I visited Qandala in late 1991, travelling overnight by boat along the coast from Bossaso. A memorable trip!
G. Revoil described his travels along this coast 100 years beforehand in Voyage au pays des Medjourtaines (Cap Gardufui – Afrique Orientale), pages 254-269, Bulletin de la Societe de Geographie, Mars 1880.
The map below shows Qandala in relation to Bender Khor, also labeled Boutiala. Boutiala/Botiala is a site of some antiquity, as described in this Wikipedia entry
Two different times I visit Khor Bender or Bottiala . This city is about six miles from the coast , on an island formed by the two arms of dried up Khori , a stream which pours into the sea through narrow and steep gorges. The sea arrives into these gorges, washes to the first huts of the city, maintaining a depth around 5 to 6 cubits or doudouns, which allows small sambucos or dhows to come loaded with mechandises to Bender Khor .
Bender Khor is unquestionably the city where the traveller may be the best at what he has before his eyes , refer to the first era of civilization of the people. Four adobe forts guard the gorge, complete with all defence accessories. The cemetery is placed right in the middle of the village and from the mosque, the huts scattered symmetrically under the protection of the forts: …… , contributed to this locality trapped in a huge amphitheatre and a great character that strikes the attention.
Here is his drawing of the town of Bender Khor
The location of the four forts mentioned by Revoil is not clear. On the Revoil map shown above one high point is marked with a C, and this corresponds roughly with the ruins shown in the Google Maps photo shown below. They stand on the edge of a small plateau, about 200 metres to the west of Bender Khor, at Lat 11° 28.538′, Lon 49° 56.947′ The structure is perhaps 25 x 30 metres in size. The irregular extension to the top right of the structure may be a more recent addition, perhaps an animal enclosure.
This Google elevated view provides another perspective
Further towards the coast there are remains of other buildings, which may have been Revoil’s four forts.
They are between 10 and 20 metres square in size
The Wikipedia entry also says “To the north of the fortress complex is an impressive field of approximately 200 stone cairns (taalo) of varying sizes, some of which are associated with standing stones. Close by and along the shoreline are extensive shell middens. Neither structures have yet been excavated or dated“
This Google photo may show the cairns. I thought at first they were wells, but no longer think so. They are to the immediate south-west of the “four forts”
And here is a view of the same coastal valley, taken from the coast looking inland (found via Panoramio).
The gorge referred to by Revoil looks more impressive from this angle. The remains of the “four forts” may be visible on the right, above the first modest sized dark cliff overlooking the waterway
Courtesy of Panoramio Google Maps
Location according to Google Maps +10°17’7.02″, +50°14’4.44″
I visited this town in 1991, as part of a “post” civil war needs assessment mission to the north-east of Somalia. It is an oasis in the middle of nowhere. There are two sets of springs, on the top and bottom left, the water from these springs then flows eastwards, to the right. Using a low man made weir some of the water is channeled off to the side to feed an area of date palms, which are off the screen to the right. The Italian fort is situated on the bluff in the middle of the fork, with the town behind it to the left
A colleague and friend of mine from the 1980s. Dr Ahmed Ismael Jama, was born in this town
The word “iskashuban” means “self-pouring” i.e. a waterfall. Perhaps in better times
From the Wikipedia entry on Gondershe , with a photo dated as 2008.
But I query the date. The ruins look much more visible here than they did when I visited in site the 1980’s. At that time they were much more overgrown with scrub. And the 2011 Google image below also shows them to be very overgrown, and possibly less intact than the photo above.
The location, as visible via Google Maps
Revoil and his colleague are in this scene, wearing turbans, located to the left of the camera on the tripod
Location as shown by Google Maps. Given the location of mosque relative to minara, it seems that the above drawing was based on a location to the south east of the minara
Alas it is no more, after being damaged by fighting between Al Shabab and OAU forces a few years ago, and then in 2013 demolished by order of the current government, with a promise of being “rebuilt” by Turkey
Here are some photos of inscriptions inside of the adjacent mosque (also damaged during the fighting), taken by Mary Harper before its demolition
Located at the back of the mihrab?
Location unknown…any ideas?
