A Glimpse into ‘Little Mogadishu’

Photo Essay

In addition to a rich and diverse arts culture, the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood in Minneapolis is also home to a diverse immigrant population. One of the larger, if not largest, parts of that population is Somali. With its colorful artwork and murals, cafes, shops and store fronts displaying beautiful Arabic signage, it’s an intriguing and inviting part of the city. It has a culture quite different from midwest Americana—halal meats; malls full of beautifully decorated khimars, abayas, and hijab; small areas with women applying lovely henna tattoos; and cafes with delicious-smelling dishes. Yet, it is also very much a part of the Midwest, with people who experience the same joy and relief over the arrival of spring after a very long winter, and who are happy to banter in agreement. Shop owners invite you in to see their offerings, bolts of fabric waiting to be crafted by expert tailors into the often-colorful clothing worn by many here, and who are happy to answer questions or simply to chitchat. Cedar-Riverside is a small part of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, with a big love for its culture and uniqueness, and for that we are fortunate.

One of several high-rise apartment buildings Cedar-Riverside that is home to a large part of Minneapolis's Somali population. The wall mural in the foreground, with its many flags and depictions of various cultural elements, highlights the area's diversity

One of several high-rise apartment buildings Cedar-Riverside that is home to a large part of Minneapolis’s Somali population. The wall mural in the foreground, with its many flags and depictions of various cultural elements, highlights the area’s diversity

The mosaic signpost features images from varied cultures and environments

The mosaic signpost features images from varied cultures and environments

The storefronts in these two images reflect the cultures of the surrounding neighborhood

The storefronts in these two images reflect the cultures of the surrounding neighborhood

Indoor open-stall markets give residents access to goods and services essential to the cultural life of the community

Indoor open-stall markets give residents access to goods and services essential to the cultural life of the community

A beautiful young girl in a bright hijab accompanies her mother on errands

A beautiful young girl in a bright hijab accompanies her mother on errands

An array of colorful abaya, a style of dress worn by many Muslim women, line one wall of this market stall

An array of colorful abaya, a style of dress worn by many Muslim women, line one wall of this market stall

About the Author
Rexann Brew lives in the western suburbs of Minneapolis with her husband Greg and their daughter Anna. Rexann appreciates art, enjoys diverse cultural experiences (especially foods!), looking for the similarities in our shared humanity, and is a student of the way of peacemaking