Mogadishu, 22 February 2010 (Somalilandpress) – “I nearly became a pirate,” 28- year-old Dji told Xinhua correspondents Saturday at a clinic run by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), in the capital city of a country which has not seen an effective central government since 1991.
Dji is the name this young man invented for safety reasons. He came to the AMISOM’s medical services to get medicine for his family members. Being a journalist, Dji is among the very few Mogadishu residents that can speak English.
Dji told Xinhua he likes his profession. “I like this job, if the militants stop me I can tell them I am a journalist.”
However, this young guy could have become a pirate, a profession that this Horn of Africa nation is internationally famous for these days.
“I know some people who are in this trade, some are even my relatives,” Dji said. He mentioned that one of his uncles is with the pirate network and has actually offered Dji a job in the condemnable but sometimes highly lucrative business.
“Two years ago, my uncle came to Mogadishu and asked me to join them. I was totally astonished then. I had no idea what a pirate is like but by instinct I trust my uncle,” he said.
Dji also heard rumors that this uncle is very rich, with big house, servants, and even some property in neighboring Kenya. What amazed this young man the most was that Uncle Rich only have to work for once in months.
“That is attractive, and the job could be so easy for me. They need somebody to negotiate in English, I can speak English,” he said. Further more, his uncle provided for him a “trusted link”, without which it would be very hard to step into the network.
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After serious consideration, Dji gave up this offer. “I am badly in need of money, but I know money should not be earned in that way.”
He explained that the pirates initially operated under the banner of “driving off foreign fishing ships”, but gradually they did whatever they could to grab money.
“Now what they care about is money, they can even kill people for that,” he said.
Instead of falling into the ditch of notorious piracy, Dji now becomes a journalist, a job that enables him to tell the true happenings of this war-ravaged city and a country deeply submerged in crisis.
Somalia, the Horn of Africa nation, has been plagued by civil strife since the overthrow of military strongman Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Islamist rebels run much of south and center of the country while the Somali government control small parts of the restive capital Mogadishu.
Some less than 5,000 AU peacekeepers, mainly contributed by Uganda and Burundi, are being based here to help Somalia’s transitional government to control key sites as the airport and sea ports, as well as important government buildings.
The lack of a strong central government and long-lasting conflicts have provided breeding ground for pirates, who have made the Somali waters one of the world’s most dangerous sea routes for commercial ships.