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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


WAR DIARY BY M. M. AFRAH 1991/1993

Lido Beach 1.45 P.M.


Once I "sealed" the deal with Whisperer, I went back to our cabin to say good-bye to my friends and a take-off lunch of tuna fish and rice, and returned to the gun boys who were apprehensively waiting for me. Then we hit the road with the gun boys on the hood of the Land Cruiser, singing Saada Ali's and Hassan Adan's love songs. As we pulled out of the beach, Whisperer and Ali Gaab, my partner-in-adventure joined them with intensity.

Many gunmen and drivers of "Technicals" would refuse to go to the Bermuda Triangle at any price, but these teenagers seemed relaxed and cheerful at the prospect of going to the most dangerous place in Mogadishu. Perhaps the months long street fighting had hardened them.

We drove through the rubble and smoke at more than 100 km per hour. Bloated bodies are scattered all over the place-in public gardens and on pavements. Dogs and cats are having field days. In Mogadishu, nobody pays attention or raise an eyebrow on the dead or the dying these days.

I half expected to hear guns firing and bullets whizzing, but Ali Gaab says it is Friday today, when militia from both side of the conflict are sitting at Qaad-chewing sessions.

Despite the cheerful atmosphere inside the vehicle, I was worried about what would happen when we attempted to cross the notorious Green Line dividing the city into Aideed's stronghold in the South and Ali Mahdi's in the North. In Somalia, there is no guarantee that you will stay alive by shouting "PRESS!" or "NEUTRAL!" Recent experience had shown that the press or people who claim neutrality do not go well with the militia who manned the barricades. One requires a string of near-miracles to survive the journey through the devastated city, but there is acute shortage of miracles in Somalia nowadays.

Ali Gaab, who is sitting next to me in the cabin, started attacking the clerics and the clan elders for not trying harder to mediate the two factions-a favourite discussion in Somalia.
"Perhaps they, too, want the war to drag on for their own vested interests," I said.
Whisperer seems to be something on a hurry, even by Mogadishu standards, and we swerved crazily around potholes, dead bodies and bomb craters. The boys on the hood of the vehicle switched to classical Somali Helos with lyrics by Abdullahi Qarshe and Hussein aw Farah. Eventually, I spoke up: "I am intrigued by the speed, but can you perhaps drive little slower?"
"I'll try," came the muffled answer.

At last, the vehicle stopped at the first barricade, and the sound of gunfire can be heard in the neighbourhood. After a few seconds, Whisperer and the boys alighted and began yelling at the militia gunmen at the barricade. It was difficult to see because of the darkness, but suddenly my eyes were stabbed with the high light glint of a gun barrel. I sat motionless, half expecting to hear the sound of that gun and feel its bullet.

A heavily-bearded militia man in surplus army fatigue walked slowly over to me and asked me who I was, and where I was going, pointing a handgun at my face.
"I am with the press, and I am trying to visit friends on the other side of the Green Line," I said, showing him my International Press Card to prove it.
The puzzled voices of our boys and the militiamen changed to angry cadence.
Finally, the heavily-bearded man with the handgun spoke in a commanding voice.
"Go on, but don't come back here," he said. The man clearly had rank, as well as age on his side.
I nodded as pleasantly as I could, but the warning worried me a lot. At that very moment, a young boy moved in, pointing his AK-47 at my heart. "We keep an eye on people from General Aideed's stronghold in this place, especially those who claim to be journalists. We know they are all double agents," he said slowly and coherently.
The older man ordered his subordinate to leave as alone, "because they are dung-heap and sons of harlots," he said.

WAR DIARY, 1991/1993.
…To be continued.

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