National Geographic : 2009 Sep
foreign ghters to Somalia, which has become a haven for terrorists who see themselves engaged in a global jihad. e Fund for Peace has ranked Somalia number one on its index of failed states for the past two years. (See "Why ings Fall Apart," page 98.) at distinction understates the pathos of Somalia. Failure---to deliver security, sustenance, services, or hope---has, for 18 years now, been the house that Somalis call home. And they are leaving their home in droves. The lucky ones migrate outside the conflict zone---on harrowing journeys to refugee camps in Kenya or Yemen, or to Somaliland, the breakaway republic that once formed So- malia s northern swath. ose less fortunate--- more than a million of them---have ended up in camps for internally displaced persons. But many choose to remain in Mogadishu, a city that looks, at rst glance, like most of its kind in Africa. A crazed tangle of battered automobiles, mule-drawn carts, and untended goats rules the pocked streets. e markets teem with brilliant mangoes and bananas and junk merchandise from the West. Women in Muslim head scarves pass by, as do boys kicking soccer balls and men with cheekfuls of qat. Yet amid the exoskeletons of banks and cathedrals and luxury hotels overlooking a glim- mering coastline that once buzzed with pleasure boats, an awful truth dawns. Mogadishu was never like other African cities. Mogadishu was a spectacular city. Even in its dis gurement, the beauty is still there---above all, in ghostly Hamarweyne, where photographer Pascal Mai- tre and I stand in the empty boulevard and squint out at the sea until a call to prayer from a nearby mosque reminds us it is almost ve in the a ernoon, a er which all outside activity ceases. Anyone on the streets of Mogadishu by evening is inviting misadventure. Just before leaving, we go to the lighthouse, where we meet Mohammed. He sees us, two In the quiet of an abandoned lighthouse, young people chew qat. The mild stimulant makes the hardships of life in Mogadishu feel more bearable. Ten airplanes loaded with qat arrive at a nearby airport every day. Robert Draper is a contributing writer for National Geographic. Paris-based Pascal Maitre has photographed in Africa for the past 30 years.