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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 banadir.com).

A JOURNALIST'S DIARY ABOUT THE WAR IN MOGADISHU 1991/1992

WAR DIARY BY M. M. AFRAH 1991/1993

Lido Beach January 20th 1993

PART 10

The last 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.

We all hoped that my dispatches about unprecedented carnage in Somalia would draw world attention despite the Gulf War.

Some 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.

But 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.

One 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:

"It's 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.

First, 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.

I 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.

Thanks 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? "
Ahmed Liban,
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.

He 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.

Today 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. M. Afrah's War Diary 1991/1993©
Email: afrah95@hotmail.com
To be continued…


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