Suomen Somalia-verkosto ry
Finnish Somalia Network
Marja Tiilikainen
Maippi Tapanainen
Hassan Abdi Ali
Mohamed Ahmed Elfadl
Peik Johansson
Liisa Laakso
Minna Mayer
Abdirizak Hassan Mohamed
Matti Ripatti
Teppo Tiilikainen

ISSN-L 1799-6163
ISSN 1799-6163

on Somalian, Djiboutin, Eritrean, Etiopian, Sudanin ja Etelä-Sudanin kehityskysymyksiin keskittyvä verkkolehti. Lehteä julkaisee Suomen Somalia-verkosto ry. Afrikan Sarvessa julkaistaan sekä tutkimukseen että käytännön työhön perustuvia artikkeleita ja puheenvuoroja. Afrikan Sarvi on kolmikielinen (suomi, ruotsi, englanti) ja se ilmestyy kaksi kertaa vuodessa.
är en nättidskrift som fokuserar på utvecklingsfrågor i Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Etiopien, Sudan och Södra Sudan. Tidningen utges av Suomen Somalia-verkosto (Finlands Somalia-nätverk). Artiklarna och det övriga innehållet i Afrikas Horn baserar sig på både forskning och praktiskt arbete. Afrikas Horn är trespråkig (finska, svenska, engelska) och utkommer två gånger per år.
is an electronic journal which focuses on developmental questions in Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan. It is published by the Finnish Somalia Network. The articles and other materials are based both on research and practical work. Horn of Africa Journal is trilingual (Finnish, Swedish, English) and it is issued twice a year.

Ohjeita Afrikan Sarven kirjoittajille
Anvisningar för bidragsgivare
Instructions for contributors


تعريف عن الصحيفة باللغة العربية


Nereida Ripero-Muñiz & Salym Fayad

Metropolitan nomads

A journey through Joburg’s Little Mogadishu

Mayfair, a Johannesburg suburb, is a place where the lives of hundreds of Somalis intersect; a space of opportunity for some, a place of refuge for others, and a home away from home for the Somali diaspora in the city. This is a multi-layered site where Somali migrants, as urban refugees, renegotiate their cultural practices in a foreign, metropolitan context; where spaces and customs that were left behind are recreated in the daily life of the neighbourhood.

Electric fences and high walls are a common view in Johannesburg, a city where public and private space are violently demarcated by physical boundaries that only make more apparent the social and racial divides of the post-apartheid city.

South African Indians started moving to Mayfair, a white working class suburb under apartheid, in the late 1980s. Somalis also began to settle in the area in the early 1990s because of the religious connection with the Indian Muslim population.

Most of the Somalis living in Mayfair are refugees or asylum seekers. Hodan Gabo, a singer who left Somalia after the civil conflict escalated, travelled overland from Mogadishu to Johannesburg across East Africa. After two failed marriages and losing the custody of her children, she now makes a living by singing buraanburs.

Goods, money and people circulate constantly in Mayfair. The connections between Nairobi and Johannesburg are especially relevant as most of the Somalis currently living in Mayfair have transited or lived in the Kenyan capital before and traders import many of their products from Nairobi.

Mayfair has changed significantly in recent years. Through their commercial activity, Somalis have transformed the urban landscape.

The Somali community also reproduces cultural and religious practices in the daily life of the neighbourhood.

Muslim Ethiopians also inhabit Mayfair’s streets, bringing their own cultural practices to the neighbourhood.

The transformation of the urban space occurs through the recreation of physical spaces and also through social, cultural and religious practices, routines and street life.

These expressions of ‘Somaliness’ transform spaces into very distinctive places, in which collective identities transcend national borders.

Business activity and everyday life in Mayfair have been deeply affected by the waves of xenophobic violence against foreign migrants in South Africa in 2015. Hundreds of Somalis moved to the area, which is seen by many as a home away from home, an island of peace or a protective nest because of the large number of Somalis residing there.

Shortly after the xenophobic attacks of January 2015 the neighbourhood started to empty, as dozens of Somalis left the country in search of a better life somewhere else. 

Text: Nereida Ripero-Muñiz


Photos: Salym Fayad

Using photography and an ethnographic approach, Metropolitan Nomads: A Journey through Joburg’s Little Mogadishu takes an intimate look at the everyday life of Somali migrants in Johannesburg, where collective stories of migration and survival interweave with the individual desires and hopes of seeking a better life outside a country shattered by decades of internal conflict.  It is a collaborative project between PhD candidate Nereida Ripero-Muñiz and documentary photographer Salym Fayad, supported by the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS) at Wits University.

Suomen Somalia-verkosto ry
Finnish Somalia Network