Civil war has been raging in Somalia for 18 years, with changing actors, interests and features. As a result, Somali cities appear to have been changing. These changes don’t follow official urban politics but have developed along lines directly imposed by the conflict itself. Mogadishu, capital of the Somali Republic since 1960, has felt the effects of political and social change more than any other city. Since 1991 its spaces and boundaries have been frequently adapted to the clash creating a forced mobility that continues to affect the whole population. The geophysical features of the conflict have directly influenced the city’s urban fabric, re-shaping neighbourhoods, markets and other spaces, at the same time, exposing it to new centres of power and authority. Despite their brutality and illiberality these new centres of power nevertheless appear to have attained some degree of success. In such a context, the process of globalization has found fertile ground: Mogadishu became one of the most dynamic economic centres in the Horn of Africa, open not only to regional, but also to Arab markets, whose main vectors develop nowadays along the Dubai-Mogadishu axis. This essay aims to provide a cross-section of the political and social dynamics which have marked Somalia’s capital city, from the outbreak of civil war in 1991 to the present. Along with detailing the physical and structural changes, it also highlights the main actors responsible for shaping these new economic and political structures.
Keywords: Somalia, Mogadishu, Conflict, Clan, Courts