A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A WARLORD
By M. M. Afrah©
Toronto - Jan 16, 03
Somali warlord commands thousands of men, hundreds of whom
maybe related to him in the way of clan affiliation, thousands
of whom may never have seen, or learnt his real name or
his past record.
the warlord, most of these thousands are no more than a
components of a militia cut-throats and trigger-happy, faceless
creatures who obey his orders, move off, attack innocent
civilians, withdraw, or match to their deaths, all in the
name of the clan, regardless of whether they know who is
their warlord, where he came from, where he is going, whether
he is an unemotional pendant or a genial father-figure,
strict martinet, an e equable personality, a daredevil,
a temporizer, or even what he stands for, apart from his
he has to do is anesthetize the clan by telling them they’re
an elite, above other clans, that they’ve got a mission,
that they’re making a history, that they’re fulfilling their
destiny and fighting for a better Somalia.
shouts SOMALIA at the end of every speech, but many of his
audience are secretly aware that even a guttersnipe can
say all what he had just said and shout Somalia, even louder.
network of contacts (for money and weapons) included Somalia’s
archenemy, but he keeps his Somalia façade, higher than
warlord, through his minions, defines the boundaries within
which the drugged militia can operate. His minions would
also specify the objective to be obtained—looting and massacring
what they perceived as the enemy clan.
records of the militia are ever kept—only numbers, never
names. The warlords, on the other hand, do have names, but
they never issue written orders. No decoration or promotions
are being conferred to the poor devils. But the name of
the warlord is mentioned in newspaper articles or on the
radio. His photograph stares from publications or is captured
in photographs destined to adorn the walls of the clan,
and occasionally finds its way into prime time TV, and thus,
into history books. One or two of his minions too have names,
but are secretly called Kobe Qaade.
General Barre arrived the scene in October 1969 the warlords
crawled to him on their bellies and licked his hand. Their
sole remaining wish was to survive.
course generalizations are always absurd. Not all the delegates
at the Eldoret peace talks are epic figures of political
time-servers. I have no doubt there are some worthy men
and women among them. For example, the intellectual I have
mentioned in my last TALKING POINT. He represented a civic
society who tried to make marionettes out of the warlords.
They fought harder for the rights of women in a country
where men think they have the exclusive right to decide
who eats or who starves. They insisted that a war crimes
tribunal should be set up to try those who committed genocide
against the Somali people during the last 12 nightmarish
Now, back to the subject of this Talking
Point. The warlord has his private life surrounded by heavily
armed trusted militia guards, mainly from his own sub, subclan.
He has expropriated a luxury villa, whose owner fled the
inferno in the wake of the civil war, where he entertains
his peers or a girl friend for a nightcap. He hoards nutritious
food and expensive drinks while the majority of the people
are starving to death.
warlord (and his opponents) has foreign bank accounts and
flies a moment’s notice in order to replenish his secret
bank accounts and do little shopping spree in Rome or Geneva.
That is not all. Members of his immediate family live lavishly
in luxurious villas in Western Europe and North America,
worlds away from the anarchy and mayhem.
peace-loving world looks on them as lunatics: or worse risky
factor. Witness the daily wrangling in Eldoret, which sounds
like lunatic asylum. The talks has now become like squeezing
blood out of a stone. Nothing seems to work, even after
the European Union (EU) financiers threatened to take drastic
steps against them if they don’t cease their meaningless
daily wrangling forthwith. They were forced to sign a ceasefire,
that everybody knows they will never honour it.
people around the peace table are familiar with every form
of brutality, intrigue, violence, arson, vileness, homicide
and rape. So it was extremely rare for surprising or unusual
matters of national importance to be raised at such meetings,
and no one expected to hear words like peace, national reconstruction,
transparency, accountability and a broad-based national
as the horse-trading continues in Eldoret, fighting is raging
in many parts of the country, ceasefire or no ceasefire.
In Puntland, in Bay & Bakool, in Bermuda area of south
Mogadishu and few other pockets the bloodshed continues
In his absence, the warlord’s chief aide de
camp either stupefies the militia and pander to their basest
instincts or rouses them to what he calls “a genuine sense
of freedom and justice,” mimicking his boss.
Is there a possibility for the warlords
to soften their hardline positions and listen to the wishes
and desires of the people? Not a chance. They are albatrosses
round our necks. However, the only valid answer is: we must
decently save Somalia from farther integration—or rather
save what little was left of it, come what may.
judges people by the way they behave in their darkest hours.
M. M. Afrah©2003