Northern Europe’s first children’s magazine that caters to Somalis has been launched in Sweden.
The first issue was published last week, and the editor, Musa Isse, hopes that the initiative will lead to better integration and help children to build strong identities.
“We want to encourage their interest in reading and writing while strengthening their cultural identity,” Isse told Al Jazeera.
The title of the magazine, Carruurteenna, means “our children”. Copies will be available in libraries and schools, as well as in bookstores.
“We want the children to learn the Somali language. This will strengthen the communication bond between parents and children to reinforce relations across generations,” Isse added.
Somalis constitute one of the largest immigrant groups in Sweden, with up to 100,000 Somali speakers. Many of them fled the Somali civil war in the early 1990s.
Contributors to the magazine include writers, artists and librarians of both Swedish and Somali background. While most texts are in Somali, some are in Swedish or English.
Isse said that the magazine’s founders want to support young people who want to read in Somali, about Somali culture and news relating to children and young people.
The magazine is published by the Somali Nordic Culture, a non-profit organisation comprising of students, writers, storytellers, librarians, journalists and artists.
It will be published four times a year, and targets children between the ages of 7 and 14.
Some sections will focus on historic Somalia, to educate the children about the country before the war.
“In order for the children to build strong identities and the ability to integrate in their new home country they must learn about their roots and history,” said Isse.
Traditional Somali children’s stories will also be featured. And a special character, Dalmar “the traveller”, has been created. It mirrors a popular Swedish cartoon bear, Bamse, who travels on adventures around the country.
Since Isse believes it is crucial for children to have role models, the magazine will also feature people who have built successful careers in Sweden.
In the first issue, a medical doctor who grew up in Stockholm was profiled.
“The children need successful role models that look like them,” said Isse.
At the initial stage, the magazine will target Somali children in Sweden and other Nordic countries. But eventually, its founders hope to reach Somalis all over Europe.
Source: Al Jazeera