Warriors: Life and Death Among the Somalis
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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.
with an unexpected and painful memory of something tragic I had come upon here at two o’clock in the morning nearly twenty years ago. I told the taxi to stop, Ali to pay the driver, for I wanted us to walk from here. While Ali paid him I walked across the street and looked up and down it, evoking that horrible scene again which I had once come upon in the moonlight, as a duty officer. That street reminded me of old Seymour, whom I had not thought of for years and years. He must surely be dead
a more powerful few minutes of vision or realisation, but from which come no particular lessons. But those few moments on that morning, when the flinching eye stared more sharply inward, while appearing to search outward, told me that ‘adventure’, as it is called, is a luxury and should never be daily life, for you get tired of it so quickly. The bought safari must be infinitely more rewarding as ‘adventure’ than the permanent safari which is daily life as lived in Africa. That morning I wanted a
delivered the sick officer. They put him into a prisoner-of-war camp. It was a year before he saw Somalia again, and when I met him that day outside the Savoia he told me he felt bitter. I told him that he must know that all armies had this brainless, disciplined, and even vengeful machinery far back at base, and that that machine was there to arrest strangers in enemy uniform. ‘Una bibita,’ I had said to him, and we had gone into the Savoia, had a drink together, separated, and never saw each
flashing with anger. ‘A plane?’ I said, ‘A plane? Why they won’t even send a truck with the rations.’ Even Chas laughed when I told him about ‘the plane’. At about two o’clock in the morning Carlo would come in softly in his rubber shoes and stand over Chas’s bed and study him, watching how he slept. He found some old Italian army drugs and used these on Chas, and fed him goat-meat soup, and camel milk. There was nothing else anyway. Chas, tall and strong, with thick, dark, curly hair, seemed
which depended on tribe, and the sergeant was from one of the tribes of the Juba river in the far south. He was stronger, more intelligent and firmer in character than all of the askaris who so resented his command. And, worse, for they loved good looks, he was handsome. They tried everything they could think of to bring him down, until one day I told them on parade, while the sergeant was absent, that even if the vendetta went on for a hundred years they were going to lose it, and that if ever