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(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

M. M. AFRAH'S WAR DIARY 1991/1992

Mogadishu, December 6, 1991
9.30 A.M. This morning I decided to escort the hundreds of displaced persons from the hinterland to the beach, away from artillery range. But I had hard time convincing them that this place is no longer safe and that they should follow me. Since they all speak the Rahan-weyn dialect, I used the international symbol of run, run, and run and follow me. It worked! We did this in zigzags despite the long awaited torrential rain. Babies are crying and the skeleton-looking mothers are helped to raise themselves from the mud-covered terrain. One respite is that the shooting had stopped, and we are taking advantage of this short break. Probably the gun-boys are taking cover from the rainstorm. Like the first wave of displaced people, the newcomers have to learn for themselves to dodge bullets in a zigzag fashion and use allays, for which they were not so prepared. The main hurdle is the women, the malnourished children and the elderly. But after several shouting matches things seem to work the way we wanted-to reach our destination unscathed.
Thus, I unwittingly joined the exodus and ended up as a displaced person and a refugee in my own city.

Killing small children and defenseless civilians, or destroy whole cities, towns and villages is judged evil in any culture, any race, any geographical location in the world.
When I asked one of the Mooryaan why they were killing innocent people, he screamed: "There is no innocent bystanders in Somalia!"
The shriek sent shiver down my back
Al Capone, the notorious Chicago Mafia don of the 1920s and 1930s would have been proud of these gun-crazy goons, now locally known as Mooryaan, a scary name that has been coined recently by the non-combatants in the clan warfare. These innocent people from Somalia's breadbasket have gone and are going through harrowing ordeal, and I cannot simply tear myself away from condemning these Mooryaan and their godfathers. They are tainted with the blood of the people.
My neighbour once told me they are just passing clouds, but the question that baffles me is: how long these deadly clouds will hover over our heads? It seems we are falling apart! I am aware that reading this entry is like reading a chapter from John Steinbeck's novel "The Grapes of Wrath," but this is not a novel, it is a fact, nothing but fact. Only those who have gone through it can be my witness and confirm that the once beautiful capital has now turned into a hell on earth.

We pushed farther and farther to the beach. We could hear ramble of artillery in the distance, by which we had learned to measure the progress of the war. It grew fainter as we put a distance between the fighting and us.

Black vultures circle the skies over the beach, anxiously watching and waiting for the starving displaced people below. Every day weak and starved refugees die from hunger and disease and are buried in shallow graves. Once a haven for anglers, expatriates and foreign diplomats, who used to lay on the snow-white sand like fat seals, it is now a poor shadow of it's former splendor. Starving people now populates Lido Beach, waiting for death to come. And the walls of the beach cabins are crumbling beyond repair.
On a hilltop opposite the once prosperous Club 55, I spotted a disabled T-55 Soviet tank with its long barrel swiveling to and fro as jolly children play on top.
When I arrived at the beach I didn't know a soul, so I shared the night in a half-demolished beach cabin with irritant owls and bats. Probably they resist my intrusion into their turf. All the undamaged beach cabins have been commandeered by residents from downtown, many of them with large families, and arrived here with only the clothes on their backs. Only few fortunate ones had the chance to grab few bits and pieces for their survival at the last minute, before the looters arrive.

This morning I met an elegantly dressed and bespectacled gentleman-a rare sight in war-torn Somalia these days. We introduced to each other without shaking hands. Professor Elmi Noor was the professor of international law at the defunct National University at Lafoole before the outbreak of the civil war. He occupies a well-tended beach cabin overlooking the bright blue waters of the Indian Ocean. The Soviet Embassy personnel formerly used it before the Americans, their Cold War enemies, evacuated them, ironically! But the Russians smashed everything of any value, including the generator, the fridge, crockery, pots and pans and showerheads.
The professor invited me to share the beach cabin with him, and later congratulated me for bringing along the portable typewriter, the Nikon, the transistor radio, spare batteries, few candles, matchboxes and stationeries. He is a walking library, leaving everything in his burning home, except a number of books and some clothes. "Now we can keep abreast of what is going on in our unfortunate country and the world at large," he said with a smile. I have learned more from Professor Elmi about international laws than I could ever learn from books. He is originally from Hargeisa, where the Somali National Movement (SNM) is reported to hold the upper hand in their guerrilla warfare against General Barre's military, the best in Africa South of the Sahara in terms of training, modern weaponry and numerical strength; and like their USC (United Somali Congress) counterpart in Mogadishu they are being welcomed by cheering crowds with green leafs (Somalia's olive branches).
Radio Hargeisa is off the air, but a BBC reporter said that the SNM insurgents are pushing towards Hargeisa, the provincial capital, and many soldiers peeled off their uniforms, sold their weapons or joined the movement because of clan affiliation.
Hawiye pilots mutinied against their commanding officer and refused to carpet bomb Hargeisa. One of them dumped his deadly bombs on the Red Sea and flew his MiG bomber to neighouring Djibouti and sought asylum there, the French news agency AFP reported. He was quoted by the French news agency as saying that he was ready to defend his country against foreign aggression, but not to bomb my own people. We tuned in to Cairo Radio and CNN, but no mention was made of the events in Somalia. Apparently the Gulf war overshadowed everything else.
"It seems we are in vacuum land, null and void," said the professor, switching off the transistor to save the batteries. "The United States is the major stake-holder and the policeman of the world to boot. But in its rush to contain communism, Washington allied itself with despots, dictators and demagogues, and now it is fighting against one of its former allies, Saddam Hussein, during the Iraq/Iran War." The Professor ended his little speech.
"Well, I never thought I'd be a refugee in my own country," I remarked grimly.
And with that we went to bed, ignoring the far-off poundings.

To be continued….
Afrah's War Diary 1991/1992

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