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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

M. M. AFRAH'S WAR DIARY 1991/1992

December 10, 1991 At 10. A.M. I walked to the beach and I found a man putting a finishing touch on a 12ft. fishing boat with a single master-head in the middle.
"I am going to fish out in the ocean after I'm done with this boat," he said with twinkling eyes and a smile, a rare commodity in Somalia today.
"You wouldn't be interested in going along, would you"?
"would I? I'd give my right arm to go!" I said, examining what looked like a breakable boat. I wondered if the man knows how to cope with the angry sea with a 12ft wobbly boat.
Ten minutes later, I waded out to help stow the boat. Then calmly, the man, who said his name, is Aweys from the old district of Hamar-weyne, steered up down the breaks looking for an opening. I don't see how our little fragile boat could possibly get through these big, thundering waves.

Suddenly, Aweys swung in a tight circle and began racing for the surf. I hung on, my heart in my mouth, as we came close to a fifty foot water. His timing was perfect. He said he had anticipated a lull between the waves, and we slipped through heading into the open, rolling sea.
"That was great!" I shouted at him. He couldn't hear, but he grinned shifting the master-head and the tiny sailcloth towards the deep sea where he said the big fish congregates.

We returned in the afternoon to what we now call home with a good haul of fish, including tuna, kingfish and mackerel.

The trip was one of the most fascinating experiences of my life. It was like riding a horse at a broken gallop. This kept my mind off the massacre of innocent and defenseless civilians by people who do not respect the sanctity of life.

Finally, a crowd of people, including Prof. Elmi waded out to help us unload the boat amid joyous shouting and clapping as if were heroes.
"We have been monitoring your progress on top of the old Lido Club, and you deserve heroes welcome," the professor said, as we dropped the fish on the white sand to be distributed to the residents, free of charge.
Aweys, who has now became a full member of our makeshift banquet table, told us how he lost all five members of his family, including a three months old baby during heavy bombardment between General Aideed and Ali Mahdi forces, and he had to bury them in a mass shallow grave in front of his demolished home. He said he was out at the time to scavenge for food and drinking water for his starving family.

Everyone at the table had mind-boggling story to tell. I almost forgot the hardship and misery I had gone through in my makeshift shelter and the death of my son.

Later, the discussion turned to food and survival.
"Do you know that the Chinese and other Asiatic races collect salt in catch basins along the shore, and use seaweed as condiment?"

That remark encouraged many people rushing to find basins or buckets to gather salt from seawater, but scorned seaweed as a condiment after tasting it.

Later we suggested to Aweys to train fly-fishing to those young men who are willing to learn the life saving endeavor. He readily accepted this responsibility, but said that we must do everything possible to procure at least two more fishing boats. He also warned against the man-eating sharks that are infested in the Somali coast.
"We'll just have to hang on with the one we have got now, and we will try our best to acquire one or two more boats. But first and foremost we must train the young nomads how to swim and how to handle a rod and paddle a boat on dry land before going to the sea," the professor said.
Everyone agreed, with Aweys accepting all the responsibilities.

December 11th, 1991, 8.35 P.M.
At a conference with two former co-workers of Aweys and the elders, it is established that Aweys and his former colleagues sneak into the old port, which is adjacent to the Lido Beach itself, and scavenger for wood, nails, paint and other material necessary for building boats. All that is needed now are armed bodyguards…just in case. So it was suggested to hire the bad boys camped at the other end of the beach. I strongly opposed the idea of hiring the infamous Mooryaans and suggested that we only rent the guns from them in exchange for packets of cigarettes and fish, as the Somali currency is now worthless, but I lost the vote this time.

Fighting in the city is gathering momentum, triggering off new exodus to the beach and we are almost stretched to the limit in terms of food, drinking water and shelters. The new arrivals are people who decided to remain in the city despite the wide scale devastations and killings, but could not take them anymore. The Red Cross and the Somali Red Crescent Society continue to deliver food, bottled water and blankets once a week, but this is now a drop on the Indian Ocean.

December 12th 1991. Today work started to build our second boat with Aweys acting as the foreman. The hired Mooryaans played only a small part, and the young Rahan-weyn nomads, now alive and ardent, after months of frustration and apathy, stood behind the builders who started their work immediately after acquiring the necessary material, and bold to re-habilitate their shabby lives, and marched to the rhythm of Soomaaliya ha Noolaato, and Soomaaliyey Toosa, intoxicated by a new sense of power which found its natural expression of brotherly love.

The newcomers brought with them small firearms and immediately the women set up miniature stalls, selling whatever there is to sell or barter with the original residents-mainly in exchange for fish and blankets. From the air it resembled small fishing village attached to the shore.

M. M. AFRAH'S WAR DIARY, 1991/1992©
To be continue….

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