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Somalia: Mogadishu ruins

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Mogadishu ruins | Somalia | Africa

[Visited: December 2014]

Before leaving for Mogadishu, I only had a vague notion of what I was going to see, or what I could expect. The only recurring visions were ruined buildings - inevitable after two decades of civil war and battles for control over the city. Even though the city is said to be in reconstruction mode since 2011, I still saw a lot of destruction. It is said that the city was once beautiful, dubbed the White Pearl of the Indian Ocean, and with the Italians as colonizers, I am sure it must have been. But it does not take long after starting to explore the city, before you see buildings that are totally wrecked. Many are riddled with bullet holes, but there are many more where only parts of the walls are still standing. Much of the collapsed walls and ceilings are still there. While driving around, as a visitor, it is impossible to know what you are actually seeing, and what the history is.

Picture of Mogadishu ruins (Somalia): People walking past ruins in the city of Mogadishu

My guide points out carcasses of buildings, saying that they were once an embassy building, or a big hotel, or a government building, ministry, or bank. But while every building must have had its own identity once upon a time, now, they all look much more similar. Piles of rubble, walls with holes, missing roofs. Yes, in some, when you have a closer look, you can still see details of the window frame, or columns, or colours. But most of them have been reduced to such a state of destruction, that it seems impossible to reconstruct them. To my surprise, in many of these ruins, people have found a living; and I can see clothes hanging out of the ruins, faces looking down, while I can see right to the sky because the roof is gone.

Picture of Mogadishu ruins (Somalia): This building once was elegant, but it was destroyed in the war

One of the remarkable buildings of the city was the Uruba hotel, which looks like a ravaged lot, but is still being used for accommodation, this time for the African Union troops that help secure peace in the country. And yes, there is construction going on, you can hear and see new buildings arise, and slowly, the city is putting itself together, and assuming a new face for a new future. But until these many poignant scars of the war are still there, it makes the visitor wonder: what did this city look and feel like before it was torn apart by the horrors of war? The older inhabitants have the images in their memories, and then, there are pictures of the city pre-1991, when the civil war that would ravage the city, started.

Picture of Mogadishu ruins (Somalia): Ruins of buildings between the old lighthouse and the Uruba hotel
Picture of Mogadishu ruins (Somalia): Destroyed building in the vicinity of the old lighthouse of Mogadishu
Picture of Mogadishu ruins (Somalia): Building full of bullet holes in Mogadishu
Picture of Mogadishu ruins (Somalia): Ruined buildings in Mogadishu with small street stall
Picture of Mogadishu ruins (Somalia): Twenty years of civil war has left many buildings in ruins
Picture of Mogadishu ruins (Somalia): Ruins of a platform once used by former president Barre who would inspect his troops here
Picture of Mogadishu ruins (Somalia): Roofs are missing, and the walls of these buildings are full of bullet holes
Picture of Mogadishu ruins (Somalia): Despite heavy destruction, you can still imagine that this building once was beautiful
Picture of Mogadishu ruins (Somalia): Some walls are still standing, but much of these buildings are reduced to rubble

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