Home Sweet Home

My house in Jijiga-yar, Hargeisa

I’ve spent the last couple days getting settled into my new place, a large house that I share with three co-workers in the Jijiga-yar neighbourhood of Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland.

Jijiga is actually the name of a city in the Somali region of eastern Ethiopia, about 160km from here on the road to Harar. Jijiga-yar means “Little Jijiga” and the area is called that because of the large community of people form Jijiga living there.

It’s a quiet, well-off neighbourhood away from the centre of town; many people from the Somali diaspora have houses here and it is common for foreign workers to live in the area.

Like most houses in Hargeisa, our house has a large gate and is surrounded by a high wall topped with broken shards of glass; an armed guard protects the property at all times. The perimeter wall encompasses an outdoor area around the house and this arrangement can also be referred to as a “compound.” Of course, it is only well off people who live like this. On the empty, rubbish-strewn lots around our house, poor people have built temporary shelters, where they live without electricity or running water.

Our neighbours. A family of at least seven people lives here.

View from our roof. The patchwork mounds are self-built houses.

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