Somaliland: Archaeologist Sada Mire the local Indiana Jane


Sada Mire fled Somalia in 1991, when the country was ravaged by war and famine. She came back with a Swedish passport, an archaeologist and as a cause: let the world know the Somali cultural heritage. In the November 2015 issue of Vanity Fair, Marion Keelboat rebounded with it the course of a story where the past merges with the future.


On the rock, comic festive cows wear collars. The curve of the massif protects it from water and wind. Faced with these animals older than five thousand years, the vastness of a desert of rock and acacias. Welcome to the prehistoric site of Laas Geel, northwest of Somalia. The name tickles the imagination, suggesting arid land crisscrossed by nomadic peoples. In the vernacular, it means “water point camels” as two wadis intersect at the foot of the wall of red granite. For archaeologists, it is above all the most beautiful and most important rock art home to the Horn of Africa.


Sada Mire inspects this setting, the valley unfolded in her almond eyes. This 39 year old woman in haughty bearing is the first and only Somali archeologist. She lives far from here, in Europe, but returned as often as possible on this earth that she was born, Somaliland, to promote these ancient treasures. Here a bull, a giraffe. There arabesques, dots, dashes. Further, there are silhouettes of monkeys, hyenas, dogs, men with arms outstretched to the tiny head, dressed in trousers and tunics. Sada caresses these forms fingertips, conducts trails, takes pictures. The massive Laas Geel has eight caves and an open-air shelters thirty, adorn not less than one thousand paintings – the first were discovered in 2002 by a French research team came from Montpellier. Sada Mire is the unofficial curator; she knows every corner, down to the last stone.


“I do not do this business to discover sites and affix my name, she said with a touch of pride. I want to care, awareness of the greatest number and use them as a lever for development for the country. “For now, there is hardly a museum which exhibits derisory photos and some antiques, a main entrance equipped with a fence and a sentry box at the entrance, where a uniformed guard dozes. But the goal claimed by the young woman is to make Laas Geel one of the most popular tourist steps in Africa.

Google translation (Somaliland: Sada Mire fights, one archaeologist of a country that does not exist) from the original titled Somaliland : Sada Mire, l’archéologue qui lutte pour l’indépendance par 

The rest of this article by Marion Keelboat is to read in the November 2015 issue of Vanity Fair France.


Marion KeelboatJournalist for the author Marion Keelboat who is a journalist fpr magazine XXI, likes complicated stories in which She excels in reveling ambivalences, appreciates the gray in-between, dark in countries that are no longer at war but do not yet know peace. She has reported about Albania, Greece, Sudan, Iran, Congo and Somaliland.