is the first diary of war by a veteran Somali Journalist
1990/1992-a war fought under the merciless Somalia sun in
the immediate aftermath of the ouster of military dictator,
Major-General Mohamed Siyad Barre from power after ruling
the country for more than two decades with an iron fist.
Like any great-war diary, the force of the talent behind
it makes it forever timeless. This is the brutal expose'
of the rotten core of a country ruled by ruthless, bloodthirsty
warlords, their sinister power and barbaric acts that divided
the Somali people along clan, sub, sub-clan lines. Mr. Afrah
wrote the Diary (slightly edited with new material) before
the international task force spearheaded by the Americans
stormed the beaches of Mogadishu on December 9, 1993--
The Webmaster banadir.com).
M. M. AFRAH'S WAR DIARY©
Mogadishu, September 2, 1991.
The situation in Mogadishu is very tense as the struggle
for power among top officials of the United Somali Congress
(USC) is beginning to intensify. Some say General Aideed
had a falling out with his rival, Ali Mahdi Mohamed over
the question of who will fill the vacuum left behind by
Mohamed Siyad Barre and funding of the USC forces after
the overthrow of General Barre in January.
ill-conceived, irrational war could destroy the peoples'
aspiration for a better life, the very aspirations that
prompted them to rise up against the military regime.
night Ali Mahdi's forces' advance halted General Aideed's
push towards the center of the city. They dug in at the
notorious Godka, where they are planning a final stand.
The casualty figures from both sides are astronomical,
as Ali Mahdi's forces are outgunned by not less than eight
to one. Because for one thing Aideed's forces, unlike
Ali Mahdi supporters, are seasoned fighters who pushed
from the Central Province all the way to the capital after
bitter skirmishes with the remnants of General Barre forces.
The city has been devastated by carpet shelling following
last night's fierce fighting.
are all suffering from delayed shock.
September 3, 1991
and disgust! It has been a costly war. Thousands have
been killed or maimed and homes destroyed beyond recognition,
as both sides are using heavy artillery and anti-aircraft
guns training them on crowded residential areas of the
city. The popular open air Sinai market was leveled to
This morning I run for my life as my own home came under
heavy rocket attacks. Dead bodies are scattered all over
the city streets. Afterwards I questioned the ethics of
factional fighting. Ironically, the two Mogadishu faction
leaders, Ali Mahdi and General Aideed belong to the same
Hawiye clans but of different subclans. Could any subclan
be justified in sending the flower of their youth to endure
such hell in the name of the subclan?
The carnage is sickening and there seems to be no end
to it. It all amounts to revenge killing and score settling.
The partially destroyed hospitals are filled with shreds
of humanity. In one instance I saw a man's intestines
fall onto the tarmac outside the Degfer General Hospital
after he was hit by shellfire. I saw men and women with
eyeless sockets, without noses, with shell splinters sticking
out of their skulls. I listened to men screaming like
tortured animals. I watched them coughing up their lungs
as they gasped for air.
Heaps of garbage and rubble and burnt out cars lay everywhere.
September 4, 1991
say that peace, until lost, is seldom valued. Coming so
soon after the overthrow of the former dictator, the factional
fighting cannot be justified. "Apparently, some remnants
of Barre supporters are bent on rocking the boat, taking
advantage of the inter-Hawiye hostilities in a bid to
bring back the old man", says my long time neighbour.
Death has become too commonplace to matter. The two greatest
products in Mogadishu these days are shooting and rumours;
from morning to evening people manufacture rumours, from
evenings to mornings they manufacture shootings. Boys
as young as 12 or 14 shoot anything that moved in order
to prove their manhood. It is rite of passage, they told
me with the barrel of an AK-47 assault rifle pointed directly
at my heart! Many of them lost their parents during the
month long insurgency against the military regime and
later in the clan warfare.
As I write this entry in my diary around midnight, the
chatter of machineguns rises in a crescendo over my head.
I continue listening the whine of the bullets as they
pass over my house well until 4 a.m. Obviously, the boys
went to bed after an all night Qaad chewing sessions and
To be continued.
By M. M. Afrah©2005