Mogadishu is slowly transforming in to a city of development, commerce and vibrancy. With a little bit of stability, the entrepreneurial spirit of the Somali people will undeniably soar. The other side of this paradoxical city is however, equally present. The effects of poverty and lawlessness on the character of the city and its peope is evident everywhere.
Speaking to one of the women who had returned to reclaim her family's property, her story slowly put in perspective how much of the old warlords' power that still remain in tact, powers that are ironically endorsed by the central government. These warlords, who were in control of some of the city's districts with tremendous amount of blood on their hands have instead of being brought to justice, been given a government jacket, legalising their warlord behaviour and activities. This is apparently in part to encourage them to keep the peace and become part of the process to stabilise the city. The irony is that because their powers have remained in tact, they continue to operate as they did with no regard for government authority or the rule of law.
This lady had inherited her late father's property and took the relevant documents to city hall where she received written confirmation from the mayor's office that she indeed owned the claimed property and that the present occupiers ought to vacate the property. She took this letter to the commissioner of the district where her property was located. She told me once he realised the property in question, he loaded his rifle and held it against her head. He warned her that if she dared to come back to his district again claiming that property, she would not get out alive. Naturally, she was very disturbed and returned to the mayor's office. She told me the mayor refused to intervene and in fact advised her against taking any legal action and that she should come back on a day when that commissioner in question no longer controls her property's district. She later found out her property was occupied by the commissioner's cousin.
One can only imagine the grief and frustration this lady had to endure. Real reconciliation cannot take off without due justice and the addressing of grievances held. Property issues are among some of the biggest issues that are barely discussed publicly but serve as foundations for ongoing disputes. Warlordism is another issue that is often spoken of in a historical context but remains vividly active today, with some warlords being far more powerful than the government itself.