Monday 9 April 2018

Will Ethiopian treasure (and the remains of a young prince) taken by Britain ever return home?

 This month marks the 150th anniversary of the battle of Maqdala when Britain sent a force nearly forty-thousand strong to Ethiopia after Emperor Tewodros the Second took some Britons hostage. The British soldiers won the battle and made off with precious treasure. More than ten years ago Ethiopia launched a formal claim to get the loot returned. Some of the artefacts has just gone on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and there are hints they might soon be on their way home to Ethiopia. I went to  the V&A and compiled this report for the BBC - click this link to listen: Ethiopian treasure

Here are some photos of the exhibition (provided by the V&A)

Interviewing the Ethiopian ambassador

The British expedition 

The Ethiopian ambassador arrives for the opening ceremony

Close up of the emperor's exquisite golden crown

The Queen's wedding gown

A church
The emperor's crown

Jewellery from the royal household
Young prince Alemayehu who died aged 18
Prince Alemayehu whose remains are buried at Windsor Castle

Golden chalice

Photos provided by the Victoria and Albert museum

Thursday 5 April 2018

Somali camels

For Somalis, and other inhabitants of harsh, arid lands, the camel is a lifeline. These precious beasts carry their possessions, provide them with nourishing milk and meat, and survive the cruellest of droughts. Much Somali poetry and song centres around the camel. Somalis calculate bridewealth and blood feud compensation in heads of camel, and make millions exporting them to the Gulf. I was lucky enough to visit a camel market in Hargeisa, Somaliland where I came across herders engaged in a camel singing competition. You will also hear camel grunts, camel groans and the special sound camels make when they are in love. My friend Said Yusuf Abdi showed me around.

Here is a link to the BBC radio report about it:  The Somali camel market

The camel herder with the golden voice

Sunday 25 March 2018

Hadrawi: The Somali Shakespeare

I was lucky enough to be asked by the BBC to make a documentary about the Somali poet Hadrawi who lives in Bur'ao in Somaliland. You can listen to the programme here: The Somali Shakespeare

I took lots of photos while making the programme.

Hadrawi and me

Festive car (I didn't take this photo)

Independence celebrations (I didn't take this photo)

There are many poets in Somaliland including this policeman who has published a book of poetry

Delicious fresh fish in the port town of Berbera

Hadrawi and his wife at home in Bur'ao

Pomegranate growing in Hadrawi's favourite hotel in Bur'ao, City Plaza

No guns or knives allowed in City Plaza

Interviewing Hadrawi

Hadrawi holding some of his manuscripts

Hadraw's personal assistant, Mohammed Suleiman, who makes sure the poems are kept safely. 

City Plaza hotel

A Syrian doctor who had fled from Aleppo was staying at the hotel. He works in Erigavo.

A poet

Recording the sea

Outside Hadrawi's house

Hadrawi's wife

This young camel herder sang beautiful camel songs

Livestock market

These students in Hargeisa all knew Hadrawi's poems by heart

Another poet