Friday, July 11, 2014

Brazil, world cup final and football matters

The 2014 world cup in Brazil, home of football, has never been short of surprises, thrills and heartbreaks alike.

Giant killers and minnows Costa Rica surprised many people by reaching the quarterfinals and thrashing Italy, Uruguay and nearly skinning England to emerge top in a group of death.

Algeria enchanted many by their belief, speed and talent while bigger teams like Holland, Germany, Uruguay without the horrible Suarez bite.

Lest we forget teams like Chile, Mexico, Colombia, Belgium who mesmerized us with their fantastic displays.

Brazilian poster boy Neymar's unfortunate injury and the suspension of their stalwart captain and dependable kingpin Silva not only ended their world cup dream but also the hope and aspirations of 200 million football mad Brazilians.

So many surprises and heartbreaks have been the hallmark of this world cup.

Defending world champions Spain were quickly bundled out and will attest to the high paced game full of energy that swept them off their tiki-taka football. England came with a huge ego too but were brought back to reality fast after finding the going tough in a group dominated by former world champions except the surprise package Costa Rica.

Then came the shocker of all which become the talk of the world, Germany thrashed Brazil 7-1 in a scintillating thriller of a semi final that is arguably the most one sided world cup semi finals ever witnessed.

To beat Brazil at home with a humiliating and yet emphatic score of 7-1 can never be an understatement at all. Germans were good and efficient in front of goal and took their chances very well.

The Germans will square off in the final of the 2014 football world cup with the unpredictable Argentines who have livewire Lionel Messi and a sea of other talents in Di Maria, Aguero, Higuain, Mascherano among others who will not only carry their country's hope but that of the whole continent of South America.

Just to give you a clue of what is at stake here, old rivalries between Argentina and Brazil have been buried as the 200 million Brazilians will for the first time support their arch rivals Argentina against the Germans purely not out of love for Argentina but in revenge for loosing 7-1 against Germany.

That is football for you, which, like politics has no permanent enemies. The universal motto, your enemies enemy is your friend, seams to be the order of the day.

The hullaballoos associated with the world football bonanza is set to also come to a close after the July 13 final meaning the samba rumble, the dance and music and everything will end.

Football is once again set to leave us with lasting memories bound to captivate us many years after the end of this world.

One advertisement that will always make me smile is the Coca Cola one, especially the part where three cooks are seen watching a football match as the cooking pot catches fire in the background . Smelling something, one of them say,

"I smell something,"

The response he gets is both ridiculous and hilarious!

"It is victory"! his friend responds as they both laugh and celebrate unaware of their fire gutted kitchen and food!

On a more serious note, with all due respect for the German team, I wish Argentina and Messi win the coveted world cup trophy and as Neymar admitted the little but decorated Argentine talisman Messi needs to win the world cup in order to join the ranks of legends like Diego Armando Maradona.

I arrest my case.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Militants attack Somalia Presidential palace in Mogadishu again

Over 10 heavily armed Al-Shabaab militants disguised as Somalia military officer driving a pickup technical drove into the Presidential palace in Mogadishu immediately after the call of the evening prayers roared across Mogadishu to symbolize the breaking of the Ramadan fast and immediately opened fire at guards who were busy eating or breaking their fast!

This is the second time this year for such a brazen attack on the highest office in Somalia after Al-Shabaab attacked the same villa Somalia Presidential palace in February.

A security source inside Villa Somalia confirmed the incident and said the attackers included militants with suicide vests wrapped around their waists who exploded themselves during the siege which lasted for almost an hour. He said at least 13 militants were killed and that the "real" Somalia military forces have managed to end the siege after bravely fighting off the attackers who hid in one of the buildings.

The latest news shocked many locals in the Horn of African country and is likely to increase suspicion among its war weary residents raising many questions at the state of security management in the volatile country struggling to shed off years of conflict.

The attack comes at a time when the capital city is experience a boom in construction and businesses as thousands of Somali returnees from the diaspora return to pick up pieces and rebuild their shuttered homes.

