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April 9, 1978, a date to remember

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Into the eighth year of Siad Barre’s rule, this date was the first one that an open fire shooting shook the space around Mogadishu in the wee hours of the morning. Radio Mogadishu played marshal music, exactly as it played similar music in the morning of the October 21st, 1969, when Siad Barre came to grab power in the city. Marshal music and open fire shootings were heard, but the overwhelming uncertainty was: Who was against whom? Radio Mogadishu, which was always a target for all assailants failed to offer the reality of the situation. But within the sunrise, rumors were rife that there was coup attempt, but it failed. But who was against whom was still nagging in the ears of the citizens who were bewildered. It had been said that the Sudanese news agency was the first to report the conflict, confirming the fact that the Sudanese embassy in Mogadishu succeeded to be the first to leak and break the news. Gradually, the reality came to the ground and the coup attempt had been foiled. It was also said that the shock was so strong that it took long time for Siad Barre and Mohamed Ali Samatar to recover soon as both of them went into hiding places.

The reality was that law and order remained in a precarious level, even though there was no open support for the coup makers, unlike that of the October 21st, 1969. Mohamed Said Morgan, said to have known something about the attempt, and Abdurahman Abdi Hussein, both of them sons-in-law to Siad Barre, were very active as those who foiled the coup, because they were the visible leaders of the forces which stood up to quell resistance and restore law and order after the aggressors proved unsuccessfully disintegrated. Obviously, the country headed into new trouble infested direction and new station of hostility started to loom in the horizon. As for Siad Barre, this was nothing, but one of the days of a real survivor

Radio Mogadishu, the mouthpiece of Siad Barre started operating after a while and relaying news of the shocking confrontation. The ringleader of the putsch was identified as someone called colonel Cirro. After the situation returned to normalcy, the media reported that the majority of the troublemakers were of Majerteen clan. A campaign of mass arrest was launched and hundreds of soldiers, commissioners and officers were jailed in Halane Camp and in other places. Col. Abdullahi Yusuf still returning from the frontline defected after word reached him that the mission had had fallen short of its target. His immediate flight gave the interpretation that he was one of the leaders of the attempted coup.

In just few days, Siad Barre, picked up the list of the most serious 20 officers supposed to have led the attempt. A make belief marshal court was orchestrated hurriedly and execution of the officers was carried out at Scuola Polizia in a broad day light as public display, and of course a caveat for future trouble makers.

With the painful defeat of the 1977-78 war with Ethiopia which Siad Barre as a person announced at cons stadium sports facility on March 7, the situation remained quite uncertain. The revolution of Siad Barre had already had enough blood in its hands. To start with, members of the coup makers of Siad Barre were expelled while others were taken to the gallows. Ahmed Mohamed Adde, mayor of Mogadishu, Jama Ali Qorshel and Bashir Elmi were fired. And in July 1972, Salad Gabayre and Mohamed Ainanshe were executed on the pretext of attempting a counter coup. Regardless the naked and well spread incriminations, Siad Barre failed to consider the senior rank and age of the two career officers. Bagayre , a war hero won a war medal in the 1964 border clashes with Ethiopia. He failed to be considerate as Hauare Boumdiene of Algeria who avoided to take Ahmed Ben Bella to the scaffolds. As horribly brutal events were happening after each other, 10 Islamic scholars were murdered in January 1975 on the ground that they challenged the boss, but the reality was that they made attempts to correct the sacrilegious statement by the General after he directly criticized the Qur’aan.

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About the author


Ahmed nur Sheikh Ali, Writer, Poet, academic with long years of teaching experience; Holds M.A. in English and is PhD candidate at Aligarh Muslim University, India. Presently he teaches English at the National University of Somalia. He also taught Somali language at Dictyon language School, Virginia, USA. Laasoole30@gmail.com

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