Navigating the two sides of Somalia's capital Mogadishu
In our series of letters from African journalists, Soraya Ali tries to reconcile between the idyllic image of Somalia that she grew up with and its reputation as a hostile place.
Until a few weeks ago I'd never been home.
A country where I speak the language, and look like everyone else but had never stepped foot in.
That place is Somalia.
But this month, I followed in the footsteps of countless diaspora children and booked a one-way-ticket to the motherland.
I was born and raised in London, some 6,000 miles (9,700km) from my family's roots.
Growing up, I always felt torn between the idea of what sounded like two very different cities.
I'd hear about Mogadishu on the news. A capital filled with death and destruction, touted as "the most dangerous place in the world".
But then my parents would speak so fondly of "Xamar", as the locals call it. They described a beautiful city, situated on Africa's longest coastline, known to many as "the pearl of the Indian Ocean".