Safeguarding Historic Manuscripts in Somaliland

  • Investment
  • Year
  • Project coordinator
    Redsea Cultural Foundation
  • Collaborators
    Whiting Foundation


This project, implemented by the Red Sea Cultural Foundation, focused on preserving and digitising manuscripts from Berbera shrines, as well as enhancing awareness of their importance. These manuscripts are of significant cultural and historical value because the community from which they emerge is traditionally an oral one. This makes these manuscripts unique. They contain handwritten copies of printed books and the original works by local authors. All written in Arabic, the manuscripts have been created by Qadriya scholars between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The manuscripts are at risk, mainly due to religious extremism affecting the region and the intentional destruction of heritage. This risk is only compounded by the very acute effects of the climate emergency in the area and the gaps in the expertise of the owners. Though this project, 50 manuscripts were digitised and 12 repaired. It also provided equipment and refurbished two rooms at the centre: a small laboratory to repair damaged manuscripts and a room to store the heritage properly. The team involved gave a detailed evaluation of the conservation state of the manuscript, and trained the HCC staff and seven trainees to conduct the preservation work. In the final stages of the project, the manuscripts were made accessible to the community through a website, database, and a catalogue given to crucial names and institutions to enhance the visibility and importance of safeguarding this heritage.