Despite occurrence of such attacks, Mogadishu is witnessing an unprecedented growth and development with new tarmacked roads, streetlights and exotic restaurants and coffee shops popping up all over the city that is open until late serving locals who move around at night after breaking their Ramadan fasts to enjoy the cooler night breeze in seaside Mogadishu.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Growing fears of diseases outbreak and death at submerged Kismayu IDP camp

KISMAYU, June 4 - Internally displaced persons including vulnerable children and expectant mothers living in squalid camps in Kismayu are spending sleepless nights in the cold without food and medicine after flush floods submerged their makeshift houses for the second time this week after 3 children died with fresh fears now mounting of diseases outbreak in the congested camps, victims and officials said on Thursday.

In one IDP camp known as Tawakal or to depend in English which houses 350 families majority of who are children, pregnant women and others suckling babies who are victims of a heavy down pour that pounded Kismayu on Tuesday night totally submerging their entire camp and forcing the poor people to spend outside in the cold and rain with their children without food or shelter.

The 3 children who died last week are said to have succumbed to complications after nearly drowning and gulping the contaminated water only to have been saved too late by their shell shocked parents.

Interim Juba Administration leader Ahmed Mohamed aka Ahmed Madobe visited the affected IDP camps and his administration has already identified a high ground government land with Kismayu where the IDPs will be moved.

Shankaron Sidi, a mother of 5 children said she is overwhelmed by the problems crying out that she urgently needs milk for her 2 months old baby boy as well as food and medicine for the rest of her children.

“My house has been totally submerged by water. I have not cooked anything since yesterday for my children because the food I received last week was washed away. We slept on top of those stones with my children,” Shankaron said inside her former shack that is now inhospitable with water almost reaching her knees.

She said her biggest worry now is clean drinking water, baby powder milk, food, medicine and shelter which they urgently need now before they fall sick and die.

“Please anyone who gets my message including the UN, ordinary Somalis and the international community should come to our rescue,” she pleaded almost in sobs as her youngest son cried on her back while the other four children stood in a state of bewilderment in a pool of stagnant water almost drowning them outside their makeshift house made of sticks and pieces of clothes patched together.

AMISOM sent a team to assess the situation led by sector Kismayu engineer captain Salim Mohamed from Kenya to investigate level of damage in the flooded IDP camp as well as several other roads rendered impassable by stagnant water and will work with IJA to come up with a permanent solution to tackle the perennial flooding issue.

Even though Kismayu city is relatively peaceful since IJA security forces and AMISOM re-captured the city from Al-Shabaab in September 2012, humanitarian agencies are yet to fully resume their operations rendering vulnerable groups like the IDPs situation to worsen due to lack of rapid humanitarian intervention whenever calamities like flooding hits Kismayu just like now.

“The submerged camp now has stagnant water mixed with sewage and to make matters worse within the same camp there is 3 fresh graves of the three children who died last week. If these people don’t get urgent help we are in for a humanitarian disaster in Kismayu,” Nur Omar, a senior Juba administration official said speaking after assessing the damage at the affected camp together with AMISOM peacekeepers.

Both victims and officials called for immediate help to avert an unfolding disaster likely to cause more death especially among vulnerable groups like children and women who have been forced to sleep rough on empty stomach in sodden and poor conditions.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sierra Leonean chief of defense staff visits Kismayu.

KISMAYU, Somalia June 2 - Sierra Leone’s top military chief Brigadier General Samuel Omar Williams on Monday visited Kismayu for the first time to pay a courtesy call to AMISOM peacekeepers based there including his own Sierra Leonian forces which together with Kenyan and Burundian forces make up the three contingents stationed in the strategic Somalia southern port city of Kismayu.

After meeting various continents serving in Kismayu under AMISOM, the General was hosted to a sumptuous lunch at the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) at the main airport, UNMAS brifed him on the work and support to AMISOM and later they had an opportunity to present to the General their latest Sierra Leonean trainee bomb squad unit taught how to handle and dispose off improvised explosive devices, other unexploded ordnances and as well some soldiers taught to as sniffer dog handlers.

General Williams spent the night with his Sierra Leonean soldier’s stationed at the beach front old Kismayu airport AMISOM base along the main road to Somalia’s capital city Mogadishu which they which they collocate with the Kenya Defense Forces.

