I have read 135 pages of The Desert and the Sea just in a few hours yesterday and tonight. It’s the frightening memoir of Michael Scott Moore’s time as a hostage in Somalia. Sample quote, from being driven around in his captors’ khat-infused paranoia on a particularly bad night:
“The sheer alarming stupidity of breaking off a wheel in the middle of the desert while running from a plane, or a drone, or nothing at all, made the blood pound and slosh in my head.”
Mr. Moore’s hostage experience chimes with the way others have defined war: “months of boredom punctuated by moments of terror.” Don’t try this at home, in Somalia, or anywhere else.
Good news for Judith Tebbutt this morning. As the BBC reports,
"Mrs Tebbutt was seized on 11 September last year from Kiwayu Safari Village, a luxury resort on a deserted stretch of Kenyan coastline, comprised of thatched cottages on the beach.
The couple had arrived only the previous day and were the only guests."
Her husband was killed in the kidnapping and she was taken by speedboat and held hostage in Somalia. She has been released on payment of ransom, and flown to Nairobi.
The Kiwayu Safari Village web site says only this:
"Sorry the website is unavailable due to the tragic events. Our thoughts and prayers are with the affected family."
The resort is described here as
"a barefoot luxury retreat on a deserted stretch of white beach facing out over the Indian Ocean," with prices from $400.
Back last October we had a story about a deadly kidnapping from the small island of Manda in Kenya, about 75 miles south of the Somali border. The resort in that kidnapping, Manda Bay, closed and put up a statement that read in part
"Manda Bay will remain closed until we are totally confident that sufficient security has been provided for the whole area."
They hired a "fast response boat" and reopened December 1st.
Lesson: Take your East African beach holiday beyond Somali speedboat range, down to Mozambique or out to Seychelles.
Turkish Airlines begins service to Mogadishu today – from Khartoum. Now you can combine two don't-miss locations, Somalia and Sudan, in one itinerary.
There is news this morning that Marie Dedieu, a 66 year old Frenchwoman kidnapped from Kenya by suspected Somali militants earlier this month has died in captivity. The BBC reports that the Somali kidnappers did not take her wheelchair or medication with them.
Ms. Dedieu was kidnapped from the small island of Manda, part of the Lamu archipelago which, as you can see in this Google map, is about 75 miles south of the Somali border.
There is a resort on Manda called Manda Bay. Perhaps it's more accurate to say there WAS a resort there. The proprietors point out that Ms. Didieu was "believed to be a home owner on the Lamu side of Manda Island," and not resident at their resort. Nevertheless, a kidnapping from your little resort island can't be good for business.
So they've relocated their guests elsewhere and "Manda Bay will remain closed until we are totally confident that sufficient security has been provided for the whole area. "
I'm going to bet that'll be approximately never.
Read the Manda Bay statement.
How in the world do you explain this?