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THE SOCIAL CONDITION OF SOMALIA IN1990S AS REFELECTED IN

MARK BOWDEN’S BLACK HAWK DOWN: A STORY OF MODERN WAR
Fanni Mukhtaruddin
Language Training Center of Muhammadiyah University of Yogyakarta
fannmukhtaruddin@gmail.com

ABSTRACT: Somalia was a state of anarchy and mayhem when the civil war
broke out in 1991. The government fell apart, and the human tragedy of
unprecedented scale folded. The impact of ‘state collapse’ in Somalia was
immense and profound, involving huge loss of life, massive internal displacement,
migration and overseas flight, the down of the political institutions, the
devastation of social and economic infrastructure and environmental damage.
Some of the real condition in Somalia is depicted in an Academy award-winning
movie produced by Ridley Scott, Black Hawk Down. The portrayal of the real
condition in even a larger scope and more detailed one is reflected in Mark
Bowden’s Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern war, which the Ridley Scott’s
movie is based on. Regarding that rationale, the study aims at describing the
social condition of Somalia in 1990s focusing on three aspects as reflected in
Mark Bowden’s book. The aspects are social problems, religion, and culture. The
qualitative method utilizing mark bowden’s book as main data, and sociology of
literature books and journals as secondary data is employed. The result of the
study is that the book reflects the three aspects of the social condition of Somalia
in 1990s. The three aspects are social problems, religion, and culture. The social
problems section includes the famine, weapons possession, and khat
(psychotropic plant) abuse. The religion aspect covers Islam as the most sacred
thing in Somalia. The culture part includes the clan, Somali language and
ma’awis.

Keyword: black hawk down, social condition of Somalia, sociology of literature

BACKGROUND

In September 1991, severe fighting broke out in Mogadishu, which

continued in the following months and spread throughout the country, with over

20,000 people killed or injured by the end of the year. These wars led to the

destruction of the agriculture of Somalia, which in turn led to starvation in large

parts of Somalia. The international community began to send food supplies to halt

the starvation, but vast amounts of food were hijacked and brought to local clan

leaders, who routinely exchanged it with other countries for weapons. An

estimated 80 percent of the food was stolen. These factors led to even more

starvation, from which an estimated 300,000 people died, and another 1.5 million

people suffered, between 1991 and 1992 (Battle of Mogadishu, 2007, Par 5).

Several depictions of the actual condition in Somalia during the war was

shown in black Hawk Down, an academy awarded movie directed by Ridley

Scott. However, the larger scope and the more detailed one of the portrayal of the

country’s condition were captured in Mark Bowden’s Black hawk Down: a Story

of Modern War. The book tells in a detail way about the real condition in Somalia

and several facts and characters that were not all shown in the movie. It tells about

the lives of US soldiers and Somali people, social condition, the hostility among

the Somali people, and some depictions of culture in the country. Since the scope

of the depiction is really wide, the study will only focus on social condition in

Somalia, which became an international major issue in the past and also forced the

UN to overcome the crisis.

journals and articles from the internet. The reason why the study was conducted was the empathy of the chaotic and devastated situation in Somalia and the need to share the information about it so that the readers would understand the social condition and take the lesson from it. The primary data are taken from the words. religion. the objective of the study is to describe the social condition of Somalia in 1990s focusing on three aspects as reflected in Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down: A story of modern war. the study focuses only on three aspects. The writer also . The secondary data are taken from the books. The study employs library research as the data collecting technique. RESEARCH METHOD There are two kinds of data which are used in this study. dialogues. The aspects are social problems. The data are primary data and secondary data. such as Africa history books and graduating papers. undergraduate theses. sentences and the phrases in Mark Bowden’s Black hawk Down: A story of Modern war. There are several problems that can be identified regarding the social condition of Somalia in 1990s as reflected in the novel and to avoid the distracted discussion. and culture in Somalia in 1990s as reflected in Mark Bowden’s book. In collecting the data the writer tried to find any kind of dependable sources. and wrote all the expert theories and historical facts related to social condition in Somali in 1990s. In accordance with the research background. The writer went to library to find books which related to the research.

