MOGADISHU, SEPTEMBER 8, 1991 12. 30 A. M. Sleep difficulty,
what with the bullets and artillery shells flying over
our heads, non-stop? I am suffering from sleep apnea and
there's nothing I can do about it. I tried to read Victor
Hugo's famous novel Les Miserables (The Miserables) with
the help of a hurricane lamp, but gave it up. So I am
sitting on my doorsteps with my neighbour who is also
suffering from sleep apnea.
talked about what the USC should have done after Siyad
Barre, instead of killing each other. He said the students
and the intellectuals decided to keep mum in order to
save their own skins. I reminded him of the religious
leaders from different clans who staged spectacular peace
demonstrations yesterday and the day before in which they
risked their lives in the name of peace and brotherhood.
But the warring factions deliberately ignored them. Some
of them received bullet wounds in the process, but they
continued their peace crusade until the last possible
"Do you anticipate the warring factions would pay attention
to a bunch of students and intellectuals?" I asked him.
likely, but if the lust for blood and arson continues
like this, it will leave a legacy of hatred and suspicion
that will go on into the future until one day___" A mortar
explodes in the middle of the dirt road in front of us,
raising chocking white cloud of dusty. We quickly dived
for a cover in a makeshift "Bomb shelter," because they
always come in pairs.
my neigbour continues to curse Ali Mahdi and Aideed and
starts reading verses from the Holy Quran in a shrill
voice that mingles with the reverberation of machinegun
fires and the thud, thud of the mortars. Ibrahim who belongs
to a minority clan, the Rer Xamar with roots in Arabia,
interrupted his readings and said that he was of the opinion
that almost anyone would be preferable to General Aideed
and Ali Mahdi as Presidents of Somalia.
destroying everything in their path, like a hurricane.
In short they are resorting to trampling upon the weak
and the meek, turning the city into a killing field!"
he exclaimed, and continued to read more verses from the
as young as 12 or 14-years-old, some of them not taller
than the average M-16 rifle, are boasting to have murdered
women and children. Apart from these young gunmen, the
city is now bursting with pariah dogs that feed on the
dead bodies strewn all over the place. Usually one dog
starts barking and others take up the shrill challenge
until the night rings to the yapping chorus. Their foreign
owners abandoned them as soon as the shooting began months
ago and are now turning into man-eaters. But the question
of disarming the youngsters returns to torment me, because
these youngsters are now law unto themselves. Reliable
sources in the regions say the whole country is breaking
into pieces and dissolving in blood, tears and terror.
words found their way into the Somali vocabulary. However,
most of the words originated from the Northwest during
the SNM struggle. These are: Faqash (General Barre's soldiers
and security forces) Mooryaan (predators), Bililiqeysi
(looting), Isbaara, a bastardized Italian word from the
South meaning barricades or roadblocks and Cir-toogte
A.M. Fighting resumed again after a few hours' lull. From
the street came the screams of women and children who
were caught in crossfire as they tried to flee the inferno.
mounted jeeps, armoured cars and tanks are all over the
streets out there," a man carrying a six month-old baby
told me. "They wake up now after last night's of Qaad
chewing session and now continue shooting indiscriminately,"
he said angrily. Just then, a carpet of artillery was
laid over our quarters and I threw myself flat to the
ground. A huge shell fell behind us, and another burning
house crashed on itself. More screams from Ibrahim, our
neighbour could be heard.
impact of the explosion partly destroyed the roof over
his bathroom. Bullets are flying again. Immediately after
the rain of bullets and artillery shells, I jumped to
my feet and rushed straight to my two neighbours, Xaajiya
Xabiiba and Ibrahim. They are still alive but intensely
terrified and speechless.
6.15 P.M. Fighting stopped abruptly. The Muezzin, another
neighbour who returned from the countryside to stay in
his mosque joined us this morning. He called the faithful
for the evening prayers as if nothing was happing! During
his absence in the countryside, the mosque's minaret received
a direct hit from an artillery shell and lies among the
rubble and debris. Undaunted, he continued to call the
faithful to prayers, minus the minaret and the loud hailer.
But no one paid any attention to him. Besides, there's
a war going on and to venture outside is like consorting
SEPTEMBER 9, 1991
I went downtown for the first time in several weeks to
examine what damage had been caused during the fighting.
The city looked as if it was suffering from some particularly
wasting disease. Gunmen are everywhere, stopping people
at makeshift barricades to recant their tribe and family
lineage. The notorious Green Line at the old Parliament
Square became effective yesterday with the Habar-gedir
and smaller Hawiye subclans in the South of the city and
Abgal in the North. Crossing the line is tantamount to
committing suicide - a real killing field.
Everything is in ruins. Broken tree stumps, burnt our
cars, dead bodies and shallow graves are everywhere. I
treaded very careful, using alleyways and between gaping
building walls because everyone is carrying a gun or hand
grenades, any one of which could go off at any time, making
it so that it wouldn't matter whether it had been an accident
or not. Many of the corpses are flattened on the tarmac
by heavy vehicles driven by people with no human feeling.
When I mentioned this to the muezzin, he said: "It was
written, for none may die before their allotted time."
fears about the outbreak of cholera continue to torment
me every minute of the day. This afternoon when an occasional
rain-washed the streets human limbs poke through the thin
layers of dirt from gutters and drains. The Red Cross,
one of the few NGOs that remained in the devastated city,
is also worried that cholera may sweep the city and decimates
those who survived the slaughter.
and arsonists are having field day.
The capacity for cruelty, the indifference towards fellow
countrymen, and the fanatical hatreds that prevails in
this country cannot be described in a single diary. One
needs volumes to describe the naked children, with their
spindle legs, bloated bellies and eye-sores on which clouds
of flies clustered all over.
Barely a month ago many people were thankful that General
Barre has gone, uprooted from his power base, but now
they are not so sure.
from both sides of the conflict allege that some unnamed
elements are trying to derail the objectives of the uprising.
Who are these people? We are war weary, and no smooth
talk can restore our confidence.