Mogadishu: Images from the Past

“Mogadiscio – Il mercato”

Posted in 1950s, Markets, People, Street scenes by rickjdavies on 5 November, 2014

Il mercatoWhere was this photo taken? I think it is somewhere near the gold market (the arches in the distance?), but I am not sure. Leave a comment if you can help

1750 French map of the north east of Africa

Posted in 1800 < before, Maps by rickjdavies on 4 November, 2014


Many of the features on this map seem largely imaginary. Some of the names on the Somalia coast are of trading ports known in antiquity but no long in existence in 1750 e.g. Opone, Mosylon, Avalites and Maleos

“Mogadiscio – Mercato del grano”

Posted in 1930s, Markets by rickjdavies on 2 November, 2014


“Tipi e costumi”

Posted in 1930s, People, Street scenes by rickjdavies on 29 October, 2014



Posted in 1930s, People, Street scenes by rickjdavies on 29 October, 2014


“Venditori di dura”

Posted in 1950s, Markets by rickjdavies on 29 October, 2014



2nd World War period – British occupation

Posted in 1940s, Govt buildings, Mosques, Wells by rickjdavies on 14 August, 2014

Scan4Text on back says “Late Fascist Headquarters. Now Troop Headquarters, Mogadishu”

Lat and Long: 2°02’18.9″N 45°20’29.6″E
2.038593, 45.341569

This became the home of the Parliament, post independence. What was its use before then?

Scan6Text on back says “Another view of the Mosque, Mogadishu. From further up the beach”

Where is this?

Scan5Text on the back says “A well on the outskirts of Mogadishu”

Is this Mosque Sheik Sufi in the background? Your comments below please?

Scan2Text on the back says “Mosque on the seashore, Mogadishu”

Where is this? Leave your comments below

ScanText on the back says “Another view of the high school in the centre of the town, Mogadishu”

Where is this exactly?

Qandala and Botiala

Posted in 1800 < before, Aerial photographs, NE Somalia by rickjdavies on 9 January, 2014

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.

gandala1Here is a drawing of the town as seen from the sea. One of the two taller (mud-brick?) buildings could still be seen in 1991

Here is a photograph taken by @XaajiBaaruud that shows one of the two-storey buildings, somewhat closer to the coast. Does anyone know anything about this building? Who built it and when?


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

boutialaWith the help of Google Translate, I have translated Revoil’s description of Bender Khor [its a very rough translation]

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

Bender KhorThere is very little left of this town at present, as can be seen in the Google Maps photo below (Lat 11° 28.538′, Lon 49° 56.947′)

Screenshot 2014-01-12 16.39.31 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.


Here is a similar structure within the Botiala settlement area, with similar small (defensive?) protrusions from the main encircling wall

Screenshot (206)


This Google elevated view provides another perspective

Screenshot 2014-01-12 17.56.18

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

Screenshot 2014-01-12 18.01.01

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”

Screenshot 2014-01-12 18.31.40

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


Iskushuban – Italian administration building

Posted in 1918 - 1940, NE Somalia by rickjdavies on 9 January, 2014

IskushubanCourtesy of Panoramio Google Maps

Location according to Google Maps +10°17’7.02″, +50°14’4.44″

Iskusuban goolge

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

Gendershe ruins

Posted in 1980s, X: Other locations by rickjdavies on 8 January, 2014

Gondereshe2008From 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


Jama mosque, circa 1880

Posted in 1800 - 1900, Mosques by rickjdavies on 8 January, 2014

jamaFrom “Voyage Chez Les Benadirs, Les Comalis et les Bayouns, par M.G. Revoil en 1882 et 1883″
Published in Le Tour du Monde. Noveau Journal des Voyages. XLIX, 1255 Liv, page 61

Location in Xamar Weyne, courtesy of Google Maps. Minara is visible within the red circle

jama aerialLat and Long: 2°01’56.8″N 45°20’31.6″E
2.032442, 45.342114

Cabdul Aziz mosque, circa 1880

Posted in 1800 - 1900, Mosques by rickjdavies on 5 January, 2014

AAmosqueFrom “Voyage Chez Les Benadirs, Les Comalis et les Bayouns, par M.G. Revoil en 1882 et 1883″
Published in Le Tour du Monde. Noveau Journal des Voyages. XLIX, 1254 Liv, page 46

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


 Lat and Long: 2°02’13.3″N 45°21’12.3″E

2.037035, 45.353426

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?

