It has been fascinating to see the raw footage they collected. Before I arrived I asked them to interview peace activists, government officials, clan leaders, and of course militia leaders. The footage from Mogadishu is particularly gruesome. Abdinaser, the young man from Mogadishu had some incredible tape of house to house combat, with bullets literally flying by the camera making the unmistakable whistle of a round passing far too close for comfort. The next shot cuts to the remnants of an Al Shabab fighter who laid his last land mine. Other footage from the countryside as you would expect shows famished cattle, with even more famished children. It can be hard to watch at times, but this is their life through their lens.
As we passed the main bank I watched a man withdraw three wheelbarrows of Somali Sterling. I joked that he was a millionaire, to which Abdikadir, said "All Somalis are millionaires." As we stopped to fill one of our tires with air, a little boy came up to my window staring at me with his big brown eyes and a t-shirt that read "Look how smart I'm." I smiled and said "hello" to which he responded with "elephant." Not knowing if I was the elephant, I repeated the word. His face lit up, and a big white smile stretched across his face. He stuck his hand out, we shook, and he ran away squealing with laughter. I keep an eye out for Elephant, but haven't seen him since.
For lunch we stopped at the "Shady Place" (somebody needs to work with them on the English), but we dined on camel, including the hump, which has the consistency of gristle. Can't say Somali food is my favorite. Some highlights from the menu include: Arabian Foul, Mexican Chicken, Fried Camel, Grilled Camel, and of course Roast Camel. Knock on wood, I've managed not to get sick yet.
I'm taking lots of pictures, but the bandwidth is so slow, you'll have to wait to see them. One of the participants gave me one of those bright blue, tie-dyed, embroidered African shirts, which I promptly put on to model for the group. They loved it! I'm hoping the "Africans" back on H Street will now give me the proper respect I deserve.
That's all for now, but next time you're stuck in traffic, think of me bouncing along a dusty road in the middle of Africa. I guarantee it could be worse.