"I CAN REMEMBER singing songs as a child that mentioned the Awash River is being Somali land," said a Somali returning home after years abroad to learn that Somali insurgents are now fighting not far from that meandering waterway deep inside neighboring Ethiopia.

As the warfare in the disputed "border" territory spreads deeper and deeper into Ethiopia, Somalis seem to be more and more convicted that their nation's rendezvous with destiny and history is about to take place: The map of the "Greater Somalia" that hangs in every government office may soon come to be.

The burning Somali nationalist spirit, which some scholars compare to Zionism, is very much in evidence these days in Mogadishu. Although it is based on ethnicity and culture rather than religious conviction. Somali nationalism is reminiscent of the Israelis' sense of righteousness and determination. And like Zionism, it is at the very heart of the nation's politics.

With news of one victory after another by the organization officially known here as the Front for the Liberation of the Abyssinian Occupied Territory being broadcast over Mogadishu radio, the atmosphere of cuphoria here is noticeably thickening and appetites are growing by leaps and bounds. There is only one topic of conversation among Somalis these days and that is the war in "western Somalia."