|22 April 93
"I knew like mad that
everything I had ever known and would ever know was one."
- Pg 147, On The Road, Jack Kerouac
"...colleges being nothing but grooming schools for the
middle-class non-identity which usually finds its perfect expression on
the outskirts of the campus inrows of well-to-do houses with lawns and
television sets in each living room with everybody looking at the same
thing at the same time while the Japhies of this world go prowling in the
wilderness to hear the voice crying in the wilderness, to find ecstasy of
the stars, to find the dark mysterious secret of the origin of faceless
wonderless crapulous civilization."
- Pg 39, The Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac
We went helicopter rapelling yesterday. It was nothing
terribly new or exciting, but it was infinately better than sitting here
in camp. We are going on leave to Mombasa tomorrow, that should at
least be good.
22 April 93
They have reopened the investigation into the
recce shooting and an NDP MP has a letter in which someone in 2 Commando
claims that he witnessed the beating and was stonewalled when he tried to
open an investigation. He had sent the letter to his wife and she
released it to the MP. It sounds to me
like he is trying to cover his own ass.We left camp at 8:30 this morning
and are slowly making our way to Mombasa. The trip to the airport,
the wait for the plane, the stop-over in Mogadishu, the flying, all take
their toll on the day. It is already past two and we still have another hour flight left.
There were reporters at the Beled Weyne airstrip
trying to question us as we waited. All they wanted to talk about
was the investigation, nothing else. They are like the vultures
searching for corpses. It is strange, we are so isolated by the two week lag
in News, so we didn't know how bad it was getting. When
we drove through Beled Weyne today I was happy and
proud. Everyone smiled and waved as we passed. The market was lively, offering just
about everything for sale. The new school we built was open and new
buildings were being built everywhere.It is such a change
from when we first arrived, nearly a different city, but when we
got to the airstrip the reporters didn't want to talk about any of
that, they wanted the shit.
Everytime I've ever dealt with the press I've become disillusioned by
the experience. First the innaccuracies of Goosebay where a
demonstration by ten Innu against the airbase would make national news,
but demonstrations by hundreds of people in nearby towns who wanted the
base to remain open were ignored. How can the public make informed
judgements on things when they are only told selective parts of a
The media hype about us has been depressing. It is so easy for
them to make generalizations and accusations about us when they know
absolutely nothing about what is going on over here. One of the
headlines read "Canadian troops killing the people they have been sent to
save!" We have been called murderers. They do not give the
full story, that for weeks the Somalis had been breaking into our
compounds stealing everything from diesel cans to hand grenades.
Dozens of Somalis were captured, turned over to the local police then
released because there are no jails. Everything is being blown way
out of proportion and sensationalized. I just wish I knew more of
what was going on.
In the following days our grenades were thrown back at us and the aid
workers. It is in this environment of fear and frustration that the
beating happened. The act cannot be condoned, but it must be taken
in context of the situation and it must be realized that this was an
isolated incident. It is not to be though. With the upcoming
Conservative leadership race, the opposition parties and the media seized
on this as the scandle they needed. They saw military coverups where
there were none (at least by us) and began questioning everything we have
done. It is insulting to be called a murderer by some reporter in
Toronto by some reporter who has never been here, especially after all I
have done and sacrificed for the Somalis and my country.
For months they ignored what we have been doing
here. It is only when something bad happens does it become
newsworthy. It makes me question wanting to become a journalist. Then I
rethink it and want to even more. I want to bring a new point of
view, both young and full of ideals, but can that ever last?
There have been several demonstrations in town because the Somalis
don't want us to leave and be replaced b another country's forces.
We must be doing something right.