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).
JOURNALIST'S DIARY ABOUT THE WAR IN MOGADISHU 1991/1992
WAR DIARY BY M. M. AFRAH 1991/1993
Beach January 25th 1993
in the afternoon I went to the city center against the
advice of the professor. Then I went into Digfer General
Hospital and found it in chaos, overflowing with seriously
wounded persons and roughly bandaged outpatients. "The
dead are being carried out to the back of the hospital
to be buried in shallow graves, temporarily," Battula
Omar, one of the exhausted nurses told me.
"Some have been in street accidents, mostly they
seem to have been hit by flying bullets," said Dr.
Hassan Ibrahim, one of the five doctors who decided to
remain at the hospital despite the shooting spree, as
he removed a bullet from the thigh of an old man. He said
non-Hawiye doctors and nurses left the hospital and fled
the city in the immediate aftermath of the civil strife,
fearing for their own lives. The doctor laments that there
is no anesthesia, antibiotics, or simple things like alcohol,
bandages and anti-bacteria solutions. And the generators
run out of fuel three weeks ago. He said the doctors perform
operations with the help of candlelight and hurricane
lamps. He said the Mooryaans bring in their wounded comrades
and force the doctors to treat them at gunpoint. Many
of the wounded gunmen keep their weapons under their hospital
beds, ignoring the NO WEAPONS signs conspicuously displayed
at the gate and at the main entrance.
Mogadishu there appears to be no reason for most of the
shootout. Indeed, one series of accidents I ran into on
my way to the hospital tender to show that these Mooryaans
just weren't to be trusted with weapons. Most of them
press the trigger merely for show off, which often starts
a chain reaction. Men who heard the shot would start firing
their own weapons, to make their presence felt, with the
result that shotgun bullets began flying around an area,
ricocheting off walls, smashing windows and hitting an
unlucky non-combatant, who was just trying to scavenge
for food or drinking water for his starving family.
armed Mooryaan is not a man to be trifled with.
physical hazards of remaining in the city grew as the
Mooryaans got their hands on Qaad or marijuana. The later
was not mentioned in Somalia previously. The small time
gangsters and the former camel herders from the Central
Province and Mudug, now taking over Central Mogadishu,
are organized ingenious. Some took up positions at intersections
and the ransacked thriving commercial district of Hamar-weyne,
carting away anything that is not nailed down.
looting anything of value, their targets are telephone
and electric wires and water mains to be sold as scrape
metals to burgeoning merchants. Then came the time of
the National Monuments. The National Museum, the banks,
schools, the National Theatre, the Electricity Agency,
cinema houses, the police headquarters, Villa Somalia,
the Presidential Palace, the new Parliament, Radio Mogadishu
and the Police Headquarters nearby have been ransacked
mercilessly. Even mosques and other worshiping places,
such as the Solidarity Mosque at K-4 and the imposing
Roman Catholic Cathedral in the center of the city did
not escape the wide scale devastations.
is 4.30 P.M. At that hour I was planning to return to
Lido Beach, my home turf. Just then armed teenagers on
gun mounted Land Cruisers begin shouting the words: "Soo
Dhacyeey! Soo Dhacyeey!" Speeding through the smoking
ruins of the city, the shouting reaches high point.
happened that shooting and looting spree stopped altogether
and every gun-man rushed to the newly restored Sinai open
air market, with everyone ignoring the ravaged city and
the men with their heads blown off, their women and children
lying dead beside them, and for the first time, the city
is eerily quiet. Only the announcement and the reverberations
continued, which become unbelievably piercing.
was the announcement on the arrival of that sordid habit
forming narcotic drug called Qaad or Jaad and cigarettes,
which is flown in daily from Nairobi by light aircraft
hired by merchants closely related to the faction leaders.
Thus, the exodus to Sinai is gathering momentum, with
every gunman trying to get hold of the freshly arrived
Qaad and cigarettes. There are often as many as ten armed
youngsters in each vehicle with their forefingers on the
trigger of their machineguns ready to shoot.
Sinai is humming with activity and excitement at the arrival
of Qaad. The road leading down the market is already lined
with customized armed vehicles stopping with each equally
armed youth quickly alighting to grab a bundle or two
of the drug. I can't believe what I am seeing. While the
overwhelming majority of the inhabitants are starving
to death for lack of food and water these gunmen are spending
thousands of dollars on drug and cigarettes imported from
that hour I decided I had seen enough and I wanted to
go back to what we now call home, only to be stopped by
a middle-aged and heavily bearded man who gave me the
first smile in ages. Seeing I could not make him out,
he started to introduce himself to me, still smiling.
He turned out to be one of my colleagues at the defunct
State Printing Agency (Wakaaladda Madbacada Qaranka).
With a bushy beard and attired in an army surplus jacket
and an AK-47 in his left hand, he just looked like one
of the aged gangsters who joined the murderous Mooryaans
in later life. No wonder I could not recognize him. He
said he now works as chief bodyguard for one of the Qaad
and cigarette merchants in Sinai, and asked me to join
him for a late night Qaad session "for old time's
sake." I told him thanks, but no thanks, as I had
never tasted the stuff in my life. After we compared notes,
he offered me a ride to Lido in one of the ubiquitous
gun-mounted Land Cruisers, which he said he owns it along
with three others.
we negotiated with the rubble-strewn streets, my former
colleague said: "Our town's business is war, Qaad
and cigarettes. It produces nothing but death. To exist,
therefore, it must relay on others. Food, clothing-even
the weapons of destruction are shipped in. General Aideed's
and Ali Mahdi's only concern is to protect their strongholds."
He said the two men are sworn enemies, and the general
calls Ali Mahdi the "self-styled" leader of
the "voracious" merchants of Mogadishu, using
the familiar term of "Afar-jeebleh." Ali Mahdi
on the other hand calls Aideed "the Mad General."
"Both men are jerking the country around in the process,"
my former colleague whimpered but did not shed tears.
I asked him if there is going to be the possibility of
a healing process sometimes in the future. "As things
stand now, I have my own doubts, and if I were you I wouldn't
bet on it. It is a political earthquake," he said.
I thought that, with his love of words, he should perhaps
join us at the beach!
then a man who owns four land cruisers and earns hefty
salary from his new masters would not stoop so low as
to join starving displaced persons who survive on occasional
handouts from the Red Cross.
said that the struggle to dislodge General Mohamed Siyad
Barre has taken a deadly down turn, and there is nothing
to stop these young predators and their godfathers from
annihilating the country and wiping out the people. "The
country will either rebound or wither," he said.
arrival at the Beach the inhabitants become panicky when
they saw me alight from the dreaded gun-mounted vehicle
with heavily bearded gunman at the wheel! But I assured
them that nothing will happen to them and that life must
M. AFRAH'S WAR DIARY 1991/1993©
To be continued