Ordinary soldiers and officers from Sierra Leone had a rare opportunity to freely meet and speak to their chief after he addressed dozens of the forces at a hilltop building surrounded by green mountains with acacia trees on one side and on the other side overlooking a splendid view of the massive the Indian Ocean.

On his second day the General paid a courtesy call to the Interim Juba Administration leader Ahmed Mohamed at State House Kismayu. The interim Juba is a federal state within Somalia that brings together 3 regions names Lower Juba, Middle Juba and Gedo.

“It is my pleasure to be in Kismayu for the first time. Am grateful to the cordial welcome the people of Kismayu have accorded me and my fellow Sierra Leonean forces serving here under AMISOM. We want to tell the Somalis that it our honor to take part in this noble African mission helping Somalia find its feet,” General Williams told the Somali leader.

The two leaders held a closed door meeting and discussed bilateral issues mainly focusing on security situation in Kismayu and the entire Somalia. President Ahmed thanked Sierra Leone for their selfless contribution with the pan African Union AMISOM mission in Somalia.

“Our common enemy Al-Shabaab, which is an international terror network, has been very much weakened thanked to our own Somalia forces and AMISOM peacekeepers fighting alongside us. In Kismayu, the enemy no longer enjoys the public support because of their inhuman treatment of the people. They are like fish removed from the water. They are getting irrelevant by each passing day. We thank Sierra Leone for sacrificing their own sweat and blood for Somalia to get peace,” Mohamed said.

Before flying to Dhobley for the last leg of his three days working visit to Somalia, Brigadier General Samuel Omar Williams, the Chief Defense Staff of Sierra Leone observed that AMISOM mission is progressing well and thanked all the soldiers and personnel involved in the peacekeeping operation.
“I first congratulate AMISOM as a force and then also wish to thank my Sierra Leonean force for their contribution to AMISOM. To the people of Somalia, we wish to remind them we in Sierra Leone had our own experience of war and the solution to the end of this civil war here lies in the hand of the Somali people. They should give their support to the mission and collaborate with AMISOM and at the end of the day we will all succeed and celebrate,” the General said, before flying out of Kismayu.
Friday, May 30, 2014

Tears of joy in Kismayu as 30 hostages held by Al-Shabaab rescued.

Mumino Haji was going about her khat selling business in Bar Aleen village on Friday May 30 when in a split of a second she suddenly turned from a free person to a prisoner after Al-Shabaab terrorists disguised as Somalia forces drew their guns and abducted 30 hostages including her.

The 30 civilian hostages were later rescued in a daring operation involving around 200 Interim Juba Administration forces (IJA) aided by AMISOM Kenya Defence Forces air surveillance capability.

The first rumors after the hostages were snatched away by Al-Shabaab indicated that they were driven towards the Al-Shabaab stronghold of Jilib, but in reality many of hostages were actually taken in a string of kidnapping sprees along the way as the militants kept on filling up the two minivans they had first abducted Mumina and two other women from Bar Aleen.

By the time the kidnappers drove 20 km away from Kismayu the number of hostages had swelled to 30 and by then they were plotting how to escape from the Juba forces dragnet which was hot in the heels in pursuit of hostages.

Thanks to the aerial surveillance capability of AMISOM Kenyan Defence Forces, the kidnaper’s hideout was immediately spotted by the high flying Kenyan drone which relayed the message to the tactical information center in Kismayu which passed the message to the dozens of heavily armed Juba security forces trailing the kidnappers.
The kidnappers finally fled after the heavily armed Juba forces spotted them in the village of Jiirmalay 40 km from Kismayu leaving behind the 30 hostages who were immediately found unhurt and were secured by the advancing forces.

“We thank God and our forces for rescuing us. I had even said my last prayers knowing that it was my last day on earth. I cannot even believe am still alive because it is very rare to see a Somali captive released by Al-Shabaab as they always kill Somalis captives and release foreigners whose families are rich to pay ransom,” Mumina said as tears of joy dripped off her cheeks.

Immediately after they kidnapped the 30 hostages, they drove under duress towards the Al-Shabaab stronghold of Jilib using back routes but thanks to AMISOM KDF air surveillance detected their movement and shared the information shared with IJA forces that immediately surrounded the area forcing the terrorists to flee leaving behind the 30 civilians unhurt.

