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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

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.

Food 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.

"With 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 Somalia.
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.

December 9, 1991
4.45 P.M.
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 teenagers.

5.30 P.M.
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.

An 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"

Guns 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.

After 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.

I 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 loyalty.

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

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