Images of young men with guns, militia helicopters flying over the cityscape, ruined buildings and violently mutilated bodies suddenly stare back at you - as if you typed something far less benign as a city into the search engine.
Gettleman presents brief portraits of a fishmonger, banker, artist, and policewoman in the Somali capitol. Each portrait illuminates a different aspect of the hopeful and unique moment Somalia finds itself in today - eight months of relative peace.
This is the longest run of peace residents of Mogadishu have experienced since 1991. Twenty-one years of civil war is symbolized in every pile of rubble scattered across the city streets. But, according to Somali-American software engineer Omar Osman, things are changing. “It’s a rebirth,” Osman said, “call it Somalia 2.0.”
Osmond worked for Delta Air Lines in Atlanta but recently moved back to Somalia - along with more than 300,000 Somalis who have returned to the city since the tides of the conflict have changed. Thanks in part to this massive influx of overseas residents, the country is experiencing an economy boom so powerful even young militants have a financially feasible reason to “get out of the killing business.”
As hopeful residents clear the piles of rubble away from the downtown streets, and choir music can be heard drifting out of the National Theater for the first time in decades, local political leaders stand by the belief that this time change is here to last.
“For the first time since 1991, Mogadishu is under one authority,” Augustine Mahiga, the head of the United Nations political office for Somalia said, “it’s unprecedented.”