Friday night on Lido beach in Mogadishu.
This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
Toronto photographer Yasin Osman knows that Google search isn’t kind to Somalia. If you look up the country, chances are you’re going to read about al Shabaab attacks or food shortages—you’re not likely to learn it has the longest coastline in Africa.
So on a recent trip with the humanitarian group #LoveArmyforSomalia, Osman set out to capture the nightlife and beach culture. “I haven’t been to Somalia since I was a child; it was my first time going back,” Osman said. “The only thing I kept thinking about while on the plane was Lido beach, and the stories my mother use to tell me about it.”
Osman says his mom often spent Friday nights after school hanging out, drinking tea, and making jokes by the ocean in Mogadishu—something he couldn’t imagine until he saw for himself. “Within the first few minutes I was there, I couldn’t help but smile. Around me, I saw boys playing soccer, kids dancing, and mothers teaching their daughters to swim,” he said. “It was more beautiful than I had envisioned.”
The photos have hit a nerve on social media, something Osman credits to the contrast next to media coverage of more than two decades of civil war. “I think it’s because Somalis want to see Somalis being portrayed in a positive light. We want to see that love being shown, and it’s resonating with people that I’m trying to change the narrative.”
Because the joy of Osman’s subjects is truly irresistible, and who knows, these faces might end up in Google image search one day. Here are more photos from Lido beach in Somalia.
Follow Yasin Osman on Twitter.