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a frightening experience Crossing Abdullah
by Said Samatar
We used to call this place the eigth hell. In the Koran, the holy book of Islam it sais there are seven hells, so the people called this place te eighth hell because of the slaughter that took place there.

The sun had already fallen below the horizon when we arrived in the surroundings of Abudllah. The wind was coming from the east and brought us cold on our backs, adding to our fear.

We'd left Gedebleh, the village where we were refugees the first time. The war was still going on in Hargeisa (the second capital of Somalia and the capital of North Somalia) between the rebels and the soldiers of the dictator Mohamed Ziad Barreh. Now our target was Doul-Ad, the biggest camp of refugees settled in Ethiopia.

We had to cover some hundreds of kilometres. We travelled only at night when it was dark. In the days we
remained hidden under the trees, too frightened of being discovered by a bomber plane. Finally we reached Abudllah. We used to call this place the eigth hell. In the Koran, the holy book of Islam it sais there are seven hells, so the people called this place te eighth hell because of the slaughter that took place there.

Abudllah was a natural bridge, narrow, and ending on both sides in an immense ravine. A road had been made on that bridge, but there was little space left for passers by. We knew at any time we could be discovered by the headlights of a tank.

My uncle decided to take the lead because all the people were afraid, We followed him in a line, each of us trying to walk where the one who preceded him had put his feet. I was trying to keep my feet light, terrified of awakening a sleeping mine.

This picture makes me recall the most frightening day, or rather, night of my life and taught me the meaning of war, giving me a glimpse of the horror that exists beyond the accepted rules of human behaviour.

Fortunately, no-one got into trouble. And when I had finished my part of the way, I gave a last glance backwards and I contemplated a few minutes this place where thousands of people, mostly women, children and old people had been killed without reason, all innocent.

Today I still have in my memory each detail of this place, even though it was dark. This picture makes me recall the most frightening day, or rather, night of my life and taught me the meaning of war, giving me a glimpse of the horror that exists beyond the accepted rules of human behaviour.