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).
Mogadishu, December 2, 1991
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?
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.
December 4, 1991.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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