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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 March 16th 1993., 1993

PART 16

At Lido Beach, Mogadishu.
Ask anyone in the United States and Western Europe what they know about Somalia. They probably will not tell you much. Public ignorance is constantly repeated in contemporary history, where the truth leaks out long after a country can be saved from self-destruction. Here is brief history of Somalia after the elected civilian president Abdirashid Ali Shermarke, was overthrown by a military junta in 1969 following the assassination of President Shermarke in Las Anod by one of his own bodyguards and clansman:
HIGHLIGHTS.
From 1969 to 1991, the country was ruled by an aggressive Marxists military regime with Major-General Mohamed Siyad Barre at the helm. He single-handedly run the show with the help of the notorious and dreaded National Security Service (NSS modeled after the KGB), Hangash, the equally much feared military intelligence, and a host of informers and riff-raffs. General Barre sovietized freedom of speech and handed the job over to the NSS to manage their own ways-arresting and torturing anyone suspected of whispering to others, what they perceived to be " anti-revolutionary expressions." Barre and his close associates, Dufleh, Buluq-buluq and company were happy that nothing embarrassing would be disclosed.

A) Somalia was not gifted with the magic word OIL and other minerals of importance to the Western industries. It was not even a tourist haven like its neighbor, Kenya.
B) The country ceased to be of strategic importance to the West as soon as the Cold War ended and the Americans became the lone players in international political arena.
C) Jimmy Carter, who was at the time in the Oval Office, did nothing to come to the rescue of General Barre after he tore up a twenty years treaty of friendship and cooperation with the Kremlin oligarchy. Somali forces were pushed out of the Ogaden by Soviet and Cuban soldiers, using the latest hi-tech war machines. On the other hand President Barre had received few sweet words and what Jimmy Carter called "only defensive weapons" to replace weapons General Barre lost in the Ogaden war, and a symbolic joint military exercise at Berbera between the armies of the two countries. It transpired later that the Americans were eyeing the Soviet-built Berbera airport with the longest runaway in Africa and the Middle East.
D) And here we are at the once snow-white Lido Beach homeless, stateless and hungry with no one in the world cares about us, except the weary Red Cross/Red Crescent, who are taking a lot of risk to deliver food aid to the hungry people here.


March 8, 1993-Upon hearing the new U.N. Secretary-General Burros Ghali to send Under-Secretary for Political Affairs, James Jonah, to Somalia to explore the opportunity for a ceasefire, General Mohamed Farah Aideed called a meeting of his coalition. According to his radio, station General Aided will represent the United Somali Congress USC, Ahmed Omar Jess for the Somali Salvation Movement (SPM), and Mohamed Noor Aliyow for the Somali Democratic Movement (SDM) and Mohamed Isaw for the Southern Somali National Movement (SSNM). However, the radio made no mention of when or where the meeting would take place, or whether there would be a unilateral ceasefire during the visit of the U.N. Envoy. Ali Mahdi's radio station made no mention of the U.N. envoy's visit, except brief news item about Butros Ghali's efforts to put the Somalia anarchy in front of the Security Council.
********
11, 30 A.M.-Sheikh Abdi married today Halima and Yonis in a twenty-minute ceremony behind our cabin. The bride wore floral Guntiino and Garbasaar, a wrap-around affair preferred by Southern Somali women and the bridegroom wore a two-piece white cotton fabric decorated at the edges worn by nomads and a pair of camel hide shoes. He carried a spear in one hand and a shield in the other. Somebody played "Hibo", a popular Somali wedding song. A choir of ten youngsters sung for the ceremony. The feast is the largest ever held in war-torn Somalia.
At12, 45 P.M. The couple left the beach for an unknown destination. Minutes later gunmen from the girl's clan on a machinegun mounted "Technicals" with Halima's father behind the wheel arrived at the beach, and start shooting indiscriminately into the sky. It was too late. Love has won!

March 9th.1993-Today I am invited to visit Mogadishu's horrendous "Bermuda Triangle." The invitation came from Abdiqani, son of the sole survivor of the notorious Jesira Beach massacre of the Isaaq residents of Mogadishu, Awil Jama (recounted in my first book Target: Villa Somalia). Even the name Bermuda Triangle is enough to inspire in people all the nightmarish fears of its namesake.
Young gunmen built their reputations on the fact that they had visited the Triangle before coming to the Lido Beach. One of them bragged that he had already visited the place twice and has some friends over there.
"Many people say that anyone who attempts to enter the place never comes out alive," I commented to him.
"Just try it", he said with a broad smile, after changing the Qaad from one cheek to the other.
We are sitting in front of our cabin, watching the furious ocean and a dozen of young Rahan-weyn nomads searching for driftwood on the shore to use as firewood. "The inhabitants kill people-I mean non-resident. Even General Aideed give up after several attempts to crush Bermuda Triangle with all the arsenals at his disposal. But if you have connections in the area you will be safe." I showed him the letter from Abdiqani.
"Why don't you go?"
"You know the condition here on the beach are the best compared to other sections of the city where bullets fly non-stop, and it is impossible to starve here. We even do a little fishing now and then when conditions get tough."
"Wait a minute," he laughed after lighting another cigarette with antiquated cigarette lighter. "I didn't mean you should go for good. Besides, I hear you are a reporter for international news organization and a brief visit to the famous Bermuda Triangle would certainly give you the chance for a good story."
"There is nothing I'd rather do than visit the place." I admitted, "but the risks involved outweigh any story-obligations I have for my editors in London. They would not believe there's a Bermuda Triangle in Somalia."
"That's why you should pay a visit to the place and let the world know there is another Bermuda Triangle in Somalia and how its inhabitants have been defending their homes and families from intruders. It is going to be a big story-a scoop!"

I tried hard not to seem interested.
"If you are worried about the problem of getting a "technical" manned by good boys with machineguns to take you there, it doesn't cost much. We can pool our resources. How about that?"
"How much it cost to get there."
"Twenty Dollars, American."
"Well, my boy, you've found yourself a partner. I've always wanted to visit the place."

7.30 P. M. -After listening to the BBC's Somali Service, I broke the news of my imminent foray into Bermuda Triangle. Sheikh Abdi said nothing, but the professor was stone-faced, which is how he looks when he is not sure if things will work.
"Another attempt in a suicide mission," he said calmly.
"It comes with the territory," I told him.
The Sheikh flew, silently, to the ocean, reading only verses from the Holy Qura'aan.

Lido Beach, March 10 1993-We threaded our way, moving as quickly as we could among the walking skeletons without being obvious. It seemed to take forever to reach the other end of the beach, where my new partner-in-adventure, Ali Gaab, said the gun-mounted vehicle is waiting for us.
The first words the red-eyed driver/gunman uttered is: "That will be 20 U.S. for both of you. No big deal." He whispered.
I reached into my pocket and peeled off the greenbacks.
"Here you go," I whispered into his ears. Then the driver took my hand to prove to me how clean his Land Cruiser was. Then he asked me to feel the brand new Browning machinegun mounted on the customized vehicle. "Feel it." He whispered into my ears again. We will call him Jaalle Whisperer.
"Yes, it's real invention of human technology for killing unarmed innocent human being," I declared. Then as an afterthought I added "and so effective." He and his gun boys are so thrilled with my verdict that they quickly joined the Cir-toogte (the sky-shooters) at the new arms bazaar, which sprung up at the beach overnight.
The expression Cir-tookte is yet another new addition to the Somali axiom.

WAR DIARY, 1991/1993.
BY M. M. AFRAH©
…To be continued.


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