THE CRUEL AND DIRTY WAR IN THE
WAR DIARY By M. M. Afrah (Unedited)
MOGADISHU SEPTEMBER 10, 1991
Elders and religious leaders are
unable to curb the endemic violence in the capital, because everyone is armed to
the teeth and no one listens to their words of wisdom. There is talk of
organizing a huge security operation but skeptics say that the various armed
groups would never bend to any attempt to disarm them. They cite several
attempts in the past, which were doomed to failure. Apparently an intense
struggle for power is going on between Ali Mahdi and Aideed on the method of
disarming the militia, which could spark off another round of bloody factional
fighting, but for now there is an easy lull.
The two men mistrust each other
and the question of which clan should be disarmed first and who would disarm
them has become the stumbling block.
The situation is very tense,
however. Observers predict another round of fighting, more serious and brutal
than the one we have just witnessed. The hospitals, which like every other
institutions, were looted and reduced to ruins, are overcrowded with patients,
mostly women, children and the elderly who have lost limbs.
Tents are set up at all hospital compounds, in the corridors,
and under trees. Doctors told me that many of their colleagues have fled the
country because of their tribal affiliations. Others have lost their lives.
Trucks carrying desperately needed drugs are commandeered by armed gangs to the
black market and are sold back to the patients at exorbitant prices. One of the
hospitals, the De Martini, is a no-go area, occupied by hardcore convicts who
escaped from Mogadishu’s Central Prison at the height of the civil war.
More than 2000 hardcore convicts, many of them waited in
Death Row, escaped from the prison, after massacring the warders and their
families, and breaking the armory to join into the fray with vengeance. They
claim that they have been wrongly convicted by the Revolution’s Kangaroo courts
for treason because of their clan affiliations. Their hearts are intoxicated
with revenge against society. They pay no heed to the cholera, which decimates
the city with ferocity.
The majority of the male patients at Digfer, the general
hospital, keep their assault rifles and hand grenades under their hospital
beds. A doctor told me that there are patients who arrived at the beginning of
the civil war and now refuse to leave the relative safety of the hospital. The
doctor is worried about the “silent killer” – a cholera outbreak. His prophesy
fits in too well with my own forecast.
MOGADISHU SEPTEMBER 11, 1991.
Today a neutral Hawiye subclan, the Xawaadleh, is
sponsoring a fragile ceasefire and is trying to coax the Habar-gedir and the
Abgal to the table. But the warring factions are using the fragile ceasefire to
reinforce and re-equip their militia. It happened before.
There was an ominous and unconcerned silence in the
international media about the extremely volatile situation in Somalia, except a
brief and ghastly commentary last night by the BBC’s “Focus on Africa” that
concluded: “…. that it takes very little to start a civil war and mayhem for a
people who have been systematically worked up in a state to settle old scores
as the Somalis have been.”
Apparently, the world is focusing on Iraqi’s occupation of
oil rich Kuwait!
I wish Somalia had oil wells. The whole world would have
come to rescue it from Dante’s Purgatory and self-destruction. Today oil is a
political commodity. It makes the world go round, overshadowing the anarchy in
1. 30 P.M. The tumult in the city died down for
several hours, and the stench of death rose from the streets like a tangible
cloud to foul the air.
5.30 P.M. Once again the familiar rattle of
machinegun fire, punctuated more frequently now by the boom of artillery shells
sounded from General Aideed’s stronghold in the south of the city. His forces
are now using Villa Somalia as a staging point. Not to be outdone, supporters
of Ali Mahdi are responding in kind. We are laying, face down in our makeshift
bomb shelter waiting for a direct hit.
“It is not if but
when?” my son Abdullahi whispered softly.
Food is still scarce and water is scarcer – and news is
still scarcest of all, and what there was of it is not reassuring. Those few
who survived the gun are now dying of hunger, thirsty and disease.
Our neighbour, who joined us in the makeshift shelter,
repeated his usual aphorism: “It was written. For none may die before their
allotted time.” And continued to read more verses from Holy Quran. Those words
inspire confidence for people who lost their loved ones.