More engravings from the same source:
For more information about the marbles, see
Lambourn, E.(1999) ‘The decoration of the Fakhr al-Dīn mosque in Mogadishu and other pieces of Gujarati marble carving on the East African coast‘, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa, 34: 1, 61 — 86 To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/00672709909511472 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00672709909511472. The first paragraph, showb below, suggests that the marbles shown above may not longer be in place:
Text on page 50 refers to this view [courtesy Google Translate):
Along the narrow streets of Harmarhouine amid the huts and miserable huts along them, we arrive at the mosque of Hussein Arbou . This edifice , without much importance , dominates a small cove almost square, closed by the nature in which the sea, which breaks with fury on the rocks, pours a veritable cataract of foaming waves , while iridescent by the rays of the sun . Some sections of blackened walls surrounding the mosque, based as it on an entablature of the cliff and peak ground in many places by the hand of man . A little further , the old men say , was a tower of similar construction to the Abdul Aziz tower , and high enough so that we could see it from Meurka . This tower , no marks on the rock, however, it differs in the reef a sharpened screw which, through arched doorway , built strong regularly and a Moorish character quite remarkable staircase gives access to a cave formed by the upper entablature . No clue, no registration revealed the date of the ruins. The other side of the creek, a cut in the rock street is facing the door , and can still be seen , right and left , a few walls identical to those adjoining the mosque. This cove she was a small port of refuge intended to park the boat against the violence of the monsoon ? or was it used basin repair a flotilla of Moguedouchou ? It is difficult to say today , but there has certain is that the cave and its surroundings bear traces of human labor . I have natural claims to have found several times small pieces of gold , as for me, I have hardly discovered around these lands broken fragments of pottery and glass beads without much interest. South of the basin , which extends the space between the mosque of Hussein Arbou and that of Aoues al- Garni forms a small cove covered at high tide. The low tide leaves has discovered a kind of platform rocks mishap by algae , and there is generally less research by women for bathing or laundry. Holes that serve tubs or swimming pools seem to have been in all probability foundations of a dead city , once sitting on rocks. But since water and sand walks slowly to the conquest of the rocks, and it was difficult for me to really reconaitre if these ruins were the same age as the Arbor -Hussein stairs. Who can say how many thousands of years have passed since the first inhabitants of these beaches?
If you think you can improve this admittedly rough translation contact me and I will send the original French text
Here below is a later view of the area, shown in a map titled “Oceano Indiano – Somalia Italiana Ancoraggio di Mogadiscio. Dai rilievi Originali della Regia Nave – Staffetta,, 1911 e da Quelli Successivi Fino al 1934″ [Indian Ocean - Italian Somalia Anchorage of Mogadishu. Original Surveys by the Royal Ship "Relay" 1911 Subsequent to Those Until 1934 "] The “small cove almost square” can be seen in the red circle. Around 1985 I remember seeing the eroded remains of a spiral staircase that had been cut down into the rock, giving access to the water line within the cove
And here is a Google Earth view of the same location, showing the mosque on the top right of the cove
Title: Coast of Zanguebar and Aien
Creator: Morden, Robert
Place of Publication: England
Published in Modern’s Atlas Terestris.
More information: http://imagesearchnew.library.illinois.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/africanmaps/id/1066/rec/9
Described as “Rare early English map of the East African Coastline, perhaps the earliest obtainable English map of the region” The above version seems to have been colored after removal from the atlas
“Kismayu, or Kisimayau is the last anchorage on the Somali coast, going north eastwards in the direction of Cape Guardafui, to which the term port can be applied. But even this place is little used except as a harbour of refuge, so little developed is the movement of exchanges along this inhospitable seaboard. Nevertheless, Kismayu is the natural outlet of the vast basin of the Juba, which reaches the sea about 12 miles to the north-east. In 1869 this town did not yet exist, but in that year some Somali emigrants from the Upper Juba Valley, and especially from the neighbourhood of Bardera, or Bat Tir, the chief market of the interior, established themselves at this favourable point of the coast, and opened direct commercial relations with Zanzibar. Later some members of the Mijurtin tribe, the most energetic traders on the whole seaboard, also settled in the same place, the population of which had already risen to eight thousand six hundred in the year 1873. At that time the suzerainty of the Sultan of Zanzibar was represented in Kismayu by some Arab traders and a small Baluchi garrison. In 1870 a Marseilles commercial house had hoisted the French flag in this port, but after the battle of Sedan the Sultan of Zanzibar hastened to reassert his authority over the place.
Bardera is inhabited by Mohammedans, who if not actually Wahabites, are fully as fanatical as those troublesome sectaries. They neither smoke nor take snuff, and display an almost rabid zeal in their efforts to enforce their peculiar views on the surrounding Somali populations. Hence insurrections, massacres, migrations. of tribes, and disorders of all sorts. In the year 1845, the town of Bardera was utterly destroyed by the enraged inhabitants of the district, who slew all the men and sold the women and children into bondage. A few fugitives, however, contrived to break through the fiery circle closing round the doomed city, and going northwards to the Ganane country, founded a town on the left bank of the Webi, which has flourished, and is now a great centre of trade. Bardera also again rose from its ashes, and with it was revived the old spirit of religious intolerance. Here were massacred in 1865 the two travellers Link and Von der Decken The vessel with which the unfortunate explorers had navigated the river, and which the natives had succeeded in recovering from the rapids, was till recently used by them as a ferry-boat between the two banks of the Juba”
The full text of the book is available online here (in a big .pdf file)
The map comes from page 413-414 of ” The Earth and its Inhabitants: Africa (South and East Africa)”, authored by Elisee Reclus and published by the D. Appleton and Company. 1889.
