-learning the solution? The team at www.SomaliBaro.com certainly do think so. They are one of the first online schools, teaching the Somali Language to young Somali’s aged 11 to 30 years old. The company has its offices, staff and teachers all based in Hargeisa and is using high speed Fibre Optic internet by Somcable to connect to its students from all over the world.
Mahdi Abib is the 29 year old entrepreneur and the brains behind SomaliBaro.com and has made it his mission to improve the language skills of at least ten thousand young Somali’s by 2020.
Q: How did you come up with the idea?
A: “I always thought my Somali was pretty good, since I knew how to speak, read and write, but when I first moved to Hargeisa about a year ago, my confidence got a big knock and I realised how much I still didn’t know. There are hundreds of thousand young Somali’s just like myself with many that don’t even know how to read and write and have no tools or a service offering them to learn Somali. Almost every language you can think of is thought online but unfortunately Somali is not one or at least not professionally.”
Q: Why did you choose e-learning?
A: “I chose e-learning because of the reach it has and the comfort it provides. We have students from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Canada taking our live online classes. Secondly most of them want to learn in private, no one wants to admit they don’t know Somali but they all want to improve and not feel embarrassed or have to hide every time family comes to visit.”
Q: How does it work?
A: “Our service is very simple, we provide weekly classes online with live teachers in Hargeisa who also speak fluent English and all the student needs is internet and headphones. At SomaliBaro.com we have ‘Beginner’ and ‘Intermediate’ courses depending on your current level of Somali with easy monthly payments starting from $35. We also offer a FREE trial to everyone who registers online and they can give it a go and see if it is something for them.”
Q: What about the internet and electricity problems in Hargeisa?
A: “We have been very fortunate to get here in time for the Fibre Optic internet from Somcable, the fibre glass runs underground and is not affected by the weather, so all our classes run smoothly with no interruptions and very clear sound and video quality. We have also installed a UPS back-up which has solved the electricity issue.”
Q: How can people sign-up?
A: “For anyone who is interested then they can go to SomaliBaro.com website and fill the detail form on the ‘home page’ of the website and our team will contact you within 24 hours giving you your log-in details for your free trial, all the student needs is internet and a pair of headphones.”
This is the first of many e-learning sites soon to come, as the Somali community becomes more and more aware of the power of technology and the internet and starts putting it to use with the next generation taking the lead. Do you think e-learning will save the Somali language?