Somalia: Let’s keep the optimism on hold

Foreign correspondents delight in reporting Mogadishu’s remarkable renaissance. The restaurants and cafes, the dry cleaner and the beautiful beaches all make for encouraging, optimistic vignettes of a city and a country on the road to recovery. But, SIMON ALLISON explains, Mogadishu is not Somalia, and there’s too much still to do before there are any real grounds for optimism.
Article Keydmedia Online
Somalia: Let’s keep the optimism on hold

Mogadishu is the renaissance city. Rising like a battle-scarred phoenix from the ashes of Somalia’s lost decades, the seaside capital – surrounded and secured by African Union troops – is rediscovering its once legendary buzz and vitality. There are new restaurants and cafes, neglected basketball courts have been returned to their original purpose and diaspora Somalis are pouring into the city with cash and initiative.

Foreign journalists have been eager to chronicle Mogadishu’s tentative recovery, fuelled perhaps by the fact that they can now get a decent cup of coffee there. The competition among correspondents has been stiff, each trying to find the most poignant example to illustrate the improved situation.

The Economist went with the Sixa ice cream parlour, whose signature cardamom-infused Neapolitan Sundae is in high demand. The BBC delighted in reporting on the opening of the city’s first and only dry cleaners, meaning that the president no longer had to get his suits pressed in Kenya. Robyn Dixon of the Los Angeles Times found Ahmed Jama, a hopelessly optimistic hotelier and restaurateur who returned from the diaspora to plough his money and time into a new hotel, designed to bring tourists to “the shores of one of the world’s prettiest beaches – which just happens to be on the edge of a city known for more than 20 years as the world

Article 21 May 2021 10:14

I read your article on Foreign Policy with keen eyes and interest. While whining from public officials does not deserve response from any sensible citizen of the Republic of Somalia, I felt compelled to counter false narrative with more objective analysis.