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
10. 30 A.M.
Lido Beach December 8, 1991
Today a team of foreign journalists visited Lido Beach
aboard the second Red Cross/Red Crescent food aid truck
to its starving inhabitants. The images of famine and
the ravages of war around the area shock the journalists,
from the United Press International (UPI), the French
news agency (AFP) Al-Ahram, the Egyptian newspaper and
Kenya's mass circulation, The Daily Nation.
kitchens were set up at noon with the professor supervising
them. However, they set off a chain of reaction-a massive
exodus from the city, causing a population explosion that
results insecurity. Now gunmen and riff-raffs from the
city outnumber the original inhabitants. There is one
consolation; we are still out of range of the artillery
guns. The problem of small arms fire and occasional hand-grenade
explosions are introduced to the previously peaceful environment.
security situation on the beach deteriorating due to the
exodus from several residential areas of the besieged
capital it would be wise to form a council of elders to
oversee all aspects of life on the beach," the professor
told me over a lunch of spaghetti and fried fish, using
a makeshift dinner table made of a Firestone tire ad sign
supported by empty oil drums. We watched gunmen fighting
over packets of spaghetti, the fastest selling item in
Somalia among people who still have enough things to barter.
The Somali Shilling became worthless, and like everything
else it vanished in the dustbin of history. People are
now resigned to the stone-hard realities of life in today's
Our idea was to set up young armed volunteers from the
original inhabitants to protect others from the Mooryaan,
a name that nowadays become terrifying, just to mention
it, who set up a camp at the other end of the beach. We
often hear gunfire from their camp, signaling flare-up
over one thing or another. These are young men who fought
in the civil war under the umbrella of the United Somali
Congress (USC), but later turned their guns on each other
for the control of the capital. Others are freelancers
and former hardcore convicts who escaped from the Central
Prison's Death Row during the turmoil.
Today the Red Cross lost one of its vehicles to the gunmen,
causing the officials to pull out from the beach "temporarily".
The food kitchens would still remain open, but volunteers
would run them from the Somali Red Crescent Society officials
and elders. I talked to one of the Swiss Red Cross officials
before they pull out. He promised to deliver food aid
once a week, security permitting. Now, the thorny question
is how to arm our newly recruited volunteers. Weapons
of all types and caliber are galore and are cheaper by
the dozen at the newly formed arms bazaar, formerly Sinai
open-air market, but the question is how to get there,
by eluding chains of roadblocks manned by trigger-happy
Tonight a man who just returned from the arms bazaar said
he counted 20 roadblocks manned by Qaad chewing armed
Mooryaans who exhorted money from the starving population
at gunpoint, or else
He said he saw dozens of dead
bodies scattered all over the area controlled by freelancers.
idea sponsored at a meeting by one of the Rahan-weyn elders
is to hire our Mooryaan neighbours as security guards.
I counter-sponsored it by saying that we should buy the
weapons from them. After all they can easily get replacements
at the bazaar with little or no effort at all. In his
verdict, the professor said; "I would not trust those
criminals as our defenders one little bit. Buying the
guns from them is a good idea. So let us get cracking"
are not the exclusive properties of the Mooryaans, almost
every family in Mogadishu owned an AK-47 or M16 assault
rifle as part of their household equipment. Even elders
and Imams stash away a gun or two just in case they needed
them to protect their families from marauding gangs or
against some random foe.
the meeting we all rushed to our makeshift kitchen behind
our cabin to serve ourselves with rice and tuna fish.
But our Rahan-weyn guests refused to touch the fish. For
cultural reasons, many farmers from the hinterland and
the nomads shun fish-eating, but the tide of misery is
ebbing, and some of the younger nomads found seafood palatable.
They are even eating squid and lobsters, which even city
people refused to touch until now.
have begun to wonder if the Somalis I have met at the
beach will be the same when the war ends. Strangers who
belong to different clans now adopt each other as "blood
brothers." Children from different parts of the city
play makeshift football with the Rahan-weyn children on
the white sand in their bare feet. It is too good to be
true. This is happening here when in the rest of the country
former friends, schoolmates and neighbours are killing
each other because of the centuries old virus called clan
To be continued
Afrah's War Diary 1991/1992