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By M. M. Afrah, Toronto (Canada)

This Talking Point was posted earlier this year—(THE WEBMASTER.)      

Here is a riddle for those of you who wish to visit the old country. How do you tell a Mooryaan? Simple. Dirty, thief, killer, rapist, drug addict and drifter. A teenager who carries fully loaded AK-47 or M-16 assault rifle plopped on the hood of a customized ‘Technical’, an ageing battle-wagon, without a license number and no speed limit – a common sight in Somalia.

      Perhaps yesterday he was a camel herder whose arithmetic did not go beyond taking stock of ten or twenty camels, but who are you to stop him rivaling Al Capone or a Mafia hit man in the Chicago of the 1920s? He is so focused on cruelty, rape, murder and looting that he defies challenge. The Mafiosi of Somalia, no kidding.

      At first he was frightened of the US Marines (1993) with their superior hi-tech weaponry, Black Hawk, Cobra helicopter gunships and night vision goggles, but after realizing that they were ignoring his presence he quickly overcame his fear and resumed his hit-and-run operations with impunity.

      He could be a free lancer, a renegade or a loyal to one of the warlords. But he is not stupid. His allegiance changes as quickly as the wind. Whenever you mentioned their horrendous activities people shrugged their shoulders and say “It is the act of God.”

       He squats in forlorn at road junctions, or at makeshift road barricades, chewing the inevitable Qaad, (a deadly harvest from neighbouring Kenya) waiting patiently for a vehicle to hijack. After shooting the driver and the passengers (not forgetting to rifle their pockets) he drives the vehicle, unperturbed, to the Bakaaraha open-air market and sells it at a rock bottom price. No question is asked! In Somalia today you don’t have to register your new car, buy an insurance policy or get a driver’s license. You don’t even need a license plate with the latest number for your newly acquired vehicle. It is just walk in with your dollars and walk out with the keys of your new car. Again no question is asked. Good luck!

      Prudent drivers in Mogadishu never drive a brand new vehicle around the city for fear of being cornered by the Mooryaan. If by any chance you receive a brand new car all you have to do is panel beat it with a sledgehammer to make it look older. The chance of being hijacked whilst driving a battered car in Mogadishu is very slim. No fence worth his salt would ever buy such car. The alternative is to hire armed bodyguards that would cost you a fortune. Even then there’s no guarantee that you would be safe with the two bodyguards perched on the hood of the vehicle. It is very likely that the same bodyguards could kill you, because they suspect that, as a newcomer from abroad, you must be carrying a lot of US dollars in the pockets of your designer clothes. Talking about designer’s clothes, it is very advisable to buy your clothes from Goodwill Stores before you undertake the trip home, lest you become a sitting target for the poorly attired Mooryaan.


      In the course of the fight against Siyad Barre and his final overthrow in 1991, many of our able-bodied youngsters have been drawn from productive sectors and schools and into Mogadishu. Now these people have not only abandoned their livestock in which they have been useful, but their presence in the capital is causing a lot of social and security troubles. What makes tackling this problem is the huge arsenals in the hands of these youngsters. The general public is aware that it is paramount to collect arms in order to affect any security – at least in Mogadishu.

     The possession of a gun gives many people in Somalia a sense of confidence. They feel that now they can defend their interests, even if in the process they violate the rights of other citizens. They will never relinquish their weapons easily, on the excuse that there’s no functioning government to protect them from gangs of marauders. Many sincere and responsible people will think before they hand over their guns. The Mooryaan, in particular will mount stiff resistance, because he believes that the reintroduction of security measures puts his future in the dark.

He always carries his fully loaded gun and his clips full, too. Sometimes he has reserves of food, Qaad and cigarettes in his pack – so he is self-sufficient in the environment. He feels the protection of that heavy weapon, which in Somalia is like a part of your flesh. He slept with his gun, marched with it, bathed with it right beside him. When he falls down he tries harder to protect it than he does with his own hands. He feels naked without his gun, because it guaranteed him the opportunity to die fighting, a chance to defend himself from his rivals in the same gun culture.

      The problem of the thousands of youngsters who have left their families and livestock in the countryside is not an issue to be taken lightly.  New armed forces might absorb a portion of the youth in Mogadishu, but the remaining greater majority must be helped, persuaded and materially motivated to go back to their livestock and leave the gun behind. The thorny question is: who will foot the bill estimated at billions of dollars? Evidently the Arta group did not come up with a resettlement and employment program for the armed youths and woefully failed its cleaning up campaign. Sending few hundreds of former militia gunmen to a boot camp will not solve the Mooryaan problem in Somalia. Eleven years of our history became blotto, like they never existed. This is not a costume ball game. The Mooryaan had been seesawing for eleven years and nobody in the world gives damn about Somalis killing Somalis. Besides, there’s always a war going on somewhere. There is the Middle East, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, the ETA separatists in Spain, the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, the war between India and Pakistan and so on and son on. The world got a whole supermarket full of wars, take your pick.

Personally I have a dim view in the TNG’s ability to clear the mess created by a gang of marauders and predators whose sole aim is to maintain the status quo.

It is a rather disturbing scenario and there is no end in sight.

By M. M. Afrah © 2002



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