Peace memorial garden for the victims of the terror attack at the Zope street junction – Muuse Yusuf


By Muuse Yuusuf

There are occasions when words cannot express emotional feelings.  The car bomb attack at the Zope street junction in Mogadishu on 14 October 2017, which killed over 300 innocent people and wounded many hundreds is definitely one of them.

After two months, emotions are still running high inside and outside Somalia. Some people are left frightened, confused, sad and helpless; others are very upset and angry. Mogadishu residents are still asking why this happened to their city just when it has started to recover from years of warfare and destruction.

Anyone who had been following the news as the attack unfolded would have seen eyewitness description of the ugliness of the massacre. Mutilated bodies were dumped on the ground by the power of the blast, their heads, guts, legs and arms scattered all over the place. Some bodies were burned beyond recognition. Some eyewitnesses could not tell whether some bodies were male or female.  One witness described a body he had seen just like a burnt stick.

However, besides human cruelty, human bravery, compassion and empathy for the victims were abundant. Rescue workers bravely risked their lives to rescue the injured and transport them to hospitals given acute shortage of medical facilities and rescue equipment in Mogadishu. Government officials and ordinary people donated blood due to shortage of blood in hospitals. 

Government officials did what they could to coordinate the rescue efforts. A classic example was to see Thabit, the young mayor of Mogadishu, struggling to hold back his tears as he was giving a press conference. He was obviously shaken by the carnage he had seen.

I felt sorry for this young man who was brought in from North America to lead Mogadishu residents only to find himself in such terrible tragedy where hundreds of his fellow residents had been murdered or maimed by a mindless criminal.

However, it was also heart-warming to watch the bravery and defiance of the young and their spontaneous demonstrations against the terror attack. The young, wearing red bands as a sign of anger, made a protective circle around the mayor, lifted him up and made him to lead the demonstration, marching through Mogadishu streets. It was a rare moment of solidarity between the mayor and his people.

I salute the youth, the mayor, government officials and ordinary people for their bravery and kindness amidst the carnage.

Understandably, families of the victims cannot comprehend why their loved ones had to meet violent death at the hands of a murderous terrorist cell. Whole families, including children and their parents, had been wiped out in this awful massacre for no reason other than minding their business at the Zope junction. Please help them financially or otherwise.

My condolence goes out to the families of the victims, as I pray for the injured speedy recovery.

Mogadishu residents had been through many challenges before and proved to be resilient and brave. I am sure they will survive and come out of this tragedy stronger and united.

One positive outcome of the tragedy is that the terror group Al Shabaab is falling apart. Hundreds of misguided young people are leaving the group having realised that Al Shabaab is a murderous cult with distorted ideology and has no place in modern Somalia.

Indeed, among other factors, the Zope massacre will be remembered as a prelude to the inevitable collapse of the nihilist cult because its barbaric action has united the Somali people against this criminal group.

As we Somalis tend to forget national disasters easily, I add my voice to the suggestions that the government, particularly the mayor, erects a peace memorial garden at the Zope junction in memory and honour of those innocent people who lost their lives in the attack.

This is a national calamity and only collective national memorial services can honour it.

Muuse Yuusuf can be reached via: 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Ummadda Media.