AAmosqueDamaged3bOld inscription or simply recent text written in chalk?

  Location unknown…any ideas?

Fakhr al-Din mosque, circa 1882

Posted in 1800 - 1900, Mosques, Themes by rickjdavies on 5 January, 2014

FADINFrom “Voyage Chez Les Benadirs, Les Comalis et les Bayouns, par M.G. Revoil en 1882 et 1883”
Published in Le Tour du Monde. Noveau Journal des Voyages. XLIX, 1255 Liv, page 51

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: The first paragraph, showb below, suggests that the marbles shown above may not longer be in place:

textThe following photos are included in the above paper

plate 1

plate 2

plate 3Is this four layered inscription above the arch the same as marble incriptions  photographed by Revoil and shown above (but in the proper vertical order)?

Pre-colonial port, remains circa1882

Posted in 1800 - 1900 by rickjdavies on 5 January, 2014

harbour2From “Voyage Chez Les Benadirs, Les Comalis et les Bayouns, par M.G. Revoil en 1882 et 1883”
Published in Le Tour du Monde. Noveau Journal des Voyages. XLIX, 1255 Liv, page 49

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

square port2

And here is a Google Earth view of the same location, showing the mosque on the top right of the cove

square port2 googleLat and Long: 2°01’52.0″N 45°20’34.5″E
2.031104, 45.342908

Djibouti, 1929

Posted in 1918 - 1940, Djibouti, Maps by rickjdavies on 4 January, 2014


From “Atlas France”, 1929.  Click twice on image to enlarge

I drove to Djibouti from Hargeysa (to the south of this map) in 1983 and 1984. We got the coast somewhere to the east of Zeyla, I think, then crossed the border at Loyada, further NW along the coast. The (french built) Djibouti border post was like something out of the film Beau Geste. On one occasion we drove our 4 wheel drive Toyota inland from Djibouti town ,across very rough tracks, to the shores of Lac Assal, just inland from the head of the Gulf of Tadjoura, seen here. It seems to have less water in it than I was there. Where we stopped there was a hot water spring feeding into the lake,which was incredibly salty. The shoreline and lake floor was covered in salt crystals, some of which were too sharp to stand on.

Mogadishu, circa 1935

Posted in 1930s, Maps by rickjdavies on 3 January, 2014

mog30sPossibly from “dall’atlante internazionale del T.C.I” , an atlas covering all of Somalia and possibly Ethiopia and Eritrea, published in Milan in  1935s. If you have any knowledge of the atlas, please let me know

Somali coast, circa 1688

Posted in 1800 < before, Maps, X: Other locations by rickjdavies on 3 January, 2014

zang1 zang2

Title: Coast of Zanguebar and Aien
Creator: Morden, Robert
Place of Publication: England
Date: 1688
Published in Modern’s  Atlas Terestris.
More information:
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

Somalia, circa 1841

Posted in 1800 - 1900, Maps, X: Other locations by rickjdavies on 3 January, 2014

pays de scomalClick twice on image to enlarge

North coast of Somalia, circa 1857

Posted in 1800 - 1900, Maps, NE Somalia, Somaliland by rickjdavies on 3 January, 2014

aden_gulf_1860Click on image to enlarge

“Karte der Somali – Kuste und des Golf’s von Aden.  Th. von Heuglin’s Reise, September bis December 1857”

Somaliland Protectorate, 1948

Posted in 1940s, Maps, Somaliland, Time periods by rickjdavies on 3 January, 2014

Somaliland 1948“Compiled and Drawn by the Directorate of Colonial Surveys. Photolithographed and printed by War Office, 1948”

Click on image to enlarge

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