Bibliocaust of Somali libraries: Retelling the Somali civil war

NUR, Hibaq (2017) Bibliocaust of Somali libraries: Retelling the Somali civil war. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2017 – Wrocław, Poland – Libraries. Solidarity. Society. in Session 83 - Library History SIG.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


Bibliocaust of Somali libraries: Retelling the Somali civil war

The aim of this paper is to identify the catastrophic activities in the context of the Somali civil war in order to classify and evaluate the destruction of libraries and archives in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia during the early 1990s. By combining literature-based evidence and personal narrative of a living witness, the research proposes a case of bibliocaust in Somalia that is evident in intentional actions that have been exercised for clan-based and political agendas. Results reveal that these actions take forms of inter-clan hatred, planned looting operations, military campaigning, and psychological warfare. This study uses a non-probability sampling method to interpret the case study, which may have introduced subjectivity in selecting the research subjects. The ongoing intra-state violence in Mogadishu, where most of the nation’s civilian and cultural property interests are located, suggests that Somalis have yet a lot to understand and learn about their past and the gap between value, perception and action pertaining to libraries, archives and documentation centers in Somalia. This contribution highlights part of the cultural heritage losses in the Somali recent past, which will redound to the understanding demanded by the existing challenges of the current national reconstruction and post-conflict recovery efforts in Somalia. This is the first study to investigate the social and political circumstances of the destruction of Somali libraries and archives. The research also presents unpublished data and testimonies of a witness to the destruction and looting events.

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