“A Railway Map” by Maxamed Sharmarke

A Railway Map

A Railway Map


This map is an attempt; a lame attempt at appropriating a technology associated with the opulence of old Europe and putting it in the periphery, in this case Somali inhabited regions of Africa. In a country that symbolizes to the world most dramatically the depths of which the post colonial dream of unity turned into a nightmare of discord.

There are no railways in Somalia or rather they used to exist during the colonial period for short sections and not for very long afterwards. Colonialism and especially the African experience of it can be also told through railways (and also their plans); the British wanted their Cairo to Cape railway and the French, the equally serious Dakar to Djibouti, each of which started an interrelated series of land grabs aimed at securing the huge amounts of mineral wealth in the interior.

Since the experience currently in Africa of railways and their plans LAPSSET etc. is one not that different to that first brutal colonial experience – people have been displaced of their land violently in some cases, arcane methods of finance have been used that only impoverish the poor and further the corruptions of the already rich. This map like the Sapeurs of Kinshasa or Nollywood, appropriates and then imagines what a popular local alternative to the dictatorships of development by IMF might look like, where towns never given second thought by planners are still considered important.


Maxamed Sharmarke is a designer, urbanist, writer, Majin Buu Lover. Visit his Website [Project].