Qualitative analysis is chosen to be the data analyzing method. This approach has point of view that literature becomes a social institution which is made or created by an author who is the member of the society. how it behaves and how the society survives (Swingewood in Faruk. Sociology of literature is kind of approach which considers the social aspects in literary work (Damono.visited the internet cafe to find a lot of valid data by downloading all related materials which were needed to complete the research. SOCIOLOGY OF LITERATURE Sociology of literature is an approach to study literary works in relation with the society. Furthermore Alan Swingewood(1972: 12). and then describe the applications of the expert theory in the novel as the result of the analysis. a literary work is reflection of real life which encompasses the relation between the events that happen in a certain period of time. 1979: 4). In the Sociology of literature point of view. states that like sociology. Several social condition of Somalia in 1990s implied in the book and related sources in a form of words and sentences are qualitative data. Since the study does not apply any statistic form. his adaptation to . Literature is also pre-eminently concern with man’s social world. 1994: 1). the researcher will chose the expert theory used in the analysis chapter or other chapters requiring the expert theory. institution and social function tries to answer how society is enabled. After the entire sources are collected. Sociology as a scientific study about man in the society.

seaports and neighborhoods. the conflicts and the tension between groups and classes. and his desire to change it. culture and also give criticism on society culture. this approach also related with the definition of Sociology as the study of social orders. there will be only several depictions presented in this section. The aspects are social problems. and khat abuse.it. literary work cannot be separated with many values condition of society. 2007. par 21). DISCUSSION There are three aspects regarding the depictions of social condition of Somalia in the book. religion and culture. Moreover. The conflict pitted clan-based militias against one another for central of valuable towns. The principal victims of this violence were weak agriculture communities and coastal minority group caught in . The social problems section will covers the famine. the weapons possession. In brief. Famine Armed conflict was raged across southern Somalia through 1991 and 1992. it is one of ways for man to amusing and learning life (Sociological Approach. Thus the novel as the major literary genre of industrial society can be seen as a faithful attempt to recreate the social world of man’s relation in his family and other institution. Due to word limitation. Sociological approach is based on assumption that literature is reflection of social life.

5) While protecting the food distribution. 7) The warlords or clan leaders who hijacks the food are shooting the people who try to take the food back (Page 11). The depictions are: 1) Even though the battles among the warlords or clan leaders had already made the people suffered with the starvation as the result of the battle. Looted of all belongings they faced a massive famine in late 1991 and 1992. There are several depictions related to famine or starvation in Somalia discussed by the author in the story.S and U. even though the battles between warlords or the caln-based militias leaders had already made the people suffered with the starvation as the result of the battles. U.S soldiers distribute the food supplies directly to Somali people (Page 59). forces.the middle of the fighting. The battles among them still continue. . Warlords had so ravaged the nation batling among themselves that their people were starving to death (page 11). The battles among them still continue (Page 11). 4) The purpose of the U.N.N mission in Somalia is to end starving and bloodshed in the country (Page 87). 6) Even though the food distribution is protected by U. 2) The international communities try to help the Somali people by sending food supplies to halt the starvation (Page 87). some of the food is able to be hijacked (page 59). 3) The food supplies are distributed through the feeding stations (Page 59). In the Story.

Struecker had come close enough to see why. the international communities try to help the Somali people by sending food supplies to halt the starvation in the country under the United Nation protection and authority. From the feeding stations the food are handed daily to the Somali people. On page 87. The food supplies from the international organizations or communities are distributed in a feeding station in the cities.N mission in Somalia is to end starving and bloodshed in the country.. There were places in the city where charitable organization handed food daily. The description is on page 87. It has . saw this mission in Somalia as an effort to end starving and bloodshed (page 87). There were not just thousands but tens of thousands of people.] (page 87). where he had attended the university. He knew his friends back in South Carolina. Weapon possession The Republic of Somalia which gained its independence in 1960 has been subject to intense armed violence for most of its existence (and before). It was one thing for the world to intervene to feed the starving and even the UN to help Somalia form a peaceful government but [. The purpose of the U. and the rangers warned to to drive near those places during business hours. throngs who would mob those feeding station. waiting for hand out (page 59).

