Somalia’s obsession with giant sofas that swallow the President and his guests

President Hassan Sheikh and a guest
President Hassan Sheikh and a guest

Somalia’s state house, the Villa Somalia, is constantly under attack. This year alone there were two serious attacks by the militant group al-Shabaab. But the Villa’s enemies are not limited to bomb-weilding angry men bent on ending lives, it is also under another kind of attack, by giant sofas, plastic flowers, an eyesore carpet and curtains designed by pattern and color-blind designer somewhere in Arabia.

Given the dubious culture at Villa Somalia of secretive private contracts, we can’t tell if the Presidential office has a formal interior designer or have just asked the chief of staff’s next of kin to throw together what they can find at Bakaara or from Dubai’s second-hand fabric market.

The importance of having transparent contract process is that if someone messes up the interior decoration of the highest office in the land, they get fired. But if you employ your cousin, it gets very tricky to fire him/her on the basis of competency as they were not hired on those grounds to begin with.

Our other worry is that where the President receives foreign dignitaries and potential investors is of a national and Somali Diasporic concern because Somalia desperately needs to attract foreign investors and create much needed jobs, not chase them away with what looks like color factory gone terribly wrong.

We therefore politely ask those responsible for Villa Somalia’s interior decoration to not hurt the country’s economy and get rid of these horrid stuff and install investment-inviting neutral colours and tastefully designed simple sofas.

Let’s hope Villa Somalia reads this objectively and upgrades their reception room from a lobby of some 1-star hotel in Eastleigh to the most important place to receive VIP guests that it should be.  


By Fatuma