Reer Okera trace their origin to South Asia, South Asians have been residing in Mogadishu for the last century or more, they arrived to the coast as traders and settled, becoming residents of Mogadishu. Although they lived with the Banadir people, their distinguished features, culture and lineage from the locals at that time confederated them to act as a stand-alone clan, seperate from the Banadir hegemony. Reer Okera is one of the main family clans of the Asians, amongst many others.
They lived together in a small quarter called Hamarweyn, the oldest town of Mogadishu. And within that quarter lays an area commemoerated to them, described by the locals as Hafaadaha Hinidga (area belonging to the Asians), this is where they have their main mosque, Masajidka Ithna Ashar (Twelver Mosque). Testament to the mosque, the Reer Okera were a Shi’a community who lived in Banadir amongt their preominant Sunni Shafi’ee counterpart.
Their population is unknown today since they left in large numbers due to the civil wars in 1991. Their buildings and mosques are still present today, purchased by Banadiris. Trade between Asians and Banadir can date back to centuries, this is in attestation to the many court cases from the 1800s where Indian Merchants would trade in the Banadir Coast. One famous Indian Merchant was Tharia Topan (1823-1891), a bussinessman who moved to Zanzibar at a young age for trade and commerce. During his ventures, he visited the Banadir Coast where he purchased a number of houses, some of these houses are still standing today in Marka and Barawa [purchased and currently occupied by the Raa Tahara Family in Barawa]. (M.Kassim, 2005)
Below are some photos of the Indian Community who resided in Mogadishu.
Vianello, A. and Kassim, M. (2006) Servants of the Sharia – The Civil Register of the Qadis’ Court of Brava 1893-1900. African Sources for African History.