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 1.45 P.M.
I "sealed" the deal with Whisperer, I went back
to our cabin to say good-bye to my friends and a take-off
lunch of tuna fish and rice, and returned to the gun boys
who were apprehensively waiting for me. Then we hit the
road with the gun boys on the hood of the Land Cruiser,
singing Saada Ali's and Hassan Adan's love songs. As we
pulled out of the beach, Whisperer and Ali Gaab, my partner-in-adventure
joined them with intensity.
gunmen and drivers of "Technicals" would refuse
to go to the Bermuda Triangle at any price, but these
teenagers seemed relaxed and cheerful at the prospect
of going to the most dangerous place in Mogadishu. Perhaps
the months long street fighting had hardened them.
drove through the rubble and smoke at more than 100 km
per hour. Bloated bodies are scattered all over the place-in
public gardens and on pavements. Dogs and cats are having
field days. In Mogadishu, nobody pays attention or raise
an eyebrow on the dead or the dying these days.
half expected to hear guns firing and bullets whizzing,
but Ali Gaab says it is Friday today, when militia from
both side of the conflict are sitting at Qaad-chewing
the cheerful atmosphere inside the vehicle, I was worried
about what would happen when we attempted to cross the
notorious Green Line dividing the city into Aideed's stronghold
in the South and Ali Mahdi's in the North. In Somalia,
there is no guarantee that you will stay alive by shouting
"PRESS!" or "NEUTRAL!" Recent experience
had shown that the press or people who claim neutrality
do not go well with the militia who manned the barricades.
One requires a string of near-miracles to survive the
journey through the devastated city, but there is acute
shortage of miracles in Somalia nowadays.
Gaab, who is sitting next to me in the cabin, started
attacking the clerics and the clan elders for not trying
harder to mediate the two factions-a favourite discussion
"Perhaps they, too, want the war to drag on for their
own vested interests," I said.
Whisperer seems to be something on a hurry, even by Mogadishu
standards, and we swerved crazily around potholes, dead
bodies and bomb craters. The boys on the hood of the vehicle
switched to classical Somali Helos with lyrics by Abdullahi
Qarshe and Hussein aw Farah. Eventually, I spoke up: "I
am intrigued by the speed, but can you perhaps drive little
"I'll try," came the muffled answer.
last, the vehicle stopped at the first barricade, and
the sound of gunfire can be heard in the neighbourhood.
After a few seconds, Whisperer and the boys alighted and
began yelling at the militia gunmen at the barricade.
It was difficult to see because of the darkness, but suddenly
my eyes were stabbed with the high light glint of a gun
barrel. I sat motionless, half expecting to hear the sound
of that gun and feel its bullet.
heavily-bearded militia man in surplus army fatigue walked
slowly over to me and asked me who I was, and where I
was going, pointing a handgun at my face.
"I am with the press, and I am trying to visit friends
on the other side of the Green Line," I said, showing
him my International Press Card to prove it.
The puzzled voices of our boys and the militiamen changed
to angry cadence.
Finally, the heavily-bearded man with the handgun spoke
in a commanding voice.
"Go on, but don't come back here," he said.
The man clearly had rank, as well as age on his side.
I nodded as pleasantly as I could, but the warning worried
me a lot. At that very moment, a young boy moved in, pointing
his AK-47 at my heart. "We keep an eye on people
from General Aideed's stronghold in this place, especially
those who claim to be journalists. We know they are all
double agents," he said slowly and coherently.
The older man ordered his subordinate to leave as alone,
"because they are dung-heap and sons of harlots,"
BY M. M. AFRAH©
To be continued.