THE GUNS HAVE BEEN SILENT DURING THE MONTHS OF OCTOBER
AND NOVEMBER, BUT IT WAS REPORTED THAT DAACUUN (CHOLERA) HAVE WIPED OUT
HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE AT HODAN AND K4 AREAS. HOWEVER FREE LANCE PREDATORS CONTINUE
TO LOOT AND KILL INNOCENT PEOPLE. THESE ARE MONSTERS IN HUMAN SHAPE. HENCE, THE
NAME MOORYAAN; THEY ARE MORE PERFIDIOUS THAN VICTOR HUGO’S 1883 MISERABLES IN
PARIS. THEY EVEN HAVE THEIR OWN VENOMOUS ARGOT, THE LANGUAGE OF MISERY,
CONVICTS, AND BANDITS.
MOGADISHU DECEMBER 2, 1991
7.45 P. M.
Abdullahi was killed this afternoon as he tried to help a
frail old lady cross the road in front of our house. A mortar shell hit both of
them before they crossed the road.
He had spoke only once.
“Take care of yourself, Dad,” he whispered. And then he
died. I had wept, and wept for the first time in my life. And as I washed his
body this evening, I tried to wipe out the picture of him cruelly dying before
It had taken me the best part of the night to dig a
shallow grave in front of our door, deep enough to protect his body from
marauding animals. I have buried him single-handedly with the help of the
moonlight and the tracer bullets that criss-crossed the night sky as new round
of fighting started this afternoon.
MOGADISHU, DECEMBER 3, 1991
This morning the Muezzin, whose name is Sheikh Ahmed
Ganey, Ibrahim and Xaajiya Xabiiba arrived to offer me their condolence with
the familiar words: “It was written.” Then the Muezzin read the service for the
burial of the dead over my son’s shallow grave. This service is read with
depressing frequency in Somalia, but only for those lucky enough to get a
decent burial these days. We also gave a decent burial to the old lady.
I cried myself to
sleep, oblivious of the infinite bombardment. It seems the fighting is being
conducted by bird-brained monsters, as evidenced by the senseless destruction
and the slaughter of innocent civilians.
I hold nightly vigil at the grave of my son, the son who
lost his life in his prime while trying to help a frail old lady cross the
street during intensive bombardment. The son who insisted to stay with me at this
perilous moment in our lives, “come what may.” Here lies the son inaccessible
to fear for his life, no matter however the crisis, however inevitable the
MOGADISHU, DECEMBER 4, 1991
No mention was made of the carnage in Somalia at the Islamic
Conference Organization (ICO) currently in session in Dakar (Senegal). The same
thing goes to the UN Security Council and the Organization of Africa Unity
(OAU). It seems there’s a conspiracy of silence among the world community of
which Somalia is a full member.
They are now resorting to night fighting, because the
scoundrels sleep by day after all night Qaad session and nonstop shootings.
Ironically, Qaad and cigarettes are plentiful, but no food is available. To
make matters worse, the escaped convicts made their debut in earnestly. They
began to ransack homes whose owners took refuge in the countryside. As
mentioned above most of these convicts have been condemned to death by the
regime’s kangaroo courts. They are branded as Dil-sugayaal.
MOGADISHU, DECEMBER 5, 1991
This morning we had an emergency meeting, all four of us
wretches to discuss whether to stay put or leave for the countryside, away from
The garbled stories that Sheikh Ahmed Ganey,
the muezzin brought are always gloomy and defeatism and it is difficult to gain
any clear picture of what actually is happening in the rest of the country. All
we know is that the fighting is intensifying in every part of the capital.
“All the news is bad. It is the end of the world,” he
said. “It’s no good. We can’t leave here,” he added.
“We may have bad time of it if we stay here and we will
certainly die if we are mad enough to attempt a cross-country trip,” Xaajiya Xabiiba said brusquely.
“At the moment there would appear to be nowhere to go to,”
And with that consensus we decided to stay put, come what
To be continue….
By M. M. Afrah © 2002