2) The weapons are hold mainly by the armed groups in Somalia such as factional militia.experienced military coup. weapons have been widely spread since colonial times and through these stages of violent conflict. supplied by cold war powers. They lived by the gun. 2005. mostly M-16s and the Russian AK-47s that could be bought at the market for a million shillings. civil war and ‘institutionalized disorder’ and insecurity. They also carried anti-tank weapons. . The descriptions are: 1) Some weapons which spread in Somalia are small arms such as AK-47 or M- 16 rifles and heavy weapons such as bazooka or RPG. the common Somali people also have guns In the story. Likewise. neighboring governments and an active illegal market (Lionel Cliffe. page 2). some of the weapons which spread in the society are shaped in small arm such as American made M16 and Russian made AK-47 rifle which they can buy in the illegal market for one million shilings or two hundred dollars. insurgencies. and private security guard 3) Beside the armed groups. inter-state war. And the others are in form of heavy weapon such as anti-tank bazooka and rocket propelled grenade (RPG). Armed Violence and Poverty in Somalia. There are several depictions related to the spread of weapons in Somalia described by the author in the book. or about two hundred dollars. everything from world war II-era bazookas to the more reliable and accurate Russian made RPGs (Page 132). mooryan.

” vehicles with . which has been described as similar to the effect of caffeine or mild amphetamine (psychotropic plant) (Shilpa L. 2006. a generation of young Somalis uses Khat as a drug to ease the pain (Emily wax. In the story. Patel. Khat Use among Somalis in Four English Cities. Most started chewing at about noon. Midafternoon was the height of the daily cycle. the Somali combatants and non-combatant are both chewing khat and some of the people who chew it are die young. on page 23.50-caliber machine gun bolted in back. . ‘jaad’. were addicted to khat. Khat trades rules in Somalia. Many of them bring the khat while the carry a big gun. 2005.Khat abuse Khat (also spelt ‘qat’. and raring to go (Page 23). There are several descriptions of khat consumption in the story. ‘chat’ or ‘qaat’) is a plant which it leaves and stems are chewed for their stimulant effect. particularly the young men who cruised around Mog on “technicals. page 1). and by late afternoon were wired. Many Somali men. par 4). Somalia has the highest percentage of khat users in the world. researchers say. jumpy. Scarred by violence and raised in anarchy. there are some young Somalis that addict to khat. a mild amphetamine that looks like watercress. They chew it in noon before they are doing their activities.

and violence that followed the collapse of the state in 1991 were viewed by most Somalis to counter traditional Islamic values. Today they had been talking about the situation. he chews it while chatting with his friend. Islam is a belief System. which is about all they ever discussed anymore (Page 67) Religion The religion part will discuss the meaning of Islam for Somali people. Most of Somalis are entirely Moslems. religion has a much more comprehensive role in life than is typical in Americas or Europe. Many worry that those values have eroded. chewing khat and embroiled in fadikudirir.( Somali Cultural Profile. In the story. The people who chew khat is not only the combatants but also non- combatant. and a way of life. Bashir Haji yousuf heard the helicopters as he relaxed with friends at his house. plunder. a culture. and the anarchy. The non-combatants who chews khat in the story is a lawyer named Bashir Haji Yousuf. Thus in Somalia. The population is almost entirely Muslim. and see revival of the traditional ethical and value system embedded in Islam as essential . the traditional Somali afternoon hours of male discussion and argument and laughter. For Somali Moslems. par 28) Islam unites the Somali population across clan and other fault lines. attitudes. a structure for government. social customs and gender roles are primarily based on Islamic tradition. Bashir is a lawyer who had been studied in a university in South Carolina USA.

