NOMINATION FOR THE "ALTERNATIVE NOBEL"
at banadir.com hereby nominate our long time contributor M. M. Afrah for
the "Alternative Nobel" for his unyielding efforts to condemn
the warlords and those countries who dump toxic waste in our territorial
waters as well as those who defy UN weapons embargo and flooded Somalia
with weapons through his hard-hitting Talking Points. Many of you will
remember his advocacy for minorities, such as the Somali Bantus, Rer Hamaris,
The Baravans, the Bajunis, the Midgans and other marginalized communities
For more than two decades Mr. Afrah showed extraordinary courage, and under very dangerous circumstances, he reported the carnage in his native country of Somalia during the savage civil war perpetrated by ruthless warlords. During the course of his frontline reporting, his first-born son was killed and his home-cum-office destroyed as a signal to desist from reporting the large-scale violations of human rights by the Somali warlords to the outside world.
Mr. Afrah who represented Reuters news agency in Somalia since 1972 named the names of those who were responsible for the doom, death and destruction in Somalia, the worst since World War Two. He received more than 20 death threats from the main Somali warlords. Undaunted, he continued to report the grave human rights violations committed by the warlords against their own people. He was kidnapped by militia gunmen loyal to one of the warlords and kept in a dungeon for several days under intense torture and interrogations. He escaped by scaling a seven-meter wall during heavy bombardment between militia gunmen fighting for the control of the capital.
Apart from reporting the genocide to the outside world, he put himself in the most vulnerable position. He led hundreds of Displaced Persons, mostly farmers, nomads and minority clans from the hinterland to the beach, away from artillery range, until he himself ended up as a displaced people and refugee in his own country. Many frontline journalists in war zones have history of being stranded, but not Mr. Afrah. He felt at home with the Displaced Persons in their makeshift camps on the beach and shared with them what little supplies the Red Cross was able to provide them.
I myself fled to neighbouring Kenya with thousands of other refugees after several attempts to locate Mr. Afrah's whereabouts, and I feared that he would be forgotten. He had not been, of course. Reuters Nairobi Bureau Chief at the time, Jonathan Clayton, made an arrangement with a Red Cross pilot in Nairobi to "smuggle" Afrah out of the inferno that is Somalia. But memories remained vivid. Safe in Nairobi he said: "Now is not a bad time to write a book about what happened." So he completed his first book "Mogadishu: Hell on Earth," within three weeks. It has received excellent reviews in the Kenyan newspapers, radio and television. That book is now out of print. After that he has written two more books about the Somalia debacle-"Somali Tragedy, the Gang Rape of a Nation" and "The One That Got Away. (The later to be published in the near future.)
Mr. Afrah is a member of the Journalists-in-Exile under the umbrella of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE). cjfe.org based in Toronto, (Canada.) Please click the third name on the Journalists-in-Exile (JEX) list for Afrah's short bio.
continues to contribute hard-hitting TALKING POINTS in Somali and international
websites. He writes subjects many people were afraid to talk about, such
as Female Genital Mutilation (FRM) practiced in many of parts of Africa,
including Somalia, arranged marriages and child abuse. Many journalists
are reluctant to report these controversial subjects, citing insecurity
and journalist bashing or what they call overexposure.
currently living in Toronto (Canada). He continues to fight for the rights
of minorities and refugees and their needs. On this basis cash would be
appropriate for him to reorganize his campaign on an international level.