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(This 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

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.

This 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.

Last 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.

We are all suffering from delayed shock.

Mogadishu, September 3, 1991

Horror 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 the ground.
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.

Mogadishu, September 4, 1991

People 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 indiscriminate shootings.

To be continued.

By M. M. Afrah©2005

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