is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind.
It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction
devised by the ingenuity of man."
Mahatma Gandhi, 1869-1948
Warsame Hadrawi is one of the great moral and Peace
Crusader of our time whose lifelong dedication to
the fight against injustice, war mongering and acts
of violence won him the admiration of many peace-loving
his release from detention in a remote corner
of Somalia for more than a decade of incommunicado
and isolation, Hadrawi has been at the center
of peace crusade on behalf of the ordinary Somalis
who have been kept hostage of the gun by a bunch
of brutal and merciless warlords for more than
collapse of law and order was well underway long before
the clan warfare. Urban centers continued to suffer
violence, political chaos and economic disruption.
Pastoralists and the farming population have less
fared well as water wells (bore holes) have been poisoned
and nomadic encampments in northwest and central province
destroyed by the military. The inhabitants were accused
"for harbouring anti-revolutionary elements and
for spreading false rumours prejudicial to national
security." General Barre's regime generally branded
the armed insurgents, SNM, SSDF, USC and SPM as "bandits"
in the payroll of un-named foreign countries,
was a potential disaster in the making. It was
a nasty preview of conditions to come. It became
apparent during the ensuing years of civil war
and an unprecedented bloodshed, but the Gulf War,
which broke out at about the same time, dwarfed
a prolific playwright and song composer, depicted
in his plays the prevailing chaos, corruption, nepotism
and the mismanagement of public funds and the confiscation
of emergency food aid, which attracted the attention
of the politically sensitive revolutionary government,
which in turn earned him detention, without trial,
and incommunicado, in a harsh environment comparable
to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned
by the apartheid regime for more than 27 years, breaking
plays and his patriotic poems have been banned by
the military regime. State Radio Mogadishu has even
ceased to put on air all his masterpieces, including
his popular number "Belet-weyne" (Beer Lula)
sung by Hassan Adan Samatar as anti-revolutionary!
To defy the ban coffee shop owners in the city continuously
played the pre-recorded "Beer Lula" in ear-splitting
volume day and night. The panicky NSS simply ignored
them but cased some of the joints, just in case.
present crop of warlords is spreading rumours that
Hadrawi "is seeking publicity and self-promotion
in order to stand for an election for a political
office." This smacks of smear campaign against
the great man.
Hadrawi continued to preach peace, stability and non-violence
in the Somali Peninsula during his current "Long
journey to Peace" overseas. In his interviews
he challenges faction leaders/warlords gathering in
Nairobi to create a political system that builds public
trust and institutions, including independent judiciary,
freedom of speech and association, among other human
rights, and to end their narrow political ping-pong,
and bickering once and for all.
courage, dedication and patriotism should remain our
source of inspiration.
STOP RHETORIC, ADDRESS WEAPONS PROBLEM
It is hard
to imagine that the world's greatest supermarket of
weapons of all types and caliber freely open their
doors every morning in Mogadishu to sell their deadly
arsenal to anyone who can afford at bargain prices,
depending on that day's intensity war fever in the
city when the price of an AK-47 assault rifle goes
up. Their customers include 12-year-old boys and the
city's freelancers, the assassins-for-hire otherwise
known as Mooryaan.
It is also
hard to match the overwhelming majority of the people
with this weapons bonanza country who are subject
to chaos, hunger, and anarchy that seldom appear in
the Western media since the Americans and the UN walked
away from job half done in 1994 "as not worth
undertaking in the first place". For all practical
purpose Somalia became the world's first privatized
state. Evidently, drug traffickers and gunrunners
have been taking advantage of the lack of a government
to accumulate wealth and hire their own fully armed
It is not
clear how this massive weaponry end up in Somalia
or who are the suppliers, despite UN appointed "independent"
monitors who seldom visit the country citing insecurity.
(Recently UN official, a member of the UN field security
team, was abducted by militia gunmen operating in
Kismayu, but was later freed unharmed after 10 days
dormant UN monitors visited the Bakaaraha, one of
the thriving supermarkets of weapons, they would have
witnessed test shots fired by prospective customers.
They would have witnessed that, despite a 1992 arms
embargo, weapons are freely available in this sprawling
open air "Supermarket of Weapons", offering
everything from RPGs (Rocket Propelled Grenades),
Mortars, Landmines, Milan anti-tank rockets, anti-aircraft
missiles and heavy machineguns. And for the first
time in Somalia the Israeli made Uzi machineguns are
on sale at bargain prices.
They would have witnessed fully labeled huge wooden
crates conspicuously showing the names of the suppliers
and their countries of origin, and even the name of
The wooden crates are sold separately as construction
of course several other supermarkets of weapons in
the city, such as Sinai and Argentina Markets, where
apart from buying weapons, you can also exchange your
US dollars, Euros and Saudi Real, among other convertible
currencies. But the US Dollar is still the Grand Old
Daddy of International currencies.
future, it will be impossible for any government to
disarm the young militia boys as the majority are
drug (Qaad) addicts and have no skills of their own
and are numerically too many to absorb in future armed
a problem of great proportions and one cannot simply
brush it aside.
leader is aware that it is important to collect arms
and shut down the mushrooming supermarkets of weapons
in order to affect any security-at least in Mogadishu.
But it transpires that the owners of the gun bazaars
are some of the very people who are now gathering
in Nairobi talking peace and reconciliation, while
at the same time deliberately ignore the weapons problem
for their own vested interests. Evidently, closing
down the arms bazaars do not bode well with these
one of my past TALKING POINTS I had
pointed out that the possession of a gun gives people
a sense of confidence to protect their interests,
even if in the process they violate the rights of
other citizens. They will never relinquish arms so
and responsible people I know personally will think
before they hand over their weapons. One valid excuse
is that there is no government to guarantee their
safety. "What if other clans attack us?"
they would say. Without some sort of guarantee a lot
of people will mount stiff resistance. They feel arms
collection without effective law enforcement officers
and transparent politicians at the helm, puts their
future in the dark.
is not an issue to be taken lightly. If a new government
does not come up with a resettlement and employment
program, it will certainly fail in its cleaning up
officials, including the Kenyan Foreign Minister,
Kalonzo Musyoka insisted that the Somalis should reach
consensus when they are sure it will burst later and
pave the way for a renewed violence. And as Mahatma
Gandhi used to say Violence breeds Violence-a prelude
to the all-familiar vicious circle. What I can not
understand is why the sponsors and the participants
of the talks failed to give top priority to the vital
3Ds-Disarmament, Demobilization and Demining during
the more than a year of senseless talks, first in
Eldoret and later in a warthog infested Nairobi suburb
known as Mbagathi. Simply put, the international community,
i.e. the United States and the European Union are
disillusioned with the complex Somali clan system
and petty politics and are threatening to cut the
funds without bothering to highlight the 3Ds, which
is the core problem in Somalia.
President Yuweri Musoveni was right when he said
the Somalis are dying in genocide in slow motion.
Mr. Musoveni, a former guerrilla chieftain himself,
knows what it means to die in Genocide in slow
the other hand some of the participants claim that
the document they had signed on January 29 in front
of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki was doctored and the
text altered, and unless the problem is addressed
they would walk out of the talks. As a matter of fact
some of them have already checked out of the posh
five-star Safari Park Hotel, huffing and puffing,
according to our man in Nairobi.
the accusation is true, we would like IGAD and the
Kenyan Foreign Minister to enlighten us who had altered
the text of this vital Transitional Charter, and WHY?
By M. M. Afrah©2004