Archived posts from category ‘Axe in Somalia’

Somalia Journal, Day Eighteen: So Long, Africa!

Everyone said I’d die if I went to Somalia. I lost my job, I maxed out a couple credit cards and I nearly started a riot at a Mogadishu movie theater. But I didn’t die. I celebrated my survival yesterday in Nairobi with a big wet kiss from this giraffe. Somalia: so what’s it all [...]


Somalia Journal, Day Seventeen: Moga ER

Nurses, including several women wearing head scarves, crowd over what appears to be a cadaver. They’re pouring a disinfectant wash on sponges and dabbing at a crude suture running from the man’s sternum to his pelvis. The stitches, according to one observer, are “worse than a veterinarian’s.” Flies probe the wound. But this is no [...]

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Somalia Journal, Day Sixteen: Back on the Air

Eight dead. Ten tortured. Scores arrested. More than 50 fled. Mogadishu’s independent media workers comprise a long list of chilling statistics. A government crackdown, launched in early November and apparently energized by Mogadishu’s firebrand mayr Mohamed Omar Habeeb, has devastated media ranks. Three independent radio stations bore the brunt of the assault. A month after [...]

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Somalia Journal, Day Fifteen: U.S. Playing Both Sides in Somalia Fight

“You Americans … ” His words were being translated by my fixer but his tone and body language needed no interpretation. Mahmoud Samo, owner of a small Mogadishu general store, was angry. Chanting a litany of woes – rising prices, runaway inflation, danger to himself, his staff and his customers – all caused by fighting [...]


Somalia Journal, Day Fourteen: Arresting All the Wrong People

“I will tell you the truth,” said Ali Mohamed Siyad. “I don’t care what they do to me.” Siyad, chairman of Mogadishu’s central Bakara Market, has seen his once-thriving businesses looted and his customers and colleagues harassed, arrested and even murdered by Ethiopian and government troops who are increasingly challenged by Islamic insurgent groups. Last [...]


Somalia Journal, Day Thirteen: Warlording 101

Ali Mohamed Siyad had a problem. As chairman of Mogadishu’s fledgling Bakara Market, he was responsible for the welfare of scores of businesses employing hundreds of people. It was the early 1990s. Somalia’s civil war was over, but its troubles were just beginning. There was the doomed U.N. and U.S. peacekeeping experiment that ended in violence following the shoot-down of [...]


Somalia Journal, Day Twelve: This Cash Is Broke

“Mister, mister! It’s broken.” The purple-shawled woman chased after me waving the perfectly good 2006 series $20 bill I had just exchanged for goods at her Mogadishu trinket shop. “What are you talking about?” I examined the bill. There it was — a tiny little tear on one corner, barely big enough to notice — certainly not [...]


Somalia Journal, Day Eleven: Games Kids Play

Ashen, gaping faces. Limbs bent at strange angles. Clothes all twisted and askew, chilling evidence of these Islamic Courts soldiers’ final desperate seconds, tearing at themselves to find the wounds that were killing them. Next, a band of Islamic Courts fighters hiding around a corner from a Transitional Federal Government patrol. The youngest fighter looks [...]


Somalia Journal, Day Ten: Bombs are Boring

This morning something exploded. In any other city, that would be the ass-kickingest lede ever, but around here it’s downright quotidian. My fixer told me someone had targeted a vehicle belonging to the Red Cross as it passed near Ugandan positions at the strategic Four Kilometer roundabout. I grabbed my camera and we hopped in [...]


Somalia Journal, Day Nine: Gunfire is Boring

Someone just unloaded what sounded like half a clip from an AK-47 right outside my hotel in Mogadishu. I was in my skivvies working on a story (it’s hot, real hot) at the time. I pulled on my pants – forgetting to zip up, of course – grabbed my camera and scampered downstairs expecting an [...]


Somalia Journal, Day Eight: Riot!

The first time we went to the tiny movie house near the Mogadishu seaport, with a mind to doing some interviews, the manager fussed at us for not making an appointment. It was tense, but not alarming. We promised to call ahead next time. And we did. Even so, when we arrived at the cinema a couple [...]


Somalia Journal, Day Seven: Wise Old Children

A platoon of Ethiopian soldiers toting machine guns, RPGs and AK-47s slogs through the mid-day Mogadishu heat, patrolling along the Afgoye road, one of the main routes for refugees fleeing the embattled city. This morning there were two more bomb blasts downtown: the first woke me up fifteen minutes before my alarm. Now the road [...]

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