Through the port of Opone passed ivory, spices like turmeric, cinnamon, incense, storax, lapis, topaz, turquoise, silk, indigo plant, apricot, aubergine, cherry seeds and slaves too – it was the gate to a exotic Orient that overflowed with opulence.
It was long ago when history and myth merged like the dunes in the Somalian desert. This was the Egyptian “Land of Pount” depicted in the bas-reliefs in the Deir el-Bahari temple in Luxor. The “land at the end of the world” for the Greeks, south of Ras Asir and Ras Hafun sheltering Opone, a trading hub abundant with strange spices.
The image of Opone (pronounced Opôné) revives all the excitement of an unknown and fantasised Orient that brought to our shelves strange and sought after riches, the port being abundant with spices from unrevealed places.
“Sad feeling! I have returned to the country of storms and cold, already the Orient is no more to me than one of those morning dreams which are soon followed by the troubles of the day.” – Gérard de Nerval, Voyage to the Orient.
N.B.: The Hafun peninsula in Somalia is the site of the ancient port city of Opone. Cape Hafun is in the eastern tip of Africa at the top of the horn, between the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean and the Socotra Archipelago.