Mogadishu, Somalia – This is a city unlike any other. A key Indian Ocean port for centuries, when Persian and Arab merchants traded with local pastoralists, Mogadishu was the centre of Italian colonialist expansion in east Africa through the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Its people have known generations of violence, visited upon them both by foreign invaders and local clans alike. During the 1980s, armed resistance grew in opposition to the regime of Siad Barre, leading to the ousting of the military dictator in 1991.
In the decades that followed, Mogadishu became a lawless power vacuum, in which various political and religious factions battled for supremacy in a devastatingly bloody civil war.
Today, Somalia’s capital is largely under the control of the nation’s government and its allied African Union troops. Despite al-Shabab’s proven ability to attack Mogadishu, a sense of relative normality is fighting to establish itself between the buildings pockmarked with small-arms fire and the rubble of state institutions.
The denizens of Mogadishu have had everything they once had torn from them by years of violence, corruption, greed, and death. But they are clawing their city back with their bare hands.
Everywhere in this devastated city, there is life amid the carnage. At every turn, residents are rebuilding homes, opening shops, and reclaiming their futures from the ruins of history.