English-language signboards to be removed in Mogadishu

somalia

Entrepreneurs in Somali capital Mogadishu have been ordered to remove English-language signboards in a bid to protect the Somali language.

“Residents are required to remove signs written in English from their businesses in the capital. The order is aimed at promoting the Somali language,” spokesperson for the mayor Abdifirah Omar Halane said on Thursday.

Those refusing to obey can be fined or jailed, said Ahmed Abdulle Afrah, district commissioner of Wadajir, one of the 17 districts in the capital.

“We have to follow the instructions and remove the signboards from our shops,” businessman Omar Halwo said, expressing concern that he could otherwise be arrested.

“Somalia belongs to Somalis, and we have to protect our culture and language … Our language has been dominated by the English language,” Afrah added.

This did not go down well with everyone.

“I think it is unwise for … officials to impose such language discrimination,” pharmacist Anwar Ali said. “Our children are learning the English language in schools and universities,” he added.

“We can show our love for our country by being honest, by paying taxes in time. But by obeying bad laws like bans on other languages, you would look like a racist,” university student Ahmed Hagi said.