in and day out there’s a heated argument that Saddam Hussein
possesses weapons of mass destruction (WMD) which his regime
is allegedly stashed away somewhere in Iraq, using mobile
vehicles. And if you asked me if Saddam owns WMD, my answer
would be: “I wouldn’t know. Let’s ask Hans Blix, the Swedish
chief of the UN Weapons Inspectors on the ground.”
there’s a war, any war, it should be in Somalia. An all out
war to root out those who massacred hundreds of thousands
of unarmed civilians and in the process destroyed the once
in this website as well as many other Somali websites tried
to ignore the volatile Middle East politics, because for one
thing, we have our own 12-year-old mess to clear up. However,
one obvious message is that Weapons of Mass Destruction do
not have a return address for those whispered initials, the
CIA, to go after and track down the noxious booty.
the same token international terrorists do not normally leave
behind a THANK YOU note in the mean streets of New York City
and Chicago for wannabe Sherlock Holmes as “a solid clue”
left behind by “some Middle Eastern-looking terrorists”.
many people in power seem to ignore is poverty, the greatest
ill, the source of all evils. The many squeezed by the few
in sprawling slums, ridden with crime, drug addiction, rape,
hatred and all the evils in the book.
vividly recall the Contra, General Noreiga’s double-dealings,
the DEA, the Medellin drug barons, the Sandanists, the betrayals
and the fatal covert operations in Central American countries
aptly named Banana Republics.
hope the Somali warlords are by now wise to this sort of behind
the door dealings and wheeling by the sworn enemies of the
Somali people. My readings is that these warlords a.k.a. faction
leaders would be hanging out to dry as soon as these enemies
of the Somali people achieve their ultimate goal—the demise
of the Somali Peninsula.
present the balance on the scale does not weigh on the warlords’
favour. They have upon their conscience the blood of the people
they despised and massacred because they have been deafened
by the thunder of their clan logic. Expedience became their
religion in the pursuit of clan power. They have reached certain
level in warlordism and tended to regard themselves as Somalia’s
mandarins. That’s one of the reasons why they are anxious
to maintain the status quo by all means.
you’re a warlord you don’t give damn about anything. Whatever
it is, bring it on. The powerful clan is behind you. And if
by any chance you become the president of the country, it
will be a banana skin under your designer’s shoes. Paranoia
is already built under your skin.
it bugs me why anyone would want to become the president of
a country with a malicious half-life of its own, shallow graveyards
and landfill in the cities and towns of sorrows?
then the Somalis had been prisoners under one warden or another
since independence more than 40 years ago. We waited sardonically,
and even welcomed the new warden with songs and green branches
(Somalia’s olive branch). But the new kid on the block changes
colour as soon as he held the helm of power. He vehemently
denies that he had ever made any promise in his election platform.
true vice is talk. We adore conversations and heated debates,
now teasingly called Fadhi ku dirir even when
our world is crumbling under our feet. Every step toward disaster
must be accompanied by ten thousand words, the current talks
in Kenya is no exception.
however, one bright side to the chaos. Many Diaspora Somalis
who landed in war-torn Somalia at first felt unfriendly, nervous
and terror-stricken. Why anyone would object his or her presence
in the old country? They were quiet, of good appearance, well-mannered,
well-dressed and spent their money freely and judiciously,
indifferent to the rumors of the thriving kidnapping industry
in Mogadishu. After all, they are as Somalis as the guy with
the bazooka next door.
new returnees discovered that a number of Somali Diaspora
who arrived here before them have already installed a state-of-the-art
communications system, the cheapest in the world, small but
booming businesses, including cholesterol-free sesame oil
factory (mainly for export to the West), construction material,
as well as food processing and distillery of drinking water
and soft drinks factories. In Somalia nobody talks about calories
of cholesterol for obvious reason. Food is there to be eaten
and money was ammunition and the act of committing it to chance
was irrational, period.
wasn’t what they had seen on TV or read in the Western newspapers.
One aspect worth highlighting here, however, is that each
business must hire fully armed private army to police the
legitimate businesses. Then there are the watchers who watch
the watchers. The new owners figured out they made back their
investment dollars three times over, and that included the
payoff to the private army and the watchers.
private army at the gate frisked visitors as a matter of course.
No weapons are allowed inside the perimeters of the factories.
A UNDP (United Nations Development Program) official who recently
paid a courtesy call to the Sesame Oil Factory owner said
he was flattered and thrilled to be frisked for the first
time in his life!
had been few attempts in recent years to heist these businesses.
An attempt to rob these business people is tantamount to committing
suicide. No doubt Somalia is the world’s first privatized
state where you could buy anything without a government to
interfere. No customs, no tax collectors, no immigration officials,
no GST, PST or VAT (Value Added Tax), no traffic cop to stop
you for speeding and no questions are asked. If you can afford
a Rolls Royce or Mercedes, drive a scooter or better still
a battered FIAT. No Mooryaan worth his salt would pay
attention to your battered FIAT jalopy.
the merchants seek from life is to be allowed to manage their
affairs without a government red tape. In fact they do not
see in your mind's eye any government, democratic or otherwise.
new returnees with their money immediately joined the fray
and became the new riches. An old colleague of mine, a returnee
from Sweden, has just laid the foundation stone for carton
and plastic factory in the outskirts of the city. He said
there’s a growing demand for cartons and reusable plastic
shopping bags in Mogadishu. Recycling is the name of the game,
has been the experience of man like Jesow of Toronto, who
against all odds opened a booming fishing industry in Somalia.
Jesow took the risk of a taster.
of my readers might think that I am painting overly simple
picture, but there are still some smiling sides in the city
of open graves. When a drug-crazed militia gunman puts an
AK-47 to your stomach, it’s a powerful argument. Still a dry
run will do the tricks.
a roller coaster with a risk.
BRIGHT SIDE OF SOMALIA will return next week.
Afrah © 2003
Mr. Afrah is an outspoken Author/Journalist and
a member of the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)
and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
He contributes hard-hitting articles to Canadian and international
newspapers and magazines on the Somalia situation "through
the eyes of a man who covered the country for more than two
Many of us remember his critical articles in his
weekly English language HEEGAN newspaper, despite a mandatory
self-censorship introduced by Guddiga Baarista Hisbiga Xisbiga
Hantiwadaagga Somaaliyeed in 1984 and the dreaded NSS. I am
very proud to know that Mr. Afrah openly defied the draconian
censorship laws and went ahead to write what he thought was
wrong in the country. He received several death threats from
the warlords and was briefly held hostage by gunmen in 1993.
But he remained defiant and continued to send his stories
of carnage and destruction to Reuters news agency. He still