Mogadishu: Images from the Past

Kismayu, circa 1889

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

kISMAYUThe map comes from ” The Earth and its Inhabitants: Africa (South and East Africa)”, authored by Elisee Reclus and published by the D. Appleton and Company. 1889. Pages 407-409


“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)

Berbera, circa 1889

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

berberaThe 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:


 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)

Somali government and other publications from the 1970s

Posted in 1969-1991 Barre period, Text by rickjdavies on 9 June, 2013

Available via Tobias Hagmann’s website:





Somali DSomali 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.emocratic Republic (1971), BPuzo, W. D. (1972), Mogadishu, Somalia: Geographic Aspects of its Evolution, Population, Functions, and Morphology. PhD thesis, University of California, Los Angeles.eautiful Somalia. Mogadishu: Ministry of Information and National Guidance.


Map of Mogadishu – City Centre in the1970s?

Posted in 1969-1991 Barre period, Maps by rickjdavies on 9 June, 2013

Mogadishu mapFrom page 5 of “Mogadishu: Pearl of the Indian Ocean” (pdf copy here)

Undated, could be in the 1970s.

“Mogadiscio – Mercato Amaruin”

Posted in 1950s, Markets by rickjdavies on 11 May, 2013

Scan May 11Meaning “Xamar Weyne market”. Location of the gold market in the 1980s

“La via principale di Mogadiscio”

Posted in 1900 - 1918, Street scenes by rickjdavies on 26 April, 2013

The main streetClick on photo to enlarge

“The main street of Mogadishu”, circa 190 (from an Italian magazine). Where is this scene? Leave your comment below

“Mogadiscio – interno della moschea Giama”

Posted in 1900 - 1918, Religion by rickjdavies on 26 April, 2013

Inside Giama MosqueClick on photo to enlarge

“Mogadishu – Interior of the Giama mosque”, circa 1901 (from an Italian magazine). Any comments?

Giama mosque textFrom page 15 of “Mogadishu: Pearl of the Indian Ocean” (pdf copy here)

“Autorita indigene di Mogadiscio”

Posted in 1900 - 1918, People by rickjdavies on 26 April, 2013

Indigenous authorities 1901Click on photo to enlarge

Indigenous authorities of Mogadishu”, circa 1901 (from an Italian magazine). Who are the people shown here and where was the photo taken? Leave your comment below.

“Mercato di Mogadiscio”

Posted in 1900 - 1918, Markets by rickjdavies on 26 April, 2013

Mercato di Mogadiscio 1901Click on photo to enlarge

“Market of Mogadishu” circa 1901 (from an Italian magazine) Possibly the Garessa on the left and Shangani in the middle distance. What do you think? Leave your comment.


Posted in 1900 - 1960 Italian Period, Aerial photographs by rickjdavies on 23 April, 2013

Mogaerial photo from vintrage somaliaClick on photo to enlarge

Photo copied from Vintage Somalia – a website worth visiting, with a large and eclectic collection of photos

When was this photo taken? Leave your comment below

Boondhere district is visible as a new settlement in the distant centre and right

“Mogadiscio – Viale Cerrina”

Posted in 1900 - 1918, Govt buildings, Street scenes by rickjdavies on 20 April, 2013

Viuale CerrinaClick on photo to enlarge

Viale Cerrina, later named Via Vittorio Emmanuel, then Via Somalia (I think). Leave your comment below

Fakhr al-Din mosque visible in the centre

FaD mosque textFrom page 15 of “Mogadishu: Pearl of the Indian Ocean” (pdf copy here)

“Mogadishu – Panorama”

Posted in 1900 - 1918, Street scenes by rickjdavies on 20 April, 2013

PanoramaClick on photo to enlarge

Location unknown, but appears to be looking inland

Leave your comment

“Mogadiscio – Campo Amnara”

Posted in 1900 - 1918, Govt buildings by rickjdavies on 20 April, 2013

Campo AmnaraClick on photo to enlarge

Campo Amhara, in what was latter called Abdul Caziz District (I think). Centre of town to the right.

Leave your comment on where this is

Mosque Sheikh Sufi

Posted in 1900 - 1918, Mosques, Religion by rickjdavies on 20 April, 2013

Mosque Sheikh Sufi

Somalia - Mogadiscio- La Tomba di Scek SuffiMoschea Scek-SufiSheik Sufi mosque

Where is this? Leave your comment

Thanks for the comments below, based on those comments this seems to be the location…(Correct me if I am wrong)

Lat and Long: 2°02’17.7″N 45°20’11.3″E
2.038251, 45.336476

“Mogadiscio – Mercato indigeno”

Posted in 1918 - 1940, Markets, Mosques by rickjdavies on 20 April, 2013

Mercato indigeno_001Mogadishu – indigenous market. Post card poisted 20/11/1924

Possibly with Sheik Sufi mosque in the far left

Where do you think this is? Leave your comment below

“Mogadiscio – Villagio indigeno fuori << Porta Mercato"

Posted in 1900 - 1918, Markets, Street scenes by rickjdavies on 20 April, 2013

Villagio IndigenoRough translation: “Indigenous village outside Port Market”

Where is this location? Leave your comments below

“General Mohamed Siyad”

Posted in 1969-1991 Barre period, People by rickjdavies on 15 April, 2013

Barre“Leader of the military coup ousting Premier Egal, Commander of the Somalia Armed Forces shown here with his adjuntary (a major) outside the military headquarters in Mogadiscio” In 1969

“Somalia – Mogadiscio – La Fontana della Garesa”

Posted in 1930s, Govt buildings by rickjdavies on 13 April, 2013

2013 04 13 DClick on photo to enlarge

Postcard posted 2/3/1937

“Somalia Italiana – Il te (ciai) della cinque”

Posted in 1950s, People, Y: Unknown locations by rickjdavies on 13 April, 2013

2013 04 13 BClick on photo to enlarge

Where is this location? In the background are what look like three or four sandy roads heading uphill and away from the photographer. These may be the outskirts of Mogadishu at the time.

Note the silver jewelery worn by the women. Similar if not the same as the item below, in the case of the women on the left (click to enlarge, twice)

2013 04 13 C

“Ost-Africa und Madagascar. 1857”

Posted in 1800 - 1900, Maps by rickjdavies on 13 April, 2013


Click on photo to enlarge

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