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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: January 9th 1993.

PART 9


After more than two weeks of hiatus, today I am resuming entry of the diary in the New Year. This is due to the uneasiness of the new boat-building project, which caused us a lot of headache. Finally, one of the two boats is now ready, with Aweys, our fishing expert, reassuring us that it is leak proof and ready to face the unusually furious ocean due to a violent monsoon wind and torrential raid that kept us on our toes.

After the inauguration the professor suggested that we should write an open letter to the warmongers by using the portable typewriter and all the stationeries, which we set aside for the purpose. Many of us felt that mere words were not enough. How could we expect them to listen, or even read the letter? What is the solution in a country where a clan is measured by the number of guns it owns and numerical strength? Would they care to pay attention to a plea from displaced persons on the verge of starvation?

Eventually, we decided to write the letter in English and in Somali without revealing our exact location or status for fear of reprisal.
AN APPEAL TO END THE WAR
A cry of despair from displaced persons.

"We the displaced persons of Mogadishu, hereby appeal to you directly to immediately end the carnage in Mogadishu and the rest of the country once and for all.
What we have now in once beautiful city is complete anarchy caused by your militia who have no regard for human life and property. Even the few relief workers who had the courage to remain in the country are being shot at, their vehicles robbed at gunpoint. Relief aid is being looted and the result is thousands of death every day.

We are also aware that you do not control the freelancers armed gangs roaming the streets of the capital and who are making their fortunes by looting peoples' properties and food aid intended for the starving population. This can be stopped only if you will come to the peace table to pledge a long lasting peace and national reconciliation rather than minding your own selfish ends. If that is achieved, the presence of these freelance predators will certainly disappear. They will have no reason to exist anymore.

We emphasize that by removing your militiamen from the streets, and forming a council of elders and Imams from the Hawiya clans and sub-clans, the United Nations, the Red Cross and other NGOs relief agencies will be able to bring food and clean drinking water to the starving inhabitants of the city and its environment.

The so-called "Green Line, a symbol of clan hatred which wrecked our city and kept the people hostage to the gun must be dismantled in order to enable displaced persons to return to what was left of their homes, without the fear of being shot at by snipers and your own militia manning the barricades.

Many of us risked our lives to help topple the regime of the former military dictator. We have been detained and tortured many times by the dreaded NSS, and our tormentors were never tried in court, many of them even joined you in your shooting and looting sprees because of clan affiliations. Our intention was to introduce a democratic system in Somalia and to create a constitutional government-a government elected by the people in a fair and free election, so that all, regardless of their clan connections, could share power and privileges.

However, it is most unfortunate that after Barre regime was forced to flee the country by a popular insurrection, the situation has deteriorated into one of the worst examples of anarchy man has ever witnessed. It is no wonder many people who opposed the former dictator now wish for his return!

The hope for change which we all expected has not materialized, and the whole country is being torn apart by gangs much worse than the goons of the Barre regime.

If you cannot deliver, step aside and let the people decide their own future without the gun culture.

You must replicate the good examples of the people and their leaders in the Northwest who are now beginning to enjoy the fruit of their bitter struggle against the military regime, despite wide scale destruction and death."

Spokesman for the
Displaced Persons.
********
As we do not own printing facility or enough carbon papers, we decided to type five originals at our own pace. However, the vexing question that came up is who and how to deliver the open letters to the addressees who are normally holed up inside fortified and heavily guarded strongholds.

On Monday, a former cashier of the pillaged Hotel Uruba was introduced to us by one of the boat builders. Ironically, the former cashier told us that he now owns an AK-47 rifle and an old bicycle and that he is willing to deliver the letters-at a price! Now anyone risking his own life to deliver the letters deserves any price, but can we trust him? He asked 20 dollars for running our errands with his old bicycle and his newly acquired gun! The US Dollar is a lot of money in Somalia today and is largely sought after. It is called the Grand Old Daddy of international currency. After few consultations with the boat builder, and myself the professor said: "OK, get on with it."

Later, he said with a smile: "An ex-cashier with a gun accepting our dangerous assignment for measly 20 dollars. That is how our country has ended up!"
"Is he mad?" I asked.
"Not more than we all are. A bit strange and hungry perhaps," Professor Elmi said. And already the ex-cashier slung the AK-47 on his shoulders and quickly jumped on his clumsy-looking bicycle, nodding and waving his free hand and cycled towards the ancient Abdi-Aziz mosque.

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


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