Somalia: Book Piracy Kills Author Creativity

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By Mohamed Abdullahi Abubakar (Dhaaley)

Most of us know that our Somali community is not familiar with the writing skill. We don’t have a large number of writers, and also we don’t have many books written by Somalis. Maybe some people do not agree with me about this, as they’ve seen some books written by Somali authors.

I know that there are Somali authors who wrote books, but when we compare the number to authors of other communities in this world, we realize that we do not have a large presence among international authors.

To write a book is not as difficult as many think. It only needs creativity and a good thinker who can gather ideas to combine them into a book. All these things could be easily done by us if we use our own creativity. But it is not good when people don’t have the desire to do it in the best way.

Beside creativity and the hard work done by the author, your efforts to write a book are going to be for nothing if you don’t have a community who has inner feelings to encourage the writings. Such encouragements include keeping the copyright of the books.

Due to the respect of Copyright, the number of authors will be likely to increase, and the number of readers will also be going to increase. The reason is simple. if you have a firm, for example, that produces certain products, and you get good demand for your product, you will increase the production in order to sell in the market and gain more profit. The same applies to authors.

Why Authors Write

Authors decide to write for two main reasons:

  1. To spread their ideas and opinions to the public or intended target group.
  2. To earn income through selling the books.

In accordance with many other articles about copyright in Somalia, I it seems that Somali people are actively killing their own creativity rather than helping it to develop. This happens because of the lack of copyright control in our country.

Ahmed Ma’ow Hayow, a Somali author, told me a story that is very relevant to the issue that I am talking about in this article.

Hayow has been trying to publish a new book written by him in Somalia, but because of many obstacles he faced, he was forced to stop his efforts. The book was written in Somali language, and for that reason the author preferred to publish it in the country in order to allow people of the country to read and receive the message that it carried. After he failed to reach his target, Mr. Hayow finally decided to travel to another country seeking a helpful atmosphere to publish and spread his book.

I asked him the difficulties he met in Somalia that caused him to publish his book in other country? He answered “My people were killing my desire to publish the book, so I went to another supportive country to publish my book.”

Actually, we don’t have professional publishing houses in Somalia, and also we don’t have secure hands which are able to take responsibility for the copyright. If you publish a book in Somalia, within a short period of time, you see your book copied and republished hugely without your permission.

Abdirahman Gure, an educated Somali citizen who lives in Mogadishu, believes that it is not a big deal to miss the copyright in Somalia as all other rights including those for humans do not exist in the country.

Surely, all these things are big problems, and they kill our creativity.

somali pirated books
Without copyright laws, books are easily copied in Somalia

Making Improvements

I am going to outline two points which I hope will be considered by Somali people in order to help them to overcome these problems.

  1. The Somali government could take responsibility over copyright in the country by developing and passing a copyright law.
  2. Local Universities could take a role to reduce or stop copyright violation in the country.

In addition to creating the law, the government may start thinking of rebuilding our National Publishing house which will become the only publisher in Somalia.

This will reduce the number of copyright abuses in the country. If the government doesn’t have the ability to rebuild the National Publishing house, it may have a special body to govern the publishing activities. Alternatively, they could create a public-private partnership, allowing private companies to invest and share profits on agreed rates as they did in “Bacadlaha Hamarweyne.”

Universities can help by setting strict plagiarism and piracy policies for their students. They can also encourage their students not to buy copied books in the market, and instead of buying the copied books the government itself should go a place where it can get original books with the permission of authors to reprint.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this world is full of challenges, and those who will advance are those who work to pass the challenges. If we are willing to better our social status, we have to change the bad things among us into the right way. Reading and writing are keyi things to start making these needed changes.

If our society does not have such will, it would be as though we desired to end up being a less important society, rather than competing with others who have already made sure that their presence in the world has much more importance.

Mohamed Abdullahi Abubakar (Dhaaley) writes from Mogadishu, Somalia.