Text above and below the map, and on the back side of the map, reads as follows:
MAYET – BERBERA – BULHAR 412
Other havens or roadsteads follow in the direction of the west, where Mayet (Mehet) is the seaport of the Habr Ghar-Haji people. According to the local
MAYET – BERBERA 413
tradition, here died the great Sheikh Ishak) ancestor of all the Habr or ” Grandmother” tribes, which belong to the widespread Hashiya division of the Somali race. Formerly the Somali advanced in years came from all the surrounding regions and settled near the venerated shrine, in order after death to secure a last resting-place near the remains of the founder of their nation. All the houses and cabins of Mayet were at one time grouped round about the tomb of the saint; but they have since been displaced in the direction of the west, near the mouth of a little coast-stream. Towards the north-east is visible the volcanic islet of Jebel- Tiur, or ‘Bird Mountain,” which contains a deposit of guano, and to which the English have given the name of Burnt. Island, from the colour of its lavas. The island is annually visited by about forty Arab dhows, from the port of Makalla in Hadramaut, returning laden with cargoes of this manure for their tobacco plantations.
West of Mayet follow the seaports of Heis, Ankor’, Kerem, all of which belong to the Habr Tol nation. Then, after rounding a headland, the seafarer comes in fuIl view of a deep inlet in the coast forming the important harbour of Berbera. This 3 the only thoroughly sheltered haven on the whole seaboard, and has consequently been a busy seaport from the remotest antiquity. The town still keeps the old lame of Barbaria formerly applied by the Greeks, not to any particular point, but
SOUTH AND EAST AFRICA 414
to all the coastlands skirting the south side of the Gulf of Aden. Yet notwith¬standing its obvious maritime advantages, this privileged seaport has at times been completely abandoned. Thus a war which broke out in the year 1870 between the surrounding Gadibursi and Dolbobant nations compelled all the inhabitants of Berbera temporarily to quit their homes. But under the protection of Great Britain, which has inherited all the rights of Egypt as the ruling power on this seaboard, Berbera has again become the centre of considerable commercial activity. It has now a lighthouse, piers, warehouses, and even an aqueduct, whose copious water, thermal at the fountain-head, is brought from a distance of about seven miles. Berbera is the successor of Bender Abbas, another town some ruins of which are still visible on the low-lying shores of the Tamar peninsula enclosing the road¬stead on the north and north-west. Lying 160 miles to the south of Aden, and nearly under the same meridian, Berbera shares with that town and with Zaila, another port belonging to England, the whole of the commercial movement in the western parts of the Gulf of Aden.
On the beach at Bullhar, about 45 miles farther west, lies the market-place where the Berbera traders meet the caravans coming from Harrar and from all the Somali and Galla Lands to ,the south and west of that place. During the busy season, from October to January, as many as 15,000 persons are attracted to this place. Then, after all the commodities have changed hands, the tents are struck, the long strings of camels laden with their purchases move off in all directions towards the interior, the Arab dhows set sail, and solitude once more prevails along the seaboard. The Somali prefer the Bulhar market to that of Berbera itself, because they find in the, neighborhood convenient pasturages for their numerous herds and Hocks, whereas round about Berbera nothing is offered except here and there a few trailing plants and shrubs. Bulhar has unfortunately no harbour, and its surf-beaten shores are too often strewn with wreckage. The explorers who have ventured to penetrate from this point into the inland plateaux report the existence of numerous burial-places.
The most frequented trade route running south• westwards in the direction of the city of Harrar has its seaward terminus at Bulhar. But Samawanak and Dungareta have been spoken or as more convenient starting-points for the future railway, which has already ‘been projected, and which must sooner or later run through the Gadibursi territory towards the great city of the Upper Webi basin, easternmost station and bulwark of the kingdom of Shoa. Accordingly England and France have recently put forward rival claims for the possession of this future gateway to the interior of the continent from this direction. The English mean¬time retain in their hands the disputed station, recognising in return the absolute sovereignty of France over the Gulf of Tajurah, which also gives access to the inland regions from the head of the Gulf of Aden.
The full text of the book is available online here (in a big .pdf file)
Available via Tobias Hagmann’s website:
- Mohamed Sheikh Ali Giumale (undated), Mogadishu: Pearl of the Indian Ocean. Mogadishu: Local Government.
- Somali Democratic Republic (1971), Beautiful Somalia. Mogadishu: Ministry of Information and National Guidance.
- Somali Democratic Republic (1977), New Era Quarterly Magazine, Issue No 4, Oct./Dec. 1977. Mogadishu: Ministry of Information and National Guidance.
- Somali Democratic Republic (1979), Selected Speeches of the SRSP Secretary General and the Somali Democratic Republic President, Jaalle Mohamed Siad Barre. Mogadishu: Ministry of Information and National Guidance.
- Puzo, W. D. (1972), Mogadishu, Somalia: Geographic Aspects of its Evolution, Population, Functions, and Morphology. PhD thesis, University of California, Los Angeles.
From page 5 of “Mogadishu: Pearl of the Indian Ocean” (pdf copy here)
Undated, could be in the 1970s.