Skip to content

An Online Archival Platform Centred on Preserving Somali Art and Culture

In the 1980s and early 1990s, before mobile phones, letter tapes were one of the main forms of communication between Somalis in the diaspora and their families back home. Fast-forward 40 years, and Fozia Ismail, a Bristol-based artist and the co-founder of Dhaqan Collective, is celebrating the legacy of letter tapes through Camel Meat and Cassette Tapes, an art and research project. The project began in 2019 with a series of workshops that brought together 14 Bristol-based Somali elders and 10 British-born Somalis, who discussed the cultural and personal significance of the letter tapes. Many old tapes went beyond family news, they were also deeply political, used as means of communication within the Somali National Movement to start a revolution against the military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, who later subjected the tapes to strict controls.