Images of men, women and children frolicking at the beach; beautiful, grand hotels with sweeping vistas of the Indian Ocean; wide boulevards with triumphal arches and heroes mounted on horseback; Arab-style coral houses with Moorish balconies perched on high and narrow alleyways between them; minarets of centuries-old mosques. This is Mogadishu.
For most people, it was hard to believe, that this was Somalia’s capital city prior to the 1991 civil war. At the recently concluded exhibition, dubbed Mogadishu Then and Now, these images of Mogadishu’s glorious past were juxtaposed with the current ones of the city: shelled, bulleted-ridden, and devastated.
The exhibition organized by the Daily Nation columnist Rasna Warah with the help of Somali friends Ismail Osman and Mohammud Diriye ran from 4-22 June and was opened on the evening of 5 June to loud cheers by the Mayor of Mogadishu, Mohamud Nur. Also in attendance were the Prime Minister of Somalia under the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, and a number of TFG ministers.
In the words of the organizers, the exhibition reminded ‘present and future generations of Somalis, especially the youth, that Mogadishu was once a beautiful, cosmopolitan, functioning city’. It was also a call to action to Somalis and the international community to rebuild the city to its former glory. The exhibition generated an incredible buzz in social media and the internet. A book of the same theme is expected to be published later in the year in English, Turkish and Somali.