One month in Somalia
By Feisal Omar
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
April 5 – I was in my car and was not far from the theater when I heard a big explosion. I stood up and immediately saw a local journalist covered with blood and running. I asked him about the explosion and he told me it was inside the theater. I went towards it but security was tightened after the blast as the government feared other blasts would follow. By then, government soldiers were firing on anyone rushing to the scene.
After some minutes I managed to enter the theater. I saw dead bodies including those of the two biggest sports officials. I was shocked. Rescue workers stood on scattered pieces of human flesh as they collected casualties. I had to take their photos as tears rolled down my cheeks.
I tried to take photos outside the theater but after taking several images soldiers fired on me and ordered me to leave the area. The commander of the theater guards ordered journalists and
rescuers to be fired upon. We ran away at neck breaking speed and the soldiers kept on firing until we disappeared. That was a very shocking day that I will never forget.
April 11 – Mogadishu residents feared the forewarned tsunami. Local media warned the tsunami would hit at 5:30pm.
Although I was also afraid I went to Lido beach to take photos to capture the mood. Unlike on normal days the ocean spitted residue on the beach and the waves were faster and stronger. Two government soldiers stood on the beach and watched the waves. Local fishermen took their boats out of the ocean in fear of the tsunami. Many children swam. At 5:30pm the two soldiers left the beach saying they were told a lie and that there was nothing like a tsunami.
April 13 – As I was traveling from my home to the office I heard very loud, sweet music. I turned toward the scene and met two refugees having a wedding ceremony at Rajo camp. Most of the residents in the vicinity converged there and sat to watch a man and woman dance to the rhythm of American music that howled from big loudspeakers placed beside a makeshift shelter. I squatted to take photos of the merriment.
After a while, the bride and the bride groom arrived and were welcomed with another American song. They both danced to the tune. They sat down afterwards, sweating. The groom, Omar Abdullahi, told Reuters he was very glad to wed Nurto Abdullahi. He said he was so happy with the ouster of al Shabaab from the capital. He said, unlike previous days they now had the freedom to openly dance at his wedding ceremony. “Al Shabaab banned social gatherings and whipped those who helped wedding parties. Today we are independent from the Islamists and we enjoy parties,” Omar said as smiled.
April 16 – After a long period of heat and drought in Mogadishu it rained like cats and dogs from 9:20am to 5:00pm. Due to the floods caused by the heavy rain I parked my car as minibuses ahead of me were abandoned in the middle of window screen-deep water on the ruined tarmac roads of Mogadishu. I could see local refugees gathered in an open area after the floods destroyed their makeshift homes. I went to their camps and walked in the thigh-deep water. The houses were destroyed and the plastic sheets that roofed them floated in the waters. I witnessed displaced people in the camp as they moved through the deep water to collect their children and some valuable, portable belongings like kettles.
(View a slideshow of one month’s work from Feisal here)