on page 7. U. when U. rangers who are in a mission. This thing proves that Somalia people are very honor Islam and consider Islam as the most sacred thing in their life. The only tall structures still standing after years of civil war were the ornate white towers of mosques-Islam being the only thing all Somalia held sacred (Page 7).S. soldiers start to implement an operation in the capital city of Somalia. . 2007. page 42). Among the destructed buildings. …. This thing is also proves that Islam is the most sacred thing in their life. mosques are the only tall structure that still stand and untouchable in that capital city.for the peace process (Site Resources World Bank. Conflict in Somalia: driver and dynamic. the Somali people feel that America tries to change their ideology and their social system which based on Islamic rules. The Somalis absolutely oppose these efforts.or did American expect Somalia to suddenly sprout full-fledged Jeffersonian democracy? (Page 88). From above they see almost all the buildings in that seaport city are destroyed by some warfare during the civil war in the country except one tall structure. see an extraordinary view of Mogadishu from the helicopter. On page 88.N and the Americans had come to colonize Somalia and wanted to burn the Koran (Page 88). The U.S.

It is an important social unit and clan membership continues to play an important part in Somali culture and politics. They wanted to turn Somalis into slaves (Page 216). 2001. the author is also described the clans in Somalia. Digil and Rahanweyn (U. sometimes with many sub-divisions (wikipedia. 2008. Hawiye. with many subsidiary clans and sub-clans. The Descriptions are: . Somali language. and ma’awis. Somalia Assessment. to give up Islam. based on descent from common ancestors. With the exception of small minority communities. Beside social problems and religion. Clans are patrilineal and are often divided into sub-clans. will explain about clan. page 2). Somali Clan. Somalis form a single ethnic unit but are divided genealogically into six main clan-family lineage groups. The six clans are Darod. Sheik Ali believed the radio broadcasts and flyers printed up by the Aidid’s SNA. There are six descriptions related to Somali clan which described by the author in the story. Isaq. par 1). Clan Somali clan refers to the clan grouping of the Somali people (smaller part of tribe). Dir. Culture The last discussion. the culture.K. which are to some extent geographically distinct. Country Information and Policy Unit. The American wanted.

Page 132 describes the Somalis as the members of clan. 22. For the clan they are willing to die in warfare . 5) Habr Gidr clan (Page 6. He disagree with the involvement of American forces that try to take down a clan which considered as the most ancient and efficient social organization for Somalis. 3) The inequality position of Somali clans in society (page 132). 4) Many of the best-educated member of the clans are just have s little work since the outbreak of the civil war (Page 85). And yet these American. On page 88. As the members of clan they are named for their father and grandfather. Often Yusuf himself didn’t understand what was going on. The Somalis are very brave in a battle. with their helicopters and laser-guided weapons and shock-troop rangers were going to somehow sort it out in a few weeks? Arrest Aidid and make it all better? They were trying to take down a clan. the most ancient and efficient social organization known to man (Page 88). there is a Somali lawyer namely Bashir Haji Yusuf who is talking about the situation in Somalia. and 31). 110.1) Clan is considered by Somali people as the most ancient and efficient social organization (Page 88). 6) Darod clan (Page 84). 84. 2) The members of the clan are very brave and willing to die for the clan (Page 132).

Retreat. The noble clans in Somalia are Darod. . In the story United Nation try to threat and consider the clans are all equal. even before over- whelming enemy fire. They were brought up in clans and named for their fathers and grandfathers.N. frontal assaults. 2008. wanted to treat all the warlords and clans as equals when they were not equal (Page 85). Among the six main clans in Somalia. par 3). 2008. The U. par 1-3). Somalis are famous for braving enemy fire. was considered unmanly. there are four clans that traditionally classed as “noble clans”. Dir. hawiye. they were always ready to die (Page 132). The standard language. Culture of Somalia. the clans are not equal. also called Common Somali. Somali Clan. Noble clans are referring to the belief that they share a common Somali ancestry whereas the minority clans are believed to have mixed parentage. For the clan. (wikipedia. and Isaaq. In fact. Somali language Somali is the official language of Somalia. is thought to be based on a variation spoken in the central region of the country (wikipedia. for almost suicidal. They entered a fight with cunning and courage and gave themselves over to the savage emotion of it.

