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).
November 5, 1991
is still the name of the game; even simple people can sense
how volatile things have become. The worst of all is that
every time I begin to fall asleep, I wake up with a start,
and a bitter taste in my mouth. Shells come whistling over
our houses in great arcs, dispatched by invisible batteries
to hit straight targets close to our homes.
mosque in our neighbourhood was hit this morning by a
tank shell and the minaret with its crescent moon and
star is lying in the middle of the rubble and debris.
A disabled Soviet-era armoured vehicle is burning furiously
in the middle of the dirt road.
my window I can see more houses set ablaze by shellfire
during the night, now burning fiercely. As always, gunners
on hilltops target crowded residential areas and open-air
markets. Wherever I look red and yellow flashes split
the darkness of the night, marking clearly the deadly
path of the armoured attack.
new sound mingles with the T55 tank shells. It is hollow,
whining howl of the Stalin Organs, also known as Katyushas
in Russian. They fell not far from us, and the holes they
make are tremendous. The blast deafens me for hours. More
explosions thunder, and crush followed by eerie silence
that lasts few minutes. Some of the windows in my house
trickled to pieces.
of people have fled their homes to avoid getting caught
in the crossfire. Only a handful of people, mostly elderly
men and women refused to abandon their homes, come what
may. Entire residential area was reduced to rubble.
November 6, 1991.
is 7.30 a.m. and I can see General Aideed's the gunners
quite well now with the help of an antiquated binocular.
Hamar Bileh and the Towers of Mogadishu Stadium, about
three miles from my home, must be their favourite positions.
On the other hand, supporters of Ali Mahdi positioned
themselves on a hill at Sheikh Muhiddin's encampment,
North of Mogadishu. Others stationed themselves on top
of old Bar FIAT and surrounding buildings, including the
General Post Office and Hotel Juba.
are now scrambling to get food, water and firewood, taking
advantage of the lull. All water mains, telephone lines
and electricity have been completely destroyed by General
Barre forces and were finished by the USC guerrillas in
the factional fighting. I saw three young men digging
the ground to remove the water pipes, probably to sell
them as scrape metals. Others are looting electricity
and telephone lines for the same purpose. All communications
are down and there is no way to dispatch my stories to
Reuters news agency or BBC in London.
words have been added to the Somali parlance and lexicon;
these are Bililiqeysi, (looting) Faqash (General Barre's
soldiers and security forces) and Mooryaan (Predators).
seems the world remains unaware of what is taking place
in Somalia. Even if they do, the Gulf War overshadowed
all other explosive situations, including the carnage
in Somalia. My brave neighbour said: "It is because
Somalia, unlike Kuwait, does not boast oil or other minerals
and we should not expect help from any quarter."
He is dead right! We both share my battery powered radio
transistor during short lull in fighting-a rare commodity
in Mogadishu these days. But the question that bugs me
all the time is where can I obtain new batteries. But
my resourceful neighbour assures me not to worry, for
he will do everything humanely possible to get new batteries,
war no war!
tank in front of my home just swung out and rumbled thunderously,
after gun mounted vehicles known as Technicals, leaving
behind dozens of spent shells and several dead militia
on the dusty road, some of them still gripping AK-47s
in one hand. This was the result of last night's fierce
battles between Ali Mahdi and General Aideed forces.
It is extremely doubtful if anyone who is here will be
able to forget all this easily. The noise, the impenetrable
darkness, the fear, the knowledge from the sound of the
bullets and artillery shells are on both sides of your
own home would certainly cause you sleepless nights.
killing field automatically destroyed my belief that all
Somalis are brothers and sisters who would never kill
each other, using lethal weapons supplied by foreign powers,
and instead settle their differences in the traditional
Shir between elders from both sides. Paradoxically, dozens
of wannabe warlords and faction leaders made their presence
felt in almost all the regions of the country in the immediate
aftermath of the ouster of General Barre from power, adding
more fuel to the fire. Many of them are said to be the
protégés of General Barre.
who are properly versed in the antics of the clan leaders
predict that unprecedented humanitarian disaster is looming
ahead. I dreaded and detested more than words can express
the prospect of prolonged clan warfare.
Afrah's War Diary 1991/1992