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).
three weeks have been crowded with a mass of experience
and emotions and that I haven't had time to settle down
to write or get any means to send my story to Reuters news
agency in London or to our Bureau in Nairobi.
JOURNALIST'S DIARY ABOUT THE WAR IN MOGADISHU 1991/1992
WAR DIARY BY M. M. AFRAH 1991/1993
Beach January 20th 1993
all hoped that my dispatches about unprecedented carnage
in Somalia would draw world attention despite the Gulf
of us do not blame the world community for ignoring the
endless bloodshed in Somalia because all attentions are
now focused on oil rich Kuwait and Iraq, code named Operation
Desert Storm, and that no country is ready to lend hand
to our relentless agony.
never mind about that; I've written it before. What I
am writing about is our own precarious survival effort
at the beach where we have been enjoying a semblance of
peace-at least for the moment, because as they say that
there is always a storm at the end of the calm.
of the newcomers at the beach who said he was teacher
at Sakhawaddiin Secondary School and had narrowly escaped
death by seconds during a recent bombardment and deadly
crossfire, had left the following handwritten note glued
on the door of our beach cabin while we were away on a
fishing expedition this morning:
not our fault since most of us are passive consumers of
agendas set by the warlords and clan elders. It has been
easy to switch our allegiances on and off like the power
button of a transistor radio. There's widespread of having
to watch the atrocities committed by bloodthirsty crooks,
but there are at least three ways to break the agony and
the bad dream syndrome on this one.
you can join the growing company of people who fight in
the name of the clan. Second, you can flee the country
and join the growing company who decided to become refugees.
Of course one must have the means (in US Dollars) to join
the second company. Third option was to join the internally
displaced persons at the beach. I decided to take the
last option after surviving the latest heavy bombardment
and deadly crossfire between the Habar-gedir and the Abgal
Hawiye subclans. I do not belong to the Hawiye clan and
I balked at joining other armed clans in Somalia. I believe
in dialogue as opposed to the so-called gun culture in
the name of a clan.
watched the devastations from the roof of the old Lido
Beach Club before it caved in yesterday. A visitor from
another galaxy would never know that Mogadishu was once
a beautiful city with its Mediterranean-style buildings,
and with people whose hospitality and generosity were
second to none.
to the Professor for harmonizing our living condition
at the Beach. But where are the United Nations, the Organization
of African Unity, the Arab League, the Islamic Conference
Organization and all the humanitarian organizations? "
Lido Beach resident.
A heartrending letter indeed! Ahmed asks the same question
we often pose. Where are all those organizations of which
Somalia was and is a full member? Evidence supports Ahmed's
statement vis-à-vis the wide scale destruction
of the ancient city, locally known as Xamar Cadde (literally:
The White Mogadishu) because of its whitewashed buildings
and imposing mosques. Legend had it that the city was
once the resting place of the Shah of Persia in the 14th
Century and had built the ancient Abdi-Aziz Mosque as
a token to the inhabitants of Maq-a'ddi-Shah (the resting
place of the Shah of Persia as Mogadishu was then known)
for their hospitality, and that Ibn Battuta, the great
Moroccan traveler visited the city at the end of the 13th
Century and immediately went to the Palace of Mogadishu
(the National Museum before it was looted a week ago)
and paid tribute to the people of Mogadishu for their
generosity and dynamism.
was particularly impressed with the beauty of the buildings,
the clean streets and the way business was conducted across
the city. "Ivory, hides and skins, cotton, colourful
hand-woven clothes, spices and ghee are the main export
to Arabia, Persia and China," Ibn Battuta noted in
his travel book. He also chronicled in his logbook that
frankincense; myrrh, fish and salt are the main export
in the Northeast of the country where he made a brief
break in his journey at Ras Aseyr and Xafuun.
that beautiful city is so devastated that Ibn Battuta
would have turned in his grave! All about us are terrible
signs of war. There are whole blocks of homes, shops and
offices devastated by bombs and artillery shells. Every
building in the city, described by Ibn Batutta during
his historical visit 800 years ago as "Beautiful
and eye-catching," are now honeycombed with bullet
holes and completely derelict and abandoned, reminiscent
to post World War Two Berlin.
The people are suffering a lot and continue to suffer
with no end within reach.
War is hell, and that's the truth. The massacre of defenceless
civilians continually ups the ante-Hutu-style.
M. Afrah's War Diary 1991/1993©
To be continued