In a country where public instituions fail to give in their best, somali pirates have become heroes in the steamy coastal dens they operate from because they are the only real business in town. "The pirates depend on us, and we benefit from them," said Sahra Sheik Dahir, a shop owner in Haradhere, the nearest village to where a hijacked Saudi Arabian supertanker carrying USD 100 million in crude was anchored on Wednesday, Nov 19.
These boomtowns are all the more shocking in light of Somalia's violence and poverty. Radical Islamists control most of the country's south, meting out lashings and stonings for accused criminals. There has been no effective central government in nearly 20 years, plunging this arid African country into chaos.
In Haradhere, residents came out in droves to celebrate as the looming oil ship came into focus this week off the country's lawless coast. Businessmen started gathering cigarettes, food and cold glass bottles of orange soda, setting up small kiosks for the pirates who come to shore to re-supply almost daily.