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In The Eyes of Fear Shock is The Sparkle

by Abdi-Noor Mohamed
Monday, April 02, 2007

When I looked at my daughter’s eyes I couldn’t find the bright glow that always warmed my heart. They were clouded by a haze of fear which denied them to flush out their usual smiles of joy and pleasure. Then I realized that I could not keep my family in the midst of war where rockets were landing indiscriminately on residential buildings. Then I packed and went to the bush in search of a safe place where Maria and the rest of us would find a sanctuary.

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It was the second day of the fighting and all business and transport movements have been brought to a halt, making it difficult to leave where the fire had caught you. Besides that, there were stray bullets and flying rockets launched from far away locations but reach you within a few seconds after covering a distance of several kilometers. Anyway I managed to get my family out and find them a place under a tree in a remote area outside Mogadishu.


In moving out, I used all means of transport ranging from handcarts, donkey carts and light vehicles such as mini buses which are commonly known as “Homy”.  What I saw on the way was excessively unimaginable in terms of human suffering. The rough road, scorching heat of March, the starving children, the old and the disabled, people with feeble or in otherwise poor health condition who were ferried with handcarts etc. These grisly images were so horrible that no human being with a drop of mercy in his heart would allow them to happen to innocent populations. I couldn’t avoid asking myself  “Why African leaders spend millions of dollars in killing their own people who were already dying from hunger and disease”. Then I had to say this almost to myself:

 In the dusty lands of the Horn
They are fighting a dirty war
But in the shadows of despair
Their children are dying from hunger 
Are they leaders of a nation?
Or are they killers of a nation
Is politics a shield to hide from reality?
Or is it a license to kill the innocent?
In the eyes of fear shock is the sparkle

On the other side of the war coin, the basic commodity prices have skyrocketed.  People have to pay triple of what they would otherwise have paid under normal circumstances. The food and fuel prices escalated beyond imagination as they had become quite unaffordable by the ordinary citizen. There are always war-profiteers who make money out of peoples’ pain and distress.


Somali displaced people sit under a tree - (AFP/Jose Cendon)
When we arrived at bush we unpacked under a tree of Qurac, a thorny tree which belongs to the acacia family. What I first noticed was peace, though the sound of the mortar was sharply piercing through the dry winds of the summer season. We were hearing them from a far but not as intensely frightening as they were when we were in our house.

The next thing I immediately became aware of is the shortage of water. There was high demand of drinking water in the area as there was only one well around which was undergoing the strain of heavy load. To fetch water for cooking or washing you have to spend the whole day around the well jostling for a space to get closer to the pipe. And when finishing you have to fight back to pull yourself through the crowd. It is like crashing a human wall, no matter how badly you get hurt.


Almost every space or under the shade of a Qurac tree has been filled by displaced families who ran away from their houses when Ethiopian backed TFG soldiers and insurgent militia clashed in the city of Mogadishu. There are no latrines, no health facilities in their vicinity and no communication such as telephones with the exception of those who carry mobile phones with them though recharging batteries is another tough challenge as electric power is not available in the bush.


No access to internet. You just keep abreast with your little transistor radio to follow what is happening in the city and the rest of the world. If your radio runs out of batteries you may easily find them in the stalls that are teeming in the area as small-scale business is flourishing in the bush much faster than anyone could anticipate.


The biggest worry descends in the night when darkness falls upon. You hear sounds of unknown creatures which sometimes seem creeping to your direction but luckily die out soon without a trace. At one time Maria asked me “ Dad who is singing around” I got frightened with the sound that grew thicker as it drew closer and couldn’t grasp an answer instantly. Then I came to know that it was the wind that just whistled as it crossed over the thorny trees.


Yesterday we packed to move for the third time within a space of three days in the bush. “Dad” Said Maria “Are we moving to another Qurac tree” ( that is what we did in our previous moves). “No” I said “dear honey”. We are going back home. There was delight in Maria's eyes showing a glint of hope in them. But she still remembered why we had left our house“. “Are they not falling anymore” Maria queried. “Falling what, honey” I answered with a question. “ The bullets” she said. Then a chill ran through my spine as I fumbled for a quick response. “No” I said,  “They are not falling”  relying on the unreliable ceasefire accord between the Ethiopians and Hawiye elders in Mogadishu  “Yesterday afternoon, we made safely to our house in the Arafat area off the industrial road along the gravel lane.. That is how I got access to internet today in the center of the Bakaraha market, though business is not as briskly operating as it used to be. Shall keep you updated in my later postings.


Thank you all, dear readers.

Abdi-Noor Mohamed
Mogadishu, Somalia
[email protected]

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