The Turkish language is gaining in popularity in Somalia, a country in the Horn of Africa, as the two countries are cementing people-to-people relations that include promoting businesses, tourism, and student exchange programs.
Anadolu Agency spoke to Mustaf Mohamed Abdikarin, managing director of the SomTurk Institute of Languages in the capital Mogadishu, which has been offering special Turkish language courses to originally help Somali students to study in Turkiye.
Set up in Mogadishu’s Hodan district by students who have studied in Turkiye, it has more than five batches of students learning Turkish.
“Our students are largely those who want to travel to Turkiye to study in Turkish universities. We help them to learn the language before they go there and so far, our students can learn perfectly,” said Abdikarin.
He said about 135 people including 65 girls have registered to learn Turkish in his institute over the past month, adding that all of them are not students aspiring for admissions in Turkish universities.
“Some of them are businessmen, who want to communicate with their Turkish counterparts, and some them want to study, as the language has become important and popular here in Somalia,” he said.
Since 2018, when the school opened its doors, 300 people have completed their courses in the Turkish language.
“Some of our students who graduated are now working here in Mogadishu as interpreters since there is a good number of Turkish companies working in Mogadishu,” said Abdikarin.
He said the female students do learn fast, as they are more dedicated and focused and most of them want to pursue courses in medicine in Turkiye.
Seeking better infrastructure
Pharmaceutical student Zahra Moalin Abdirahman, 20, told Anadolu Agency that she wants to compete with her friend, who is fluent in the Turkish language and watches Turkish films without the help of English subtitles.
Abdikarin said despite large requests from people who want to learn Turkish, he is not able to hire a fully furnished and large office for want of funds.
“As you can see now, we only have one computer and a printer and we are happy that we have. We were not thinking to ask for any help from anybody. But I believe some people will recognize the good job we are doing here. We don’t have a lot of needs now but we would like to ask Turkish organizations to help us,” he said.
Omar Abdi Jimale, lecturer of political science at Mogadishu University, said learning different languages was good as his religion Islam also encourages it.
Somali diaspora in Turkey a factor
Although there are no official statistics available, he claims that some 100,000 Somalis can communicate in Turkish are the number was steadily growing. He said it was because that Turkiye is hosting a large number of the Somali diaspora.
“Learning a foreign language is always a positive step, and learning the language of a country like Turkiye which has close economic, political, and military links with Somalia, is a very good step in the right direction,” he said.
He said due to economic, educational, and cultural integration between Somalia and Turkiye, there is a lot of scope for opening more Turkish language schools in the country. He said that such private schools in Somalia can also promote the cultural integration of citizens of both countries.
“If all other factors remain constant, I believe the Turkish language will become the second most taught language in schools, surpassing Arabic, which is the country’s second official language,” he said.