Six months ago, when I was in Somaliland, I thought I would never be able visit South Central Somalia, definitely not Mogadishu, any time soon. Particularly not outside of the confines of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
So when the country director for an NGO I was working for asked me if I was prepared to go to Mogadishu, to explore the drought-displaced there, I immediately answered “yes”. He knew the situation there better than I, and I trusted his judgement.
Several days later, I was boarding a commercial flight out of Nairobi, bound for Mogadishu. And an hour after landing, I found myself separated by only a pane of glass from the freelance militia who would kidnap “a westerner”, hoping to get a couple of million dollars in ransom, at the first opportunity.
The immigration form at Mogadishu airport asks not only your passport number, but the serial number and calibre of any weapons you are carrying.