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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 November, 2004, 13:23 GMT
Life in Somalia: Mahamut's story
Eight residents of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, tell us what the new government's priorities should be and how they have survived 13 years of anarchy.

Mahamut:
Scrap metal worker

Nimo:
Khat dealer

Abdullahi:
Cattle-herder

Abdi:
Refugee
Abdidir:
Bus driver

Bashir:
Gunman

Halima:
Refugee

Idi:
Singer

Mahamut Issa Abdi

I am 18 years old. I am married with three children. I live in a displaced person's camp not far from here.

I spend all day smashing the foundations of the wall around what was the United States embassy in Mogadishu in order to retrieve the steel rods used to reinforce the concrete.

Mahamut Issa Abdi
This hammer is very heavy. If I had a choice, I would do something else
I sell the rods to people who are building new houses.

It's really hard work - and very hot - but it's the only way I can support my family at the moment.

I have been doing this for about three years and have gone 3km around the wall.

I earn 1,000 Somali shillings (6.5 US cents) for each rod. I get about 20 rods a day but I have to give half of them to the gunman who controls the area I work.

He does not control the whole US embassy - just the wall. The embassy grounds have been divided up between about 70 gunmen and people are working for them all.

I have heard that a new Somali president has been elected in Kenya.

I really hope he can come back to Somalia and end this anarchy.

If there is a new government, I would like to go to school and learn something.

This hammer is very heavy and if I had a choice, I would do something else.

But if I could not go to school and had to carry on doing this, at least if there were a government, I would not have to give half the rods to the gunman.





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