M.M. AFRAH’S WAR DIARY 1991/1993 (UNEDITED)
PART FIVE - MOGADISHU DECMBER 6/7 1991
It is one of those intermissions frequent in night combat, which are always followed by a redoubled fury. The leaders of the two clans are so selfish that the word ANIGA (ME) howls in the abyss of their souls. Apparently they’ve never heard words like diplomacy, tolerance and political compromise. Each is obsessed with the office of the presidency, believing that the end justifies the means, i.e. the massacre of innocent civilians and the destruction of a thousand year old city.
The two Mogadishu faction leaders, which the BBC’s World Service called last night “the two Mogadishu main Warlords,” start broadcasting hard-hitting propaganda commentaries from their newly opened FM radio stations. Ironically, both stations call themselves “Radio Mogadishu, the Voice of the Somali People,” and employed former radio broadcasters and divided Waberi artists and songwriters. They too are divided along clan affiliations and survival instinct to try to entertain terrified population on both sides of the Green Line. But they became laughing stock. The legendary playwright and songwriter, Mohamed Ali Kaariye refused to join the divided Waberi Artistes for ethical reasons. He said that we already have enough divisions in this country to last us for a lifetime.
General Aideed’s radio station announced today that UN Secretary-General Peres de Cuellar will send a special envoy to Mogadishu to try to mediate the two warring factions, but when I mentioned this to my neighbour, he immediately began to condemn the United Nations, saying it was too late.
“Where were they when army generals and colonels, turned warlords, massacred thousands of innocent people?” he snapped. “They left us to the vultures,” he added.
“Ali Mahdi is not an army man,” I said.
“I’m talking about Generals Aideed, Morgan, Gabyow, Kulmie, Mohamed Abshir and Colonels Jess and Abdullahi Yusuf,” he said in disgust and as usual resumed reading verses from the Holy Qur’an.
“I’m sure there’s a place in hell for these monsters,” he said and kissed the Holy Qur’an, after closing it.
MOGADISHU DECEMBER 10/11, 1991
Today patients from the mental hospital “Lazaretto” joined the melee, and their path is covered with dead. They are in the battle as in a dream. Wishy-washy, hungry and tattered, they laughed and said haughty things to each other, wondering why people are fighting. Some are unwittingly wearing discarded Faqash (army) camouflage and become ready targets for armed militia at the barricade in front of our dwellings. They walked with enigma. They’re advancing in the middle of an ambush. But they know nothing about it or even cared about it. They resembled sleepwalkers in Frank Capri’s 1974 movie.
Sheikh Ahmed Ganey, the Muezzin tried to save them, shouting: “War haddilina, waa dad waalinee!”
It was too late. The militia manning the barricade sprayed them with machinegun bullets that lasted several minutes. It was horrific sight.
The grim reality lasted all day and all night. Later the muezzin summed up with the famous words: “It was written.”
They are victims of circumstances.
MOGADISHU, JANUARY 3, 1992
The morning began with isolated skirmishes, which, as usual, gathered momentum in the afternoon. Young militias are building tank obstacles in front of my house. I asked one of them if they were still expecting tanks, even though General Aideed was offering a ceasefire.
“We don’t trust him. He is like a bedbug,” one of them said with a grin.
Trust is in short supply in Somalia today.
4.35 P.M. Taking advantage of the shaky ceasefire unilaterally announced by General Aideed’s radio station, I went to Xamar-weyne shopping district. The vibrant shopping district now turned into a battlefield and is beyond recognition. All the shops have been looted and put to the torch by arsonists. Where there had been paved roads there were now just the patterns of armour tracks and mountains of garbage. Where there had been trees there were now only the shell-broken stumps. Where there had been gardens full of tropical flowers there were now only shallow graves. The main street in front of the Central Bank is speckled with an avalanche of worthless Somali banknotes and newly minted coins. Only the thousand Shilling banknotes are now accepted. Looted merchandise, guns and boxes of ammunitions are openly sold in street corners and on pavements.
Where is the victory, where is the end to the carnage?
I met a long time nodding acquaintance at the corner of now gutted Hotel Croce del Sud and after exchanging news tidbits, he led me into one of those Xamar-weyne narrow streets and alleyways.
He whispered, “a war doesn’t last forever, not ever, a war finishes, the Mooryaan finishes. There is a new country to be built. There will be a new Somalia, and that will be my country…”
“Do you believe that?” I said.
“Yes. I would want someone who will share my vision,”
“Count me out, my friend.” I said and wished him good luck. He had the look of a pirate and the voice of an actor.
To be continued …
By M. M. Afrah©2002,