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.