I wonder if I had known more about the history and layout of Mogadishu where all the suicide bombings had taken place and had known circumstances in which Shabab snuffed out civilian lives whether I’d have gone.
Though Swahili, with its many Arabic words, carried me a long way here in Mog, my American travel buddy, spoke fluent Arabic, and had studied Somalia for a number of years, and I was still terrified. It didn’t help my nerves that (non-Somali) thugs in Eastleigh, a Somali suburb in Nairobi, stole my Iphone the day before. A sure sign I shouldn’t go.
The armed guard standing in between my travel buddy and me (I posted a photo of the three of us on Facebook) is Abdiradhid, a 19 year-old Somali policeman, who our fixer arranged to protect us for the duration we were out and about in Mogadishu from areas K4 (closest to AMISON/AU- protected/TFG-controlled areas) to Zero, northern area of Lido beach.
A friend scrutinized the photo and said the policeman looked stoned. Not even close — agile, always on point, he never missed a beat.
According to our fixer, Abdi had been on duty when a year ago a dozen Al Shabab stormed the Mog Int’l airport and alone shot six of them dead. I didn’t even know this before I hopped into the tiny tinny Toyota Carola (not even close to an APC that AMISOM provides) and put my life in the hands of Abdi.
(Author’s Note) The following post about my Mogadishu is a work in progress while I learn more about the place names and corresponding events.