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).
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
"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
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.
returned in the afternoon to what we now call home with
a good haul of fish, including tuna, kingfish and mackerel.
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
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
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.
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?"
remark encouraged many people rushing to find basins or
buckets to gather salt from seawater, but scorned seaweed
as a condiment after tasting it.
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
Everyone agreed, with Aweys accepting all the responsibilities.
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
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.
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.
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.
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. AFRAH'S WAR DIARY, 1991/1992©
To be continue