is the first diary of war by a veteran Somali Journalist
1990/1992-a war fought under the merciless Somalia sun in
the immediate aftermath of the ouster of military dictator,
Major-General Mohamed Siyad Barre from power after ruling
the country for more than two decades with an iron fist.
Like any great-war diary, the force of the talent behind
it makes it forever timeless. This is the brutal expose'
of the rotten core of a country ruled by ruthless, bloodthirsty
warlords, their sinister power and barbaric acts that divided
the Somali people along clan, sub, sub-clan lines. Mr. Afrah
wrote the Diary (slightly edited with new material) before
the international task force spearheaded by the Americans
stormed the beaches of Mogadishu on December 9, 1993--
The Webmaster banadir.com).
JOURNALIST'S DIARY ABOUT THE WAR IN MOGADISHU 1991/1992
WAR DIARY BY M. M. AFRAH 1991/1993
Beach January 26, 1993
morning Sheikh Abdi, my former neighbour showed up at
the beach for the first time. He repeatedly refused to
leave his half-demolished home and the mosque near-by,
which lost its minaret after it received a direct hit
from a T-55 tank shell.
"The Dacasley (flip-floppers) with guns took control
of what was left of our homes, and I felt like shouting
my frustration from the rooftops, but there are no more
rooftops left in Mogadishu," he whimpered. The word
Dacasley is a new slang in the Somali lexicon. The preceding
words, now extensively used, are faqash, Mooryaan, bililiqeysi.
Sheikh, who has only salvaged from the wreck of his home
the Holy Qur'aan and few tattered garments, told us that
after the old Sinai Market caught fire and the Asiley
airstrip was abandoned, the militia gunmen are desperate
for the drug Qaad and cigarettes, because the Kenyan Qaad
pilots refused to land their light aircraft on a deserted
airstrip. The Sinai open-air market and Asiley airstrip
are located at Ali Mahdi's stronghold in the north of
the divided city. The Asiley airstrip, which was the hub
of activities, was abandoned during the week after it
received nonstop hits from Aideed's artillery guns in
the south of the city.
P.M. -According to the BBC's World Service and the Voice
of America, in brief news items, followed by the Gulf
War coverage, said that one of the main antagonists in
the Somalia conflict, General Mohamed Farah Aideed rejected
to personally attend the peace talks in New York organized
by U.N. Secretary General, Butros Butros Ghali and the
names who would represent him are briefly mentioned. Only
one is a familiar personality, and that's Abdullahi Addow,
former Somali ambassador to the US.
kind of mentality prevails in this country?" Professor
Elmi Noor wondered.
"Nothing ever seems to get off the ground!"
I snapped back.
How much we missed Aweys, our fishing expert and boat
builder, was felt at our evening banquet table and across
the beach. But the positive side is that many of us became
fishermen, swimmers and boat "captains" under
the tutelage of Aweys. Many young nomads from the hinterland
no longer shun seafood. Some learned how to tackle a fishing
rod for the first time in their lives. Thanks Aweys, wherever
you may be now.
we turned to the latest development. It was plain what
was going on. The two main Mogadishu faction leaders,
who ironically belong to the same Hawiye clan, did not
want peace, because they didn't feel it was in their own
interests. If peace comes they both stood a lot to lose.
We all agreed that the clan leaders wanted Somalia to
become extinct, the unarmed and powerless would perish
from the face of the earth. Evidently, Somalia has gone
belly up and the world community stands by, because Somalia,
unlike Kuwait, is not endowed with the magic word O-I-L.
