Interviewed The Global Mall in Columbus by Sandra Grady
30 April 2011

Mohamed Diriye began his career training as a veterinarian. As he mastered skills in the lab, he began to develop an expertise in preservation, so he was hired to work at the Somali Museums. Once there, he began to connect with the art community in Mogadishu and opened his own gallery, the Golol Art Gallery. He also developed his own skills in abstract painting and sculpting. Following the collapse of the Somali state in 1990-91, he travelled around the world for almost a decade, and developed his interests and skills in illustration and photography.

In 2000, he immigrated to the Columbus area, and began working on projects to address the loss of cultural knowledge among young people who had fled Somalia in the early 1990’s. He began to produce videos on history and culture aimed at young people and can be viewed on the Internet. He has also created a series of picture books featuring a character named Baydan, a Barbie doll dressed as an ethnic Somali, which he poses with animals and traditional African material culture to create photos illustrating Somali folk stories. He created these story books to teach Somali culture to children who have been removed from the Horn of Africa. In addition to these five story books, he has also published two books on Somali food through Scansom, a Scandinavian publisher.

He is the director of the Somali Women and Children’s Alliance and the Somali Culture and Resource Center which are both housed at the Global Mall in Columbus. These organizations are initiating an annual Somali Cultural Festival in the Columbus area. In addition to his publishing, Diriye continues to create illustrations and photographs that depict the Somali diaspora.

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