On page 34. soldiers (Page 34). Some women and children are dead in the gunfight. soldiers are dropped from their helicopters and start to chase Aidid militiamen and other armed group. They think U.S.In the book there are two depictions of Somali language one is about a provocation to Somali people to fight U. The militiaa who have the thought try to get help from the somalis to help them in the battle. They order the somalis to involve in the battle and fight the U. Firimbi is always communicate with michael Durant in order to make a good impression to . “kasoobaxa guryaha oo iska celsa cadowga!” (“Come out and defend your homes!”) (Page 34). In the captivity he is accompanied by the militia guard nemely firimbi. U.S soldiers as their enemy because they have killed the women and children who hold the gun and shot the U.S soldiers is invading their land. Most of somalis consider the U. and the other one is bouthow Michael Durant adapted to the situation by learning some words for politeness in Somali language when he is in a captivity (Page 390). there is also a description relatedto somali language. The description is about Michael Durant (the Pilot of Black Hawk helicopter that was captured by Aidid militiamen as a hostage) who laearns some words in Somali language in order to adapted to the situation and for politeness. The situation is very chaos and uncontrolled.S.S soldiers.S soldiers. In another part of the story. Out in the streets there were already Aidid militiamen with megaphones shouting.

Ma’awis ma’awis is a flowing plaid worn by Somali men as a traditional cloth. In some rural cultures. some kind of Moslem cloth worn by Indonesian Moslem There are two descriptions regarding ma’awis. A colorful turban or embroidered hat adorns most men’s heads. the elders and the most important people in Somalia that mostly wear ma’awis in a meeting among Somali clan to discuss how to respond the peace initiative propose by United Nation (page 392) and the other one is about Michael Durant who is wearing ma’awis in captivity (Page 84). 2008. They usually wear it with shirt inside. On page 392. page 7). The men took . the men wrap many yards of cloth on their heads and their waist (Hamline University online. From Firimbi. there is a meeting among the Somali people which organize to discuss how to respond the peace initiative that propose by United Nation. The two men were together day and night for a week. One is about the leaders. Somali Student in Minessota. He learn hoe to say “Please” He made an effort to be polite. They shared what appeared to be a small apartement (Page 390).America.” ma hai san-e. The shape of the dress is similar with “baju koko”. He learned the Soamli words for “please. Durant learn at least two words in Somali language. The leaders and elders of Somali people are present in that meeting.” pil les an and “thank you. a shawl and a pant to complete their appearance.

redressed his wounds. Among the elders present religious leaders. the loose skirt worn by Somali men (Page 392). Firimbi helped the pilot wash. Most of the people in the meeting are wearing ma’awis. The three aspects are social problems.chairs and sofas that has been arranged around the perimeter. and wrapped his midsections and legs in a ma’awis. In the story Michael Durant is wearing ma’awis. and culture. former judges. standing against the walls are the youngest men seat. After five miserable days in captivity. shirts and pants. The Aididi’s militia gets the Red Cross nurse to check the Durant condition. professors and clans leaders. religion. In the captivity. Behind the elders. The social problems . They give enough food to Durant and they also give a traditional cloth to Durant to replace his old dirty cloth. but most wore the colorful traditional Somali wraparound cotton skirts called ma’awis (Page 84). gave him a clean shirt. Durant is treating well by the militias. CONCLUSION The book reflects the three aspects of the social condition of Somalia in 1990s. Durant got visitors suddenly the room was cleaned and the bed sheets were changed. Many of those present wore western clothing.

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