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 March 16th 1993., 1993
Lido Beach, Mogadishu.
Ask anyone in the United States and Western Europe what
they know about Somalia. They probably will not tell you
much. Public ignorance is constantly repeated in contemporary
history, where the truth leaks out long after a country
can be saved from self-destruction. Here is brief history
of Somalia after the elected civilian president Abdirashid
Ali Shermarke, was overthrown by a military junta in 1969
following the assassination of President Shermarke in
Las Anod by one of his own bodyguards and clansman:
From 1969 to 1991, the country was ruled by an aggressive
Marxists military regime with Major-General Mohamed Siyad
Barre at the helm. He single-handedly run the show with
the help of the notorious and dreaded National Security
Service (NSS modeled after the KGB), Hangash, the equally
much feared military intelligence, and a host of informers
and riff-raffs. General Barre sovietized freedom of speech
and handed the job over to the NSS to manage their own
ways-arresting and torturing anyone suspected of whispering
to others, what they perceived to be " anti-revolutionary
expressions." Barre and his close associates, Dufleh,
Buluq-buluq and company were happy that nothing embarrassing
would be disclosed.
Somalia was not gifted with the magic word OIL and other
minerals of importance to the Western industries. It was
not even a tourist haven like its neighbor, Kenya.
B) The country ceased to be of strategic importance to
the West as soon as the Cold War ended and the Americans
became the lone players in international political arena.
C) Jimmy Carter, who was at the time in the Oval Office,
did nothing to come to the rescue of General Barre after
he tore up a twenty years treaty of friendship and cooperation
with the Kremlin oligarchy. Somali forces were pushed
out of the Ogaden by Soviet and Cuban soldiers, using
the latest hi-tech war machines. On the other hand President
Barre had received few sweet words and what Jimmy Carter
called "only defensive weapons" to replace weapons
General Barre lost in the Ogaden war, and a symbolic joint
military exercise at Berbera between the armies of the
two countries. It transpired later that the Americans
were eyeing the Soviet-built Berbera airport with the
longest runaway in Africa and the Middle East.
D) And here we are at the once snow-white Lido Beach homeless,
stateless and hungry with no one in the world cares about
us, except the weary Red Cross/Red Crescent, who are taking
a lot of risk to deliver food aid to the hungry people
March 8, 1993-Upon hearing the new U.N. Secretary-General
Burros Ghali to send Under-Secretary for Political Affairs,
James Jonah, to Somalia to explore the opportunity for
a ceasefire, General Mohamed Farah Aideed called a meeting
of his coalition. According to his radio, station General
Aided will represent the United Somali Congress USC, Ahmed
Omar Jess for the Somali Salvation Movement (SPM), and
Mohamed Noor Aliyow for the Somali Democratic Movement
(SDM) and Mohamed Isaw for the Southern Somali National
Movement (SSNM). However, the radio made no mention of
when or where the meeting would take place, or whether
there would be a unilateral ceasefire during the visit
of the U.N. Envoy. Ali Mahdi's radio station made no mention
of the U.N. envoy's visit, except brief news item about
Butros Ghali's efforts to put the Somalia anarchy in front
of the Security Council.
11, 30 A.M.-Sheikh Abdi married today Halima and Yonis
in a twenty-minute ceremony behind our cabin. The bride
wore floral Guntiino and Garbasaar, a wrap-around affair
preferred by Southern Somali women and the bridegroom
wore a two-piece white cotton fabric decorated at the
edges worn by nomads and a pair of camel hide shoes. He
carried a spear in one hand and a shield in the other.
Somebody played "Hibo", a popular Somali wedding
song. A choir of ten youngsters sung for the ceremony.
The feast is the largest ever held in war-torn Somalia.
At12, 45 P.M. The couple left the beach for an unknown
destination. Minutes later gunmen from the girl's clan
on a machinegun mounted "Technicals" with Halima's
father behind the wheel arrived at the beach, and start
shooting indiscriminately into the sky. It was too late.
