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THE SOMALI TRAGEDY
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A JOURNALIST'S DIARY ABOUT THE WAR IN MOGADISHU 1991/1992
(This 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).

PART THREE
Mogadishu, December 2, 1991

Today I am entering the diary after a hiatus and mourning of almost three weeks. I am entering the diary beside the body of my eldest son, Abdullahi. He was killed when the deadly, silent mortar hit a group of young men, including Abdullahi, as they listened to the BBC's Somali Service outside a demolished house at 5.30 P.M. Who can write the history of a brutal battle when your eyes are immovably fastened upon the dead body of an eldest son, crushed by a mortar?

Mogadishu December 3, 1991.
Today I buried Abdullahi single-handedly at my doorsteps as bullets and Katyushas continue to fly over my head non-stop. The Muezzim, whose mosque was hit by a rocket and my neighbour returned with a he-goat and hard to get rice all the way from Afgoi. Then the Muezzim read the last rite over the makeshift shallow grave of my son. Anyone can see that the two men have gone through hell and high water in order to get these rare commodities in today's Somalia. And that is not all. My neighbour surprised me with a pack of new batteries for the transistor! It takes a lot of guts to travel 30 km and return to Mogadishu amid Dante's inferno, unscathed. Obviously, the two men are made of sterner stuff.

Mogadishu, December 4, 1991.

Mogadishu, the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, with its Mediterranean-style buildings, now become an open graveyard. Mogadishu, The Pearl of the Indian Ocean is ghastly Mogadishu, the battered Mogadishu and the burning Mogadishu. There are bloated bodies in every street and public garden. This savagery will no doubt have an impact on future generation.
The spectacle of these bloated bodies presents a sight one never to be forgotten. Artillery and mortar exchange between the two clans continues unabated, and it seems that the tanks and other armoured vehicles are running out of fuel.
11, 30: A.M.
"Let's get out of here," my neighbour said. "They will be here before we know it," he said in his usual soft voice. By "they" he means the clan militia.
"You can't run about in the middle of an attack. Let our own homes become our graves," I told him. A rain of bullets and bazookas struck off the walls of my home, almost tearing the steel gate off its hinges. A piece of shrapnel landed in front of my bedroom-cum-reinforced makeshift bomb shelter.

Suddenly, everything was still. The fighting was over just as it began, and a waiting, threatening silence fell over the ruined section of the city where we live.

The silence lasted two hours only, enough time to wash ourselves and grab what little food we could dig up. Luckily, the leftover of the goat's meat and the sack of rice from Afgoi served us well, only to be interrupted by a 37mm anti-aircraft gun striking and ricocheting nearby sand dune with a howl, doing no damage to what was left of the mosque. The Muezzin, Sheikh Omar, refused to leave the badly damaged mosque, saying he'd rather die inside the mosque than being caught in crossfire.

A lonely frail old man walks in front of the deserted street in front of our house reading verses from the Holy Qura'an very loudly. Obviously, he was unable to find a shelter, as most buildings in this neighbourhood have been leveled to the ground.

There are no bomb shelters or buildings with basements in Mogadishu and other cities and towns of the country. Who would have guessed that one day we would be facing the most destructive modern weapons supplied by foreign powers whose aim was to wipe out a country called Somalia from the face of Mother Earth?

On the dirt road lay the carcasses of cows blown up like balloons, with their legs jutting stiffly upwards. A panicky female voice is screaming the new words: "Mooryaan! Bililiqeysi!" over and over again, a signal that the predators are at last having their field days in our residential area after they are done with downtown.

I immediately unearthed the M-16 assault rifle from its hiding place between two mattresses, just in case. For ethical reasons journalists, even those in war zones are forbidden to use firearms-"only the pen and the camera," we were told. But this is not a conventional war between two uniformed armies where journalists and the Red Cross officials enjoy some sort of immunity. Besides, there is always the danger of being robbed and killed by the Mooryaan, most of them hardcore convicts who escaped from the city's Central Prison's Death Row at the height of the civil war. They believe journalists representing international news agencies move about with expensive cameras and pockets full of American dollars.


To be continued….

Afrah's War Diary 1991/1992
Afrah95@hotmail.com


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