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).
M. AFRAH'S WAR DIARY 1991/1992
LIDO BEACH, December 7, 1991.
7. 30 A. M.
This morning we wake up with the sound of machineguns
cracking at high tempo followed by artillery guns and
Katyusha rockets in the hills beyond the former official
residence of the US ambassador. They continued to pound
Shibis and the surrounding residential areas with angry
echoes. At times more than 20 separate fires can be seen
blazing across the city, a city that had been prosperous
and well tended. A militia loyal to Ali Mahdi is fighting
desperately at their positions in Kaaraan to hold their
northern stronghold of the divided city. On the other
hand, General Aideed's militias are using all the arsenals
at their disposal to dislodge Ali Mahdi and his Manifesto
Group who elected him to fill the vacuum left by Mohamed
Siyad Barre. In a speech on arrival in Mogadishu with
his seasoned militia gunmen from the small town of Mustaxiil
(pronounced Mustahiil) in the Ethiopian-occupied Ogaden
region, the General vowed to crush the group, which he
called "Afar Jeebleyaal" (Men with four pockets,
Already the conflict is snarling hot, but we are safe
at the beach-at least for the moment.
45 P. M.
We rushed to the top of the gutted Lido Night Club for
the second time to watch the artillery exchange from there,
and we were shocked at the intensity of the fire works
between the two clans. "It is always the innocent
civilians who are dying," Prof. Elmi remarked as
we watched smoke bellowing high from several targets hit
by the Katyushas. I mentioned in an earlier entry in this
Diary the blood-cuddling Katyushas are Soviet made multiple
rocket launchers that could destroy whole blocks of buildings,
leaving behind huge craters in their wake.
One vexing question is: What to do with those who massacred
countless civilians and destroyed whole cities, town and
villages, and wiped out infrastructures in the process?
Would there be a war crimes tribunal? Would all these
end up in the dustbin of history?
watched with the help of my ancient binocular, two young
men enter a building. Fifteen minutes later they re-emerged
with spoils and entered another house nearby. Soon white
smoke was pouring from its windows.
hours after the shootings stopped there was uproar at
the beach. The entire population of Lido Beach, men, women,
children and the elderly are swarming around a flatbed
truck in front of the old Lido Night Club, yelling and
cursing in the Rahan-weyn dialect. A Red Cross flag was
flying on top of the truck's cabin and a white man and
two Somalis holding high the logo of the Somali Red Crescent
Society, trying to calm down the inhabitants but all in
vain. One of the Somalis recognized Professor Elmi who
was standing at the end of the huge crowd, and with me
taking pictures. The people are fighting over packages
of food and bottled water. Many of the women and the elderly
are too weak to raise themselves from the sand. Babies
are born at the beach with the help of frail old midwives.
woman distraught to the point of madness flung herself
at the Red Cross official; she begged him to give her
some money to buy milk for her newly-born baby she held
in her arms. The official then turned to the cartoons
at the back of the truck to search for cans of powdered
milk. Then she put the baby in the arms of one of the
Somali RCS, then she run off saying she would get milk
for the baby because there was no milk in her breasts.
And when the Somali Red Crescent official opened the bundle
of rugs to look at the child he found it had been dead
several hours ago.
that very moment Professor Elmi took matters into his
own hands. He quickly jumped on the flatbed truck and
ordered the rowdy people to stand in three lines-one for
the women and children, one for the elderly and one for
the able-bodied young men. It worked and everybody obeyed
the order and behaved admirably. What surprised me, however,
is that the professor, a Northerner who hails from Hargeisa,
spoke the Rahan-weyn dialect perfectly!
over a cup of tea, he told me that one of his students
at the university, who hails from Baidoa, taught him the
rudiments of the Rahan-weyn colloquial speech. He then
showed me a translation of the Rahan-weyn vernacular in
Latin and in standard Somali, which he self-published
it at a private printing press in Nairobi after the Ministry
of Education refused to include it in the national curriculum.
After that he became highly respected and admired person
among the Lido community.
To be continued
Afrah's War Diary 1991/1992