Another side to Mogadishu

  • 10 Maret 2014
tank in Mogadishu, BBC
This abandoned tank in Mogadishu has become a children's plaything.

The Somali capital, Mogadishu, has the unenviable reputation of being one of the most dangerous and destroyed cities on earth.

But an exhibition that has opened in London hopes to show that the city has a rich architectural history, some of which has survived the shooting and the shelling.


Mary Harper


Listen to the report

On the walls of a London gallery hang photographs that tell an altogether different story of Mogadishu. The images, most of which have never before been seen in public, show the compact Arab-style Mogadishu of the thirteenth century. The elegant white Italian colonial buildings that gave it the name 'The Pearl of the Indian Ocean'. The stark socialist structures of the sixties and seventies.

The Somali architect, Rashid Ali, put together the exhibition. He is worried that the current rebuilding of the city, after the return of a degree of stability, will destroy forever what remains of its past…

Rashid Ali, architect:

When this transformation is not based on a kind of a knowledge and without any policies, it's very easy for these buildings to be entirely demolished. My point of view is that these buildings should be preserved and not destroyed at all because they are really important to the country's history.

As well as the photographs and videos in the exhibition, there's an architectural model built by Rashid Ali…

Rashid Ali, architect:

I see culture as a tool for revitalising and rehabilitating the city so this is what I call a miniature city, which is a cultural hub essentially… Artists' studio spaces, there's a library, there's a small cinema, there's a cafe, there's a book shop. It sits on top of a hillside, so you can overlook Hamar Weyne which is the old city and look at the Indian Ocean.

It's as yet unclear whether Mr Ali's dream of a cultural centre for Mogadishu will become a reality. Or whether what remains of the city's past will be preserved. But this exhibition makes clear that Mogadishu has the potential to be a great African city, especially if its architectural past can be included in its future.


Listen to the words

compact: kecil dan padat

elegant: elegan

stark: sederhana, polos

stability: stabilitas

preserved: dijaga, dirawat

revitalising: revitalisasi, memberikan energi baru

hub: pusat

potential: potensi

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