The 30 freed hostages were brought to Kismayu in a convoy of over 15 vehicles as many of their relatives and friends come out to welcome them amid ululation, jubilation and tears of joy.

The hostages, all of who were women and men khat vendors, kidnapped from various locations around Kismayu on the same day said while they were under captivity the terrorists kept threatening to slit their throat or cutting off their limbs accusing them of spying for the Somalia government and AMISOM.

“We were ambushed by Al-Shabaab militia in a place called Qandal. They were almost ten in number. They kidnaped us and confiscated our cellphones and drove us far taking us round and round all-day. We don’t know where they took us. The soldiers later rescued us,” Mohamed Ahmed, one of the hostages said.

Brigadier General Ismail Sahardid, the Chief of Staff for the Interim Juba Administration in Kismayu, which is a federal state within Somalia, thanked AMISOM and the local community for their support in tracking down the Al-Shabaab kidnappers and finally rescuing the hostages.

“Our forces were supported by AMISOM aerial surveillance. After tracking the kidnapers at long last with the help of the God we successfully rescued the civilian hostages who numbered 30. We burnt one vehicle of the Al-Shabaab kidnapers,” the Brigadier General said, speaking in Kismayu after the forces safely rescued the hostages.

Al-Shabaab terrorist have resorted to such cowardly acts of kidnappings and extortion rackets in order to make quick dirty money to fund their callous activities since losing out most of their major economic hubs like Kismayu, Marka and other cities in Somalia that have since been liberated by joint AMISOM and Somalia forces.

Back in Kismayu, as the hostages finally reunited with their loved ones, women cuddled and shared tears of joy together while the men raised their clinched fists as a sign of victory for the rare rescue operation not so common in Somalia.
Thursday, May 29, 2014

Canadian family donates kit to an airport marshaller in Somalia

In a rare gesture of kindness, a Canadian family donated airport gear to a Kismayu airport marshaller after they were moved by his story of working without proper gear which was published in the African Union Peacekeepers in Somalia, AMISOM twitter page in January.

Canadian economist, Sean Paterson from Salmon in British Colombia who is a chief technical advisor working for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO,) says after reading the story of 63 year old Adan Mohamed his 14 year old son Noah Jordan asked him what they could do for the poor old Somalia airport marshaller.

The story moved Sean and his son Noah so much that they decided to buy the kits themselves.

They spent $ 35 Canadian dollars to buy a reflector jacket, a pair of reflector gloves and paint and used some of their free time to make two luminous red reflector sticks using wood for Mohamed Adan, the marshaller to use for directing planes during taxing and take off at the Kismayu international airport in southern Somalia.

“I told my son Noah we could buy Adan Mohamed the kit and so we went to a local supermarket and grabbed him a reflector jacket, a pair of gloves. Since he works during the day we thought he would not need a light reflector and so we made him two sticks using wood and painted it luminous red for him to use to direct plane instead of using his bare hands,” Sean said, moments after handing over the kit to Adan in Kismayu, a southern port city located along the Indian Ocean.

Before he received the gifts, Adan used his bare hands to direct planes and had no gloves or even a reflector jacket endangering his own life especially during foggy weather during the rainy season when visibility is so low forcing him to be careful not to be hit by the planes he is directing.

Adan was elated with the presents and gesture.

“I cannot explain how I feel because I have never received a present in my life. It is so kind of them to remember me thousands of miles away and bring me these gifts. I have worked at this airport for the last 23 years under very hard and tough moments under 17 different administrations. The only thing that makes me happy is that this administration in control now wants to bring change and development and that is what keeps me going,” the 43 year old slim Adan said, barely speaking out of excitement.

Since then, pilots flying into Kismayu international airport have already noticed the difference after Adan started using the kit he was given by Sean.

“I noticed a difference with Adan today. I clearly saw the reflector sticks and his jacket and I was actually wondering whether it was him,” One pilot who did not give his name said.

Sean, who is an economist by profession, says his family is happy to help in whatever little way they can.