Love has won!
9th.1993-Today I am invited to visit Mogadishu's horrendous
"Bermuda Triangle." The invitation came from
Abdiqani, son of the sole survivor of the notorious Jesira
Beach massacre of the Isaaq residents of Mogadishu, Awil
Jama (recounted in my first book Target: Villa Somalia).
Even the name Bermuda Triangle is enough to inspire in
people all the nightmarish fears of its namesake.
Young gunmen built their reputations on the fact that
they had visited the Triangle before coming to the Lido
Beach. One of them bragged that he had already visited
the place twice and has some friends over there.
"Many people say that anyone who attempts to enter
the place never comes out alive," I commented to
"Just try it", he said with a broad smile, after
changing the Qaad from one cheek to the other.
We are sitting in front of our cabin, watching the furious
ocean and a dozen of young Rahan-weyn nomads searching
for driftwood on the shore to use as firewood. "The
inhabitants kill people-I mean non-resident. Even General
Aideed give up after several attempts to crush Bermuda
Triangle with all the arsenals at his disposal. But if
you have connections in the area you will be safe."
I showed him the letter from Abdiqani.
"Why don't you go?"
"You know the condition here on the beach are the
best compared to other sections of the city where bullets
fly non-stop, and it is impossible to starve here. We
even do a little fishing now and then when conditions
"Wait a minute," he laughed after lighting another
cigarette with antiquated cigarette lighter. "I didn't
mean you should go for good. Besides, I hear you are a
reporter for international news organization and a brief
visit to the famous Bermuda Triangle would certainly give
you the chance for a good story."
"There is nothing I'd rather do than visit the place."
I admitted, "but the risks involved outweigh any
story-obligations I have for my editors in London. They
would not believe there's a Bermuda Triangle in Somalia."
"That's why you should pay a visit to the place and
let the world know there is another Bermuda Triangle in
Somalia and how its inhabitants have been defending their
homes and families from intruders. It is going to be a
big story-a scoop!"
tried hard not to seem interested.
"If you are worried about the problem of getting
a "technical" manned by good boys with machineguns
to take you there, it doesn't cost much. We can pool our
resources. How about that?"
"How much it cost to get there."
"Twenty Dollars, American."
"Well, my boy, you've found yourself a partner. I've
always wanted to visit the place."
P. M. -After listening to the BBC's Somali Service, I
broke the news of my imminent foray into Bermuda Triangle.
Sheikh Abdi said nothing, but the professor was stone-faced,
which is how he looks when he is not sure if things will
"Another attempt in a suicide mission," he said
"It comes with the territory," I told him.
The Sheikh flew, silently, to the ocean, reading only
verses from the Holy Qura'aan.
Beach, March 10 1993-We threaded our way, moving as quickly
as we could among the walking skeletons without being
obvious. It seemed to take forever to reach the other
end of the beach, where my new partner-in-adventure, Ali
Gaab, said the gun-mounted vehicle is waiting for us.
The first words the red-eyed driver/gunman uttered is:
"That will be 20 U.S. for both of you. No big deal."
I reached into my pocket and peeled off the greenbacks.
"Here you go," I whispered into his ears. Then
the driver took my hand to prove to me how clean his Land
Cruiser was. Then he asked me to feel the brand new Browning
machinegun mounted on the customized vehicle. "Feel
it." He whispered into my ears again. We will call
him Jaalle Whisperer.
"Yes, it's real invention of human technology for
killing unarmed innocent human being," I declared.
Then as an afterthought I added "and so effective."
He and his gun boys are so thrilled with my verdict that
they quickly joined the Cir-toogte (the sky-shooters)
at the new arms bazaar, which sprung up at the beach overnight.
The expression Cir-tookte is yet another new addition
to the Somali axiom.
BY M. M. AFRAH©
To be continued.