Last week’s devastating blast claimed hundreds of lives, ruined many more, and dashed hopes that the country might be on the way back to normality

It was a bright Saturday afternoon in Mogadishu, a clear sky glowing blue above the once beautiful city. The busy K5, or Zoobe Junction, one of Mogadishu’s vital arteries, with its string of shops, hotels and restaurants, was teeming with people from all walks of life. Heavily loaded donkey-carts, rickshaws, cars, buses and trucks all jostled for space through the tightly crammed streets. Across the street, tea women ground their spices at a makeshift tea-stall as a group of elderly men with henna-dyed beards and multi-coloured sarongs were engaged in a deep conversation.

It was my first visit to Mogadishu since I left the country more than 20 years ago. The bustle, the pristine beaches and the scores of returning Somali expatriates all gave me a sense of hope that the “pearl of the Indian Ocean” was, at last, beginning to return to its former glory. Everything seemed quite normal. Intuitively, however, I refused to be at ease just yet, for I have learned during my short stay here that things in Mogadishu can change quite abruptly. And that’s exactly what they did.

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