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).
JOURNALIST'S DIARY ABOUT THE WAR IN MOGADISHU 1991/1992
WAR DIARY BY M. M. AFRAH 1991/1993
Beach: January 9th 1993.
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.
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?
we decided to write the letter in English and in Somali
without revealing our exact location or status for fear
AN APPEAL TO END THE WAR
A cry of despair from displaced persons.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
you cannot deliver, step aside and let the people decide
their own future without the gun culture.
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
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.
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."
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.
DIARY OF M. M. AFRAH 1991/1993©
To be continued