Although Italian involvement in the colonial project started late and was hesitant, a colonialist consciousness was being forged throughout the second half of the nineteenth century. Visual and print culture were crucial to the process of mass communication. Middle class Italians who subscribed to illustrated periodicals were treated to extensive reports of the wonders of the African continent.. While it is likely that few Italians were very well informed about Africa, it is probably the case that the diffusion of images at a popular level, made possible through developments in photographic reproduction, created stereotypical beliefs that remained potent.
The following 16 images, taken almost entirely from Italian publications, depict events that occurred during the first quarter of the twentieth century. They include illustrations of important figures such as Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan and Sultan Yusuf Ali Kenadid and offer insight into colonial attitudes towards and perceptions of Somalis.