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Ottawa (Canada)
26th March. 2002

Final Part
M. M. Afrah

An extract from a book by M. M. Afrah to be published in Canada and the US.


For the first time in a week the weight on Keynaan's shoulders seemed lighter. Later, another crewmember brought to the family bowls of green soup on a tray with chopped spring onion and pieces of sauerkraut floating in it. He called it shchav which sound like baby sneeze.

Like the pilot, he was in a foul mood and sucked in his breathe with a hiss, like a whale.

"This country is on a Soyuz rocket to hell," he said and left without waiting for an answer. But before he left he handed each member of the family shiny tissues that did not absorb at all. They still carried the Aeroflot, the old Soviet Airline logo.

Wandering through the smoking ruins of the city, you can imagine countless scenarios to explain the place. Perhaps the man's description was befitting, even if he saw everything from the air and at the hellish airstrip. But you need to devote few hours to the task, and on the ground. That's if you are lucky enough to escape with your life. Well, coming back to lucky enough to escape with your life. Well, coming back to his native country had been a long short, Keynaan thought.

Lots of competing clans, all at each other's throat in a bid to subdue the smaller clans at the instigation of ruthless warlords, whose aim is to maintain the status quo. Chaos! And the chaos was getting worse as each warlord tries to consolidate his shaky position in a country where the gun over-number the people. These are the people who created the nightmare. Keynaan was overcome by the terrifying feeling that more anarchy and mayhem were in store for Somalia.

Marian looked at the bowls of green soup and the children made ghastly faces at each other over the odd looking soup. For Keynaan, years long habit of eating strange foods in Canada has sharpened his appetite. Only rarely had he been a victim of food poisoning, and he could live with Genetically Modified Food and recycled water. He thought he could eat sawdust and enjoy it as long as was they were airborne and out of Somalia. With his hand holding the plastic spoon, he turned to Marian once again:

"We'll be all right," he said reassuringly.

Marian had slid her bifocals down her nose and peered over the frames. She gave him the thumps-up signal and said: "Yes, we will be all right.

" He watched the rugged cliffs above the lonely beaches strewn with pebbles and driftwood. From the air the country looked like the jagged horn of a furious rhino trying to charge the Indian Ocean. But the country could still amaze him with its miles and miles of unspoiled beaches and endless plains, which appeared to thrive despite the civil war and the vicious circle of mainly man-made famine. The ancient Egyptians called it the Land of Frankincense and Myrrh. Today it is the land of skeletons and shallow graves.

Twisting in his seat to glance at the children, after reading the first chapter of Gone with the Wind, Keynaan was thrilled to see the boys and their sister were enjoying their first flight in an airplane. He himself decided that he did not care for the lack of air conditioning in the cabin. The Russian designer had copied the grandiose style of an executive American Gulf Stream jet, but the seats were jammed in together so that someone's ear was at your neck, while you perspired profusely.

He squeezed Margaret Mitchell's best selling novel into his carryall bag and listened to 1960s rock n' roll music from the plane's intercom. It is the Beatles' After a Hard Day's Night followed by what sounded like monotonous Russian love song, instead of the Internationale.

The singing stopped, and a round humorous voice, in stilted English, rang across the passenger cabin.

"Dear Comrades, you may now unfasten your seat belts, relax and smoke." There was laughter in the background.

Keynaan wondered how he was going to deal with the corrupt immigration officials at Nairobi's Wilson Airport and the thorny problem of getting a connection to Toronto's Pearson Airport. But they were airborne. He had survived. He had reached his goal. He had pulled off a daring escape from a country he once called home, the land of his upbringing, enchanting and anguish.

"It is the will of God," said his sister as she dabbed her eyes with a yellow bandanna and tried to put her myopic bifocals on. Then she studied in the center of the bandanna before she folded and put it in her handbag. For Keynaan, it was a holiday in hell!


By M. M. Afrah 2002

Are you tired of reading distorted stories about Somalia by armchair authors? Order the "SOMALI TRAGEDY," by M. M. Afrah 204 pages with photos and glossary of Somali history.
It is an eyewitness account of the clan warfare and the US/UN military involvement in the Somalia debacle. $US20/ including H&S by airmail.
Mode of payment: International Money Order or through Somali money transfer companies near you. Order the book directly from the Author by sending your email to


Mr. Afrah is an outspoken Author/Journalist and a member of the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). He contributes hard-hitting articles to Canadian and international newspapers and magazines on the Somalia situation "through the eyes of a man who covered the country for more than two decades".

Many of us remember his critical articles in his weekly English language HEEGAN newspaper, despite a mandatory self-censorship introduced by Guddiga Baarista Hisbiga Xisbiga Hantiwadaagga Somaaliyeed in 1984 and the dreaded NSS. I am very proud to know that Mr. Afrah openly defied the draconian censorship laws and went ahead to write what he thought was wrong in the country. He received several death threats from the warlords and was briefly held hostage by gunmen in 1993. But he remained defiant and continued to send his stories of carnage and destruction to Reuters news agency. He still is!


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