DARK SIDE OF SOMALIA - A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A GUNMAN (MOORYAAN)
2 April. 2002
THE DARK SIDE OF SOMALIA - A DAY
IN THE LIFE OF A GUNMAN (MOORYAAN)
is a riddle for those of you who wish to visit the old country.
How do you tell a Mooryaan? Simple. Dirty, thief, killer,
rapist, drug addict and drifter. A teenager who carries fully
loaded AK-47 or M-16 assault rifle plopped on the hood of
a customized 'Technical', an ageing battle-wagon, without
a license number and no speed limit - a common sight in Somalia.
yesterday he was a camel herder whose arithmetic did not go
beyond taking stock of ten or twenty camels, but who are you
to stop him rivaling Al Capone or a Mafia hit man in the Chicago
of the 1920s? He is so focused on cruelty, rape, murder and
looting that he defies challenge. The Mafiosi of Somalia.
he was frightened of the US Marines (1993) with their superior
hi-tech weaponry, Black Hawk, Cobra helicopter gunships and
night vision goggles, but after realizing that they were ignoring
his presence he quickly overcame his fear and resumed his
hit-and-run operations with impunity.
be a free lancer, a renegade or a loyal to one of the warlords.
But he is not stupid. His allegiance changes as quickly as
the wind. Whenever you mentioned their horrendous activities
people shrugged their shoulders and say "It is the act of
in forlorn at road junctions, or at makeshift road barricades,
chewing the inevitable Qaad, (a deadly harvest from
neighbouring Kenya) waiting patiently for a vehicle to hijack.
After shooting the driver and the passengers (not forgetting
to rifle their pockets) he drives the vehicle, unperturbed,
to the Bakaaraha open-air market and sells it at a rock bottom
price. No question is asked! In Somalia today you don't have
to register your new car, buy an insurance policy or get a
driver's license. You don't even need a license plate with
the latest number for your newly acquired vehicle. It is just
walk in with your dollars and walk out with the keys of your
new car. Again no question is asked. Good luck!
drivers in Mogadishu never drive a brand new vehicle around
the city for fear of being cornered by the Mooryaan.
If by any chance you receive a brand new car all you have
to do is panel beat it with a sledgehammer to make it look
older. The chance of being hijacked whilst driving a battered
car in Mogadishu is very slim. No fence worth his salt would
ever buy such car. The alternative is to hire armed bodyguards
that would cost you a fortune. Even then there's no guarantee
that you would be safe with the two bodyguards perched on
the hood of the vehicle. It is very likely that the same bodyguards
could kill you, because they suspect that, as a newcomer from
abroad, you must be carrying a lot of US dollars in the pockets
of your designer clothes. Talking about designer's clothes,
it is very advisable to buy your clothes from Goodwill Stores
before you undertake the trip home, lest you become a sitting
target for the poorly attired Mooryaan.
DID THEY BECOME MOORYAAN?
course of the fight against Siyad Barre and his final overthrow
in 1991, many of our able-bodied youngsters have been drawn
from productive sectors and schools and into Mogadishu. Now
these people have not only abandoned their livestock in which
they have been useful, but their presence in the capital is
causing a lot of social and security troubles. What makes
tackling this problem is the huge arsenals in the hands of
these youngsters. The general public is aware that it is paramount
to collect arms in order to affect any security - at least
of a gun gives many people in Somalia a sense of confidence.
They feel that now they can defend their interests, even if
in the process they violate the rights of other citizens.
They will never relinquish their weapons easily, on the excuse
that there's no functioning government to protect them from
gangs of marauders. Many sincere and responsible people will
think before they hand over their guns. The Mooryaan, in particular
will mount stiff resistance, because he believes that the
reintroduction of security measures puts his future in the
carries his fully loaded gun and his clips full, too. Sometimes
he has reserves of food, Qaad and cigarettes in his pack -
so he is self-sufficient in the environment. He feels the
protection of that heavy weapon, which in Somalia is like
a part of your flesh. He slept with his gun, marched with
it, bathed with it right beside him. When he falls down he
tries harder to protect it than he does with his own hands.
He feels naked without his gun, because it guaranteed him
the opportunity to die fighting, a chance to defend himself
from his rivals in the same gun culture.
of the thousands of youngsters who have left their families
and livestock in the countryside is not an issue to be taken
lightly. New armed forces might absorb a portion of the youth
in Mogadishu, but the remaining greater majority must be helped,
persuaded and materially motivated to go back to their livestock
and leave the gun behind. The thorny question is: who will
foot the bill estimated at billions of dollars? Evidently
the Arta group did not come up with a resettlement and employment
program for the armed youths and woefully failed its cleaning
up campaign. Sending few hundreds of former militia gunmen
to a boot camp will not solve the Mooryaan problem in Somalia.
Eleven years of our history became blotto, like they never
existed. This is not a costume ball game. The Mooryaan had
been seesawing for eleven years and nobody in the world gives
damn about Somalis killing Somalis. Besides, there's always
a war going on somewhere. There is the Middle East, Afghanistan,
Northern Ireland, the ETA separatists in Spain, the Tamil
Tigers in Sri Lanka, the war between India and Pakistan and
so on and son on. The world got a whole supermarket full of
wars, take your pick. Personally I have a dim view in the
TNG's ability to clear the mess created by a gang of marauders
and predators whose sole aim is to maintain the status quo.
a rather disturbing scenario and there is no end in sight.
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
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H&S by airmail.
Mode of payment: International Money Order or through
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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
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!