Suffice to say public confidence have been eroding since
the day they turned their guns at each other for want
of leadership. The faction leaders believe that they can
be violent and good guys in the same breath!
reaching us at the beach say that one of the clans have
been selling weapons and ammunition to both sides of the
conflict. It is believed that the "neutral"
clan ransacked the largest ammunition dump in Wajit, southwest
of the country and Dayniile south of the capital, and
has turned from camel herding to gunrunning. Other smaller
Hawiye clans have been selling their own weapons to the
highest bidders. All this is adding fuel to the raging
evening the Voice of Germany said in a brief news item
that Somalia would be stable if the warlords were disciplined
like small children. When I translated this to Sheikh
Abdi, "Easier said than done. It's not easy to discipline
a child who has thousands of armed predators under his
command, who are told that they were helping to defend
the clan against an enemy clan," the Sheikh said,
shaking his turbaned head.
Realizing that I was going to make no comment, the Sheikh
beckoned a young man, who was sitting on the sand, watching
seagulls fighting over fish, and told him to tell us his
story about the shipment of weapons. The young, who said
his name is Abdinassir and belongs to the Biyamaal clan,
said a Greek vessel traveling under a Liberian flag of
convenience has been ferrying weapons from the Gulf to
one of the faction leaders. He said an estimated two hundred
tons of high-grade weapons and ammunitions arrived last
week alone, but more of the same weapons arrived two weeks
ago at Merka and were later transported to Mogadishu by
could see what this means: more flattened buildings, more
graves and more kids with their arms blown off. Then I
gripped my pen and said: "How did you get such information?"
"I helped unload the Greek vessel "The Alamos"
with other non-combatants in Merca, but when we were done
with the job, they refused to pay us, and threatened to
shoot us. So I arrived in Mogadishu yesterday with only
the clothes on my back and a bottle of water," adding
that Sheikh Abdi saved him from gunmen in North Mogadishu
who suspected him as a spy for General Aideed.
"It was a journey into sheer horror. There are a
string of barricades between Merka and Mogadishu manned
by teenagers with guns, and I needed to have a lot of
prayers to withstand it," said Abdinassir.
"You shouldn't have taken the trouble to come to
Mogadishu. Anyway, welcome to Lido and join the bandwagon,"
Professor Elmi said. The young man hid his uneasiness
as best as he could and thanked us for the welcome, a
rare commodity in Somalia these days.
the new weapon's shipment is true we are in for unending
27, 1993-Ali Mahdi has acquired a radio station of his
own, and it is now easier to follow his own version of
the civil war-turned-clan warfare. Ali Mahdi who still
calls himself the interim president of Somalia inaugurated
the station, which broadcasts on the 42-meter band FM,
yesterday. After that General Mohamed Noor Galaal, General
Mohamed Farah Aideed's clansman who defected to Ali Mahdi
at the height of the conflict along with several associates
of his, listed what he referred to as "the crazy
general (Aideed) who committed and is still committing
a catalogue of crimes against the Somali people since
the overthrow of his predecessor, Major-General Mohamed
Siyad Barre. In his hard-hitting commentary, he called
the Somali people to fight "the butcher of Mogadishu."
He also described Aideed and his comrades-in-arms "Garashleyda",
referring to Aideed's top financier and entrepreneur,
Osman Atto, who runs a garage and a warehouse where stockpiles
of deadly weapons are stored and vehicles, locally known
as "Technicals" are customized for the war effort.
Technical is a bastardized Italian word "Tecnico,"
meaning war machines in Italian military jargon.
voice said that the station would provide "a balanced
and objective reporting of all events concerning the war
against the Butcher of Mogadishu."
General Aideed's radio station broadcasts parallel to
those of his archenemy-Ali Mahdi Mohamed. Both stations
refer to themselves as "Radio Mogadishu, the Voice
of the Somali People," with the same signature tunes
and the same music. Evidently the whole exercise is to
cover their backsides and control vital information the
people have the right to know and instead dish out propaganda
and misinformation and personal verbal abuses.
the booming artillery guns permits, we will now have alternative
listening-General Aideed's or Ali Mahdi's recriminations,
misinformation and lies. The choice is yours. No sweat!
By M.M. Afrah,
To be continued