My second visit to Mogadishu began July 30th. This time I'm working on an anti piracy media campaign by UNSOM for which I am producing several TV programmes.Ironically, the city is much busier than last year. There were elections and constitutional conferences taking place then but the city seems much more densely populated now. People from across the country young and old have come to Mogadishu to seek better fortunes. Folks from the Diaspora are also here in abundance, establishing businesses or trying to get a foot in any government door.
The security situation has plummeted. Explosions, grenade attacks and roadside bombings are occurring far too often. Everyone is trigger happy. Yesterday a car in front of us shot bullets in the air just to get the traffic in front of him moving. Several days ago, a plane allegedly carrying weapons for the government from Ethiopia crashed into Mogadishu airport. The other allegation is that the weapons were headed for Kismayo and were meant for the militia of Ahmed Madobe.
The rampant insecurity and the reality that one truly lives on the edge in Mogadishu puts life in stark perspective. Every minute lived is a minute survived. It drills home the fragility of our lives, how not in control we are. It makes you appreciate the little things we often overlook when life's fragile nature isn't brought so near, like the morning banter with your neighbour next door, the stranger who holds the hotel gate open for you, reconnecting with your friends and family over the phone or the Internet since both take a regular sabbatical. Mogadishu makes you want to run to your loved ones, kiss them on the forehead and tell them you truly love them, unequivocally.
Anyone who has a dispute resorts to violence.A local guy who used to make money from lighting the streets using small electrical light bulbs has lost his business because of the lamp posts that the government has installed that are lit using solar energy which are built on some of the streets. Someone like him would plant bombs on those lamp posts purely out of spite. Street development puts him out of business. There is also a rapid development of private properties that people are building which would slowly put hotels out of business. The main reason people stay in hotels is because of the security they provide but the more people feel comfortable in the city, the less they'll need to stay in hotels so the hotel owners would create instability to ensure their businesses stay afloat. A similar argument can be made for NGO communities, private businesses and security companies. The street patrollers are often working without salary so when someone wants to plant a bomb, a hundred dollars and food for the night will make the guard turn a blind eye.There is so much vested interest in maintaining the status quo that it is difficult to see light at the end of the tunnel. Still, we remain hopeful...