Somali Diaspora - Paperback

Somali Diaspora

Roble, Abdi & Doug Rutledge

The heartbreaking and hopeful story of Somali immigrants in America

Since 2003, photographer Abdi Roble and writer Doug Rutledge have been documenting the lives of Somali immigrants in the United States and of the people forced into the vast refugee camps that were set up in Kenya in the wake of the 1991 civil war in Somalia. In The Somali Diaspora, Roble, who immigrated to the United States from Somalia in 1989, and Rutledge trace the journey of a family from the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, home to more than 150,000 Somalis, to new lives in the United States.

The Somali Diaspora follows the family of Abdisalem, his wife Ijabo, and their three daughters as they struggle to survive in Dadaab before being relocated first to Anaheim, California, where they barely make ends meet, and then to Portland, Maine. In addition, the book portrays life in two of the largest Somali communities in the United States. Minneapolis is home to more than 80,000 Somalis, who have created an established community in which many of its members are educated professionals. The Somali community in Columbus, Ohio, while thriving, has not yet enjoyed as warm a reception from the larger community.
The story of the Somali diaspora as told through Roble’s intimate photographs and Rutledge’s insightful essays is extraordinary and inspiring. Together they take readers from civil war in Africa to the culture shock of arriving in the United States, growing roots in the Somali community, learning English, finding work, and—in a remarkably short time—participating fully in American life while sustaining a faith in Islam and a distinct cultural identity.