Warlords are reputed to be greedy, twisted souls who
enjoy living in luxury five star hotels in Nairobi,
Addis and Rome, among other capitals, while the people
at home live in poverty and die young. They struggle
for survival; few relish life and make it to adulthood.
Only remittances from relatives abroad stand between
them and starvation, but they share what little they
receive to members of the extended family, friends
and neighbours. That's progress. But what about the
overwhelming majority who do not receive remittances
from the Somalis in the Diaspora, and who live from
hand to mouth?
treated as squatters and beggars in their own country.
As for the warlords, they never had it so good. No
wonder they are striving to keep the status quo with
the entire arsenal at their disposal.
we each hear a story that makes our stomachs churn.
Last week gunmen loyal to one of the warlords broke
into the home of an 80-year-old grandmother, murdered
her and her two teenage grandchildren in cold blood
and got away with the 50 dollars her son sent that
same day from the U.S., according to one of the local
radio stations. Another man was kidnapped presumably
by the same young gunmen for ransom, and was later
released after his clan paid the ransom, according
to the radio station. It said the man was the sole
witness of the macabre murder and was mad at the young
gunmen. Kidnapping, the radio commentator said, is
the young gunmen's idea of good life these days, and
getting mad at their godfathers (the warlords) is
not a good idea if you ever wanted to survive in Mogadishu.
an up-front peace activist, felt that "all wars
are among thieves who are too cowardly to fight and
induce young men to fight for them." I guess
Ms. Emma had the Somali warlords in mind.
The hardest hit, however, is the more than the one
million internally displaced persons (IDP) who are
living in squalid lean-tos in Mogadishu, where poor
sanitary conditions encouraged epidemic such as the
current outbreak, and the thousands of war orphans
who were previously sheltered, fed and schooled by
Al-Haramein, a charity organization based in Saudi
Arabia, before it was closed down by order of the
world's only superpower for having links with terrorist
organizations. But that's another story.
displaced persons, mostly the Rahan-weyn and the Jareer,
otherwise known as the Somali Bantus were caught in
clan feuds during the civil/clan wars. Then these
warring clans, mainly from Gedo and the central province,
took the farming area from each other in a running
bloody battle. The area had changed hands each time
there is renewed clan warfare, and as a result the
supplies of food dramatically dwindled. It was a man-made
disaster in the making.
these internally displaced persons from the hinterland
(formerly Somalia's breadbasket) had become a logistical
nightmare for the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC), the Somali Red Crescent Society and
other local NGOs. International NGOs withdrew from
the country because of security concerns.
KALONZO IS BACK ON THE SPOTLIGHT
Foreign Minister Steven Kalonzo has been turning the
Somali peace talks on its head to show how upset is
the international community over the feet dragging
of some warlords and faction leaders and those who
boycotted the talks.
In a press
statement this week in the naïve hope of proceeding
phase III of the talks, Mr. Kalonzo candidly said
the peace talks would proceed, come what may. But
if that fails mediators from IGAD will decide May
6 whether to continue with the talks or hand the process
over to the United Nations Security Council, "because
mediators and international donors are fed up with
twists and turns of the talks," adding that the
Security Council has the power to impose sanctions
on the warlords and factional leaders if the talks
do not continue.
question is: who is preventing the UN Security Council
from imposing sanctions on the warlords and factional
leaders who have been obstructing the smooth running
of the peace talks right from the start? If I remember
correctly the same UN Security Council had already
threatened the warlords with sanctions couple of months
ago, but failed to make any dent so far. Instead it
produced a sullen wait-and-see attitude in the Somalia
situation. You could call it an international conspiracy
with the talks from day one is lousy management systems;
lousy financial information systems, kickbacks, animosity
among IGAD member states and the Somali factional
leaders. As a result many people couldn't keep track
of what's going on in that circus. The outmaneuvered
members of the civil society did not hide their suspicion
that a stakeholder, hand-in-glove with some powerful
warlords, is pulling the string behind the scene.
the clan acrimony and mistrust "The problem is,
who becomes president, who becomes prime minister,
who will have an advantage from the sub sub-clan level,"
Mr. Kalonzo lamented.
have been doing the clan sub, sub clan thing for centuries,
and it never occurs to us to change our way of life.
But like many Africans, including Mr. Kalonzo's own
Wakamba tribe, it is our idea of good life. Or better
still life insurance coverage.
our children and grandchildren would outgrow it and
laugh at us, hopefully.
M. M. Afrah©2004