On a Monday afternoon in October, in a warehouse in the southern Somali port of Kismayo, I attended a meeting on the future of Somalia. On one side: 20 Somali traders sitting on grass mats and wearing sandals, sarong-like wraps, short-sleeved shirts and embroidered scarves. On the other, in plastic chairs: officers from the Kenyan and Somali armies and the allied militia Ras Kamboni Brigades, who, fighting under the banner of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), ousted the al-Qaeda-allied al-Shabab from southern Somalia’s biggest city a few weeks earlier. Continue reading Why charcoal may endanger Somalia’s best hope for peace
Men in Red Cross bibs and surgical gloves collected the bodies over the weekend, lifting them onto already blood-stained stretchers, and carrying them to hastily dug graves.
Outside the eastern Congolese town of Sake, the gravediggers removed ID cards in the hope that whatever relatives the dead men might have would eventually be told of their son’s, or their brother’s, or their father’s death.
The dead soldier lay on a dirt road cut into the steep hillside outside Sake, a bloody bullet hole in his neck. Empty ammunition crates lay abandoned nearby. In the town were other corpses, still wet with blood.
To the outsider, haggling for sheep in the livestock market here might look like an elaborate secret handshake. Two men lay a piece of cloth over their grasped hands and begin negotiating the price in silence, their eyes fixed on one another.
Sequences of squeezes, pinches and clasps of fingers, knuckles and hands — all hidden from public view under the cloth — indicate the buyer’s offer and the seller’s price. Deals worth hundreds or thousands of dollars are concluded quickly, often without exchanging cash. Payments are transferred between mobile phones.