With decades of civil war and terrorism, it is very easy for the world to miss the positive side of Somalia. For too long, international media has focused on the instability caused by the Al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group Al-Shaabab, ignoring the amazing scenery and people of the Horn of Africa.
Consequently, Ugaaso Abukar Boocow, a 27-year-old Somalia returnee, is using her uberly successful Instagram account to change perceptions of her homeland.
Ugaaso, who returned to Somalia last year, has been compiling images of the forgotten side of Somalia and posting them on Instagram, where she has amassed more than 68,000 followers.
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And through photos and videos, she is providing a much-needed lens in to what life is like for many Somalians: Most of her images capture everyday life in Somalia, providing a stark contrast to the often gory images of heavy fighting and bombings portrayed by mainstream media.
The Forgotten Somalia
Many of Ugaaso’s followers are surprised to discover the peaceful, happy, and progressive side of the supposedly war-torn country with malnourished kids.
She has even captured the blue waters and amazing beaches of the Indian Ocean, where tourists mingle with locals as they enjoy the charming rays of the African sun.
Speaking to MailOnline Travel, Ugaaso said she started capturing the images as a way of assuring her family and friends in Toronto that she was safe in Somalia.
“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 said.
In a span of one year, Ugaaso has attracted close to 70,000 followers who have developed an appetite for positive images.
“They are delighted to see a different Somalia. I believe they’ve been furtively rooting for us in their hearts all along,” she said.
Ugaaso is still getting used to her newfound fame on social media and on the streets.