An inspirational little story

I came across this story as I was sorting through some old papers today and thought it was the most uplifting things I’ve read in a while. I found it in a set of US State Department unclassified documents on the Somali civil war I ordered last year but didn’t get to read through. It was in a memo authored by an exasperated US official desperately trying to arrange a UN sponsored peace conference in May 1993, but found himself hitting a brick wall with the objections of the powerful warlord Mohamed Farah Aideed, who wanted to essentially chair the conference rather than attend as a representative of his USC faction. In the memo the US official recounts a conversation with the chairman of the SSDF (Somali Salvation Democratic Front), Abshir Musa, who was disappointed with the failure to hold the conference because of Aideed’s resistance. In a “wistful, nostalgic mood”, Musa spoke of his previous close relationships with other Somali political leaders. Leaders like Mohamed Egal, the former Prime Minister of Somalia and subsequently the President of Somaliland following its secession during the civil war. Here is the recollection of the US official of the rest of the conversation;

He spoke with emotional tones of his close personal friendship with the “Somaliland” President Ibrahim Egal, with whom he was imprisoned under the dictatorial Siad regime. “Egal once gave me the greatest present I had in my entire life” Abshir told us. When Abshir was imprisoned, he said, he and Egal were both placed in solitary confinement, but in adjacent cells. They communicated with each other by tapping on the wall between their cells in the prison alphabet. One day, Abshir recounted, the prison guards took away all of Abshir’s  books — “Even my Koran. They had to handcuff me and force me to give up my copy of the Koran.” Abshir was left without human companionship and with nothing to occupy his mind. A few weeks later, Abshir said, at the time when some prisoners, including Egal, were being returned to their cells after their daily 20 minute walk for exercise, he heard a scratching at the door of his cell. Under the door, Egal had managed to slip to Abshir a few pages torn from a notebook on which he had carefully copied out several suras (chapters) of the Koran. “I memorized those verses,” Abshir told us, “And they gave me the strength to continue.”


3 thoughts on “An inspirational little story

  1. morris says:

    Somalians Protest British Military Threat to Somalia

    Demonstration against a British organised conference threatening military intervention in Somalia.From From Feb 23rd

  2. starrynightiaa says:

    Very heartfelt story.

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