Mogadishu was like no other place I had ever been. I finally understood what ‘anarchic’ meant. Violence drifted through the muggy air like a malignant smoke. The only way to travel was to hire a pick-up truck overflowing with militia – nomads with automatic weapons.
Everyone chewed the narcotic of choice – Khat. Their cheeks bulging with the foul leave, teeth stained a deep reddish-brown.
My team of hired guns included a twelve year old boy in flip flops carrying a fifty caliber machine gun, replete with bandoliers. It also had the unarmed person among them – the translator. Always a melancholic university graduate whose life had – like everyone else’s – turned to hell in the clan warfare following the ouster of dictator Siad Barre.
I have to admit, I liked it.
Until, that is, we reached the tiny town of Baidoa, set in the non-descript Somali bush. That was simply hell. The reek of death was everywhere, and children’s eyes lost the fight to live before your very eyes.
As the idiotic greed of Somalia’s clans ensures the war continued until once again, nineteen years later, the disaster is repeated. There is no Siad Barre,l but instead gutless and greedy pols and a bunch of ‘looterers’ pretending to represent the will of their god.
I might, should I find the emotional energy, write in some depth about my experiences there in 1992, 1993 and 1994. Until then, here are some images .