Warriors: Life and Death Among the Somalis
This superb portrait of one of the world's most desolate, sun-scorched lands, inhabited by fiercely independent tribesmen, is Rageh Omer's favorite book on his native land. A grueling description of a little-known aspect of WWII, Warriors describes a group of British Army soldiers charged with preventing bloodshed between feuding tribes at a remote outstation in Somalia. Hanley turns this period of his life, a difficult time that drove seven officers to suicide, into a devastating critique of imperialism.
companion for long marches and dreary bivouacs in rocks, we had drunk water so bitter, so astringent it might have been the juice of aloes, that the mouth puckered up inside and the guts refused to work calmly for a couple of weeks after we got out of that place to another waterhole. A hot wind was blowing one evening while Jack and I had smoked under our sheltering rocks and had discussed whether we should finish the last of our one bottle of gin we had saved during the march. We had nothing to
as you slowly fray in the sun. One day, slumping down under a thorn tree, I had told the askaris to pitch camp, and then I saw one of the forgotten spirillum ticks wriggling about on the hot red sand towards my sandalled, sockless foot. I turned it over and yes, there it was, the strange white violin shape on the underbody which marked this disease laden blood-sucker. I would not have recognised it for what it was had it not been for Hankson, an officer who had stayed with me to hunt lion before
weeping, no cries of despair, no questioning. He would lie there, old and finished, and await his death, and a day or so later a couple of the young men of the kariya would come back to that place to find the corpse. There may be a sheikh with them, one who knows the law and has the right to ritual. One of the young men will open up a hole in the parched sand while the others wrap the body of the dead elder in a piece of cloth. The sura for the dead, Yassin, will be recited. A circle of stones
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shot themselves, or went mad. I know of fifteen cases of madness in that wilderness. But the first suicide I knew did not shoot himself in his outpost. He waited until he was going on leave, and then shot himself after drawing his drink ration. None of us could find out what he was thinking of that last afternoon in Mogadishu. It was a Sunday, I was told months later, that he chose for his death, a hot, silent Sunday afternoon. He drove about in his truck, looking for friends, but they were all