Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The flight to Mogadishu

"The flight to Mogadishu is full. You will have to catch the next one, which leaves at nine o'clock." 

"Not possible," I told the man at the check in desk at the airport in Nairobi. "I have a ticket for this flight and I have arrived in plenty of time." 

It was shortly after five in the morning, and the plane was due to leave at seven. I eventually managed to convince the man to squeeze me on. My friend who also had a ticket and had arrived before me was not so lucky.

The plane was, as promised, completely full. Most of the passengers were Somali families, many of them from the diaspora. Some told me they were going on holiday, others to resettle permanently.

I sat next to a shopkeeper from Bristol and his teenaged nephew. "Two friends on my street  have been on holiday to Mogadishu. There was no way I could wait any longer. I fled the city in 1998. Today is my first time back. I have been trying to get a flight for the past three days. Every one of the four flights a day to Mogadishu from Nairobi has been fully booked. It's even worse with the Dubai - Mogadishu flights. " 

The holiday began in the waiting room. Children rushed about, a father held a sleeping baby in his arms, women chatted and giggled. There was an even more excitable atmosphere on the plane, which became fever-pitched as we started our descent. 

A large group of women at the back of the plane got our their make up. Large plastic palettes of brightly coloured eyeshadow, glossy lipstick applied to smiling mouths, eyebrows pencilled in with black kohl. It was like they were preparing for a party.

As we swept in over the coast, people on the left hand side of the plane got out their cameras. I passed mine to a slim young woman in a mustard coloured headscarf.

People remarked on the shiny new roofs on the buildings. From a height, Mogadishu looked little different from many other African cities, low-rise buildings spread out from each other, separated by vegetation. Near the beach, however, were what looked like car parks full of military vehicles and row upon row of white tents.

The plane glided down along the seashore. It must be one of the most beautiful landings on earth; the sparkling turquoise waves crash onto the sand a few metres away from the window. I felt I could reach out and touch the sea.

The young people on board babbled excitedly about how they couldn't wait to go to the beach. The mood of my neighbour, the man from Bristol, swung from talkative delight to quiet thoughtfulness. He was about to see relatives and his family home for the first time in 14 years. 

The airport was busier and more organised than the last time I visited in January 2011. As you can see from the photo below, the strong Turkish presence in Mogadishu was in evidence as soon as we taxied towards the terminal. Its flag was painted on concrete bollards - the blue Somali flag on others.

I said goodbye to my neighbours and gave them a copy of my book.

People stood up before the plane came to a standstill. They couldn't wait to get out, touch Somali soil and start their holidays.

Aden Adde international airport in July 2012

The airport has had a facelift since the old days but the basic structure remains.

The arrival hall was neat and fairly orderly. People had to fill in yellow immigration forms before completing the formalities, collecting their bags, greeting their relatives and going home.

1 comment:

  1. خدمات نقل الاثاث متعددة لدينا حيث يوجد لدينا خبرة في كيفية التعامل مع العملاء في تنفيذ اعمال فلدينا مدينة مكة افضل شركة نقل اثاث بمكة التي تتميز بالدقة في تنفيذ اعمال وتوصيل الاثاث من الباب لاننا نمتلك عمال متميزون في شركة نقل عفش بمكة فعليكم التواصل معنا من اجل الاستفادة من الخدمات التي نقدمها كل هذا ايضا تلاقه في مدينة الدمام من خلال التواصل مع شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام التي تمتلك فنين متميزين في اعمال الفك والتركيب كما لديها اسطول سيارات مجهز يساعدها علي الوصول الي منزلك الجديد فكل شئ يكون جاهز مع شركة نقل عفش بالدمام التي اثبتت انها نقل شركة لديها خبرة كبيرة في مجال نقل الاثاث
    كما يوجد لدينا خبرة في خدمات نقل الاثاث بجدة من خلال

    شركة نقل اثاث بجدة

    شركة نقل عفش بجدة