“The 35 Canadian dollars and the time we spent in making him the reflector sticks is really nothing compared to the feeling of doing something good or helping improve someone’s life or work. We are really glad we made a difference in Adan’s life and you never know maybe someone working in a real airport might read this story and decide to help Adan or any of the airport staff in Kismayu or Somalia because information is power and reaches far and wide, just like it reached me in Canada,” Sean added.

Kismayu is a southern port city in Somalia that is known for its farmlands and white pristine beaches. Just like the rest of chaotic Somalia, in the last few years the city witnessed brutal war as different warlords and militia groups fought over the control of the city’s international airport and seaport.

The last group to be wrestled out of the seaside city is the Somalia militant group Al-Shabaab linked to Al-Qaeda. In September 29 2012, a combined force of Somalia forces and Kenyan military recaptured Kismayu from Al-Shabaab after months of fighting.
Since then, Somalia forces and AMISOM peacekeepers from Kenya, Sierra Leon and Burundi continue to maintain peace in the city opening it up to international and local investment as natives return to invest back home.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Football matters - UCL semi finals 2014 and a possible Madrid derby in the finals

Football is a live again tonight with the second night of UEFA Champions League 2nd semi final match between European giants Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Last night saw a boring game from the overcautious talkative Portuguese master of mind games Jose, the Special One, Maurinho of Chelsea against the lively live-wire Argentine tactician Diego Simione of Atletico Madrid.

Both UEFA semi final first game ties were hosted and played in the Spanish capital Madrid.

With Barcelona out of the competition having been dumped by fellow Spanish outfit Atletico, tonight's match pitting two of the Ballon dior finalist, CR7 or Cristiano Ronaldo and Franck Ribery, is much more livelier than last night dull encounter between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid which ended in a stalemate of no goals.

At half time in Madrid tonight, Bayern had a staggering 73 percent ball possession against 27 percent for the home team Real Madrid who won with a solitary goal scored in the first half through a superb counter attack with a tap in by French sensational striker Karim Benzema.

It is sad how cruel football is at times
. Bayern outclassed Real Madrid and were yet a goal down at first half and ended up loosing one nil.

Bayern is coached by former Barcelona player and coach Pep Gurdiola, who won the EUFA CL with Barcelona and Real is led by Italian master-tactician Carlo Ancheloti, the only man who has won the coveted European cup twice as a player and two times as coach of the Italian giants AC Milan.

In both halves, Real missed a host of chances with the culprits being CR7 and Argentine winger Angel Di Maria. Despite their huge ball possession, Bayern never threatened Spanish keeper Iker Cassias in goal for the Spanish giants, with his real save coming late in the 82 minute when he blocked a goal bound Mario Gotze point blank shot.

World's most expensive footballer Gareth Bale of Wales, who came in the second half to replace CR7, had several half chances with his closest raffling the side net after dashing clear from one of the many counter attack chances that came in Real's way.

After watching both ties, with all due respect to Chelsea and Atletico, there is no question the Bayern vs Real game fitted to have been the final match, which this year will be held in Lisbon, Portugal.

With a one goal advantage, Real has a good chance of going through should they hit a goal in Munich in the second match next week making it more interesting to watch the second leg.

In London, Chelsea will have to attack, and that is when Atletico Madrid might also have an opportunity and opening they seldon got at home on Tuesday, to get an away goal that will take them through.

I foresee a Madrid derby in the final in Lisbon, between Real and Atletico, which will add another rivalry to the tie as both Spanish teams would hate to loose to their local backyard noisy neighbours!

In England and the EPL, the chosen one in Manchester United become the chased one...Blame me for your woos...Haters
Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Somalis equally curse and celebrate late Russian AK 47 designer

