Somalia's imperilled radio archive

Somalis who return to Mogadishu for the first time since the conflict began 20 years ago often lament that there is little left of the beautiful, cultured city they once knew. Much has indeed changed. However, hidden in a backroom of the Information Ministry is a treasure trove of Somali history – the archives of Radio Mogadishu.

The dark room is crammed full of reels of quarter inch tapes - lovingly filed in their dusty cardboard boxes on the shelves, spilling over onto the desks, tables and floor with their contents written by hand. There are, according to official figures, more than 35,000 tapes in the archives. More than half of them are songs but they also include drama, poetry, religious programmes, speeches and broadcasts in foreign languages including Italian, Arabic and English.

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