Mustafa Saeede | Division Multiplied

Country of origin: Somalia
Project location: Somalia
Program: Arab Documentary Photography Program
Year: 2015

It was only when I turned 19 that I learned that there are differences between clans. I had started University and was working in a graphic design office when my colleagues asked me which clan I belonged to. I was annoyed with the question. I was not sure why they asked, but noticed their different way of treating me after they knew which clan I belonged to. Suddenly I was not Mustafa, the young graphic designer and the student; I was now Mustafa who belonged to a particular clan, and it seemed that was the reason I was either liked or disliked.

I grew up outside my country during war in the Northern part of Somalia, which is now Somaliland. I wasn’t allowed into the living room where my parents used to watch VHS tapes sent from home documenting the war. which were sold to Somalis abroad to raise money for the militias. My parents raised me with the idea that we were all equal Somalis. Clans were just names to me, sometimes used in jokes, and sometimes as an insult. I was curious to know what triggered such remarks and why there was a stigma on certain clans.

Although Somaliland was founded in 1991 with a constitution that grants equality to all citizens, the reality is different. Still today the clans that livestock still have superiority, and they receive the best jobs and educational opportunities available in our developing country. The other clans are less advantaged because of who they are as a group, although there are individuals who might manage to make a decent living for themselves.

This project explores the daily lives of people belonging to the discriminated clans, using photography to explore the depth and impact of segregation and discrimination.