BAIDOA, Somalia, Jan 14 - Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Russian man who designed the AK 47 assault rifle might have wrote a letter from his death bed in December saying he “feared he was to blame” for the untold millions the world-famous AK 47 had been used against, but in Somalia where his semi-automatic rifle is the favorite among soldiers, rebels and even militants, news of his death received mixed reactions of praise and blame.
Kalashnikov, the inventor might have died, but his Kalashnikov gun commonly referred as the AK 47 is still rumbling and is the single biggest killer in Somalia with its ear-piercing sound a constant feature across almost the entire chaotic southern Somalia where night and day street and jungle battles involving the AK 47 is a constant menace.
Somalia, a country in the Horn of Africa that is still struggling to find lasting peace following 23 years of deadly clan, warlord and now religious fighting that has caused so much anguish and death with the AK 47 still in the middle of that an unceasing battle over the control of the strategic country.
Mohamed Ali says he will never forgive or forget the AK 47 designer simply because he has left him with a bad taste in life since he has to live with a bullet for the rest of his life.
Sometimes in mid-March 2012, Dahir was heading home when he was suddenly hit by strays bullet on his neck but then after he was rushed to hospital doctors removed one bullet and told him he will have to live with the bullet for the rest of his life simply because it was lodged near his backbone and that if it was to best removed he might die or be paralyzed for the rest of his life.
“Every morning and evening, I curse the person who fired the bullet, the person who bought that bullet, the manufacturer and worse off the man who invented it and the AK 47 gun. I have to live with that bullet for the rest of my life. My message to Mr. Mikhail and the man who shot me is very simple,I hold them personally responsible for my injuries and my lifetime anguish and experience,” XX said without even flinching.
Abdullahi Abdi, a former Mogadishu clan militiaman had all but praise for the Russian assault rifle designer saying that the AK 47 was simply the perfect weapon he preferred amongst the many guns readily available in Somalia because of its simplicity, target even under duress and rough conditions and more importantly because of its weight. He said the AK 47 was designed for all weather conditions and rarely disappoints you.
“If I had one wish, I would wish to meet this great man called Mikhail Kalashnikov. His gun the AK 47 is my favorite and I love fighting with it because it would never disappoint you and it would always finish the job off come rain, sunshine or even dust. I just want to thank him for such a superb discovery, he made my life in the frontline easier with his genius discovery of the AK 47,” Abdullahi proclaimed.
Love it or hate it, the AK 47 affection seems to be across the board as foreigners in Somalia were sucked into the assault rifle debate many accepting the inevitable, that the gun is arguably the world’s best killing machine no wonder it is a favorite weapon for governments, rebels, terrorists and gangs from Afghanistan to Somalia and Sierra Leone to Libya.
Even my home country Kenya is also not to be left out as gangs are known to terrorize their victims with Kalashnikov’s including the chilling terror attack at Nairobi’s upmarket West Gate Mall that sent shock waves across the world.
I have also noticed that our own soldiers in Kenya these days prefer AK 47 to the big and cumbersome G3’s that was so common before. It seems therefore that whether we like it or not, the Kalashnikov, the gun, is there to remain with us long after even Mr. Kalashnikov, the man is long gone.
A former Burundian rebel commander now turned peacekeeper serving under the African Union Mission in Somalia, AMISOM, had mixed reactions arguing that everything in this world has positive and negative side effects. He thanks the AK 47 for bringing peace in his country as his National Council for the Defense of Democracy- Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), a rebel group in Burundi that is now the ruling party fought its way into power using the Kalashnikov.
“Every invention in the world has its bad and good sides. A vehicle is good and comfortable when you are driving but then it could also kill you, the same with electricity. As a weapon the AK 47 is a very good gun which rarely disappoints you. We fought using the AK 47 during our war in Burundi and now we use it now in Somalia where we are serving as peacekeepers. I have lost so many soldiers who were shot with it and we must have also killed others with our shots too. All I can say is Mr. Kalashnikov made history by designing the AK 47 and he will certainly be remembered for good or bad reason for so many years to come,” the Burundian officer said declining to give his name.
Abdi Jama, a Somali man working at the main airport in Mogadishu did not hide his dislike for Kalashnikov, the man and the gun. He blames it for the insecurity in Somalia saying that it is easily the weapon of choice for every other gunman in the country with the demand pushing up the AK 47 prices to over $1,200.
“AK 47 has made my life miserable, it is still causing insecurity in my country because it is the weapon of choice for every gunman thug, terrorists of even government soldiers and has brought a lot of misery to our lives in Somalia. There is no single Somali family that has not directly or indirectly been affected by the AK 47 because if some of us escaped its bullets we have lame families, others who have missing limbs, eyes and other parts of the body not to mention those who still carry a bullet lodged in their bodies. It has done us more bad than good and so there is no way we can praise Mikhail Kalashnikov,” Jama quipped.